Government retaliates against BBC, accuses it of demonizing Israel

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Israeli government for announcing on 1 July that is cutting all links with the BBC, Britain’s state-owned TV and radio broadcaster, on the grounds that it “systematically demonizes” Israel and carries reports “verging on antisemitism.”

Describing the accusations against the BBC as “disgraceful and pathetic,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said the Israeli government “has trouble accepting the editorial freedom of certain news media when it doesn’t serve its interests.”

“The decision to boycott a widely-respected independent news organisation such as the BBC was “not just regrettable but also absurd,” Ménard said. It was also unworthy of a government that claimed to have assimilated the principles and virtues of press freedom, he added.

The reprisals against the BBC (which will include a boycott by Israeli officials and increased difficulties for BBC journalists going to Israel) follow the recent screening by the BBC of a report about Israel’s nuclear programme entitled “Israel’s secret weapon.”

The Israeli government also announced that it would apply pressure through its ambassador in Australia, Gaby Levy, on the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which has said it intends to screen the controversial documentary without yet setting a date.

As a result of a dispute between Israeli officials and the US television news network CNN last year, CNN came close to being removed from the service offered to Israeli homes by a satellite TV provider. In sometimes irate terms, the Israeli government has already accused CNN and the BBC of a pro-Palestinian bias.