BBC criticised for dropping film with ‘severe ramifications’ questioning the mass exodus of Jewish people after fall of Jerusalem in AD70

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DAILY MAIL  APRIL ,29th 2013

  • BBC criticised for dropping film with ‘severe ramifications’ questioning the mass exodus of Jewish people after fall of Jerusalem in AD70
  • Film maker Ilan Ziv accuses the BBC of succumbing to political pressure
  • Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story was due to air last Thursday
  • BBC claims the documentary was axed because it ‘did not fit editorially’
  • Viewers attack the Corporation for dropping the show
  • Academic Dr Siam Bhayro says axing of the show is strange, given the BBC’s past record of airing controversial documentaries

By ROB COOPER

PUBLISHED: 06:30 EST, 29 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:26 EST, 29 April 2013

'Political pressure': Ilan Ziv, who accused the BBC of 'incompetence' after they failed to show his documentary‘The BBC has been accused of ‘political naiveté’ after dropping a controversial documentary which called into question the mass exile of Jewish people from Jerusalem in AD70 after their failed uprising against the Romans.

The one-hour programme, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was due to air on BBC4 last week but was scrapped at the last minute.

Film maker Ilan Ziv accused the BBC of ‘incompetence’ and suggested they succumbed to ‘conscious or subconscious political pressure’ after they decided not to broadcast it.

In a blog post, Mr Ziv said the decision to axe the programme was: ‘Ultimately a sad saga of what I believe is a mixture of incompetence, political naiveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure and, I believe, a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates.’

The Jews were expelled from Jerusalem following an uprising against the Romans, with hundreds of thousands killed and many more sent into exile.

After the revolt there were still pockets of Jews left living in Jerusalem, but the centre of gravity for the Jewish people shifted to the Galilee.

A Radio Times preview said the documentary, which questioned the scale of the exile, would have ‘severe ramifications for relations in the region’.

Dr Siam Bhayro, a University of Exeter senior lecturer in Early Jewish Studies, said the decision to axe the programme was ‘strange’, given the BBC’s past record of airing controversial documentaries.

And angry viewers took to the magazine’s website to accuse the corporation of ‘pandering to a small interest group.’

Pat Heath wrote: ‘Furious this has been pulled! After all the fuss last about how “Public interest Arguments” for showing flagship documentary on North Korea will be vehemently defended, but why is this quietly removed?’

And samd11 added: ‘Ridiculous pandering to a small interest group! The BBC used to ask the tough questions…..now they cower in fear due to some fundamentalist Zionists whose world vision is as warped as any other fundamentalist religious group.’

 

Controversial documentary: Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story questioned whether the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD70 ever happenedControversial documentary: Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story questioned whether the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD70 ever happened

The BBC denied that the film had been dropped because it was controversial and said it ‘did not fit editorially’ with a series of historical archeology films.

However, Israeli-born Mr Ziv claimed a ‘mini political storm was brewing’ at the Corporation in the days before the documentary was due to broadcast.

More…

He claims he was told that the programme was ‘delayed’ in going out because he had not had enough time to review the final cut of his longer 104-minute film.

ANGER FROM VIEWERS AFTER DOCUMENTARY IS AXED BY BBC

Television viewers were angry after the BBC scrapped the documentary which was one of the Radio Times’ picks of the day.

Viewers accused the Corporation of pandering to small interest groups.

They wrote on the Radio Times website:

samd11 wrote: ‘Ridiculous pandering to a small interest group! The BBC used to ask the tough questions…..now they cower in fear due to some fundamentalist Zionists whose world vision is as warped as any other fundamentalist religious group.’

Liam Loftus said: ‘I agree with these comments, it looks like this show was pulled at the last minute to please some unnamed pressure group. How come unnamed groups get to dictate who and what we watch??????’

Joseph Boulas added: ‘Andy Marr said that, when joining the BBC, one has the “organs of opinion formally removed”. Now I wonder if he got right what organs are removed…’

Pat Heath said: ‘Furious this has been pulled! After all the fuss last about how “Public interest Arguments” for showing flagship documentary on North Korea will be vehemently defended, but why is this quietly removed?’

