BBC under fire for planned documentary on City of David in Jerusalem

NGO which maintains historical Jewish sites in Jerusalem warns upcoming BBC documentary is already tainted by journalist’s anti-Israel bias.

Arutz Sheva Staff , 11/09/20 10:02 Share
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The BBC is under fire this week – for a documentary which hasn’t even been released.

The UK broadcaster is currently producing a documentary on Jewish activities in eastern Jerusalem, including in the Holy Basin, the area surrounding the Old City, an area rich in archeological and religious sites.

For the documentary, the BBC’s Rosie Garthwaite, interviewed Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation (Elad – Ir David Foundation), about his organization’s operations in the area.

While Garthwaite vowed the documentary would be fair and balanced, Spielman said he was shocked to read Garthwaite’s follow-up questionnaire, emailed to him in mid-August.

“We want our programme to be a fair and accurate account of events,” she wrote.

In the questionnaire, Spielman said, Garthwaite exhibited a transparent bias against Israel and Jewish claims to the city, deriding Jewish life in eastern Jerusalem as “the settling of Jewish people in occupied land.”

Garthwaite also repeatedly characterized Jerusalem as “occupied land” and “occupied territory”, accusing the City of David Foundation – Elad of violating international law.

This is not the first time Garthwaite has been accused of harboring an anti-Israel bias. This January, she came under fire for sharing a social media post which included maps claiming to show the spread of Israel over “Palestine” – despite the latter never having existed.

After the tweet stirred controversy, Garthwaite later removed the item, telling The JC she had “un-retweeted” the maps. A BBC spokesperson said Garthwaite “realized it was inaccurate”.

Garthwaite has also expressed criticism of Britain’s Balfour Declaration, retweeting a message which called it “British duplicity in the Middle East”.

Concerned by Garthwaite’s bias, Spielman reached out to the British Parliament, BBC chief David Clementi, and BBC director-general Tim Davie, warning against releasing a “biased, inaccurate and sensational” documentary.

“It is clear from her questions and statements that the program intends to vilify Israel, Jewish history, and Jewish charities and present a number of false and misleading claims.”

“In addition, we are very concerned by the tabloid tactics which have been applied during this production.”

Spielman went on to say that Garthwaite had ‘chased’ over a dozen former City of David – Elad employees, “including summer interns who were employed more than seven years ago, asking them to make statements about the organization.”

Spielman later told Arutz Sheva that the production appears to be an “anti-Israel” hit-piece designed as “a direct attack on the City of David”.

“While this most recent piece by BBC seems to be another example of biased journalism with an anti-Israel narrative from the get-go, given that it will be a direct attack on the City of David, which forms the very basis of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, we must not sit idly by. Dozens of organizations and individuals immediately got involved both on social media and with letters to the director demanding that the network once and for all fulfill their motto of fair and honest reporting. Additionally, this is a major test for the BBC‘s new director general Tim Davie, who has made statements about re-evaluating the way the network is operating. If he is serious about what he has said, then this is a prime opportunity.”

A BBC spokesperson said to Arutz Sheva in response: “We do not comment on investigations”.

Tags: City of David Jerusalem BBC

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