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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







BBC Prejudice

Letter sent by Naim Dangoor to Sir Christopher Bland, Chairman of the BBC, Broadcasting House, London with a copy to The Rt Hon Mr Jack Straw, MP-Foreign Secretary-Foreign Office

I understand that you have taken the trouble of screening a programme against Ariel Sharon and his indirect involvement in the murder of some 800 Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila. An Israeli court of enquiry had already criticised Mr Sharon for his involvement which was regarded as indirect, and your programme was not really necessary.

Why don’t you research and prepare a programme about the British Foreign Office’s direct and profound involvement in the murder of six million European Jews in what became known as the Holocaust, to prevent them from reaching Palestine, to comply with the terms of the 1939 White Paper? Contact was maintained with the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem who spent the war years in Berlin.

One further evidence is the sinking of the Struma by order of Lord Moyne, with the loss of 800 lives. This would really be a worthwhile programme and an eye opener.


Reply from BBC Information:

Thank you for your letter of 25 June addressed to the Chairman to which I reply as follows:

I recognise that you feel the screening of Panorama - The Accused was not necessary. I would like to explain that Panorama - The Accused examined the massacre of at least 800 civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It analysed the role played by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, amongst others, who resigned as Israeli Minister of Defence following the Kahan Commission inquiry into the tragedy.

As Mr Sharon has now been elected Prime Minister of Israel, we therefore felt it to be appropriate to examine his political and military record, in particular as the Israeli Defence Minister who sent the Lebanese Phalange militiamen into the Palestinian refugee camps.

Panorama asked contemporary figures and international law experts whether, in the current climate of greater international accountability for war crimes, they believed that Mr Sharon could be indicted for what happened. The programme also interviewed survivors of the massacre, Israeli officers who served in Beirut and members of the Christian Phalange which committed the atrocities, notably Elie Hobeika, the man accused of leading the militiamen in the camps. Mr Sharon was approached to be interviewed for the programme and his spokesman Dr Ranaan Gissen was interviewed on his behalf. A lawyer for Mr Sharon, Dov Weissglas, also appears in the programme.

The BBC has made numerous films about human rights abuses in the Middle East. Among them are a Correspondent film which was highly critical of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and a disturbing Newsnight film on the use of children in the front line of the intifada. We believe Panorama - The Accused to be an entirely legitimate look at a human rights issue and that it is a fair and balanced analysis of the role played by Ariel Sharon. I hope this clarifies the BBC’s position.

Please be assured your comments on this matter have been recorded for the benefit of senior management and the programme makers. The BBC welcomes all feedback, as it helps us to make decisions about future programmes or policies.


Our reply to BBC/Mori Questionnaire:

"To help ensure the BBC Information Department is giving you the service you need, we would like to have your views on:

Being courteous – very satisfied

Responding in a full and serious manner to my comments and/or complaint – very dissatisfied.

You did not reply to the second part of my letter, which I now request you to do, by referring it either to "Panorama" or to the proper department in order to investigate Britain’s wartime role in the Holocaust."


Reply to the same letter also received from:

Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street

Dear Mr Dangoor

Thank you for your letter about the situation in the Middle East, which has been passed to this Department. Please find below a summary of the Government’s position on recent events.

The Government is greatly concerned by the continuing violence in the region, and dismayed by the tragic deaths. In particular, it deplores the fact that the violence has led to loss of life among children and innocent bystanders. The UK supports the view of the UN High Commission for Human Rights that the protection of children must be an absolute priority for both parties.

The Government has consistently urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to show restraint. Violent incidents in Israel and the Occupied Territories threaten to derail the fragile cease-fire. It is vital now for the parties to end the violence and to move ahead with full and early implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee report, which sets out a road back to the negotiating table.

The UK has played an important role in recent months. The Prime Minister met Israeli Prime Minister Sharon on 24 June and Foreign Minister Peres on 18 July and urged them to take urgent steps in parallel with the Palestinians to implement the Mitchell recommendations. Lord Levy has travelled to the region as the Prime Minister’s envoy. Ben Bradshaw, the new Minister for the Middle East, visited the region in July. The Foreign Secretary has met Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian and Arab League leaders. He is in close touch with his EU and US counterparts and with the UN Secretary General.

The UK and the EU have serious concerns about the lack of respect for human rights in the Occupied Territories. Following its policy of constructive engagement with partners on human rights issues; the EU raised its concerns with Israel at the meeting on 21 May of the EU/Israel Association Committee. We will continue to raise our concerns, both publicly and in private at all levels, for as long as this remains necessary. The Foreign Secretary has expressed deep concern over the demolition of Palestinian houses.

The Government deplores settlement activity in the Occupied Territories (including East Jerusalem). It is illegal under international law and a serious obstacle to peace. The recommendation of the Mitchell Committee is that Israel should freeze all settlement activity, including the "natural growth" of existing settlements. The EU raised the issue of Israeli settlements at a meeting with Prime Minister Sharon in Stockholm on 14 June.

The Government supports UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which calls for the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees. A permanent solution to their plight can only be achieved as part and parcel of the peace process and we continue to encourage and support the parties in their search -for an agreement.

The Government is also deeply concerned about the humanitarian and economic impact of closures. Sustained closures continue to restrict the free movement of people and essential supplies between the Occupied Territories and Israel and other countries, as well as within the Occupied Territories. Economic hardship and unemployment can only fuel hatred and violence, and make a comprehensive settlement more difficult to achieve. We have expressed our serious concerns to the Israeli Government on political, legal and humanitarian grounds, and will continue to do so. The latest EU demarche to the Israeli government on humanitarian access was made on 29 June at the UN in New York.