Meg Howarth wrote: ‘The pulling of this programme reeks of censorship.’

He described the situation as: ‘A saga of well meaning programming executives who acquired the “courageous“ film they claim to love, believing that they can sneak it by with a “neutral title”.

‘When they were “caught”, rather than face the criticism and be helped by the mountains of documents and dates I was ready to send them,  they panicked like deer in the headlights not knowing what to do and eventually raised  their hands in resignation.’

Dr Bhayro said he was surprised that the BBC had decided to axe the show.

‘Although I have not seen the film, it would appear that the maker is not saying anything new – everyone knows that Jews continued to live in the Holy Land after AD70,’ he said.

‘But if the film maker is trying to argue that today’s Palestinians are directly descended from the first century Jewish inhabitants of Judea, then his argument is deeply flawed and far too simplistic.

‘Having said that, given their past record, it is precisely the sort of argument I would have expected the BBC to broadcast, so their decision is strange either way.

‘After all, it is not like the BBC hasn’t broadcast documentaries showing controversial points of view before.

‘Indeed, it often seems like, to get a documentary on the BBC, you have to be saying something a bit bizarre or controversial – they are not really interested in the more solid, mundane or rigorous aspects of scholarship.’

Blog post: Ilan Ziv accused the BBC of 'incompetence' and suggested they succumbed 'conscious or subconscious political pressure' in this post after they axed his documentary Blog post: Ilan Ziv accused the BBC of ‘incompetence’ and suggested they succumbed ‘conscious or subconscious political pressure’ in this post after they axed his documentary

A Radio Times review of the programme said ‘archeology is politics in the Middle East’.

The reviewer added: ‘The precarious balance of Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites in the ancient heart of Jerusalem is informed as much by what’s below ground as what’s above.

‘Which is why evidence revealed here, suggesting that the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD 70 may never have actually happened, has such severe ramifications for relations in the region.’

The BBC showed a repeat of a documentary about Egyptologist Flinders Petrie last Thursday evening instead.

A spokesman for the BBC today said they may show Mr Ziv’s programme in the future.

‘We originally acquired Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story to supplement BBC Four’s season exploring the history of archaeology,’ he said.

‘However, it was decided that it did not fit editorially so we did not show the programme as part of the season. Any future transmissions are under review.’

JEWS EXILED AFTER A FAILED UPRISING AGAINST THE ROMANS IN AD70

ANALYSIS by Dr Siam Bhayro, Senior Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies, Exeter University

The Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD Engraving by Louis Haghe after a Painting by David RobertsJewish exodus: Painting of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD by David Roberts

The ‘First Jewish War’ was a Jewish revolt against Roman rule in the Holy Land. It lasted around four years from AD66 to AD70, culminating with the conquest of Jerusalem and destruction of the Second Temple.

Initially, the Romans suffered incredible losses, among the most costly the Empire ever experienced, which explains the level of retribution they meted out.

It is estimated that Roman losses were at least 20,000, while Jewish losses numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with many more sold into slavery.

After this war, the centre of gravity for the Jewish nation moved steadily further away from Jerusalem, ending up to the north in the Galilee.

The historicity of these events is not disputed and is agreed upon by the three main monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The theological interpretations of these events may differ, but there’s no argument about the events themselves.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316492/BBC-criticised-dropping-film-severe-ramifications-questioning-mass-exodus-Jewish-people-fall-Jerusalem-AD70.html#ixzz2RtgDUQhq
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Film-maker queries BBC reasons for shelving Jewish history documentary

