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Shame on British Television
Last uploaded : Sunday 27th Jan 2002 at 01:16
Contributed by : The Editor


Today is Holocaust Memorial Day in Great Britain.

The sum total of the programmes on offer from British television is a short segment on BBC ‘Songs of Praise’ about a woman in Glasgow who helps refugees; a segment of BBC ‘Correspondent’ listed in the TV guide under the heading ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ that looks at the war crimes trial of Milosevic, and a film on ITV with Claire Bloom with a vaguely Jewish theme. The channel that is supposed to be the ‘conscience’ of commercial TV, Channel Four, ignores the day altogether, as does Channel Five.
(It must be acknowledged that Channel Five has aired some excellent programmes throughout the past year about Hitler's henchmen.)

On Friday night (we thought it strange to air it on Shabbat ) the BBC showed a harrowing film about Wannsee with Kenneth Branagh. Though an excellent production, for whatever reason it never mentioned in its final titles the fact that the conference actually resulted in the extermination of six million Jews.

Britain, the proud nation in which Muslim extremists flourish as in no other in the Western world, and whose newspapers burst with column inches vilifying Israel and the UK’s ‘Zionists,’ ought to declare itself in pursuit of Judenrein.

In 1290 the Jews were expelled from Britain. Seeing what care and reverence the nation’s media give to Holocaust Day, it seems the spirit of 1290 lives on. In The Observer newspaper, Richard Ingrams expresses his hope that Holocaust Remembrance Day will eventually sink without trace, 'like the Millennium Dome.'

Shame on the British media.

Not all of the guilt emanates from non-Jewish sources. The Holocaust Educational Trust year after year rejected a London film company’s unique project about the Kindertransporte of Belsize Square and St John’s Wood Liberal Synagogues. Some of the insular Anglo-Jewish community's wealthiest members spurn worthy filmmakers whose work could have filled those slots in today’s empty television schedules.


Carol Gould writes:

When I was in High School in Philadelphia, it was not possible to pass through the eleventh grade curriculum without seeing Alain Resnais’ harrrowing ‘Night and Fog.’ It was required viewing. I vividly remember two non-Jewish girls fainting. An African-American schoolmate became hysterical and had to be taken home. A Polish-American classmate whose father was a vicious anti-Semite was so shattered by the film that she and her mother decided to visit Auschwitz in the school holidays. When she came back her father could not open his mouth about the Jews ever again. So many decades later, she remains a good friend.

There is a wealth of material that British television could have shown on a Sunday, considering that this year 27 January occurs on a day when people are not at work. Of course, ‘Exodus’ is probably too embarrassing for the British, whose behaviour in Palestine when the tortured and starving remnants of European Jewry were trying to disembark is legendary. (Not that America's record during the Shoah is much better.)

There is the extraordinary colour footage of the liberation of the concentration camps caught on camera by the American film director George Stevens, at that time serving in the United States Army. There is ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘The Incident’ starring the late Walter Matthau, and innumerable documentaries, not to mention Claude Landsmann's 'Shoah' and the Oscar-wining Kindertransporte film, ‘Into the Arms of Strangers.’

One suspects that the members of the Jewish community who tried to lobby the British broadcasters for slots on 27 January had no easy time. Despite the fact that on the one hand we are accused by ‘The New Statesman’ of a ‘kosher conspiracy’ to influence British policy, the reality is that 1) the tiny, polite Anglo-Jewish community has minimal influence, and 2) British TV cannot live for a day without a report on all four channels about the evils of Israel. A day of films about the Shoah might, heaven forbid, make audiences understand and appreciate the primary reason for the establishment of the State of Israel.

It is too much to expect that such a ‘fair-minded’ broadcasting service would pull out the stops to educate the public about the most heinous genocide in human history, which was, after all, perpetrated by white Christian Europe, of which Great Britain was -- and is -- an integral part. The ignorance of Jewish history in the UK is breathtaking. Today’s absence of programming is a disgraceful oversight that must not be repeated in future years.


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