Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy show

h/t J

A BBC Three comedy show called ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ (made by Hat Trick Productions) is described on the BBC website as a:

“Series bringing corruption, greed and hypocrisy to the fore. Politicians, multinationals and tax-shy corporations who have been taking the public for a ride for years are now on the receiving end.”

Apparently having run out of “politicians, multinationals and tax-shy corporations”, episode 6 of season two of the programme (available here in the UK only on BBC iPlayer), which was broadcast on December 15th and 19th, turned to other subject matter.

TRWBT clip

The segment billed in the programme blurb as “The Israeli Embassy is expanding, no planning permission required” opens with an animated sequence which suggests bringing up “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” at dinner parties, adding:

“It’s guaranteed to cause an argument, especially if you’re at a Bar Mitzva”.

Bar Mitzva

And no: we have no idea what those lunging pitchforks are doing in that animation supposedly representing a Bar Mitzva either. Against a background of highly misleading maps, the narration continues:

“A report commissioned by the UN say [sic] that the Israeli construction of settlements into the West Bank is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Israeli expansion

construction of settlements 1

construction of settlements 2

The narrator concludes:

“You’ve got to wonder just when will this expansion end.”

expansion end

The item then cuts to a filmed sequence in which the actors Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein, posing as planners on behalf of the Israeli embassy, approach several shopkeepers in a London street.

embassy expansion team

Among the lines used by the actors are the following:

“Hello, is this your shop? I’m sure you’re aware the Israeli embassy is extending. This is where you are here [pointing at plan] and the Israeli embassy is gonna actually extend the whole way over there so they can have a conservatory.”

“Before it was your land it was our land. So we’re really gonna take what’s rightfully ours.”

“Err, well we don’t really need planning. We’ve got a very, very old planning book. It’s about two thousand years old.”

“Without putting too fine a point on it mate, they’re gonna bulldoze your land.”

“Well we generally go with the bulldozers first and letters later.”

“Can you see all those olives you’ve got in the deli display there? They’re ours as well.”

“It’s not like taking someone’s land is a big deal. We’ve been doing it for years. I mean, what’s the problem?”

“I don’t see what you’re talking about ‘proposed’. This is our land as given to us by the Almighty. I’m finding that smile a bit antisemitic, mate, so I think you should really wipe that off your face.”

shop keeper

When the BBC got itself into hot water with the Mexican Ambassador in 2011 over the promotion of negative national stereotypes, it responded:

“We are sorry if we have offended some people, but jokes centred on national stereotyping are a part of Top Gear’s humour, and indeed a robust part of our national humour. Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic; the French being arrogant and the Germans being over organised. When we do it, we are being rude, yes, and mischievous, but there is no vindictiveness behind the comments. […]

In line with that tradition, stereotype based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case..”

Under the chapter heading “portrayal” the BBC editorial guidelines state:

“Content may reflect the prejudice and disadvantage which exist in societies worldwide but we should not perpetuate it.  In some instances, references to disability, age, sexual orientation, faith, race, etc. may be relevant to portrayal.  However, we should avoid careless or offensive stereotypical assumptions and people should only be described in such terms when editorially justified.”

“When it is within audience expectations, we may feature a portrayal or stereotype that has been exaggerated for comic effect, but we must be aware that audiences may find casual or purposeless stereotypes to be offensive.”

Like humour itself, the perception of something as being offensive or not is very much a matter of personal taste. Certainly in this case, it is safe to assume that the BBC can cite “audience expectations” (whatever those are and however they are measured) as justification for this crude national stereotyping of Israelis because, after all, the BBC has put much effort into creating and promoting just such a stereotype in its news and current affairs content for years, meaning that British audiences are highly unlikely to develop any alternative, more realistic, “expectations”. 

19 comments on “Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy show

  1. Yuk. BBC 3. Oh yuk. How horrible.

    You must be just about the only person who watched it. Duvidl among most of the population, has never watched this third-rate excuse for the Soviet era BBC monolith to fritter away the colossal £3.2bn in revenue from BBC licence-fee television taxpayers’ £145.50 annual licence fees.

      • @aberpsc is correct. There is clearly a difference between stereotyping Israeli *people*, rather than stereotyping and satirising the *arguments* used about the state’s actions. Or perhaps you think that Swift’s Modest Proposal ought to be banned for perpetuating hateful stereotypes against the rich.

