French film on Jerusalem sparks uproar for inaccuracies

The documentary discusses the “knife intifada” and the explosive situation in Israel’s capital.

December 21, 2016 22:06
3 minute read.

MEYER HABIB. (photo credit: REUTERS)

An investigative report about Jerusalem that was broadcast on a popular French TV channel this week has sparked an uproar among French Jews and Israelis for its alleged bias against Israel.

Jewish French MP Meyer Habib, who represents expats in Israel and other Mediterranean countries, slammed the documentary as being “full of inaccuracies that could result in violence against Israel and French Jews.”

Pro-Israeli activists and members of the Jewish community in France planned to demonstrate on Thursday in Paris outside the offices of the M6 channel, which broadcast the documentary titled Jerusalem – When the Holy City Tears.

The documentary discusses the “knife intifada” and the explosive situation in Israel’s capital. Critics of the film accuse it of being biased and of portraying Jews as almost as responsible for acts of terrorism targeting them as the terrorists themselves.

In a strongly worded letter to the CEO of M6, Habib expressed shock and disappointment. “As a representative of French citizens living in Israel, I have received countless messages about the film. Even though the format of the report create an illusion of balance, the tone, comments, choice of content and countless inaccuracies transform it into a biased document against Israel.”

Habib said that the “screaming lack of objectivity hurts not only the 150,000 French citizens living in Israel but also the Israeli nation as a whole, its many supporters and anyone who values the truth.”

Habib was particularly troubled by an attempt to compare Palestinian terrorists with Jewish residents of the West Bank. He also took aim at the coverage given to Palestinian claims that the purpose of archeological excavation in the City of David is to physically destroy the neighboring Silwan neighborhood. The MP alleged that the systematic portrayal of Palestinians as victims can lead to incitement against Israel and further legitimize violence against Jews in France.

However, journalist Vincent Prado, who made a large portion of the documentary, denied such claims. “I said some settlers are terrorists when they burn a baby,” he told The Jerusalem Post, referring to an incident of arson in the West Bank town of Duma in July 2015 that resulted in the death of three Dawabshe family members, including an 18-month-old baby.

Prado attributed all criticism against his film to “extremist Jews” who believe his reportage to be pro-Palestinian, as well as to “extremist Palestinians” who slam it as pro-Jewish. “My film is balanced,” he asserted. “Many people have said that to me.”

Responding to concerns that the film could spark incitement, he said the documentary simply points out the many problems that exist between Jews and Palestinians, and said “as a journalist, we have to talk about everything, even if some people are not happy.”

“I’m not pro-Palestinian or pro-Jewish. I’m just a journalist trying to do my work as best as I can,” he stated. “Should I not talk about [Temple Mount activist and Likud MP] Yehudah Glick or [Islamic Movement leader] Raed Salah?” he asked. This is the type of comparison that Habib objects to. He said that the filmmaker equates Salah and parents of terrorists who glorify terrorism with settlers who “incite violence” because they live beyond the Green Line or visit the Temple Mount.

Robert Ejnes, executive director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions echoed Habib’s sentiment about the report. “It is biased, contains historical flaws and shows a skewed image of Jews in Jerusalem,” he told the Post.

Ejnes gave another example. “The film says the region was divided, which resulted in the creation of Israel, and that Jordan gave up a part of its territory, when in fact, Jordan invaded Judea and Samaria.”

Prado responded to this by saying that he apologizes if he made a mistake, emphasizing that it was not because he took any side in the conflict.

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