Row over BBC Jerusalem documentary flares again

By Jennifer Lipman, June 13, 2013
Ilan Ziv

Ilan Ziv

The director of a documentary about Jerusalem’s history that was mysteriously pulled from the BBC schedules at the last minute, has distanced himself from an attack on the broadcaster.

Ilan Ziv’s film, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was to be shown on BBC Four in April as part of an archaeology series but was replaced because the BBC said “it did not fit editorially”.

Now, a group of pro-Palestinian activists have written an open letter to BBC director-general Lord Hall, demanding “a credible explanation”.

At the time, Mr Ziv said he had been told that there had been an objection that the film was “propaganda” or “drove some political point of view”. The documentary discusses whether the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD was indeed the start of an exile for the Jewish people.

The activists said that they were concerned by “the potential of political pressure, whether conscious or subconscious, being involved”.

They wrote: “If any has been applied, and succumbed to, then the BBC’s commitment to impartiality has been compromised.”

But Mr Ziv said the letter did not reflect his views. “Obviously the film and the recent incident have become part of an internal British political debate featuring the BBC. I am not part of this debate.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We are in talks with the director about showing the film later this year.”

Last updated: 5:45pm, June 13 2013