So far, so good: BBC 2 series ‘The Story of the Jews’

Over two and a half years ago the BBC announced that it had commissioned a five-part series from historian Simon Schama titled ‘The History of the Jews’ for BBC 2. The programme’s title has meanwhile changed slightly to “The Story of the Jews” and the first episode was broadcast on Sunday, September 1st (available for readers in the UK here), with related BBC merchandising already in full swing.  Part two of the programme will be aired on September 8th


The programme received mainly positive reviews in the British press and clearly considerable research and investment – as well as some impressive photography – has gone into making the series. A recent article in the Jewish News suggests that upcoming episodes – particularly the last one – may be of particular interest to BBC watchers.

“The series will then look at shtetl life in Eastern Europe and the birth of Hasidism, before ending with the Holocaust and its relationship to the creation of Israel.

“This issue will be dealt with frankly, clearly and intensively,” added Schama.”

The Jewish Chronicle reports:

“The last programme takes the viewer up to the present day, focusing on the impact that the Holocaust has had on the modern state of Israel.”

Despite the fact that the final programme in the series will only be aired some weeks from now, an obviously premature – if predictable – reaction has already come from some of  the Hamas-enabling usual sources

“Palestine Solidarity Campaign and five other leading organisations have written to Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, to question the BBC’s impartiality over this broadcast.”

The letter states, inter alia:

“We find it alarming that the BBC is giving a platform to an openly pro-Israeli commentator to make the ‘moral case’ for Israel. Schama’s views will go unopposed, unchallenged and unanalysed. This is a far cry from the balanced and impartial broadcasting that the BBC claims to champion.”

It of course comes as little surprise to find former flotilla passengers Sarah Colbourne and Ismail Patel and ‘Istanbul Declaration‘ signatory Daud Abdullah crying ‘breach of impartiality’ before the programme has even been broadcast. 


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