BBC Four’s documentary series ‘Storyville’ to show Palestinian propaganda film

h/t A

In the February 23rd edition of The Observer the commissioning editor for the BBC Four documentary series ‘Storyville’, Nick Fraser, wrote on the topic of the Oscar-nominated documentary film about the murders of half a million people in Indonesia some fifty years ago – “The Act of Killing” – and why it should not, in his view, receive that award.  

Among the persuasive arguments presented, Fraser wrote:

“I’d feel the same if film-makers had gone to rural Argentina in the 1950s, rounding up a bunch of ageing Nazis and getting them to make a film entitled “We Love Killing Jews”.

He then added:

“Think of other half-covered-up atrocities – in Bosnia, Rwanda, South Africa, Israel, any place you like with secrets – and imagine similar films had been made. Consider your response – and now consider whether such goings-on in Indonesia are not acceptable merely because the place is so far away, and so little known or talked about that the cruelty of such an act can pass uncriticised.” [emphasis added]

Can Fraser make an evidence-based case for his claim that Israel is a “place…with secrets” and “half-covered-up atrocities”? Can he objectively and factually maintain that Israel belongs in the same lumped-together category with genocide-blighted Bosnia and Rwanda? Of course he cannot, but that sentence perhaps gives us a glimpse of the accepted wisdom of the man in charge of commissioning “the best in character-driven documentaries with strong narratives”, as defined by the BBC.

Further on in his essay, Fraser wrote:

“But documentary films have emerged from the not inconsiderable belief that it’s good to be literal as well as truthful. In a makeshift, fallible way, they tell us what the world is really like. Documentaries are the art of the journeyman. They can be undone by too much ambition. Too much ingenious construction and they cease to represent the world, becoming reflected images of their own excessively stated pretensions.”

“Ingenious construction” is a very apt way of describing the editing process which brought about the creation of Emad Burnat’s film ‘Five Broken Cameras’, in which many of the most controversial scenes consist of footage from different occasions spliced together to create an impression of excessive and unprovoked violence on the part of Israeli soldiers dealing with the weekly riots at Bil’in. The product of that politically motivated editing process – combined with the amateur dramatics of some of the film’s Palestinian participants – does indeed “cease to represent the world”, instead promoting the political propaganda enabled by a deliberately distorted view of events on the ground – under the guise of factual documentary. As Nick Fraser might have put it, ‘Five Broken Cameras’ “teaches us nothing” about the realities of either the micro situation in Bil’in or the macro of the Palestinian political campaign which aims to shackle Israeli counter-terrorism methods and defame and delegitimise in the process. 

One would perhaps expect that a seasoned documentary watcher and commissioning editor such as Nick Fraser would be easily able to identify the propaganda genre and to distinguish between it and genuine documentary – and perhaps he indeed can. But nevertheless, Nick Fraser has elected to broadcast ‘Five Broken Cameras’ as part of the ‘Storyville‘ series on BBC Four on March 3rd at 22:30 GMT under the title “The Village that Fought Back“.


Perhaps that Observer essay by Fraser provides a clue as to why this film is misleadingly being promoted by the BBC as a documentary  – i.e. “a film or television or radio programme that provides a factual report on a particular subject”. But what remains is the question of how an organization obliged under the terms of its constitutional charter to “[e]nhance UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues” can justify the screening of blatant political propaganda under the guise of factual content.


80 comments on “BBC Four’s documentary series ‘Storyville’ to show Palestinian propaganda film

  1. Thanks for this sharp expose. Invaluable and instructive corrective to know exactly what it is we are really watching for those of us who choose to watch the Village that fought back

  2. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx “ingenuous construction” is another word for propaganda! it is a heap of LIES systematically repeated by dogmatist,nazi lefters meant for BRAIN WASHING.

  3. How can you claim that this is all Palestinian propaganda with shots being ‘spliced together’ when the director, Guy Davidi, is himself an Israeli? We see a Palestinian man being knee-capped on film by an Israeli soldier standing right in front of him!! Has it occurred to you that YOU might be the ones who are victims of propaganda? Can we not see through the Jew or Muslim lens and instead see one family of human beings?

    • You’re a fool Forrester. Has it not occurred to you, that because the “documentary” was spliced together that you did not see what preceded that incident? Furthermore, you show your profound ignorance of the region by questioning how Davidi’s Israeli citizenship would influence his political leanings. Have you ever heard of an organization called “B’tselem? It’s a very sad irony that many Israelis are so anti-Israel.

      • Yeah, yeah, anyone who doesn’t service the Arabist agenda of propaganda is a bigot. Israel is a land-hungry country, which explains why it’s only been reduced in size since 1967. Parroting what’s popular is just so easy, isn’t it chump?

