By Gilad Atzmon
Two days ago I found out that the BBC was planning to air - We Are British Jews. No doubt the British Broadcaster needs to fill the open void between the news about Corbyn being an ‘existential threat’ and the ex chief Rabbi’s ‘message of hope.’ The BBC’s website offered the following description of its expedition into the mysterious world of contemporary Hebrew Brits. “Eight British Jews with a broad range of opinions, beliefs and practices, go on a journey to explore what it means to be Jewish in Britain today.” Being an investigative character, I decided to launch a 24 hour online FB poll. I posted the following text on my Facebook page:
“Do you remember that once upon a time the BBC claimed to be 'impartial'? How balanced do you expect BBC's We Are British Jews to be?”
Since the Facebook poll template only offers a binary option, poll participants were asked to choose either ‘Totally impartial...’ or ‘Zionist to the core.’
I genuinely expected the results to be somewhat balanced. After all, the BBC is our national broadcast. It once enjoyed a great reputation. Some of the BBC’s journalists are still superb inquisitive minds. But many think that, of late, the corporation has not been doing its job. It is lame, slow and as the poll revealed, isn’t trusted by the public.
The reaction to the poll came pretty quickly. One hour in, 86 had voted. About half were my FB friends, the rest were unknown to me. The results ought to embarrass the BBC. 99% of poll participants expected the BBC’s program to be ‘Zionist to the core.’ Apparently, 85 out of 86 didn’t think highly of our national broadcaster.
I went to bed hoping that by the time I opened my eyes in the morning someone would have been brave enough to protect the BBC’s reputation. After all, Britain has been my home for 25 years, the BBC is my national broadcaster and I even pay my TV license to this corporation just to make sure that it remains ‘impartial.’ But when I woke up yesterday the situation hadn’t changed much. 18 hours after I launched my poll, there were more than 150 participants and only 2% expected the BBC to produce a balanced documentary about the Jews. Sad yet revealing, I thought.
But, you will be happy to learn, the BBC does not stand alone. The Zionist brigade, or more precisely, a Facebook page called ‘Israel Advocacy Movement” decided to resurrect the reputation of our national broadcaster. This is how they introduced my poll to their ultra Zionist crowd:
“Disgraced antisemite, Gilad Atzmon, has just made a poll claiming the BBC is ‘Zionist to the core’. Let’s vote on his bigoted poll then circulate it far and wide so that their hatred can be challenged.”
That a Hasbara page lied is no surprise, deception is kosher within the Hasbara milieu. The poll didn’t ‘claim’ that the BBC was ‘Zionist to the core.’ Instead it invited people to vote on whether they expected a particular BBC program about Jews to be ‘balanced’ or ‘Zionist to the core.’ None the less, I was delighted to see Israel’s advocates rallying for the BBC because this group often accuses the BBC of being biased against Israel. The Zionists in Britain seem to have changed their spots once again. They are now committed to the defence of our National Broadcaster; in an affair that seems like a honeymoon verging on biological symbiosis.
But the truth of the matter is that although the Israel Advocacy Group has more than 37.000 followers it only managed to pull in around 170 of their supporters. Within an hour they had managed to boost support for the national broadcaster. At one point it seemed 38% of the poll participants expected the BBC to produce a balanced program about Jews. Needless to mention, the list of the BBC supporters resembled my Bar Mitzvah’s guest-list. But truth can’t be denied, there is at least one ethnic minority in this country that is united in its support of our national broadcaster.
At 8.56 PM, just 4 minutes ahead of the BBC broadcast, I closed the poll. The result was still depressing for the BBC, despite the intervention by the Israeli advocacy group, seven out of ten (68%) expected the BBC’s documentary to be ‘Zionist to the core.’ We may have wondered what it takes for a national broadcaster to become FOX News? Not a lot as we can see.
Of course I watched ‘We are British Jews’ last night with two other ex-Israelis. It delivered a pretty accurate picture of British Jewry. Not a flattering image I am afraid: a lot of kosher food, a lot of talking and preaching and all while eating. Except for one young woman (out of eight) who desperately advocated for the oppressed while appealing for universal ethics, the group was rabidly Zionist without really understanding the meaning of the Zionist call. In the eyes of the British Jews depicted, Zionism meant ‘Jewish right to self determination on their historic land.’ But in fact, no one denies the Jews their right to ‘self determination.’ But determining who you are at the expense of others, is where Zionism meets opposition and for crucial reasons. The so-called ‘Jewish historical land’ has been called Palestine for the last 2000 years and has been the home of the Palestinian people.
The BBC tried to deliver: it tried to be accurate and impartial. But, unfortunately, it can’t. It has lost the talent and the ability. It may even be possible that with the new impediments on freedom of speech, the BBC, like other British media, can’t deliver the truth anymore. One example was the completely ahistorical depiction of the Palestinian plight--Gaza, for instance, was, according to the BBC program, a narrative of resistance that began with the Israel’s 1967 occupation. The 1948 mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the young Israel wasn’t even mentioned. The fact that Gaza is home to refugees from 1948 was never acknowledged. The Palestinian cause was depicted as merely a vague reaction to the IDF’s ‘tear gas and rubber bullets.’
So yes, as my Facebook poll clearly predicted, the first episode of We Are British Jews' was ‘Zionist to the core.’ Whether it was consciously Zionist or not, is a different question.