"Throughout the program, Jericho is described simply as being in Palestine or the “Palestinian Territories,” but does not specify that it is occupied territory. Similarly, a map shows Jericho within an outline of the West Bank, but does not identify it nor specify that it is occupied. Instead, the segment uses the language of “enduring border disputes” and of two parties “claim[ing] and “fight[ing] over the same territory.”
February 7, 2023
Marc Fennell, Co-producer, Writer, Host, “Stuff the British Stole”
Jennifer Dettman, Executive Director, Unscripted Content for CBC
Dear Mr. Fennell, Ms. Dettman,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) regarding the episode “Chipped Away” of the CBC co-production “Stuff the British Stole,” which was aired by the CBC on February 3, 2023.
First, we want to express appreciation for the important theme of this series, and for the decision to focus this episode on the issue of a mosaic which was stolen by the British from Jericho in Palestine. The interviews with Palestinian archeologist Osama Hamdan were especially compelling. Nonetheless, we believe that the political context could have been handled better.
Throughout the program, Jericho is described simply as being in Palestine or the “Palestinian Territories,” but does not specify that it is occupied territory. Similarly, a map shows Jericho within an outline of the West Bank, but does not identify it nor specify that it is occupied. Instead, the segment uses the language of “enduring border disputes” and of two parties “claim[ing] and “fight[ing] over the same territory.” This framing gives the impression there are competing claims which have equivalent legitimacy, whereas there is an international consensus that both Jericho and East Jerusalem, cities featured in the program, are in Palestinian territory under military occupation by Israel.
This is important because guest Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority calls the mosaic “stolen property,” but falsely claims that its legal owner is “the state of Israel.” International law does not support these claims. The issue is not only that Israel did not exist when the mosaic was stolen, as noted in the segment, but also that Israel does not have sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories today. According to Israeli NGOs Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh in a report on Israel’s archeology activities in the West Bank, “From the point of view of international law, archaeological sites and antiquities are cultural assets, the property of the occupied territory,” and “the removal and transfer of cultural property from an occupied territory undermines the basic principles of the laws of occupation.” Had Israel’s status as an occupying power been addressed in the segment, it would have been evident that the true owners of the mosaic are Palestinian.
Finally, there is a further issue of how violence is alluded to in the program. By not clarifying that Palestine is militarily occupied by Israel, the framing suggests equal parties in conflict with each other, instead of an asymmetrical situation between an occupying power and an occupied population. This problem is aggravated through the segment’s use of ‘violent’ imagery associated with Palestinian protests but without similar footage of Israeli military violence. In these ways, the segment obscures the dominant and oppressive nature of Israel’s regime, which is increasingly understood by human rights organizations in terms of apartheid.
Thank you again for telling this important story. I’d ask that you address our concerns in any future segments on Palestinian issues going forward. Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Michael Bueckert, PhD
Vice President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
 Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh, “Appropriating the Past: Israel’s Archaeological Practices in the West Bank,” December 2017, https://emekshaveh.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Menachsim-Eng-Web.pdf.
 Amnesty International, “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity,” February 1, 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/5141/2022/en/; Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and persecution,” April 27, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution; B’Tselem, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” January 12, 2021, https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid.