Islamic Human Rights Commission
8th December 2003
Media Monitoring UK:, BBC2 “Terror Tourists”, 9 p.m., 7th December 2003
Please complain to the BBC and to the Broadcasting Standards Commission regarding the standard of this programme. This programme was a wholly inaccurate and biased reflection of the violence in Palestine today. It is made by a producer who has previously been sued for libel and criticized by the Broadcasting Standards Commission.
The programme followed around 5 U.S. citizens who travelled to Occupied Palestine to participate in an “anti-terrorism” course with a group including Israeli Defence Forces and Special Forces personnel. The 5 participants took part in hand-to-hand combat training, firearms handling and took part in armed patrols of Palestinian neighbourhoods.
The programme represented the Israeli point of view of the conflict only. There was no statement from any Palestinian whatsoever. It falsely portrayed all Palestinians as potential terrorists. It furthermore depicted Jewish settlers living in illegally-occupied Hebron as victims of terror.
There was no attempt whatsoever to critique the actual course and its contents. Over the course of the 1 hour documentary, only 2 statements towards the end of the programme were made questioning the actual legality of the course. One of the entrepreneurs behind the camp was asked his opinion should Muslims create a similar course. His response was that this camp was created for self-defence reasons and not for offensive attacks, implying that Muslims would only have such camps for offensive reasons. The producer accepted this answer with no critique or follow-up at all. The producer also stated that the Palestinian Authority has condemned the course and declared it illegal. Once again, he failed to explain the reasons behind the condemnation.
The programme was made by Tim Tate, who has previously been criticized by the Broadcasting Standards Commission for his programme, “the Cook Report”, which promoted the Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax. Tate has previously been successfully sued by Det. Supt. Peter Coles for allegations made against him in an earlier book, “Children of the Devil: Ritual Abuse & Satanic Crime”. Coles had headed an investigation into a multi-generational incest case in Nottingham. Tate made several false allegations against Coles of concealing evidence and indirectly allowing the abuse to take place. Coles successfully sued both Tate and the publishing company who \”retracted the allegations completely, apologized unreservedly and agreed to pay very substantial damages and all the officer\’s legal costs.\” There are rumours that the settlement was for £50,000.
Please complain to the BBC and the BSC. The following are some talking points:
1. The programme was a completely biased and one-sided account of the entire conflict in Palestine. It made no efforts to interview a single Palestinian and failed to give an accurate portrayal of the extreme difficulties the Palestinians face under Israeli occupation. Furthermore the documentary was not advertised or flagged-up as portraying the conflict from an Israeli perspective, therefore leaving the viewer to believe that it was an impartial BBC documentary on the conflict. This allowed such a strongly biased programme from the Israeli perspective to be given the cover and legitimacy of an unbiased BBC documentary. Following a similar complaint regarding a pro-Israeli programme on the Siege of Bethlehem last year (Correspondent Special: The Siege of Bethlehem, BBC Two, Sunday 9th June 2002), the BBC’s Governors criticised the corporation for this mistake. As a result, the BBC stated that “new procedures have been introduced to prevent such an occurrence happening again”.
2. The programme referred to the Occupied Palestinian Territories as “disputed land”. The United Nations and international law have clearly recognised the illegal Israeli occupation of the land. Even Ariel Sharon has publicly referred to it as “occupied”. To use the term “disputed” betrays a pro-Zionist agenda.
3. The programme refers to the few hundred Jewish settlers who live among the 150,000 Palestinians in Hebron. It states that these settlements “are threatened with destruction by the U.S. backed peace plan”. The programme does not clearly mention that these settlements are illegal under international law. It also fails to mention that these Jewish settlers have used violence, and are willing to use violence against Arabs to achieve their aim of “Greater Israel”. For example, in 1994, an American Jewish fanatic, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians while they were praying in the Ibrahimi mosque.
4. The producers of the programme have labelled Hebron as “one of the most dangerous cities in the world”. On what statistics do they base this bold statement? The actual figures they use to underscore this claim is that “this year alone 30 people have died and 38 more been injured on its streets”. This year, thousands more people have been murdered on the streets of Washington and New York. To call Hebron one of the most dangerous cities in the world is indicative of the pro-Israeli slant this programme carries.
5. This documentary was made by a producer whose work has previously been criticized by the Broadcasting Standards Commission and who has also been successfully sued for libellous allegations against a Detective Superintendent investigating child abuse. The programme should have been examined thoroughly for bias and false information due to this fact. It lacks journalistic credibility and should not have been broadcast.
6. Tim Tate accepted the course director’s opinions at face value without further questioning. He also never explained why the Palestinian Authority has condemned the camp as illegal.
7. Tim Tate never inquired as to what benefit knowing how to use an Uzi or hand-to hand combat would actually be, in the event of a terrorist attack. Such knowledge cannot stop such attacks and why this wasn’t picked up upon by Mr. Tate shows either journalistic bias or journalistic ineptitude.
8. If a similar camp was organised by Muslims, there is no doubt that it would be shut down immediately and its directors and participants arrested, on the charge of terrorism.
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