NEW YORK (Sep. 5)
A controversial documentary on the Palestinians will be broadcast Wednesday on public television stations across the United States, despite charges that the film was partially funded with money coming from Arab countries.
But a message informing viewers of the allegations about funding will be broadcast immediately before and after the documentary, which is entitled “Days of Rage: The Young Palestinians.”
The film will be broadcast as the main component of a Public Broadcasting Service presentation titled “Intifada: The Palestinians and Israel.”
The decision to air the message was made by PBS after an article in The New Republic, a weekly political journal, charged last week that Jo Franklin-Trout, the producer of “Days of Rage,” received funds for distribution rights to the film from the Arab American Cultural Foundation.
The foundation, whose director is Hisham Sharabi, a Palestinian professor at Georgetown University, receives funds from Arab nations. Franklin-Trout sits on the foundation’s board.
PBS spokeswoman Mary Jane McKinven said that the message broadcast before and after the presentation will state that although Franklin-Trout has told PBS that the film was funded independently, there have been charges that funds have come from improper sources.
The message goes on to say that PBS investigated the matter but found no hard evidence of improper funding.
According to PBS guidelines, documentaries may not be financed by parties with vested interests in the content of the film.
‘PREMEDITATED EFFORT TO PROPAGANDIZE’?
Following the publication of the charges regarding the funding, several major Jewish groups asked PBS to reconsider its decision to air the film.
“It seems to us incomprehensible that a single private investigator (The New Republic) should have been able to unearth materials which remain undiscovered by a team of investigators looking at this question on behalf of a major broadcasting network,” Phil Baum, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said in a statement.
Paul Flacks, the executive vice president of the Zionist Organization of America, has written to PBS asking for cancellation of the broadcast.
He said in a statement that if the documentary is aired as planned, PBS has an obligation to make it clear to viewers that “what is being broadcast may, in fact, be based on bias and a premeditated effort to propagandize public opinion.”
During the broadcast Wednesday evening, a local group called the Coalition of Concern will stage a demonstration outside WNET, the PBS affiliate in New York that is sponsoring the broadcast. The group is chaired by Rabbi Avraham Weiss, who led a controversial demonstration at Auschwitz on July 14.
After Jewish groups denounced “Days of Rage” as anti-Israel propaganda, WNET produced programming to surround the broadcast. It includes interviews in Israel and a panel discussion.