Expansionist satireExpansionist satire

BBC show stages Israeli ‘land grab’

Actors posing as workmen tell local businesses that the embassy is exercising its God-given right to take over their properties

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A recent BBC television sketch lampooned alleged Israeli policies by telling businesses located near the Israeli Embassy in London that their properties were to be taken over to make way for an extension of the embassy.

In the sketch, actors dressed as workmen inform property owners that the embassy did not require paperwork to seize their assets because the embassy had a God-given right to appropriate their land.

The candid camera sketch was broadcast on BBC 3 in December, as part of the channel’s “The Revolution Will be Televised” show, which according to the BBC’s website “bring[s] corruption, greed and hypocrisy to the fore. Politicians, multinationals and tax-shy corporations who have been taking the public for a ride for years are now on the receiving end.”

At the start of the sketch a narrator suggests that bringing up the “Israeli-Palestine conflict” is a great way to ruin a dinner party and “guaranteed to cause an argument — especially if you are at a bar mitzvah.”

An explanation then follows that a “recent UN report” found that Israeli construction of settlements is a violation of the 4th Geneva convention. The narration is accompanied by a map of Israel that appears to suggest that the Jewish state’s expansionist project began with the 1947 UN partition plan.

A map of Israel as it appeared in the in BBC 3 show 'The Revolution Will Be Televised' (screen capture: YouTube/Ogeezus)
A map of Israel as it appeared in the in BBC 3 show ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ (screen capture: YouTube/Ogeezus)

In the video, two “workmen” in hardhats, claiming to be from the embassy and equipped with schematics and maps of the surrounding streets, begin informing shops and other businesses that the embassy is planning an extension to build a conservatory that will include the location of their properties.

Among the explanations they proffer are: “Before it was your land it was our land, so we are really going to take what was rightfully ours,” “It’s not like taking land is a big deal,” “We’ve been doing it for years,” and “This is our land that was given to us by the Almighty.”

One owner is told that the embassy doesn’t need planning permissions because it has a 2,000-year-old planning book. And when a store proprietor asks for a letter, she’s told: “We generally go with the bulldozers first and letters later.” Another is informed that the jars of olives in a deli display “are ours as well.”

One man, apparently amused by the claims made by the “workmen,” is told: “I’m finding that smile a bit anti-Semitic… so I think you should really wipe it off your face.”

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