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Human rights groups accuse NBC of deceit about ‘DIG’ filming locations in occupied East Jerusalem


Press Release:

NBC Logo

NBC Logo

Washington, DC– As Palestinians mark 47 years of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, human rights groups are accusing NBC of complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights by filming its new series DIG in occupied East Jerusalem, after clearly stating that they would not do so.

The series, which according to Israeli media has already begun to be filmed, has outraged Palestinians and human rights groups, who have been calling on NBC to cancel it since it was announced back in November 2013 because it would give legitimacy to Israel’s policies in the city. Nir Barkat, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, and the Israeli Keshet Media Group declared at the time that most of the filming would take place in the “City of David National Park,” an illegal Israeli settlement located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. In a letter dated December 20, 2013, Cory Shields, Executive VP of Communications at NBC Universal, wrote to the General Delegation of the PLO to the US:  “NBC Universal Cable Entertainment reiterates that there are no plans, and there will be no plans, to film ‘DIG’ in the City of David National Park or the village of Silwan.” Subsequently, activists wrote to NBC seeking assurances that the series won’t be filmed in any other East Jerusalem location and were met with silence.

However, according to information recently obtained by U.S. groups working on this campaign, NBC is filming in the tunnel that links the City of David National Park in Silwan with the Archaeological Park and Davidson Center, which is located near the Western Wall. Other filming sites in occupied East Jerusalem include the rooftop promenade and Ma’alot Harav Shlomo Goren in the Old City, and the Tzidkiyahu Cave in Sheikh Jarrah, another Palestinian neighborhood that has been the site of intense Israeli settlement activity.

(Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

“Israel has misused archaeology projects in occupied East Jerusalem to strengthen settlements, evict Palestinians, and damage their homes,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “If NBC plans to make a fictional mini-series in East Jerusalem, it should avoid filming in any location that would make it complicit in this illegality.”

The Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality are also providing the series a $6.3 million grant, part of an effort to brand Israel’s control of Jerusalem in a “positive light.” Last week the cast and crew met with Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the extreme right-wing nationalist and pro-settler Jewish Home party. “A picture is worth a thousand words- sometimes shooting a series in Israel is worth more than a thousand publicity tours of the country,” Bennett said about DIG.

“With its production of the DIG series, NBC Universal is engaging in a deliberate act of deception by presenting this Palestinian city of East Jerusalem, which is illegally annexed by Israel, as though it were actually an Israeli city,” said PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. “It is playing into the Israeli occupation’s propaganda and a campaign that distorts Jerusalem’s genuine Palestinian character, culture, history, and demography. NBC is thereby being complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its blatant violation of international law and international consensus.”

“It is a shame that as Palestinians mark 47 years of living under a brutal military occupation that has included the confiscation of land, expansion of illegal settlements, and entrenchment of an apartheid system, NBC would choose to  continue with this series despite strong objections from Palestinian civil society and its allies. The decision to go on with this project violates all standards of corporate ethics and responsibility and is deeply immoral,” said Zakaria Odeh, Executive Director of the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem.

Last month activists delivered more than 5,000 petition signatures to NBC offices in New York and Los Angeles calling on the network to end its involvement in the series.

“As the global movement for Palestinian rights grows, NBC is choosing to stand on the wrong side of history by filming in occupied East Jerusalem and cooperating with Israeli government bodies that carry out violations of international law and human rights abuses there,” said Anna Baltzer of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. “NBC is tarnishing its reputation through this complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.”

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is the largest and most diverse coalition working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. Learn more at

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23 Responses

  1. just on June 5, 2014, 9:43 am

    Shame on NBC.

    Australia has gone ‘arse over tip’:

    “The Abbott government has ruled out using the term “occupied” when describing Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, prompting suggestions about a shift in Australia’s foreign policy.

    The government on Thursday delivered a statement to clarify its stand on the controversial question of the legality of settlements after the issued flared up at a Senate hearing the night before.

    The attorney general, George Brandis, on behalf of the minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop, said it was “unhelpful” to refer to historic events when describing these areas, given the ongoing Middle East peace process.

    “The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful,” Brandis told a Senate estimates hearing.

    “It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language.”

    Brandis sparked a heated debate the previous evening when he stated that no Australian government of either political persuasion “acknowledges or accepts” the use of the word occupied.”

    • Kay24 on June 5, 2014, 9:59 am

      I mentioned this to my Australian sister, years ago, warning her there were signs the menace of the Middle East was making strong efforts to slither into their political systems, and she did not believe me. Australia is doomed, and we should know that.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 5, 2014, 10:20 am

      ““The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful,” Brandis told a Senate estimates hearing.”

      Actually, that term doesn’t go far enough. It should also note who the occupier is and whose land it belongs to: “Israeli-occupied, Palestinian East Jerusalem.”