  4. I watched this documentary last night. The BBC has provided the peoples of Palestine a great service by showing the invasion and oppression from armed forces against unarmed civilians. It was clear to me who the oppressors and terrorists really are. I salute the bravery of the cameraman, who despite being the target in the lens of a snipers scope on numerous occasions and ending up being stapled from groin to chest became even more determined to show how peaceful resistance brought down the barriers, only to film more permanent concrete barriers being erected to segregate two peoples. Seeing their olive trees burning and families being ordered to vacate their homes because someone declared their land a military exclusion zone was truly shocking. Water was never mentioned in the video, but I know it has been used to put even more pressure on those resisting the invasion of their lands.

    • Another gullible, foolish sheep. You completely ignore the erection of the barrier to prevent suicide bomb attacks and the fact that it’s a concrete barrier for only 5% of its length.

      • Weclome, Andrew! Another ‘fool’, eh?!

        If only you had some more soft and appealing sounding words, like ‘suicide barrier’ rather than Apartheid Wall, then you’d be welcome on here…..

        But as you don’t, you’re a gullible , foolish sheep.

        We don’t attack people personally on here, do we Michael? You chump.

        • You show your ignorance with your callous and capricious use of the word “apartheid.” Look it up and learn about before you throw it around. It reveals you for the fool you are.

          I’m not kind to those who attack my country. If you don’t like it too bad, you chump.

          • In international law, Apartheid is a crime against humanity defined as “policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination… committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”.

            Although both the Palestinian and Israeli populations are racially diverse, the legal definition of apartheid still applies. The United Nations defined “racial discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

            The systematic discrimination against Palestinians based on “national origin” both within Israel proper and especially within the Occupied Territories therefore can be considered a violation of the United Nations prohibition on the crime of Apartheid.

            The United Nations provides a list of policies that fall under the definition of Apartheid and are prohibited under international law. Each one of the prohibited policies listed below has been implemented by the Israeli government in the Occupied Territories

            Murder, torture, inhuman treatment, and arbitrary arrest of members of a racial group;
            Deliberate imposition on a racial group of living conditions calculated to cause its physical destruction;
            Legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic, and cultural fields;
            Measures that divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate residential areas for racial groups;
            The persecution of persons opposed to apartheid.

          • You’re wrong. That it would only apply if it was systematic and codified. If it wasn’t then EVERY country would be guilty of practicing apartheid as there is no such thing as an egalitarian in the world. I’ve already shown that it isn’t apartheid. Parroting is so easy isn’t it?

          • “Legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic, and cultural fields;
            Measures that divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate residential areas for racial groups”

            This codified.

            Defending the indefensible is so easy, isn’t it?

  5. One sided view as there ever was. Same type of film as Jenin Jenin a few years back which was proven to be mostly fabricated. The truth is always somewhere in the middle – the Palestinians are not innocent angels and the Israelis are not evil devils (just as a rhetoric question: Would YOU like to live as a Christian minority in most Islamic countries? I didn’t think so). What the Palestinians don’t seem to understand: Only peace will stop the building, and peace will only come if they recognize Israel instead of promising to kill all the Jews. Simples.

    • The PLO recognised Israel years ago. It’s on the record. They do even now.
      Israel does not recognise the right of Palestine to live free from occupation and Israeli violence.
      However the rest of the world does recognise this fundamental right. The UN has voted for Palestinian status upgarde by an overwhelming majority.
      Boycotts and divestments are becoming mainstream.
      The EU is passing directives that exclude trade with the illegal settlements.
      Even the US is warning Israel that the options left for Israel are now limited. Vey limited indeed.

      • 1.The PA and Hamas refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
        2. The upgrade at the UN was not an admission into the UN.
        3. Let Eugene Kontorovich educate you about the legality of Jewish community’s in Judea and Samaria.

        4. The EU has passed directives against Israel for decades.

        • 1. No state is required to do anything. Israel isn’t required to do anything either. However, if the Palestinians want a peace agreement they will have to make concessions. FACT.
          2. Show evidence of it being almost there or STFU.
          3.a. You’re an idiot for calling him that, but you don’t disguise that. He quotes directly from sources that just happen to be inconvenient for you.
          3.b. That refutation didn’t quote sources, just opinions by an individual.
          4. And Israel has fulfilled 242. Kontorovich explains how, much to your chagrin.

        • That is I. Word Press changed my name without noticing. I’m no sock puppet, unlike some people.
          No state, including Israel, is required to do anything. If Palestinians want a peace agreement, then they too will have to make concessions. Get used to it.
          Show the evidence chump.
          Oh, that’s right, you have nothing to say so just slew the slander. You’re such as loser.
          Israel has stolen nothing. Get an education chump. There has never been a state of Palestine and Jordan has relinquished all claims to land that it illegally annexed.
          And by the way, Israel’s exports continue to grow.
          BDS FAIL! Awwwooo!

