Israel finds BBC too truthful for comfort


To sustain a fundamental lie over the long term, a propagandist must do more than disseminate false or misleading information; he must also wage a perpetual war against truth.

No lie can long survive without frequent censorship and intimidation of critics, because lies are like radioactive atoms-highly unstable.

When no amount of censorship can prevent the release of uncomfortable truths, the fundamental lie implodes, and the credibility of everyone associated with it gets sucked into the resulting black hole.

Such is the danger hanging over the head of Israel like the proverbial Sword of Damocles, only in this case, intimidation and censorship have to sustain multiple lies, such as: Israel was created by the UN; Arabs are responsible for the continuing violence; Israel is a peace-loving democracy; Jews have a biblical right to a homeland in Palestine; and Israel’s critics are anti-Semites.

This last lie, fatuous and inane though it may be, is particularly important because it forms the basis for virtually all censorship and intimidation. Because propaganda is based on deception, rational criticism must be stigmatized as a moral insult deserving of unfettered ad hominem attacks.

We saw such an example on June 29 when a spokesman for the Israeli government condemned the BBC for demonizing Israel “in a way reminiscent of anti-Semitic tracts published in Nazi Germany.”

The cause of the uproar was a June 28 trailer on BBC World promoting a “Correspondent” series documentary called Israel’s Secret Weapon. It showed pictures of Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona, and its chemical and biological weapons headquarters at Nes Ziona. The accompanying narrative asked: “Which country in the Middle East has not declared the nuclear and biological weapons in its possession?”

Danny Seaman, the Israeli spokesman, admitted that the content of the trailer wasn’t the problem. “The BBC didn’t raise anything that has not already been on Israeli television,” he told the Guardian. “It’s the tone not the facts we’re worried about. é We’re used to journalistic garbage as a cover for anti-Israeli propaganda. But it was not only this program. We feel this was the culmination of a decision by the BBC to show Israel as some kind of criminal country, a rogue police state. There’s an insensitivity to the state of Israel and the Jewish people, and their history.”

Well, Israel is a criminal country, and it is a rogue police state-see July’s column Hamas a principled defender of Palestine-but that’s just the sort of truth Zionist propaganda is designed to obscure. Because the trailer showed pictorial evidence of illegal weapons development, the propaganda had to be defended, so the BBC was slagged, and the show denigrated.

But the danger to Israel goes deeper than the trailer. Since 1969, the U.S and Israel have had a duplicitous “understanding” designed to hide these illegal weapons programs from worldview. The U.S. permits Israel to maintain a nuclear program so long as Israel does not hold nuclear tests or publicly declare that it possesses nuclear weapons. In return for this calculated policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” the U.S. does not pressure Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and uses its Security Council veto to ensure that UN weapons inspectors are kept out.

This same U.S. interference also insulates Israel’s chemical and biological weapons facilities from international scrutiny. For example, from Feb. 12 to March 30, 2001, Israel attacked Palestinians with an unknown poison gas that sent 180 people to hospital with severe convulsions. The gas was manufactured at Nes Ziona and the suffering it caused has been documented. At the time of the attack, Israel denied using gas. Israel’s Secret Weapon debunked that claim.

In response, Israel has severed all co-operative relations with the BBC, and Sharon had the effrontery to ban Britain’s national broadcaster from attending a meeting