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Guardian today  April 29.2013. Please note that   there is a factual error in the article.  She  writes :
” He said the BBC agreed with the National Film Board of Canada behind his back to change the title.”
and this is what I wrote  in my blog:
I was approached  by the distributor to see if I would agree for the BBC  to cut down the program.  I agreed to it on the condition that I would be  consulted  so the integrity of the longer version (104 min) would be preserved.  I also  said that if I was not  to be consulted  my name should be  removed  from the program and the cut down  will be listed as an “adaptation from a film by Ilan Ziv”.  From my access to some internal documents, it is obvious now that the BBC was not genuinely interested in my getting involved.  As the documents suggest, they  already   announced that the cut down version would be an adaptation.”
As you can see the  story is a bit different and the  National Film Board of Canada has nothing to do with this incident. Rather  than “cooking a deal”  behind my back  as I was alleged to have said,  they a communicated  faithfully to the BBC my conditions for the cut down.
I  am writing to the Guardian requesting them to  correct the error  and  use my words on this matter rather than summarize  them
Here is the full Guardian Story:
The film-maker behind a BBC4 documentary about ancient Jewish history that was shelved last week has accused the corporation of a “mixture of incompetence” and “political naiveté”.

Ilan Ziv, the Israeli-born documentary maker behind Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story, which questions the scale of the exodus of the Jewish people from Jerusalem in AD70, also said the official reason given by the BBC for pulling it from the schedules contradicts the one made to him in private.

“This is ultimately a sad saga of what I believe is a mixture of incompetence, political naiveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure and ultimately, I believe, a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates,” Ziv wrote on his blog.

He also accused the BBC of trying to “camouflage” the real content of the documentary by changing its title and of secretly planning with one of the film’s co-producers to remove Ziv’s name from the programme and to present it as an “adaptation” of his work.

The film was due to go out last Thursday as part of a BBC4 season on archaeology but was replaced at the last minute by a repeat of a documentary about Egyptologist Flinders Petrie.

The BBC denied it had been dropped because it was too controversial, saying it had done so because the film did “not fit editorially” with the tone of the season.

In a lengthy blogpost, Ziv said he believed the BBC dropped the documentary because they were afraid of his research, which was backed by a “detailed and substantial defence” and reviewed by “academics” and “reputable scholars” who did not find any factual errors or misrepresentations.

He said the film has nothing to do with the present conflict in the Middle East and has been screened elsewhere with little controversy, calling on the BBC to “rise above the hysteria and the attempts at self censorship”.

Ziv claimed an unnamed freelance hired by the BBC to reversion the film had called it “propaganda” and another had claimed it would “prop up the myth of exile ‘which we all know did not happen'”.

The BBC said it acquired Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story to supplement a BBC4 season exploring the history of archaeology. “However, it was decided that it did not fit editorially so we did not show the programme as part of the season,” the corporation said in a statement.

Ziv said the BBC acquired the documentary months ago but contacted him “barely a week before [the planned broadcast]” asking for his comments about a new cut of the film. He added that the corporation’s official version of events did not make sense.

“The BBC have had the film for almost six months. So why was this sudden rush which supposedly was the excuse given to me as to why the film was pulled out. Why was I contacted so late in the game? And why was there a discrepancy between what was told to me and the ‘official version’,” Ziv said.

“I discovered only 3 days before the broadcast that the BBC has been using a different name for the film: Jerusalem – An Archeological Mystery Story. It struck me as an odd choice that seems to camouflage the film’s real subject and repackages it as a neutral archeological mystery of sorts – like the hundreds of hours one can see on cable and satellite channels throughout the world.”.

“When I was given only a few days before a broadcast date that no one bothered to inform me about, I pleaded for more time. It was only when one of the programming executives called me, I realised that there were much bigger issues for her than my complaint about being pushed into an impossible schedule,” he said.

Propaganda’ claim over pulled BBC Jerusalem documentary

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 The  “Exile’ Saga continues!  Today’s article in The Jewish Chronicle

Propaganda’ claim over pulled BBC Jerusalem documentary 
The Cardo in Old Jerusalem (Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher)The Cardo in Old Jerusalem (Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher)

The Israeli-born director of a documentary that makes controversial claims about Jewish history has criticised the BBC’s decision not to air it as planned.

The film, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was due to be shown on BBC Four last Thursday as part of the channel’s archaeology series. Made by Ilan Ziv, it was to be an abridged version of a documentary that was screened at a Jewish Film Festival in Canada last year.

The documentary pushes a theory that the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD did not send the Jews into the diaspora. “The exile of the Jewish people has played a central role in Christian and Jewish theology,” said the BBC’s synopsis. “But what if the exile never actually happened?”