        • I believe this professor uses the legitimacy of the mandate system to justify Israeli claims to all of Palestine…..

          but this mandate system has no legitimacy in today’s world of self determination, so why does he not say so?

          • No, he uses the legitimacy of the San Remo conference which does indeed have legitimacy. Where does he state that Israel claims all of the former British mandate?

          • Equally invalid as a claim to legitimacy, for the simple reason that those present were the imperial Great Powers, and not Nation States.

            how can this be a claim to legitimacy in the modern world, let alone back then?

          • you’re being intentionally slow I feel: the legal argument in the modern era is that the UN charter and international law do not recognise colonial claims to ownership of land based on empire and ignoring the rights of native populations.

            the real question is on what basis are the decisions made at San Reno defensible today, and the answer is they at not.

            show us where, if you disagree!

          • This is your own agenda here and you are not world spokesman. The UN does not make law and it is not an international parliament. That is not how it was established.

          • Michael,

            I have no agenda, I just ask you to engage with the questions I raise.

            you have chosen not to, instead focussing on me not being ” world spokesman”, whatever that means.

            please explain why the San Remo conference and its outcomes are defensible in today’s world, where empires are not recognised….

          • Au contraire, you have not established the legal precedent for your argument. There is no reason to state that San Remo is invalid. Furthermore, if it is, then no country has valid borders.

          • there is every reason to state that San Remo is invalid, as professor above States that ” all nations were present, and none had any objections” which is a lie.

            not all nations were present, not all interests were represented and it took no account of native populations or their rights.

            it wasn’t morally defensible then, and isn’t compatible with international law now.

          • He obviously meant the countries with territorial holdings there. You still haven’t cited any legal precedent. This is all about “I say so” which what is invalid.

          • And by the way, as it inconvenient as it may be for you, there has been continuous in the land of Israel, since the time before there were any Arabs whatsoever.

          • “countries with territorial holdings there” = Empire.

            & don’t pretend otherwise!

            It ignores the rights of the natives, the rights of people to self determination, and ignores the reality of the UN charter to which Israel is a member state.

            Simply put: It has no validity in 2014, and you know it as well as the rest of the world’s UN member states.

            As for ‘I was there first’, this also has no bearing at the UN when taking into consideration self-determination.

            You’ve failed to engage with the points raised, for obvious reasons.

          • Another joke. If who was there first doesn’t matter, then there is no reason to talk about “natives,” unless it’s only certain natives that actually count.

            Prove how it has no validity in 2014 or STFU.

          • Tell that to the North American Native Indians, or the Aboriginals , or the Palestinians (Jews, Christians, Muslims and other faith too – we’re talking about ‘people’, not ‘made up ethnicity’ )

            Do you really expect the world to believe that ‘before’ the ‘Israelite’ (who were not Israeli’s btw) there was no one there? And before them, again no one there? and before them them? ad-infinitum? So basically, God put the Jews there ‘from the start’ and that’s when the world begins? Knock it off!)

          • Typical non-engagement with the points made.

            If you fail to engage, you admit defeat. We can all see that.

          • That professor appears to be an apologist for Empire and Colonialist – how can he uphold the validity of these Mandates in 2014 in the face of the UN Charter?

            They are fundamentally incompatible!

          • You appear to be a crusader for the elimination of Israel.

            The UN Charter does not empower it to make law.

          • the security council does indeed make decisions that are part of how international law is derived.

            where on earth did you learn your international politics!?

            you’re just frustrated that the united nations, and growing international pressure, is forcing Israel to behaved according to recognised norms….

            you’ve never explained why you think Israel should be allowed to continue with an illegal blockade and siege in Gaza…. wonder why?

          • Israel has complied with Reso 242 as it clearly states “withdraw from territory” conspicuously omitting the word “all.”

            Lord Caradon who crafted the resolution language said himself that it was not intended to demarcate final borders, it is a cease-fire line and that is all.

            The Gaza blockade is legal as the UN Palmer Report concluded.

            You’re just frustrated because Israel continues to survive.

          • Get an education sock-puppet. You shouldn’t throw words like “apartheid” around before learning what they mean. You could also help yourself by really learning about Israel outside of sources like the British press.

          • I care not one jot about Israel the country: why should I? What I do care deeply about are all those people, Jews, Arabs, Christians and non-believers, living in the area of Palestine and Israel.

            Nation States are relatively new ‘inventions’ and to put them before human beings is putting the cart before the horse – anyone can see that. The rights of people, inalienable Human Rights, are what gives nation states legitimacy. Nothing more, nothing less – and the UN recognises this.

