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Media Analyses





CAMERA ALERT: BBC's Hardtalk Host Harangues Halevy with Hostile Questions


An April 3rd interview with former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy by BBC's "Hardtalk" host David Jessel is emblematic of the BBC's infamous anti-Israel bent. The host's questions are breathtaking in their hostility toward Israel and their one-sided, prejudicial nature.

Within the first 30 seconds, he informs the audience that his Israeli guest is not to be trusted:

But be careful when weighing the truth of what he says about peace. Mossad's motto is after all "by way of deception, thou shalt do war."

One wonders if Jessel would similarly cast doubt on the guest's integrity if the guest were a Palestinian, such as Saeb Erekat or Hanan Ashrawi, who have repeatedly spread inaccuracies and distortions.

Jessel labels Israel's spy agency, Mossad, as the "world's most fearsome and ruthless," and repeatedly mentions Israel's "humiliation of Arafat," without any context or mention of Arafat's corrupt or terrorist deeds.

Jessel asks about the targeted killing of Hamas leader Sheik Yassin, the man who helped inspire Palestinians to murder hundreds of Jews, the man who made Palestinians believe that murdering Jewish women and children was a religious duty and honor. Notice how Jessel frames his question to exclude any key context about Yassin's terrorism, while playing up sympathy for this malignant leader:

How did the killing of a 68 year old blind man in a wheelchair , Hamas's spiritual leader, how did that fit into seeking peaceful solutions?...I wonder how many suicide bombers you recruited on the day that SheikYassin was killed.

About Arafat, Jessel has this to say:

You didn't want him [Arafat] to be up to the task really did you? You were quite delighted in having a man you couldn't do any deals with, weren't you?

So twisted is Jessel's worldview, that he clearly believes that Israel preferred having hundreds of its citizens blown to bits rather than reach a negotiated agreement with Arafat and live in peace. He apparently thinks that Israelis were "quite delighted" that Arafat wasn't sincere in wanting to attain a peace agreement, that Israelis prefer being in a state of war.

Jessel expresses outrage over what he repeatedly calls "the wall," compares it to the Berlin Wall, and implies that it is this security barrier that will cause "centuries of conflict." Arab religious extremism and ongoing rejection of Israel's legitimacy apparently aren't on Jessel's radar screen.

Jessel inverts cause and effect and justifies Hamas' terror by opining that a security barrier created in RESPONSE to terrorism is actually the CAUSE of terrorism. "They [Hamas] are in a very difficult position. If they are not being spoken to, and if, with Ehud Olmert's success, a "solution" is being imposed on them, i.e. barriers, frontiers are going to be put down against them willy nilly, what do you expect them to do? Just sit back and say yes, that's fine, we'll stick behind the wall wherever you choose to put the wall?"

Jessel brings up the subject of what motivates suicide bombers. When Halevy replies with information about how Palestinians are indoctrinated with extremist religious fervor, Jessel ignores this important topic to interject:

You don't find frustration there? Anger, hopelessness, despair?

Palestinians, in Jessel's world, are only responding to Israeli oppression and do not act due to extremist beliefs or their own agenda. Anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian schools, mosques and the media apparently doesn't register with Jessel.

Knowing no bounds, Jessel then blames global terrorism on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he apparently believes is all Israel's fault.

Hasn't the world a right to impose a solution on something that you people have not been able to resolve in the last 60 years and which affects the whole of the world, whether in New York, London, Madrid, everywhere.

As if Islamist extremists wouldn't still have a problem with the religious freedom of the modern world even if Israel didn't exist?

Below is a transcript of Jessel's questions. You will notice Halevy's responses are not included. That's because they didn't make a difference to the host's questions. There was hardly any give and take at all. The time Halevy used to reply was mainly an opportunity for Jessel to catch his breath before he asked Halevy another hostile, insulting question. And while Halevy's ability to remain calm and dignified under such an assault is admirable, he unfortunately chose to ignore many of the distorted charges -- which undoubtedly left many viewers believing those charges could not be refuted. And the ones he did address, he did not refute in a very clear or effective manner. The interview was an object lesson in how to conduct a biased interview, but also a sharp reminder of how essential it is for a spokesperson to counter serious falsehoods directly and clearly.

Watch the entire 23 minute interview by clicking here.
 

Transcript of BBC's "Hardtalk" TV program, April 3, 2006

Hello and welcome to Hardtalk. I'm David Jessel. My guest today worked for five years, head of the world's most fearsome and ruthless spy agencies, Israel's Mossad. During that time, Mossad planned the assassination of Hamas leaders and the humiliation of Yasser Arafat. Who better to assess the future of the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the aftermath of the Israeli elections?

But be careful when weighing the truth of what he says about peace. Mossad's motto is after all 'by way of deception, thou shalt do war.'

Efraim Halevy, Welcome to Hardtalk. Talk about Mossad being a ruthless organization...you said in a recent interview intelligence agencies spend just as much time seeking peaceful solutions as anything else.

How did the killing of a 68 year old blind man in a wheelchair , Hamas's spiritual leader, how did that fit into seeking peaceful solutions?...

[Halevy replies]

You said it was a feather in the cap of Mossad...

[Halevy replies]

Was it a feather in the cap? What purpose did it serve?

[Halevy replies]

I suppose the question is...By crushing violence, you don't crush the roots of violence, you feed the roots of violence. I wonder how many suicide bombers you recruited on the day that SheikYassin was killed.

[Halevy replies]

This is a difficult calculaton, the amount of suppression you bring into being in order to control the situation and what that creates. Some people might say that Israel actually created the Hamas government by what it did, by the humiliation of Arafat, by its collective punishment.... Do you agree with that in any sense?

