It was apparent not long into the documentary, which I later learned first aired four years ago, that the narrated script exuded a definite leftist bias, and to reinforce this message a succession of talking heads belonging to a variety of academics of a politically correct bent interspersed the footage to remind us of the woefully deleterious impact that European colonisation and missionary activity had upon "indigenous peoples".
Occasionally the cultural relativism, the premise that all civilisations are created equal (and the devil take downtrodden women, I suppose) reached breathtaking heights, as when we were told, in all seriousness, of how colonial rule in one island in the Dutch East Indies had tragically destroyed the "heroic" lifestyle of the warring headhunters. To lachrymose commentary, we saw footage of these former headhunters in their warrior costume, all dressed up but with nowhere of a headhunting nature to go.
It was when the footage reached Morocco, with the narration continuing on its characteristic way, that I had a sudden sinking feeling. "Brace yourself!" I told myself. "You know what the next port of call will be."
And so it proved, the female narrator (whose waspish tones throughout were laced with the requisite amount of disapproval at the appropriate points) informing us with due emphasis and not a word about the Turkish-ruled past:
"In another Arab land ... Palestine ..."And so we were told that in promising a National Home in Palestine for the Jews Britain had assured the Arab population that nothing would be done to disadvantage them – but had not kept its word.
There was talk of how Palestine was being taken over by "Jewish colonists," and one of the talking heads found official British footage taken in 1939 "quite sinister". The footage, he noted, was largely a commercial for Jaffa oranges, omitting any hint of how Palestine had been "completely destroyed" by violence at that date. The omission was due to the fact that Britain wanted to give the impression that it was "in control" of the Mandate instead of "disregarding the interests of Palestine".
All in all, I found this to be a decidedly nasty segment, set as it was in the context of the programme's general anti-imperialist thrust.
Although there was little in it directly critical of Jews, it helped to bolster the impression, as that description of Palestine as an "Arab land" foreshadowed, that the subsequent creation of Israel had been a great wrong.
After the programme first went to air in 2008 it drew the following criticism from a member of the Anglo-Jewish community, Stephen Franklin, who complained about the programme's "totally extraordinary report" to the BBC Trust.
The focus of the complaint, which along with others he made regarding items pertaining to Israel was (surprise surprise!) rejected by Al Beeb, can be viewed here.
Mr Franklin subsequently blogged in a post entitled "BBC Trust sees no lack of impartiality in blatantly misleading reports":
'There was a sequence shown from “Springtime in the Holy Land”, one of two films released at the same time to advertise Jaffa citrus products. After the first showing of the film in Tel Aviv in April 1939 the films were reviewed in the Palestine Post on 25th April in the following terms. “The agency which advertises citrus fruits invited an audience to view some films which are to be used the world over to make people orange conscious. One film was a poster affair of animated oranges and fast moving moons which would not induce me to drink anything but coco cola (sic) or Schweppes Ginger beer. The other was one of those subtle advertising stunts, which should leave the perspective victim absolutely vulnerable to every orange that he comes across. It was a travelogue called Springtime in the Holy Land….”
The commentary then said “Taken in 1939, had the camera been diverted just a couple of degrees, it would have shown you a Palestine that had been completely destroyed by 3 years of rebellion of the Palestinian Arab community against both the Jewish settlers and the British colonial presence. Palestine would have been a fractured landscape of road blocks, of search points, of police presence, of military presence. There were concentration camps. There were collective punishments. Houses were destroyed. Towns…had been laid low. The country was flooded with British troops. It’s remarkable that they could film a film of Palestine at this moment without having a single British soldier or policeman in the frame.”
This was an advertising film. The British Tourist Board films during the “winter of discontent” didn’t show piles of rubbish bags in the streets of London. More serious than that in 1939 Jews were dying in concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. The British didn’t have concentration camps. It was a totally inappropriate comment, and one that was likely to cause offence to Jews who had members of their family under attack by Palestinian Arabs in the Arab revolt and those with family members who died in real Nazi concentration camps.
The commentary also said “British control of Palestine was cemented in 1920 when it was granted mandated powers over the territory by the League of Nations. By then the British government had already pledged to create a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. Britain had assured the Arab population that nothing would be done to disadvantage them. But that promise wasn’t kept.”
As a simple matter of fact Britain had never assured the Arab population that nothing would be done to disadvantage them, but it also [has] to be seen in the context of the time.
Britain had already decided to bring out the infamous Palestine White Paper of May 1939, which clearly breached the terms of the mandate by tightly restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine at the time that Jews were most in danger. That was the real breach of their promise and it was confirmed as such by the Permanent Mandates Commission on whose behalf Britain governed Palestine, and who declared the White Paper to be “not in conformity” with the terms of Mandate Resolution of 1922. That breach of international law cost countless Jewish lives in the holocaust that followed.'
And so the BBC makes, and recycles, the shoddy reportage and outright propaganda that, in a media war of attrition against Israel, has turned and is turning countless viewers and listeners against the little Jewish State.
What a truly despicable organisation it is.