The PBS Masterpiece presentation of the anti-Israel and anti-American BBC play, Page Eight, written by British leftist and pro-Arab, Sir David Hare, was broadcast yesterday (April 5, 2013) on the PBS affiliate, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).
As you know, the PBS Ombudsman commented on its original showing and reported that CAMERA had urged its members to write letters protesting the play’s bias, as per the following examples.
However, despite the egregious anti-Israel canard which reeks throughout this PBS Masterpiece Theatre production, the producers at OPB felt it appropriate to air it with all the consequential damage to Israel’s image among its many viewers. That a Jewish actress, Rachel Weisz, should play the part of a Syrian woman who hates Israel is yet more salt in the wound.
Please consider writing to the American tax supported PBS affiliate, OPB, as the continuing re-broadcasting of this vicious BBC production does serious harm to the Jewish state among often uninformed and gullible viewers.
Freelance writer and author of the trilogy, Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state. www.amazon.com
Here Is a (small) Sampling of the Letters sent to PBS on the initial showing of Page Eight.
Having been a fan of Masterpiece Theatre and PBS, I watched in horror, on Nov. 6, David Hare’s “spy thriller.” Mr. Hare certainly left no doubt as to where his sympathies, or on the other hand his animosities, lie. To portray the IDF as villains and to portray America as torturers is pure propaganda. Incidents happen, but overall the Israelis do not murder defenseless persons and the Americans are trying to protect themselves and the world, actually. I really resent the fact that PBS aired this program. I certainly will not punish myself by not watching Masterpiece, but I certainly will not support PBS financially. Shame on them.
Mignon Rosenthal, Baltimore, MD
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Over the years, PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre has well lived up to its name, by presenting numerous excellent BBC dramatic productions. “Page Eight” decidedly is not among them. Very roughly based on a couple of highly controversial incidents, and wholly informed by an extremely tendentious reading of those events, it is an extraordinarily crude piece of anti-Israel agitprop. It is unworthy of the BBC that produced it and, even more so, of PBS, for inflicting it on an unwary American public.
Creating a wholly fictitious denouement of official British government condemnation of Israel is particularly offensive, representing the stretching of dramatic license well beyond the breaking point. Demonization of Israel was total and unrelenting throughout. Needless to say, your audience, not to mention the truth, was very ill-served by this appalling presentation. It deserves an abject official apology for an extremely poor programming decision.
Future broadcasts of this defamatory material, particularly on the internet, ought, in fairness, to be accompanied by a statement explicitly noting its entirely fictional character and emphasizing that the views expressed therein are solely those of its producers.
Richard Wilkins, Syracuse, NY
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Regarding David Hare’s “Page Eight,” I have never seen such a rabid piece of anti-Israel – and actually given its basic dishonesty, blatantly anti-Semitic – propaganda shown on MPT. I’m still reeling and can ‘t believe that Maryland Public TV could have shown it. Essentially it blames Israel for whatever axes Hare has to grind, and Israel is scapegoated throughout while not being in any way central to the play’s central themes.
This kind of balderdash only limits the effectiveness of those like myself who for years have been critical of both sides: Israel for its settlements policies; the Palestinians for their continuing peace-precluding terrorism. And to think that this British Jew-hater cites as authoritative the report of the Iranian secret service…or that even an unjust killing is in any way commensurate with the huge numbers of innocent Israelis, many of whose funerals I’ve covered, who have been slaughtered…such as at the S’barro Pizza Restaurant in downtown Jerusalem, whose perpetrators have just been released in the large prisoner swap for one kidnapped Israeli soldier who was held for five years.
You’ll forgive me. Perhaps I could make my case a bit more eloquently, but I’m still in a state of shock after seeing this program, which as few others I’ve ever seen on your channels deeply violates not only my sense of balance but so very deeply my very sense of truth. I would be deeply grateful if you would pass this letter on to the Director of MPT.
Jack Eisenberg, Baltimore, MD
(Ombudsman’s Note: A Maryland Public Televisison official, in response to Eisenberg, said, “We are not planning to rebroadcast this film.”)
A Rejection Slip?