        And in any case, where is the evidence that these stereotypes are harmful? I note you’ve not complained about the same episode’s stereotype of the chav misogynist, or of white Daily Mail readers, or of hispters, or of faith healers.

          • I know I can’t wait to see the edgy comedy show…

            (let’s get the Jews-by-Proxy as they control the British media except the BBC) .

            …display some harmless country (not people I stress) stereotypes of sister-marrying, honor-killing camel-humping A-rabs.

        • I know I can’t wait to see the edgy comedy show…

          (let’s get the Jews-by-Proxy as they control the British media except the BBC) .

          …display some harmless country (not people I stress) stereotypes of sister-marrying, honor-killing camel-humping A-rabs.

  2. It is a sly and clever method of propaganda to use comedy and drama to reinforce images that are against the Jewish people. To accept this portrayal of Jews and make excuses for it or suggest that it is not effective is dangerous and it needs to be protested against vigorously.. It is effective because people absorb it better than if it were in a news item .eg An anti Semitic joke told by Richard Stillgoe in the 1980’s made it acceptable for those that heard the joke on Radio 4 to think that all Jews are cheats because it was voiced in comedy.
    Below is a detailed example from drama

  3. It’s interesting that there are the usual comments about anti-semitism. Have people forgotten that there are also Israeli Palestinians living in Israel? An inconvenient truth perhaps. Their families had been living there for generations before 1948, possibly even with the same DNA as Jews of 2000 years ago. Would it be anti-British to criticise the British government or to say that it is anti-Christian? We in Britain are a secular society with a multiplicity of religions within our communities and that is our strength. Likewise in Israel there are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and others. So why is a criticism of Israeli government policies in sanctioning the bulldozing of homes and expanding the settlements into Palestinian West Bank land anti-semitic? This is what is happening and the settlers coming from Canada, the US and Russia justify it with reference to the Old Testament. This film is one way of truth telling. Painful but true. Why not respond by saying to the Israeli Government ‘Not in our name’ as many of us did when the Blair Government took us to war with Iraq?

    • It’s neither very interesting nor surprising, albeit sad, that an individual like you would try to promote the BBC’s distortion and then even add with distortions of your own. The BBC, like other British propaganda sheets, tries to portray Israel as expanding in territory, while only the opposite has occurred since 1967. It is anti-Semitic in that you, along with the BBC, Guardian, and other British fishwrappers only try to dictate where Jews should live, not anybody else.

      Furthermore, you state your biases when you call the land “Palestinian.” It has never been “Palestinian” because there has never been a state of Palestine and there won’t be one until negotiations are completed. Your totalitarian attitude is your opinion.

      Moreover, there may be Palestinians whose ancestry goes back even 2,000 years, but there has been continuous Jewish habitation of the land, all of it, since we arrived from Egypt. And yes, we do base our claim to the land on the Torah and that reason is insufficient for you, tough.

      BTW, the only parts of Israel where people don’t have freedom of religion are those areas controlled by the PA and Hamas.

        • Agreed, the bBC’s institutional anti Israeli bias is informed by ignorance and prejudice. They are truly dispicable. Israel is a great country surrounded by those who wish to destroy it and we should support them. True, they aren’t perfect, but who amongst us is?

    • Hello Janet – you seem unaware that the UNRWA defines Palestinian refugees as Arab Muslims who live in Palestine for at least two years – mid 1946 to approximately mid 1948.
      Whiel Muslims have lived in Palestine and then Israel for several generations, original Muslims invaded the Jewish land and massacred Jews, which started a huge massacre trend against Jews by Muslims even while they were invading Europe and endslaving Europeans, Jews and Christians.

      They also later moved there for jobs when Jews moved there in the 1890s, setting up businesses. Some Palis are Bulgarian (Muslims) in origin!
      What you call criticim of Israel is anti Senmitic because the Expansionism comedy sketch is based on a lie, the demoltions are done becuase Palis squat and build ILLEGALLY on Israeli land and the “West Bank is NOT Palestinian (ie Arab Muslim) but is the area of Judea and Shomron, Israeli Jewish land.

      Is it absolutely necessary to lie and be bigoted against Jews and deliberately ignorant of basic history and truth about Israel or is it just a little hobby for bored bigots?

  4. Pingback: Israeli media picks up on BBC 3′s crude national stereotyping | BBC Watch

  5. Pingback: Israeli media pick up on BBC 3′s crude national stereotyping | BBC Watch

Comments are closed.