            Any state that treats 4.5 million of it’s ‘neighbours’ and citizens like dogs, denying them basic human rights, does not deserve to exercise sovereignty over anyone. The Jews in Israel, nor anywhere else, are not a protected ‘species’. Neither are they in ‘danger’ of extinction or extermination. What they are in danger of is perpetuating an Apartheid regime that is designed to collectively punish a group of people that they ‘wish’ didn’t exist, but clearly do: the Palestinians.

            You’re terrified of Israel becoming a democracy because you believe that Jews are ‘better than others’ – but you’re wrong – they’re equal to everyone else.

            Human Rights protect all, not just those you wish were dead already.

            And as for your ‘cherry picking’ of Resolution 242 and its ‘meaning’, you clearly are no scholar of international law – the world has voted and the world knows that Israel was intended to return to the pre-1967 borders – relinquishing every single scrap of land it stole in an illegal land-grab (this so-called ‘defensive war’ which has no legal status at all, as you and ‘Professor’ bubble-head know full well)

            Sad, but true.

          • Why have you STILL not explained why the mandate system is enforceable in 2014?

            #How is it compatible with the UN Charter of now?

  6. s Israeli Prime Ministe 3red March 2014 the Israeli government’s Central Bureau of Statistics issued a report showing a whopping 123% surge in West Bank settlement construction in 2013, more than double the number of new settlement homes built in 2012.

    Another bold step by israel towards ‘peace’.

  7. In addition to the approvals/tenders previously reported, it has now become public that on October 24th and October 30th the Ministry of Housing and Construction published tenders for planning of large-scale settlement construction: 19,786 new settlement housing units in the West Bank and 4,000 new settlement housing units in East Jerusalem.

    Israel talks peace but builds occupation and injustice.

    • In stage 1 of the Road Map, Palestinians were to have dismantled terrorist infrastructure which they have never done. Israel has withdrew from Gaza and northern Samaria.


      • “Justice” means fulfilling the Arabist agenda? That’s only the libero-fascist interpretation of “Justice.”

        And by the way, how many sock puppets do you intend to invent?

        • I gave you a website to read. Maybe you also have limited literacy in addition to being ignorant.

          1. There is no prohibition on marriage.
          2a.. Arabs can and do walk freely in predominantly Jewish areas.
          2b. There is no pass law.
          3. Arabs are not prohibited from engaging in any industry or trade.
          4. Arabs vote and there are Arab political parties.
          5. Arabs can strike (work-related, of course)
          6. There are no segregated seating areas in restaurants, theaters, public transport, etc. There are no separate drinking fountains, bathrooms, etc.

          However, since I may have used too many big words for you. Look at the photographic evidence. No splicing involved.

  8. If the peace talks failed and there was “continued aggressive settlement construction” in the West Bank, Mr Obama warned, Washington would have limited ability to protect Israel from “international fallout”, an apparent reference to the Palestinians’ threat to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court and a boycott campaign.

    Better believe it.

  9. Michael we all saw it with our own eyes some of the Israeli soldiers look ashamed as they carry out their orders, only obeying orders , no excuse is it. Don’t tell people what they are seeing with their eyes, kids being arrested, protesters peacefully trying to save their land faced by soldiers with guns and stun grenades. You shameful apologist for land grabbing .

    • You see what you want to see. If a kid throws a rock, he gets arrested. They have killed. If you think that they’re so harmless, try bashing yourself in the head with one.

      • Yes stones against rifles, that’s the sort of wars you like, you don’t see what is right in front of you, what’s the matter , it makes any decent human being sick, and you keep feeding us your warm diarrohea, “we are the victims” no one buys that shit

  10. One is indeed blind, stupid and gullible in believing that that piece of crap portrays anything close to accuracy,. Israel needed the white phosphorous to illuminate their targets. It would be incredibly stupid of anyone to be outside when they were was a war going on, especially after Israel warned citizens in Gaza to stay inside. No other army does that. It’s also incredibly blind, stupid, and gullible to ignore the fact that Hamas counted its own terrorists among the “unarmed civilians” They were smart to do so, as the blind, stupid, and gullible believed them to be civilians. And if Gaza hadn’t sent those rockets into Israel, there would have been no need for an invasion of a non-existent state called “Palestine.”

    Thank you BBC Watch for exposing distortions and lies.

  11. how can anyone watch this documentary and still be proud and pro isreali. face up to the facts stop lying to yourself. the bbc has a duty to reports these events.

  12. Pingback: BBC commissioning editor ‘explains’ his claim of ‘half-covered-up atrocities’ in Israel | BBC Watch

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