[Documents menu] Documents menu

From sentto-2324848-3442-1057112693-brownh=hartford-hwp.com@returns.groups.yahoo.com Tue Jul 1 23:00:07 2003
Organization: South Movement
To: southnews@yahoogroups.com <southnews@yahoogroups.com>
From: Dave Muller <davemull@alphalink.com.au>
Mailing-List: list southnews@yahoogroups.com; contact southnews-owner@yahoogroups.com
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 12:21:17 +1000
Subject: [southnews] BBC rejects anti-Semitism charges

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2003/s892129.htm

BBC rejects anti-Semitism charges

Reporter Toni Hassan, The World Today, Tuesday 1 July 2003 12:10:48

LINDA MOTTRAM: But first today, akin to the worst Nazi propaganda, that’s the accusation an Israeli Government Spokesman has levelled at the British public broadcaster, the BBC, over a documentary on the Jewish state’s alleged weapons programs.

The documentary is called Israel’s Secret Weapon and in recent days it’s been rebroadcast internationally, after an earlier showing in Britain in March.

It makes allegations that Israel has been building nuclear and chemical weapons, in violation, the documentary alleges, of international conventions.

In an angry response, the Sharon Government has accused the BBC of a systematic attempt to demonise Israel and it’s now barred senior Israeli officials from appearing on the BBC, also limiting BBC access to some of the special arrangements for foreign correspondents reporting from the country.

In a moment we’ll speak to Israel’s Ambassador to Australia. But first, this report from Toni Hassan.

(Extract from BBC documentary)

OLENKA FRENKIEL: This mysterious complex in the Negev Desert employed thousands of people, all sworn to secrecy.

TONI HASSAN: The documentary centres on the case of Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s nuclear whistleblower, who in 1986 disclosed to the world that Israel had secretly produced up to 200 nuclear warheads.

Vanunu was kidnapped by the Israeli secret service, secretly trialed and convicted of treason and espionage. He’s been in prison every since, much of the time in solitary confinement.

The broadcast explores Israel’s attempts to maintain a policy of ambiguity on its nuclear weapons. It looks also at incidents of cancer among the nuclear reactor workers at the Dimona site. It and other facilities, are still not subject to international scrutiny.

Workers spoke of explosions, fires, liquid and toxic gas leaks that they had to clean, often without protection.

(Extract from BBC documentary)

(Sound of worker speaking)

OLENKA FRENKIEL: Now that they were sick, they said, the plant didn’t want to know. The management was denying they’d worked with radioactive materials, and because they were bound to secrecy, they couldn’t fight for their rights. y TONI HASSAN: Former Foreign Minister, Shimon Perez, the man seen as being largely responsible for the arsenal build up and Vanunu’s imprisonment, was interviewed, but coy about detailing what are still official state secrets.

(Extract from BBC documentary)

SHIMON PEREZ: I don¬ít have to answer your questions here. I don’t see any reason why.

OLENKA FRENKIEL: Ambiguity is a luxury unique to Israel. Today, the country’s an inspection-free zone, protected from scrutiny by America and her allies.

TONI HASSAN: The program also alleges Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip used a new gas in February 2001 that put 180 people in hospital with severe convulsions.

Israel objected to the documentary even before it went to air in the UK and on BBC World.

(Extract from BBC World)

REPORTER: Israeli troops withdraw from Northern Gaza, as more militant groups join the ceasefire and Palestinians move more freely.

TONI HASSAN: Life for BBC journalists covering Israel has suddenly been made more difficult.

The Corporation has been banned from interviewing senior Israeli officials or ministers. Press passes extending ac cess will be harder to get.

The head of the Israeli Government Press Service, Daniel Seaman, has attacked the organisation for presenting Israel as a police and a criminal state, a false impression, he says, that gives fodder to those in Europe who question the very existence of the state of Israel.

He added Israel is a democratic country. Israel will not refuse the BBC access to press conferences at Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon’s Office.

A BBC Spokesman has said that the BBC stand by its program, but that it regrets any response that the Israeli Government might make that would hinder its journalism.

The sanctions come as the BBC has become embroiled in a public row with Prime Minister, Tony Blair’s Office, over accusations that the British Government exaggerated Saddam Hussein’s weapons threat to justify the war against Iraq.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Toni Hassan prepared that report.