BBC 4: Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City – My thoughts

To be honest, i tried to avoid doing a review of this programme. Simply because i had intended to avoid in being too critical of seeing the attempts made at providing a platform of neutrality. Especially when BBC, a pro – israeli media outlet is offering such a service. Unfortunately, much to my intent i was somehow dragged into making my opinions and eventually doing the review about the programme. Which, i have to say, spilled out onto Facebook initially. The comments which then ensued from the discussion on face book made me do a through examination of the programme “Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City – 2. Invasion, Invasion, Invasion”. More specifically relating to the part two of the programme.

Comments and opinions were raised that the author and the narrator of the series, Simon Sebag Montefiore – a jew himself. Made a fair attempt at relating the chronological events of the ‘making of a holy city’. I provided a different angle to the discussion namely that it had a deeper meaning to what meets the eye. That the author is trying to show us Jerusalem from the eyes, ears, minds, hearts & soul of the jews, how they view the holyland and why they are trying in ernest to regain control of the whole of palestine. One that was, shall we say ‘propaganda’. Not on the level of clear & open propaganda – (where the seedling for a for pro-Israel, pro jewish land was made), but more on the level of obscurity. Where the audience had to read in between the lines as it were to be able to discern the message being delivered.
Part two of the programme was of some interest to me. Not because of the muslim involvement highlighted in the programme but because of the overall content of the programme.

Building on from part one Simon Sebag Montefiore grows the idea of how the jew throughout their civilisation (whatever little they had) were constantly driven out of their homeland. In many cases beaten with impunity, tortured, ridiculed and despised. Exploding the idea in the mind of his audience that the jews only want their land back, Nothing more, something which was unjustly taken from them throughout the historical development of Jerusalem. It allows the jews to play the victim card. Where anyone trying to lay claim to the land of Palestine is automatically rebuked and scuffed at. Due the implantation of the idea that Palestine is the true home of the jews. Secondly, nearing the end of part one Simon Sebag Montefiore has the witty idea to leave his audience with the notion that the invasion of Saladin also caused some turmoil for the jews. In which the name of Isreal – a name which was used to refer to the land of the jews, changed to Palestine by saladin!
The title itself was a failed attempted at presenting the notion of neutrality. If that truly is what BBC had intended to promote with this programme. Having plastered “Invasion, Invasion, Invasion” on the title of the programme is beyond the what you would call being neutral. Once again, it paints the image of the jews being a people who are continually oppressed, harassed and exiled from their true homeland. Reinforcing the idea that the only thing the jews want is to have their home back. In the means trying to justify their actions against the Palestinians in attaining that goal. I do have to say though, that Simon Sebag Montefiore does try to depict Saladin in a luminous light, much to the contrast of other historians like that of Robert Spencer! Simon Sebag Montefiore shows the welcoming nature which Saladin had toward the jews, whom were banned from the holy land for several hundred years. Saladin welcomes them back into Jerusalem where they are allowed to pray and worship on temple mount. Furthermore the one link which is made allows the muslims and the jews to have a closer connection to each other, than to the christians. Since it is the muslims who revere the temple mount aswell as the jews as opposed to the Chirstians.

Any jews viewing the programme will undoubtedly think of it being a true depiction of their appeal and struggle in trying to regain their land back from the thousands of years of oppression and aggression. Simon Sebag Montefiore ends part two with mentioning of the decline of the muslim hold of Jerusalem, how the khalifs slowly had moved from the puritan Islam which Umar (ra), the 2nd khalif, had practiced to indulging in lavish, lustful, ostentatious lifestyles. Ultimately making the jews once again being exiled from the holy land, at the hands of Abdul Hamid. With concluding remarks on the emergence of yet another empire, that being the spanish.
In summary, although to some people the programme may come across as being fair and neutral in its presentation. It boarders on the line of biased journalism in my opinion. Presenting history in the perspective of the jews. Which frankly speaking, is rather a mundane thing to do. Knowing to the that the land of Palestine is a home to both the races of humans – the jews and the arabs.

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