I have just watched the online Masterpiece presentation of “Page Eight” and was highly offended by much of the subplot and politicized theme of the show. It was basically an anti-Israel diatribe and distorts reality by not expressing any of the alternate perspective of what has been happening in and about that country with respect to the Palestinians. Your production staff should have refused to broadcast despite the fact that you have a time slot to fill! You accepted this airing as a channel receiving public tax supported donations and have an obligation to be “politically balanced” in dealing with controversial subjects.
Dr. Stephen Kollins, Las Vegas, NV
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Last Sunday, Nov 6, I settled down to enjoy Masterpiece Theater. The show was called “Page Eight.” Frankly, I’ve long had great affection for Masterpiece presentations. I love Inspector Lewis, the Swedish fellow Wallender, and Detective Poirot. But, as I watched Masterpiece Theater’s “Page Eight” unfold, I grew sick.
Here in the States we are well aware that police shows, such as Law and Order, will take stories that emerge in the news, and build on them narratives that closely follow the plot lines of actual events. I often smile as I recognize the events the writers have used to create their stories. But, what I haven’t seen recently—and maybe I don’t watch TV enough— is where writers create propaganda and suggest that it is based on what we already know to be true. Propaganda is what you do when you’re at war. It was true during the Cold War. It was true during the Vietnam conflict. No war is propaganda-free. But, is that what we are to take away from this Masterpiece presentation? Are we to see ourselves at war with Israel, the only country in the Middle East that extends civil rights to its women, to its minorities, to gays, and to anyone else regardless of their religion? This nation, Israel, that observes the laws of war and the treatment of prisoners more scrupulously than any other country in the world? Those of us who follow world events have long been aware of Britain’s Jewish problem. But for Public Television to bring such hatred of Israel to the U.S. is unconscionable.
Harry M. Mahn, Bellmore, NY
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While watching the program below, I noticed important, disguised or perhaps just plain overt anti-Semitism. The “Masterpiece” theme revolved about an aging British spy. The injured person was the actress Rachel Weisz, who in real life is a Jew. Rachel’s role was that of a distraught person because the IDF had killed her husband/friend [brother] while showing a white flag, and of course she then hated Jews (= Israel). She meets Nighy (spy) who at the end decides to help, no less than to vindicate the name of her brother. The vindication was needed because the IDF had not spoken the truth about the man with a white flag. I do not understand a) the role of Jews in this type of film and b) the reason to use Israel or Jews as the bad people. What was the purpose? I thought that the Merchant of Venice, etc, were things of the past.
Pablo Nankin, MD Beverly Hills CA
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PBS was always about classics and education. Is airing “Page Eight” in the public interest? A fictional, one-sided piece with bias against an ally? If you have traveled to England recently you will know that it is becoming an extension of Arabia and that television such as “Page Eight” will more and more be part of the fabric of local programing. Please don’t bring this crap to the U.S.
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Your decision to air “Page Eight” is reprehensible. Why don’t you just air the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? PBS should not air such a canard. What is the next fictional show you are going to air—one where Jewish adults kill a Muslim child to make Matzah? The blood libels continue and you help promote them.
Marten Hirsch, Wynnewood, PA
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I write to protest the egregious anti-Israel hit piece “Page Eight” that aired last Sunday on Masterpiece (KQED). We see [none of this is shown] allegedly brutish Israelis killing an innocent peace-loving protester intent only on halting the Jews’ callous seizure of land and the construction of a wall through an Arab home. No mention of terrorism or threats from Hamas or other Palestinian militants, suicide bombings, killing of Israeli civilians. I am a long-time admirer of Masterpiece (Theater) but using this venue to present a one-sided demonization of Israel is disgraceful.
Lewis Glenn, Danville, CA
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My wife and I saw “Page Eight” on Channel 13 last week and were appalled by its trumped up and totally unnecessary anti-Israel propaganda fiction disguised as drama. BBC’s anti-Semitism is repellent, and there is absolutely no good reason for our Public Broadcasting Corporation’s stations to pass swill like this along to American audiences.
J.B. Russell, Danville, CA