LONDON – A BBC documentary examining the role of Jerusalem’s light railway in redefining the capital’s demography has come in for strong criticism after it depicted a city in which Israelis have used the tram line to strengthen their grip over the Palestinians.
The 30-minute documentary in the BBC’s flagship Panorama
series, contentiously titled “The Train that Divides Jerusalem,” was described by the publicly financed corporation as being aired on the anniversary of “last summer’s brutal conflict in Gaza” in which a “filmmaker, Adam Wishart” visited Jerusalem to ride on the city’s so-called ‘controversial train.’ In the pre-broadcast publicity blurb, the BBC added that, with only 9 miles from start to finish, some had hoped it could help heal divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, “but as Wishart discovers, it has only deepened the sense of resentment on both sides.”
The BBC added that, walking through Jerusalem’s Old City, he came “face to face with the battle over one of the world’s holiest sites and asks could it be the flashpoint for the start of another war?” What the blurb failed to announce was that Wishart, an award winning documentary maker, is Jewish but has an understanding about Israel which places him very strongly in the pro-Palestinian’ camp.
The program, which had its first broadcast last Monday evening, pulled in an estimated 1.7 million viewers, which a BBC representative told The Jerusalem Post is an average audience for such broadcasts.