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'Behind the Fence'
Last uploaded : Sunday 1st Jun 2003 at 23:17
Contributed by : The Editor



As mentioned in my previous article about ?The Killing Zone? (please scroll down to the 'REVIEWS' section below ) there seems to be a festival of British television at present concentrating on the worst possible views of the Jewish State. Let?s look at an imaginary scenario:

Britain has a crime problem as does any western democracy. There are ?no go? areas in some major British cities in which crack and AIDS are the order of the day. The British police and NHS hospital casualty wards are often stretched to their limits on weekends in which soccer violence, drug murders and shootings have peppered the nation?s streets. Israeli television decides to do a series of documentaries about the brutality of the British. Poor Afro-Caribbean drug addicts are seen being apprehended by white policemen. Soccer fans are seen being thrown to the ground by police with billy clubs. This is Britain! The world sees and is shocked. In addition, the plague of child murders, rampant paedophilia and rapes that has proliferated across Britain in recent years is shown in another documentary about children and women being afraid to go out in mainland England, Wales and Scotland. This is Britain!

In my imaginary scenario, Israeli commissioning editors tell their producers NOT to go into production on documentaries about the beauty of the English countryside; the cricket season; the Glorious Twelfth or Ascot. They are forbidden from showing the fun of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night; Covent Garden; the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

But, you will argue, Britain is not occupying anyone. Yes, Britain has not been attacked in an assortment of wars that have threatened her very existence in the past fifty-four years nor has she been the target of constant terror that far exceeds the civilian victim tally from that of the IRA. (Yes, we have suffered in Britain from IRA attacks but the tally is small compared to that of Israel.) But the image projected by the stream of documentaries is one of a brutal, heartless nation of uncaring Jews whose main purpose in life is to be happy to send their sons to kill at will.

I lament the trend that has overtaken the British television documentary. When I returned from a year in Israel with a documentary chronicling the Jewish year for the average Israeli in the Rabin-Peres era, I was told by a series of UK commissioning editors -- including a Jewish one -- that they ?simply could not show something that is so pro-Israel.? Imagine the outcry if Israeli television made programme after programme showing the most dire sides of British life.

This brings me to 'Behind the Fence,' a documentary shown on 25 May on the BBC about the wall that is being erected to separate the West Bank from greater Israel. Although fairer in presentation than Channel Four's 'The Killing Zone' the week before, the programme was made in order to show how hard-hearted the Jews of Israel have become in their battle to live side-by-side with their Arab neighbours. An impression was given that hard-nosed right-wingers have no compassion for Palestinian farmers whose harvest is halved by the wall; these inequities are painful to see but the programme never took a comprehensive look at the violence hard-working and peace-loving Israelis have suffered for fifty-four years from terrorists and snipers.

There was a very interesting sentence spoken by the narrator in which it was asserted that Israel 'declared statehood' in 1947 as if a horde of chutzpah-dikkah Jews descended upon Palestine and declared themselves a state. This is an element of British documentary-making that has begun to irk me no end: there is never an historical overview given that puts the accusations of 'Jewish brutality and callousness' in any kind of perspective.

The reason why I found the programme fairer than 'The Killing Zone' is because a generous number of Israelis contributed to the interviews and Israelis of the Left and Right were given airtime. All came across as hard-working and reasonable people with families and worries.

The piece de resistance, however, was a sequence in which a pregnant Palestinian woman was given fine medical attention in an Israeli hospital. She gave birth to a healthy child and the hospital seemed welcoming and caring. (Remember what I said about ?The Killing Zone?? The narrator said Israel will not treat Palestinians.) The Palestinian woman?s husband went into a tirade to camera about Ariel Sharon. Imagine the fate of a Jew doing the same in a Muslim country that has offered free medical care!

A few days after the BBC special, on the main 10 o'clock News it was reported that the wall signified the birth of Israeli apartheid. I beseech the BBC's 'on the ground' correspondents to bear in mind that scores of Arabs live inside Israel and that 'apartheid' is a term that inspires revulsion in the hearts of world Jewry. (lest we forget that the legion of anti-apartheid campaigners in South Africa consisted of Jews; Helen Suzman; Joe Slovo and his wife Ruth First; Ike Horvich... the list is endless. )

These programmes would not bother me were it not for the fact that their cruelly distorted view of the Jewish mind and heart is beginning to poison a whole nation. I cannot go out without being lambasted about Israel?s brutality. Most Britons have never been to Israel and only see tanks and Berlin-type walls. No-one ever sees the tough life Israelis must endure -- even pre-Antiradar -- and the good humour and decency with which the Jewish nation lives out its daily life. The British television industry -- of which I was once a highly-placed member -- has taken upon itself the job of relentlessly discrediting the one tiny nation in which Jews may live without the misery of anti-Semitism. This campaign incites the extreme elements in Britain, but worst of all it diminishes British television.

The networks might like to do a special about the birthplace of the iniquitous Blood Libel (England) and about the location of the world?s very first expulsion of Jews (England) not to mention the location of the Jew Riots. (England) British commentators are obsessed with Israel in general, but also with right-wing Israeli demands that Arabs be expelled . Is British history so lily-white that its writers feel it their duty to create a new species of humanity -- the Jewish villain who wants to expel other people? At countless dinner parties British hosts and guests repeat the mantra that ?You Jews invented terrorism.? This is akin to a rural American parent whose teenager has been drinking with a Native American friend accusing Native Americans on a Reservation of ?starting the plague of alcoholism.? If the Irgun and Stern Gang were ruthless, they had good teachers.

On the BBC a few days after the documentary, there was a preview of an upcoming special featuring television personality Dan Cruickshank entitled ?Dan Cruickshank on the Road to Armageddon.? He was shown wearing a keffiyah scarf ( Londoners who wear those have been known to very unchivalrously throw one?s coffee in one?s face as soon as they hear an American accent -- I usually cross the road when I see one of these folks) and as he passed a crowd of Jewish people touring the Western Wall he said, ?They call this the Holy Land -- I can?t think of anything less holy than this place.? It was not so much his words but his contemptuous tone of voice and grimace that sent chills up my spine.

How far would an American commentator get if he said such a thing at a place so holy to Jews?

There is a Yiddish expression that goes something like this: ?Auf ein goniff brennte ein hittel.? Translated it means ?On the thief his hat burns? -- the most guilty of brutality and segregation is the one who points the finger most angrily. The BBC and Channel Four need to look at British and world history before making Jews look like the most heinous fiends of the millennia.

For more about ?Behind the Fence:?
Note the way the BBC wesbite refers to 'terrorists' in quotes.



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