Academic regrets Israel lobby quotes

Israeli political scientist David Newman has admitted he made a mistake in taking part in last week’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Britain’s pro-Israel lobby.

The British-born academic, who lectures at Ben-Gurion University, suggested that organisations such as Bicom had too narrow an agenda on Israel.

But in an article for the Jerusalem Post this week, Dr Newman revealed that his appearance had prompted “some of the most fiery invective I have ever received, nearly all of it from the UK”.

One Jewish philanthropist in London, he said, had branded him a “traitorous antisemitic Jew, cursed me and expressed his hope that I perish”.

The interview and images were highly selective

Someone from Brooklyn hoped that he and his family would be the next to be blown up by a suicide bomber.

Having seen the programme online, he felt now that he had “mistakenly” participated in it.

“It was clear that the programme had presented its topic in such a way as to insinuate that the UK Jewish community acted in covert and illegitimate ways, using its influence and [what else but] its money to put pressure on British politicians, government officials and media outlets,” he wrote.

“The interviews and images that it showed were highly selective, and any form of balance or counter argument was clearly missing.”

Professor Newman, who has represented Israeli universities in the UK over the past two years, told the JC that he had understood from the programme-makers that they were producing a documentary about West Bank settlements.

He also mentioned that during the interview he had given, he had said that the BBC and the Guardian’s coverage was imbalanced but these remarks had not been included.

But a Channel 4 spokesman said: “We are absolutely clear that David Newman understood the subject matter of the film before being interviewed by Peter Oborne.

“As is often the case with contributor interviews, the final edit did not include everything that he said but we are confident that what was included was a fair and accurate representation of the interview.”

    Last updated: 4:42pm, November 26 2009