NEW YORK (Aug. 31)
Following new allegations regarding Arab funding of the documentary “Days of Rage: The Young Palestinians,” Jewish groups are asking the Public Broadcasting System to reassess its decision to air the film.
An article published Thursday in The New Republic, a weekly charges that the documentary’s producer, Jo Franklin-Trout, was paid by the Arab American Cultural Foundation in exchange for international distribution rights.
The foundation receives money from Arab nations, as well as individuals.
Despite the allegations, PBS is “still proceeding with plans for broadcast,” according to spokeswoman Mary Jane McKinven.
“We are looking into the allegations” made in the New Republic article, she said, but as of now, PBS investigators “haven’t found anything to say that it isn’t the way we represented it.”
The New Republic article, written by Steven Emerson, quotes the director of the Arab American Cultural Foundation as saying that Franklin-Trout entered into a verbal agreement with foundation director Hisham Sharabi–before the making of the $180,000 film–that the foundation would purchase the distribution rights.
Sharabi is described in the magazine article as “a friend and adviser” to Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat.
In a letter to Bruce Christiansen, the president of PBS, the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council “strongly urges PBS to postpone airing the documentary until the actual funding sources can be determined.”
PBS has a stated policy of refusing to air films produced by organizations or institutions with a vested interest in the subject matter.
The NJCRAC letter states that the alleged agreement by the foundation to buy the distribution rights to “Days of Rage” “leads one to conclude that the guidelines appear to have been violated.”
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has sent telegrams to Bruce Christianson, the president of PBS, and to William Baker, president of WNET, the New York affiliate that is sponsoring “Days of Rage” and produced its accompanying wrap-around programming.
The telegrams point out how in discussions with Jewish leaders, both WNET and PBS representatives “continually emphasized how critical it was that ‘Days of Rage’ was produced through independent funds of Jo Franklin-Trout.”
Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, noted in a telephone interview that PBS affiliates have turned down films which received ADL funding because of the PBS guidelines.
Franklin-Trout’s documentary has been the center of controversy since the spring, when another PBS affiliate, WNYC, chose not to sponsor the film because of its pro-Palestinian bias.
Its current sponsor station, WNET, has produced documentary footage and a panel discussion to be shown alongside “Days of Rage” in order to balance the presentation.
REMINDER: There will be no JTA Daily News Bulletin on Monday, Sept. 4, because of the Labor Day hollday in the United States.