Despite appearing in television listings, the documentary was replaced with another by the BBC, which stated that “it did not fit editorially” with the channel’s season exploring the history of archaeology.

However a viewer who contacted the BBC to ask why the programme had been cancelled said he was told that “it might have been controversial”.

Mr Ziv told the JC that he had been contacted only a few days before the programme was due to air, and discovered that BBC executives had questioned its content during the editing process to produce a final cut of the programme.

“Part of the editorial debate was that one freelance employee who was hired as part of the re-versioning of the film called it propaganda,” he said. “Another person inside the BBC, claimed (or so I was told) that the film drove some political point of view.

“I was a little taken aback because the BBC had a broadcast copy of the master of the film for months and I was contacted to comment on the cut six days before the broadcast without even being told there was a broadcast,” he said. “It was very unprofessional.”

He offered to help the BBC rebut criticisms but said he was not given the chance.

“They told me that a few days before the broadcast that the cut that they had had been recut, because somebody anonymous felt that a scene that depicted the Palestinians towards the end was too emotive,” he said.

“I gave them the excuse to pull it out because when I realised I had three days to re-edit the cut, I said I was unlikely to have time.”

He said he did not believe in conspiracy theories. “I do not know what really happened inside the BBC,” he said. “I think the problem is the people who bought the film were very well-meaning and were completely taken aback by this very vicious reaction.”

Mr Ziv said he hoped to organise alternative screenings in the UK so that the film could be “judged on its own merit”. He rejected the suggestion that it was controversial since it does not deal with contemporary Israeli politics, and said he was not attempting to push the theory of writer Shlomo Sands, who challenges “the whole concept of the Jewish people

“Sands did something that I refuse to do,” he said.

When the documentary was shown in Toronto, Mr Ziv found the reaction extremely positive. “There were some people who challenged it but the film was meant to raise debate,” he said. “It was not attacked. People argued about the issues, but they were meant to.”

“Some people will hate it, some people will love it, but let them debate it.”

BBC bosses found Jewish film ‘too hot’

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The  “Exile” saga continues! As promised , today’s  London Times article about the  controversy  of

” Exiling” my film in the BBC, the details of which you can read in Yesterday’s blog which you can see by scrolling down.

Ilan Ziv’s film questions scale of the Jewish exile

Laura Dixon

Published at 12:01AM, April 29 2013

The BBC has been criticised for dropping a film questioning the scale of the mass exile of the Jewish people after the fall of Jerusalem in AD70.

Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, by the Israeli-born film-maker Ilan Ziv, was to examine “new evidence that suggests that the majority of the Jewish people may not have been exiled following the fall of Jerusalem”.

The exile of the Jews after a failed uprising against the Roman Empire has played a central role in Christian and Jewish theology. But the documentary was pulled at the last minute, and a repeat of an older programme was broadcast instead.

The BBC denied that it had been dropped because of the content, saying that it had decided not to show it because it “did not fit editorially” with other programmes in a season exploring the history of archeology. It added that the possibility of showing it at a later date was under review.

However, questions have been raised about whether the broadcaster feared that the film, which was to have been screened on BBC Four at 9pm on Thursday, would be too controversial. Reviewers had predicted that it would ruffle some feathers.

Radio Times reviewer said that “evidence revealed here, suggesting that the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD70 may never have actually happened, has … severe ramifications for relations in the region”.

In publicity releases, the BBC had said that the documentary would raise “important ethical questions about … present-day Middle Eastern issues”.

Ziv said he was told that it was dropped when it was realised that there would not be much time to work on the 60-minute edit of such an important and potentially controversial documentary. He thought that the BBC had been “unprepared” for the programme, realising that it was “a hotter potato than they understood it to be” quite late down the line.

Viewers who had wanted to see the documentary questioned the last-minute change of schedule.

Sue Heath wrote on the Radio Times website: “Why was this programme pulled? It is very hard to contact anyone real to get an answer, but I suspect pressure groups have made a fuss as it might be embarrassing politically.”