BBC WS radio amplifies claim that a country called Palestine “existed”

The November 2nd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Boston Calling’ – titled “Power and diplomacy” – included an item (from 14:21 here) which was introduced by presenter Carol Hills (of PRI) using some very obvious sign-posting.

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Hills: “…let’s duck into a museum in Washington DC that’s trying to do its own kind of diplomacy without a diplomat in sight. It’s a museum dedicated to Palestinian history with a mission to spark conversations about Palestinian culture, focused on its people not its politics. Mikaela Lefrak went to check out the Museum of the Palestinian People.”

In fact this is a recycled and slightly edited version of a report produced by Lefrak for PRI’s ‘The World’ in early July which begins with the same sign-posting.

Lefrak: “When visitors walk into the one-room museum the first object they see is a leafy-green water jug. It’s made of glass from Hebron; a city in the West Bank known for its glass-blowing traditions. What visitors won’t see is overtly political content, even in a museum about an area that’s at the centre of a decades-long geo-political conflict.”

Despite the claims from Hills and Lefrak, as we noted when BBC World Service radio previously promoted the museum and its founder back in June, it is essentially the continuation of a project that is very much political – even if Lefrak fails to identify it as such.

Lefrak: “Museum founder Bshara Nassar says his goal is to create a space that’s more personal than political.”

Nassar: “We want to really transform the story and put Palestinians in the light that we’re human beings, right? We’re artists, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re in politics and we contributing a lot to the US as immigrants as well.”

Lefrak: “Nassar immigrated to the US from the West Bank in 2011. When he came to Washington he saw a city full of museums but he didn’t see one that reflected him.”

Nassar: “Really I could not see a place where the Palestinian story can be told.”

Lefrak: “So he decided to open a travelling exhibition that would eventually become the museum. One of the objects in the collection is a 1946 passport for the Palestine Mandate. It was rendered useless the following year after the United Nations voted to establish the State of Israel. Curator Nada Odeh wants visitors to understand that history.”

That passport was of course in fact “rendered useless” in May 1948 when the British terminated their administration of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine – the purpose of which was to create a Jewish national home. In 1947 the UNGA passed a resolution (181) recommending that the area then still under British administration should be partitioned between Jewish and Arab states – a recommendation accepted by the Jews but rejected out of hand by the Arabs and hence never implemented. BBC world Service listeners heard nothing of that history – or the Arab attacks which followed that UN vote – but they did hear the ‘non-political’ museum’s Syrian-born head curator promote the falsehood that a country “called Palestine” used to exist.

Odeh: “We want them to learn that there is a country was called Palestine. It existed.”

Lefrak: “Odeh maintains that the museum is not political and there isn’t any mention of political leaders, protesters or human rights abuses on either side of the conflict. But there are certain phrases that some people will inevitably take issue with like signage about the Nakba or catastrophe – that’s the word Palestinians use to describe the time surrounding the creation of Israel. As Odeh puts it:”

Odeh: “There is a true story. There is people who were displaced because of…ah…someone came and took the land.”

That politically motivated, dumbed-down caricature of history went completely unchallenged by Lefrak – and unedited by the producers of this BBC World Service programme.

Lefrak: “The museum is just a mile away from the White House. President Trump has been a staunch supporter of the Israeli government but Nassar says he started dreaming up the museum before Trump was elected. He wants it to be a place of conversation, not protest.”

Nassar: “We welcome people with open hearts, you know, with open hearts – right? – to come and have a conversation with us. And it doesn’t matter if they agree or not; it’s the most important the conversation.”

Lefrak then came up with a debatable description of the J Street campaigning group.

Lefrak: “In the museum’s first few weeks a group of monks visited and a group from the liberal pro-Israel organisation J Street. But most of the visitors have been Palestinian Americans like one young man named Yussef Hamid. He showed off his Palestinian flag necklace.”

Having interviewed that visitor, Lefrak closed her report.

Lefrak: “Hamid said that seeing a museum like this about people like him gave him hope that the long-standing conflict might one day end.”

Carol Hills also had closing comments to make:

Hills: “Mikaela Lefrak at the Museum of the Palestinian People. It opened in Washington DC this past summer. As we heard, Ahmed [sic] wants his museum to provide hope: hope that the Palestinian people will finally find peace. That has long defied diplomatic efforts.”

A fitting end indeed to a ‘report’ in which Palestinians were portrayed as passive victims with no responsibility for their situation, history was distorted to the point that BBC audiences were led to believe that a country called Palestine “existed” and the political motivations behind a ‘museum’ were repeatedly whitewashed.

Related Articles:

Context-free political slogans go unchallenged on BBC WS ‘Newshour’

BBC News website gives platform to political campaigning article



8 comments on “BBC WS radio amplifies claim that a country called Palestine “existed”

  1. It is a worry that this Iran/BBC masterplan to destroy Israel both by military and propaganda means will culminate when Israel defends itself against an attack from Iran’s puppets – and the BBC will support Hezbollah and Hamas. At that stage, the BBC should be thrown out of Jerusalem.

  2. It is unimportant whether a, country called Palestine existed. What is certain is that a people calling themselves Palestinian existed prior to 1948 and that most of them were expelled by Zionists and their land confiscated with no compensation or right of return.

    • Back in the real world, those pre-1948 Palestinians were the Jews. The Arabs of Palestine viewed themselves as an South Syrian, as the famous 1924 postage stamp case decided by the House of Lords illustrated. But of what value are the facts if they don’t support your political stance, right?

      Interestingly, the Christian Arab nationalist George Antonious used the work Nakba to refer to the severing of Mandate Palestine from Syria. As we know, that word was later repurposed, first as a reproach to Arab leaders for failing to assist the Arabs of Palestine in defeating the Jews in 1948 and later to describe the effects on the Arabs of Palestine of that failed attempt at Jewish genocide, but now laying the blame much more safely and conveniently at the feet of those Jews who refused to leave or die.

  3. Pingback: BBC WS radio amplifies claim that a country called Palestine “existed” — BBC Watch – NZ Conservative Coalition

  4. To understand the pathology underpinning the Palestinian Arabs obsession with their lost honor at having been defeated by their moral inferiors, just imagine if in the US White Southerners who spent their time obsessing over the “lost cause”, celebrated Lincoln’s birthday as their Nakba Day, demanded compensation from the North and a return to their imagined golden past. No one would take them seriously, most might pity them. But as the Arabs’ opponents are Jews, that seems to make all the difference in reception.

  5. someone came and took/stole what some people say is some 80% of Palestinian land for themselves.
    I wonder who that can be.
    Surely not those who purport to read the books of Amos, Micah and most certainly Kings.

  6. Pingback: 11/04 Links Pt2: Poll: Almost 50% of UK Jews will ‘seriously consider’ leaving if Corbyn wins elections; Historian: New evidence shows FDR’s bigotry derailed many Holocaust rescue plans; Ray Charles in Israel – 24/6 Magazine

  7. If “PRI” is legitimate “Public Radio”, does it receive tax dollars to support its operations? If you click on their page, they solicit donations.

Comments are closed.