By Stephen Franklin
March 26, 2010
The new head of BBC ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, who is telling Jews that they should think of Palestine during Passover, does not have a perfect track record for accuracy and impartiality.
In a programme called Love thy Neighbour; Jerusalem for which Mr Ahmed was commissioning editor, shown on Channel 4 on 19th May 2007 Lord Ashdown accused Shlomo Lahat of killing three Arab residents of the Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem (the former slum in front of the Western Wall). Ashdown said that Lahat's subordinate officer Etan ben Moshe had said this in an article in an Israeli newspaper. He apparently based this on the word of an interviewee on the programme who said that she had been told that it had been written in an Israeli paper.
I complained at the time that no such thing had happened. David Batty, the producer of that particular programme emailed a reply to me, with a copy to Mr Ahmed saying:
"Re the destruction of the Moroccan Quarter in 1967 and alleged deaths of 3 Palestinians. The account you refer to is not taken from the recollection of one person but from a newspaper confession by one of the Israeli army officers in charge of the bulldozers that destroyed the Moroccan Quarter. Our interviewee, Aisha Masloui, is referring to an interview given by this officer - Eitan Ben Moshe - to the Israeli newspaper Yorshalim on 26 November 1999 in which he claims that 3 Palestinians died. We were unable to interview Ben Moshe directly as he has since died but his account has never been challenged."
There never has been an Israeli newspaper called Yorshalim. The closest to it that existed in 1999 are “The Jerusalem Post” and the Hebrew Weekly “Iton Yerushalayim”. He was referring to neither of these. He was referring to a completely false story that appeared on several pro-Arab web sites that which has this made up interview with the non-existant major Etan Ben Moshe in a non-existent Israeli daily newspaper called Yorshalim
This particular “interview” is the only reference I could find in many internet searches to any publication, Israeli or otherwise, called Yorshalim.
It was particularly inappropriate to make such a charge against Shlomo Lahat, because he is totally committed to Palestinian human rights, being on the board of the human rights organisation Yesh Din.
As far as I am aware neither former General Lahat, nor the men under his command in Jerusalem in June 1967, ever received an apology from Channel 4 or Mr Ahmed.
I hope that Mr Ahmed is thinking at this time of those that he has wronged.