Glimpse of upcoming BBC programme on Israel

Ahead of tonight’s BBC Two programme “Israel: Facing the Future” (scheduled at 21:00 GMT), the BBC News website has published a feature under the title “Israel at 65: What does the future hold?” written by the programme’s presenter John Ware. A filmed excerpt from the upcoming programme appears in that article and also separately on the BBC News website under the heading “Israel at 65: John Ware gets a glimpse inside an Orthodox religious school“. 

John Ware prog 2

The first sentence of the above synopsis would suggest that the BBC is having trouble distinguishing between the minority Haredim and other groups which define themselves as ‘religious’ in Israel. Hopefully the programme itself will be more accurate. 

14 comments on “Glimpse of upcoming BBC programme on Israel

  1. The BBC is trying to draw an equivalence between the Jewish Yeshiva and the Islamic Madras. Soon the two will become the same in accepted parlance and so another tool will be added to BDS and PSC, like their basing their Apartheid accusations on the discrimination of Sephardim by Ashkenasim etc.

  2. I have to admit that it was more balanced than we have come to expect, and did manage to show some positive aspects to the Israeli side than usual. There was still some gaping holes left unfilled, and certain narratives that were allowed to flow without a more balanced perspective to counter it.

    Not sure how much of that was due to ignorance on Ware’s part, or intent. Certainly, for example, he would have been aware that the security fence is only a concrete wall for a small percentage of its circumference, but he made the viewer believe that it was all concrete.

    But for the BBC, it was better than the usual output.

    • I agree with what you say. Ware covered a lot of ground in the limited amount of time. At the least it gave a casual viewer something different from the usual Israel-bashing to ponder.

    • I’ve watched the John Ware programme on Israel. I thought it fairly well balanced and that Ware had an understanding and an empathy for his subject, Israel.

      Notable bloops were his depiction of the security barrier as a wall only. He gave far too much time to David Landau formerly of Ha’aretz and the brief depiction of Cast Lead did not explain why it took place. What about the rockets?

      I liked his coverage of football and his vox pops and he made Israel and Israelis seem human.

      8 out of 10 was my score and a pretty good attempt.

      • I think it’s important to bear in mind that only those with more understanding than was conveyed openly have the ability to read between the lines. It’s hard to know what the average BBC fed viewer would have understood, or how, if at all, any previous conceptions might have been corrected.

        I see we all agree it was better than typical BBC offerings, and on that score I might go to 8/10. But in terms of balanced documentary attempting to explain the dynamics of the situation there I wouldn’t rate it above more than 5 or at most 6.

        Notable omissions, or the leaving of false impressions, are the Palestinians launching the second intifada following Barak offering over 90% of their original lands back to them.

        The security crackdown preventing freedom of movement for the Palestinians was imposed as a result of continued attempts to launch terror attacks.

        That the Palestinians never agreed to recognise original or subsequent borders that would define the state of Israel. All they do is insist Israel retreats from lands taken as a result of defensive wars as a precursor to peace talks.

        Did not refer to the whole of Sinai, as well as its roads and buildings built by Israel, returned to Egypt following a genuine peace deal. Instead he made it seem unlikely that Israel would give up any ‘settlements’ in return for a genuine peace deal with the Palestinians.

        There is nothing to show where the Palestinians have done or given up anything to achieve peace. If it wasn’t for the majority of the media doing everything they can to justify the Palestinian position, they would have abandoned this strategy long ago.

        • Teddy, perhaps as a change from complaining to the BBC we should let them know that some of us think they have done a reasonable job here and encourage them to make a follow-up with a more nuanced perspective? What do you think?

          • That’s a good thought Saba.:)
            I think it couldn’t hurt to compliment them for showing more of the human side to Israel than is common for them, but also to point out those elements that could still stand clarification, a few of which I noted above.

            When you write ‘nuanced perspective’ it put me in mind of a story about a guy who was crippled in one arm. He went into a church to pray and asked God if he would please make his arm like the other one. He went out of the church with 2 crippled arms.
            I think you’ll get why it reminded me of the phrase, and how the BBC might interpret it 😉

  3. Marginally better than a slap on the wrist with a wet red flag, which Israel has been regularly receiving for the past 45 years from the BBC.

    Duvidl’s question is whether this programme, together with this week’s appointment of James Harding as director of news, heralds a change in direction for the BBC’s Israel coverage to a much more accurate and impartial one.

    For improvement to even begin, Jeremy Bowen and Paul Danaher must be retired from the Israel beat. If their language skills move from being monoglot, they should be sent to set up shop in Syria and give us the in-depth Middle East coverage each TV taxpayer deserves. However, as Isra-hater Lord Patten remains chief BBC trustee, any change seems unlikely.

    • Here’s what I wrote elsewhere concerning his appointment:

      According to Wikipedia:

      On 16 April 2013, his appointment as the new head of BBC News was announced, although he will not formally take up the post until August.[26][6] He had said in 2011 that the BBC does not have “a pro-Israel newsroom and it has taken management to get some balance in there”. Accordingly, Harding found this “frustrating because, unlike The Times where you can just choose not to buy it, you have to pay for the BBC.”[15]

      I think most of us are fairly cynical, and not without good reason, for seeing any real change at the BBC to address the multitude of bias they exhibit every day.

      I’m going to try and keep an open mind and watch how his appointment develops. Either he will swallow his own ethics to go along with the existing dynamics, or we will see changes. It will be interesting if he does conform to his previous observations about the BBC, how those responsible for maintaining it that way react, and what they do about it.

      At least we have a privileged position to best understand whatever is really behind the actions and words that might come out if there was to be any confrontation.

      Interesting days ahead.

      • Agreed. Also, in the wake of the ever-more-atrocious scandal of BBC child rapist, the late Sir Jimmy Savile and the BBC’s shredded reputation, Harding would appear to be under considerable pressure to do something drastic to make amends with impartial and accurate news. Why not shred the newsroom of leftist Isra-haters for a start?

        • I think they would counter any attempt to change the way they report about Israel by making it clear to him that all their journalists and reporters in Muslim areas and lands would have their lives put at risk were they to do so. Never mind that a civilised society would prefer the truth, and the BBC would do better pulling out of those areas where it’s deemed to risky, so long as they maintained integrity.

          Note there is no E in the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
          Nothing that could stand for ETHICS.

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