The presence of international observers has been suggested as a means of contributing to stability in the region. The EU General Affairs Council on 16 July agreed that a third-party monitoring mechanism is needed in order to overcome any obstacles that might impede the implementation of the Mitchell recommendations. Foreign Ministers and subsequently G8 Heads of State took a similar view when they met in Italy (on 19 July and 21 July respectively). Our view is that to be successful any presence would require prior agreement by both Israelis and Palestinians.

The UK regards the status of Jerusalem as still to be determined in permanent status negotiations between the parties, and recognise no sovereignty over the city. Pending agreement, we recognise de facto Israeli control of West Jerusalem but consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. Jerusalem has a unique religious and cultural importance for Christians, Jews and Muslims, and we attach great importance to ensuring access to Jerusalem and freedom of worship there for those of all faiths.

On the question of arms sales, the UK is guided by the consolidated EU and national criteria on Strategic Export Controls. We will not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression or adversely affect regional stability. We will not issue licences for equipment similar to that used in the Occupied Territories. We have no evidence that British-made equipment licensed for export since this Government came to office in 1997 has been used by the Israeli forces against civilians in the Occupied Territories during the recent violence. Since this Government came to office in 1997, no export licence has been approved for tear gas or rubber bullets.

The Government has called on Israel to use non-lethal force wherever possible. One of the Mitchell Report’s recommendations was that Israel should ensure that the IDF adopts and enforces policies and procedures encouraging non-lethal responses to unarmed demonstrators. They should adopt tactics of crowd control that minimise the potential for deaths and casualties and should ensure that the stated values and standard operating procedures of the IDF instil the duty of caring for Palestinians as well as Israelis, consistent with the Ethical Code of the IDF. Israel has accepted the Committee’s report.

UK involvement is practical as well as political. The UK’s total assistance to the Palestinians, including contributions to UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency) and via the EU, is generally around £25 million per year. In 1998 (the latest available OECD figure) it was £28.4 million. This year it will be substantially more.

Please be assured that the Government remains closely engaged in efforts to urge both parties to consolidate the cease-fire and build confidence, in the context of a renewed political re-engagement, aimed at an agreement based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the principle of ‘land for peace’, security for Israel within recognised borders and an end to occupation.

Pat Phillips
Near East and North Africa Department


Mr Dangoor’s reply:

Dear Ms Phillips

Thank you for your letter dated 2 August stating British policy regarding the Middle East, which I am unable to accept and totally reject.

1. Her Majesty’s government policy regarding the Jewish National home soon after the Balfour Declaration has been to harass Jewish immigration into Palestine and to create ill-feeling between Jews and Arabs. The problem you are talking about is not between Israelis and Palestinians.

2. It is a regional problem which came into being with the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire and the granting of all its Middle East territories to the Arabs. The Jews of the region had a right to a share of that territory which can be symbolised by the total area of Palestine.

3. In 1921 the late Winston Churchill gave Trans-Jordan to Emir Abdullah without any conditions. That was the moment of the partitioning of Palestine when Trans-Jordan should have become the National home of the Palestinian Arabs.

4. You spoke of occupied territory but you don’t mention who you think it belongs to. In view of the fact that the Arabs of Palestine as well as the neighbouring Arabs refuse to live at peace with Israel, I consider that Israel is justified in claiming the total area of geographical Palestine, west of the Jordan.

5. You have the cheek to speak of the right of Palestinians to return to Israel and thus destroy the Jewish state from within. You seem to forget that in 1950 there was an exchange of population when a million Jews from Arab countries went to Israel in exchange for the million Arabs who had left Israel. Such exchange took place between India and Pakistan, Germany and Poland and many other neighbouring countries after the war. You must be living in cuckoo land if you think otherwise.

6. You speak of resolutions 242 and 338; these and other resolutions were totally and repeatedly rejected by the Arabs. How come now you want to bring them to life again?

7. You speak of "land for peace". Surely the Arabs have all the land – 10 million square miles of it against the Israeli’s 10,000. Do you seriously and honestly believe that Israel should give some land to the Arabs?

8. You seem to think that when Palestinian leaders murder innocent Israelis by training and sending suicide bombers to supermarkets and nightclubs, that that is alright and is not against international law, but when Israel targets the perpetrators of these murders you condemn her action and say that it is against international law. Such hypocrisy does not fit the traditional character of the British people.

9. Regarding Jerusalem; you seem to think that divided Berlin should have been united, but united Jerusalem should become divided. As for freedom of worship to all faiths; when East Jerusalem was in Arab hands, Jews were not allowed to worship in their holy places and were driven out of their homes. There is perfect freedom of worship to all concerned in Israeli hands.

10. There is strong evidence that Her Majesty’s government played an active and direct part in the Holocaust and this is now being researched to bring to the surface what really is going on in your Foreign Office.
Peace in the Middle East must be global and all the Arab countries that went to war against Israel have to step in and contribute in land, wealth, and other resources to solve the endemic problem between Jew and Arab.


To Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP
Foreign Secretary

Thank you for your recent letter. Isn’t it a shame that Great Britain, who promised the Jews to restore their national home in Palestine, should now be in the vanguard of those seeking to destroy it?

Naim Dangoor

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