BBC or Norman Finkelstein: Who is More Despicable?

Just the introductory statement for the BBC’s Hardtalk program (available on YouTube) reveals the agenda behind its interview with anti-Israel Professor Norman Finkelstein:

American presidents have long been criticised for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. That American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains America’s unwavering support for Israel.

Note the use of the term “Jewish lobby.” Not the “Israel lobby” as has been used, most notably by Walt and Mearsheimer in their discredited thesis. What does the BBC base its statement on? Such criticism of American presidents has come from a particular anti-Israel strain and is certainly not a universally accepted mantra.

In addition, the BBC appears to work on the assumption that pro-Israel activism in the US is solely a Jewish affair, conveniently forgetting that millions of US Christians support Israel, not to mention high levels of support amongst Americans in general.

In a subtle change of language, the actual phrase used by the BBC interviewer on the program was “The American Jews influence US foreign policy” and not “that,” turning it into a statement of fact rather than conjecture. Could the BBC have changed that one word after realizing the implications?

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As for the choice of Norman Finkelstein as an interviewee on the subject of American Jewish attitudes towards Israel, the issue itself was no doubt prompted by Peter Beinart’s recent commentary. Beinart, however, whether one agrees with him or not, is a credible interview subject. Finkelstein, on the other hand, is avowedly anti-Israel and utterly unrepresentative of American Jewry.

It’s difficult to decide who is more despicable – Norman Finkelstein for his extreme views or the BBC for its deliberately misleading and, some would say, anti-Semitic premise for its program.

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