A Dutch state TV station has apologised twice following complaints from Jewish groups that its coverage was biased against Israel.
According to Israeli sources, NOS, Netherlands’ main public broadcaster, made two retractions within the space of two weeks amid protests by Dutch Jews and others who complained that the state-funded organisation has an institutional anti-Israel bias.
Though a senior NOS spokesperson has denied accusations of anti-Israel bias, the broadcaster has been forced to retract comments about Israel’s occupation and suggesting that Iran and Israel face the same level of threat from each other.
NOS retracted comments, which described Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza as a protest for the right to return to areas that were occupied by Israel after 1948. The broadcast said that those taking part in the “March of Return” wanted to “return to areas that since the establishment of Israel in 1948 are occupied.”
In their retraction, NOS said that the land that came under the control of the Jewish state following the 1949 armistice that ended its war of independence is internationally recognised as belonging to Israel.
The revised statement appears to endorse the Israeli line, which claims that the Palestinians protesting in Gaza have no legitimate rights to return to the land from which they were expelled by Israel in 1948 and the various wars that followed.
Under international law, an armistice line to end hostilities is not the final border, which is to be agreed through negotiations. Israel’s non-declaration of its borders is one of the means by which it has continued to expand its colonies outside what is internationally regarded as the armistice line. The non-resolution of the refugee question also, under international law, means that they have every right to demand a return to their land and receive compensation for their expulsion and loss.
In its second retraction, NOS withdrew the comment that “Iran and Israel are arch-enemies that regularly threaten one another with destruction.” According to the retracted statement Iranian officials have often spoke about Israel’s destruction but Israeli have not. NOS acknowledged this after protests by the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), a pro-Israel group.
The retraction demanded by the pro-Israeli group sent the message that Israel and Iran are not mutually calling for each other’s destruction; which they alleged was only coming from the Iranians. “Israel sees Iran, which regularly threatens to destroy Israel, as a grave danger,” the corrected text reads. Israel has threatened repeatedly “to intervene, also with bombing of Iranian targets”.
Dick Jansen, the chief editor of international news at NOS, said the original phrasing was “insensitive”.