[Halevy replies]

You didn't want him [Arafat] to be up to the task really did you? You were quite delighted in having a man you couldn't do any deals with, weren't you?

[Halevy replies]

Going back to Sheik Yassin, in what you did, did you not make him a martyr, this was a 68 year old blind man, did you not make him a martyr, did you not make Hamas more popular, didn't that therefore lead, to some extent, to a Hamas government that now you will not do business with?

[Halevy replies]

...How many more killings do we need?

[Halevy replies]

...I want to ask to what extent murder is a legitimate form of political action. I read in a recent interview you gave, I think to the Sunday Telegraph, you said if Hamas fails to agree to a permanent ceasefire, we'll have to create another leadership, just as we did with Sheik Yassin. Going around bumping off members of the Hamas government?

[Halevy replies]

So that's inaccurate? You were misquoted?

[Halevy replies]

Couldn't you apply that definition to all the current Hamas leadership? Their hands are not all completely clean are they?

[Halevy replies]

If suicide bombings continue, would it be legitimate for the state of Israel to go into Hamas leadership...go and eliminate them. Would that be legitimate?

[Halevy replies]

Do you think Israel really can't do business with Hamas? Do you think it can or is Hamas just a bunch of thugs?

[Halevy replies]

Are they capable of using that power in a sane, restrained, creative manner?

They are in a very difficult position. If they are not being spoken to, and if, with Ehud Olmert's success, a "solution" is being imposed on them, i.e. barriers, frontiers are going to be put down against them willy nilly, what do you expect them to do? Just sit back and say yes, that's fine, we'll stick behind the wall wherever you choose to put the wall?

[Halevy replies]

...Is the wall to maintain security or is it a land grab or is it quite possibly both?

[Halevy replies, using the word "fence"]

The wall. Some of it is a wall, it's a very big wall...in part it's a fence, in some parts it's a wall. This is rather like the East Germans used to call the Berlin Wall the "anti-fascist protection barrier." It's a wall!!

[Halevy replies]

But I asked you if it was a land grab. The UN reporter said that 10 percent of Palestinian land now lies on the Israeli side of that wall. In places like Qalqilya, the wells are cut off. 500,000 Palestinians live in the shadow of this fence/wall. You have Ma'ale Adumin, this great city sprawling eastwards blocking off access to Jerusalem. If you impose that, isn't that the absolute recipe for decades,centuries of conflict?

[Halevy replies]

You're never going to tear down the walls of Maale Adumin are you?

[Halevy replies]

All right, suppose they [Hamas] gave up their dream of destroying the state of Israel. Because this is a dream. As far as I know, Hamas hasn't got an airport, hasn't got an airplane, they haven't got an airport. So it's a fiction that it ever could destroy the state of Israel. That's an easy dream to give up, isn't it? So what do they get in return for giving up this dream?

[Halevy discusses incitement taught in Palestinian schools]

You would agree wouldn't you that good intelligence, like a good general, has to get inside the minds of his opponents. Have you ever tried to get inside the mind of a suicide bomber to think what makes him do what he does. What do you find there?

[Halevy replies and talks about the religious fervor mindset]

You don't find frustration there? Anger, hopelessness, despair?

[Halevy replies]

Let's go back to Arafat. Because I was interested in your book how you thought of him. You didn't think very highly of him. This was not just political but personal. You loathed that man, didn't you.

[Halevy replies]

Your words are, "he was a compulsive liar, a person who would never honor a commitment, who rarely would have anything but contempt for his peers." You said that other Arab leaders felt this as well.

[Halevy replies]

...the worst mistake he made was to humiliate the president of the United States of America. You don't do that do you? He walked away from Camp David. Why on earth did he do that?

[Halevy replies]

...You were always against [the roadmap]. The roadmap is dead isn't it?

[Halevy replies]

The UN, the EU, the US and Russia are involved in this roadmap. And you say we can't have this because it imposes a solution on us. Hasn't the world a right to impose a solution on something that you people have not been able to resolve in the last 60 years and which affects the whole of the world, whether in New York, London, Madrid, everywhere. Haven't we the right to impose a solution?

[Halevy replies]

But if Ehud Olmert has to impose a solution, that won't stick either, will it?

[Halevy replies]

The border is never going to be final, though ultimately negotiable, because a wall has a way of sticking around...

...Obviously the Americans are present in Iraq. You were saying, quoting neoconservatives in Washington, that there was a good chance that the Americans might be a presence in the region for a very long time to come, that the Saudi might turn into an Al Qaeda state, so you have American troops patrolling the oil fields, there's even a mention that American troops might be patrolling the fence or wall or border or call it what you like. Madness that, isn't it? Who is thinking that? Is that what neoconservatives in Washington are thinking?

[Halevy replies]

You say very interestingly in your book that... the reason why the first George Bush didn't march on Baghdad was that the ruler of the Saudis said that if the Americans occupy an Arab capital, the place will be in flames, and yet you're talking about American troops, coalition troops, western troops occupying the whole of the Arab peninsula, as far as I can see.

[Halevy replies]

Doing something about it sounds like Armageddon to me. Let us look at the record of intelligence in this field. Even in your own book, you admit it's not a glittering one. You failed to foresee the impact of Muslim radicalism. That's quite a big thing to fail to see. You didn't register 9/11 on your screen at all. Osama Bin Laden is still at large. How well is intelligence looking out for us?

[Halevy replies]

But where you have spotted something, and you were prescient enough in 2003 to spot it, was the danger of Iran. Is that briefly the biggest nightmare in the region?

[Halevy replies]

Violent solution?

[Halevy replies about his worry of the unknown dangers that they haven't yet uncovered.]

The unknown unknowns.

Efraim Halevy, thank you very much.


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