Channel 4 in the UK has broadcast couple of documentaries on Israel/Palestine to mark the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank. The pair were personal investigations of the history and current situations by the two presenters, Rod Liddle, a former senior BBC journalist and Paddy Ashdown.

Liddle concentrated on investigating whether the occupation of the West Bank has eroded Israel’s claim to be a democracy. Ashdown focused on Jerusalem. Most importantly, he proposed a series of five elements essential to bring about peace. These would involve changes in the present orthodoxy of the need to follow the Olso and Camp David processes.
Since no doubt there will immediately be making allegations on the independence of one or the other documentary makers, let me first outline their personal histories.{These two sections included because of original posting in the orange one}

Rod Liddle
Rod Liddle is no stranger to controversy. He has a long journalism career including five years as editor of the BBC Radio 4 flagship morning news programme “Today”.  In addition to this, he wrote and still writes newspaper columns and has made other programmes for Channel 4. He was forced to resign when the BBC considered a column he had written about demonstrations against the ban on for hunting as to partial. The described the “huntin, shootin and fishin” thugs, who had attacked police stewarding the demonstration, in less than flattering terms. Wiki summarises it.

Liddle wrote that readers may have forgotten why they voted Labour but would remember once they saw the people campaigning to save hunting

Nor is Liddle averse to making controversial documentaries and using unpopular voices. Again from the above Wikipedia link.

Liddle was heavily criticised by pro-Muslim groups following the broadcast of his Channel 4 documentary ‘Immigration Is A Time Bomb’ Amongst the complaints were that Liddle allowed BNP leader Nick Griffin to speak “unchallenged when arguing for freedom of speech” and that he “stated that Griffin should not have been arrested for stating his views” for incitement to racial hatred for which he had already received a two year suspended sentence in 1998

However he was officially cleared of bias.

Ofcom adjudicated that the programme was entirely fair. The complaints were dismissed.

Paddy Ashdown

Lord Jeremy John Durham (“Paddy”) Ashdown by contrast has had a varied career. He was born in India during the Raj as his father was an officer in the Indian Army. Wiki continues his biography (Slightly edited and reformatted.

He was largely brought up in Northern Ireland (hence the nickname “Paddy”) and educated at Bedford School, England. From 1959 to 1972 he served as an officer in the Royal Marines, including a stint in the elite Special Boat Service. After leaving the Marines, he worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in industry, and as a youth worker before being elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Yeovil in 1983. It has been suggested that Ashdown worked for MI6 while a diplomat in Geneva in the 1970s, but he has publicly denied this.

In the House of Commons he was SDP-Liberal Alliance spokesman on Trade and Industry and then on Education. After the merger that formed the Liberal Democrats, he was elected as the new party’s leader in 1988.

Ashdown resigned the leadership in 1999 and was succeeded by Charles Kennedy. He was knighted (KBE) in 2000 and became a life peer as Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, of Norton-sub-Hamdon in the County of Somerset in the House of Lords after retiring from the Commons in 2001.

After leaving British politics, he took up the post of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina on May 27, 2002, reflecting his long-time advocacy of international intervention in that region. He succeeded Wolfgang Petritsch in the position created under the Dayton Agreement.

Wikipedia biography

Channel 4 Programmes

Rod Liddle’s piece was broadcast Monday night with the title “Battle for the Holy Land: Love Thy Neighbour”.  Ashdown’s was broadcast on Saturday in the same thread as “Battle for the Holy Land: Jerusalem”. Channel 4 also has a background and descriptive mini site.

Ashdown’s Proposal

The site has a page devoted to Ashdown’s proposals from which I quote his five ingredients for peace.

The first ingredient of his recipe for peace is for Jerusalem, this city which is so central to the past, present and future of both peoples, to be the first item on the negotiating table, not the last.

His second ingredient is a recognition that Jerusalem has a shared history, and is not just the location of disparate and conflicting histories. This means both sides must accept the other’s right to exist, and face the painful truth that terrible things have been done: crimes have been committed by both sides, such as the massacre of Jews by Arabs at Gush Etzion and the massacre of Palestinians by Jews at Deir Yassin.

His third ingredient draws on the example of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where, for 1,700 years, different denominations have fought, at times violently, for control of this holy site. In an attempt to stop the violence, in 1767 the Ottoman rulers issued a decree establishing a status quo that divided the church between the various groups. Some tensions and skirmishes notwithstanding, overall that status quo has remained in place ever since. Paddy Ashdown believes this could be a model for negotiating an agreement between Muslims, Christians and Jews for all their holy places.

The fourth ingredient is a charter of rights for all Jerusalem’s citizens to end the terrible discrimination against the city’s Palestinian inhabitants. This discrimination, says Paddy Ashdown, is not only inhuman and unjust but has provoked more conflict.

The fifth ingredient of Paddy Ashdown’s recipe for a sustainable peace is to dismantle the Wall as part of a broad agreement which includes a firm and binding commitment to end all terror attacks on Israeli citizens.

The first is perhaps the most important as it completely reverses the current “road map”. In that, final status talks were to be the last element in the process, a fudge that bedevils the prospects for any talks at the moment.

We should remember that Paddy has seen inter-communal conflict from his earliest career in the Army fighting the insurgency in Malaysia as an officer in the elite Special Boat Squadron and in Northern Ireland to his last official position as the representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His proposals should not be lightly dismissed.

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