BBC used as Mossad’s mouthpiece: John Ware and Panorama PDF Print E-mail
Osama Saeed, 21 August 2006

BBC Panorama’s John Ware aired a documentary on 30 July 2006 aimed at showing how funds raised by British charity Interpal have helped Hamas.

Subsequent criticisms of Ware have pointed out that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had to settle out of court with Interpal last year after calling them a 'terrorist organisation'. It has to be noted though that Ware was more clever. All he is saying is that Interpal had 'helped build Hamas into the popular movement it is today'. As such, these are still preposterous grounds for a documentary. It is something intangible that nobody could know or prove. Ware consequently had to clutch at various straws to try and construct a case. He also employed some very questionable methods.
However, the main point I would put to him is that his documentary was Mossad-inspired propaganda. It depended on material provided to him by the Israeli secret services. By referring to what 'intelligence sources say', he had, for example, information on secret meetings held by Palestinians 14 years ago, access to transcripts of prisoners held by Israel, and material seized by the Israeli army in the West Bank. He has since tried to dismiss the links, saying:

'I must be an odd sort of 'Mossad hireling' - having pursued in 1989 and 1994 one of Britain's biggest benefactors to Zion - Dame Shirley Porter - for political corruption.'

This is an absurd argument. Bringing forward one story about one woman does not prove anything. Zionist journalists dogged Benjamin Netanyahu, eventually driving him out of office. The same for Yitzak Rabin’s first term as prime minister. It doesn’t mean that those journalists were not with the overall programme. It would give far more credence to his claims of independence and impartiality though if he was to similarly investigate how funds raised in Britain are used by Israelis.

If Ware wishes to deny that his documentary would be nothing without assistance from Mossad, then let him do so properly. Until then, the charge that the BBC has been used for the Israeli secret service’s purposes stands.

Secondly, the fact that Interpal were engaged in unusual activity must be established. Examples he used, such as the Khalil al Rahman Young Girls' Society, benefit from the contributions of numerous charities – and not just Muslim ones. Indeed, this organisation say they have been subject of donations from established and renowned US and European charities. In light of this, Ware must establish why it is that he singled Interpal out uniquely for criticism.

Thirdly, we know there was an element of theatre to the film. The scene where all the boys in a class raised their hands, eventually, to say they wanted to be mujahids? Mocked up. There were no classes that day. The orphanage has said that the 'teacher' was a caretaker, and the boys were brought in to provide Ware with his footage.

He denies 'goading' the boys into their response. I would disagree. He asked one boy what he wanted to be. He replied 'mujahid'. Ware translated that to 'fighter' and asked who else had that aspiration. One put his hand up, unconvincingly. Slowly, the others, pressured into the answer, followed. I maintain Ware should be ashamed of himself.

Fourthly, Ware showed footage of songs being performed at the Khalil al Rahman Girls Society that 'chilled the heart'. His documentary depended on the shock-value of the songs, but we must go back to the premise of the documentary - to show that Interpal’s money has contributed to the flourishing of Hamas. The fact is that these songs pre-date Hamas, and are therefore not indicative of the organisation’s presence at this school.

They have also been used to promote the army of Jordan on their national television. Ware has since quibbled with me regarding one of the lyrics he says had to come after the founding of Hamas in 1987 – about strapping bombs to belts. I’m sure he realises that it is not just Hamas or Islamist groups that engage in these operations – the secularists at Fatah do too. Again, Ware falls short in the purpose of his documentary – to show that charity money has gone to help build Hamas.

Fifthly, regarding Mrs Qawasmeh, headmistress of the school. She denied the adjacent orphanage had been raided. The Israeli army produced evidence. Ware concluded 'Mrs Qawasmeh's denial is simply not credible'. Unfortunately the problem is that for the viewer, we were not convinced as to how the army’s evidence was so incontestable. It seems they had a computer from there with scenes of violence on it. Ware may not be technically literate, but surely he realises that this could very easily be mocked up? Far better to have concluded that there was a dispute about this than what he said. It’s not to say that you automatically discount either side, though Ware did that for Qawasmeh. It’s simply that in a time of war, which the Israelis are engaged in against the Palestinians (they are a military occupier), strange things happen.

Sixthly, regarding the Hamas flag, it is a picture of the Dome of the Rock, surrounded by two Palestinian flags, swords and Islamic inscriptions (left). The green flag Ware saw at the school is used as a symbol across the Muslim world, and isn’t a preserve of Hamas. Indeed, it is seen widely and regularly in Israel itself. Surely they would have banned it if it was a Hamas flag?

Lastly, I find no evidence to his assertion that there has been an 'orchestrated' campaign against him after this film. After last year’s piece against 'political Islam' I did see a number of organisations make complaints and urge members of the public to do so too. Not so much this time. However, it is clear to see, from the Panorama website for one, that ordinary people have not swallowed what Ware wished them to. There are serious problems with the premise of the documentary, the methods employed, and the evidence eventually used to back up the hypothesis.

Osama Saeed is a commentator on Muslim affairs – www.osamasaeed.org