A recent CAMERA report took the BBC flagship show Hardtalk to task for perpetuating anti-Semitic caricatures of Jewish political influence.
On 8 May 2012, Hardtalk’s “Are American Jews fed up with Israel?” presented the alleged political dominance of American Jews in shaping US foreign policy as an established fact.
Anchor Sarah Montague baldly asserted as fact that American policy is “in thrall to the Jewish lobby” and “the American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s increasing support for Israel.”
She then turned to notorious anti-Israel thinker Norman Finkelstein to expound on “American Jews drifting away from Israel” while allowing his extreme views to pass without comment.
“Israel is carrying on in a lunatic fashion. I would like to ask you. Name me another country in the world. 2003 Israel was the cheerleaders for the war in Iraq. 2006 it went into war in Lebanon. 2008/2009 it attacked Gaza,” Finkelstein said on Hardtalk.
“Now it talks about attacking Iran. If you read the Israeli papers every day they talk about — should we attack Gaza? Should we attack Lebanon? Should we attack Syria?
“Name me another country in the world that falls into that category. It’s a lunatic state,” he added.
But Montague was not content to let Finkelstein smear Israel alone. Instead, she introduced him with her own anti-Semitic monologue.
“American presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby… The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s increasing support for Israel.
“So what happens if American Jews fall out of love with Israel? That’s what the Jewish American academic, Norman Finkelstein, claims is happening. But then, he’s nothing if not controversial.
“He, after all, is famous for accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust. And his actions have so incensed Israel it’s banned him from entering the country.
“Could he be right and if he is, what does that mean for America’s Middle East policy?” she asks.
But, CAMERA charges, Montague failed not only to interview someone with a counter-point to Finkelstein’s extremist fringe views, but to look at readily available poll data indicating that US support for Israel goes far beyond “the Jewish lobby.”
The latest Gallup survey shows continuing strong sympathy for Israel, with 67% of Americans — nearly 7 out of 10 people — expressing a favorable opinion. Additionally, the preference of Americans for Israel over the Palestinian Authority is at a 20‑year high of 63% versus 15%.
In supporting Israel, CAMERA argues, American presidents and policymakers represent the views and wishes of the wider American public, including the small percentage happen to be Jewish Americans.
Nor did she mention that US policy is not always consistent with Israeli policies and interests — there are, on occasion, significant differences and disputes.
While Montague did make a few feeble attempts to remind her audience of Finkelstein’s extreme reputation, she nonetheless gave him a platform to smear a nation and a people before a receptive audience.
CAMERA says, “At a time of growing anti‑Jewish sentiment in parts of the world, the BBC’s global influence makes its presentation of a bigoted figure such as Finkelstein, with his distorted claims, all the more reprehensible.”
Founded in 1982, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America is a media-monitoring, research and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East.