'Palestine is still the issue'
Mr Michael Green
London SW1X 7RZ
23rd September 2002
Dear Mr Green,
We read with a deep sense of incredulity the reports of your criticism of John Pilger�s documentary film �Palestine Is Still The Issue� which was aired on your channel on Monday 16th September 2002. If the reports attributed to you are indeed accurate we fear this would result in a massive squandering of the goodwill earned by your station for showing the film. Notwithstanding this, our central purpose for writing is to ascertain whether it is the official policy of public-service broadcasters to ensure Israel�s immunity from criticism.
We in the Muslim Council if Britain believe that the universal human principles of equality and justice are indispensable for peace in the Middle East. For all its worth, Mr. Pilger�s film documented or depicted nothing that should be unknown to the public. Several Israeli historians the likes of Prof. Illan Pappe, Bar Ilan University, Haifa, who wrote in our own The Guardian last week and Prof. Avi Shlaim, Oxford University, have all borne testimony to Israel�s ill-treatment of the Palestinian people.
Indeed, Prof Martin van Creveld of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, wrote in the Daily Telegraph (17th March 2002), �He who fights against the weak � and the Palestinians with their home-made mortars and rockets are weak indeed - will become weak; he who behaves like a coward � and fighting the weak is cowardly by definition � will become one.� Sir, Israel�s violation of humanitarian law, which applies to the Occupied Territories is no longer secret. This has been well documented by several UN bodies, notably the UN Human Rights Commission, as well as international jurists, such as senior council at the Irish Bar and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Mr. Sean MacBride.
John Pilger is not a lone or peripheral voice crying out for justice for the Palestinian people. Writing in The Guardian (29/4/2002) under the title �Apartheid in the Holy Land�, the Right Reverend Desmond Tutu declared what he saw in the Occupied Palestinian territories was worse than what existed in South Africa during the worst days of apartheid. Surely, Rev. Tutu�s testimony does require some consideration. After all it was he who for many years acted as the conscience and voice of the Christian world against South African apartheid for which he was justly awarded with a Nobel Peace prize.
We in the MCB share the view expressed by Reverend Tutu when he concluded that very article: namely, that Israel will never achieve peace and security by oppressing another people.
Sir, while we fully understand and sympathize with you over the enormity of pressure you have been subjected to, it goes without saying that appeasement of the culture of silence over human rights abuses is a definite recipe for injustice and suffering.
For the interest of your viewers, therefore, we would very much appreciate evidence that the film was �factually� and �historically incorrect� as you were quoted as saying in the Jewish Chronicle (20th September 2002).
Mr Iqbal AKM Sacranie OBE,
The Muslim Council of Britain