      I can recall back when US media would regularly refer to it as “Arab East Jerusalem.” Of course, then the Zionists took over and no more of that truth…

      • NormanF on June 5, 2014, 2:17 pm

        Of course it became Arab only after the Arabs ethnically cleansed the eastern part of the city of its Jewish inhabitants. It was not a natural process.

        People should tell the truth. Two thirds of Jerusalem’s population is Jewish. But Western consulates in the city treat most of its population as though they don’t exist.

        This is what we don’t hear. And Jerusalem has been majority Jewish since the 19th Century.

    • Hostage on June 5, 2014, 4:06 pm

      The attorney general, George Brandis, on behalf of the minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop, said it was “unhelpful” to refer to historic events

      No kidding. Maybe that’s because it is a “historical fact” that it was the representative from Australia, Mr. Evatt, who served as President of the UN General Assembly and Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee that partitioned Palestine into two states and a Corpus Separatum?

      Brandis sparked a heated debate the previous evening when he stated that no Australian government of either political persuasion “acknowledges or accepts” the use of the word occupied.”

      Brandis remarks only prove that Australian governments are more dishonest than the Israeli government officials, who actually cite the Hague and Geneva Conventions rules on belligerent occupation to support actions taken by Israel in the Palestinian territories, i.e.

      The jurisdictional basis relied upon by the Israeli military authorities for the establishment of the military courts in the West Bank is Article 66 of the Convention. If the Australian Government’s position is that the Convention no longer applies, could you please clarify whether or not you now consider these courts to be operating without legal foundation?

      — Military Court Watch, “Re:Australia’s position regarding application of Fourth Geneva Convention”

      Australia, like all UN member states, has a treaty obligation under articles 24 and 25 of the UN Charter to accept the decisions of the Security Council acting on its behalf in the maintenance of international peace and security. In that capacity, it decided long ago that East Jerusalem is indeed “occupied” and that all Israeli actions to either annex it or alter its demographic character constitute flagrant violations of international law, including the Hague and Geneva Conventions, and are thus null and void.

      • straightline on June 5, 2014, 8:11 pm

        As I’ve said on another thread, Australia is an extremely pro-Zionist country. Go and read

        for an idea of what goes on here. The MSM here are even more one-eyed than in the US and the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Commission is laughable in its bias.

    • Shingo on June 6, 2014, 7:53 am

      Yes, the Abbott government has already proven itself to be an embarrassment and filled to the brim with self serving political hacks and prostitutes. In that regard, one can only thank God for small mercies over the fact that Australia – like Canada – is utterly irrelevant with regards to international affairs.

    • Shingo on June 6, 2014, 7:58 am

      The attorney general, George Brandis, on behalf of the minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop, said it was “unhelpful” to refer to historic events when describing these areas, given the ongoing Middle East peace process.

      I can’t wait to hear Brandis’ policy position once the Australian government is forced to conceded that the peace process is dead and terminated. It’s also truly Orwellian to suggest that that referring to historic events is “unhelpful” other than to admit that the Abbot government’s policies deliberately ignore historical facts and international law to arrive at those policies.

      At least DFAT had to admit Brandeis lied when he claimed the Australian government had never referred to the territories as occupied. Furthermore, the fact the Abbot government refused to discuss the legal ramifications of this policy goes to show how fundamentally dishonest they are.

      Of course, the Abbot government is only slightly worse than the Gillard government on this matter.

      • straightline on June 7, 2014, 8:10 am

        Agreed Shmuel re Gillard.

        has a piece about Brandis and Gillard today. Here is one exchange that indicates the level of inanity they have sunk to:

        Rhiannon: So you don’t use the term ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’, even though it’s a United Nations term used widely by a number of international agencies, European members etc…

        Brandis: Well, it’s used by a lot of people. It’s used by a lot of communists too. Weren’t you a member of the Communist Party once?

  2. Kay24 on June 5, 2014, 9:56 am

    Let those in the US media who are unbiased, not guilty of unfair support for an alien nation and does their bidding, who are not ignoring the plight of innocent civilians of a brutal occupation for DECADES, makes mention of the human rights violations, breaking of international laws by violent occupier, raise their hands…..I thought so. Hence “zionist “media of the US.
    Shame on the NBC. Those on top, like all other media corporation, have an insane devotion, and loyalty, to Israel, over journalistic honesty, and neutrality.
    They are all controlled, and we know it. Disgusting.

  3. HarryLaw on June 5, 2014, 10:58 am

    The BBC has provided evidence last year that it prefers to use the territorial claims of the Israeli government to the whole of Jerusalem as a framework for its reporting, rather than acknowledging international law. In a 15 May email sent to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the BBC’s Senior Editorial Strategy Advisor, Leanne Buckle, has confirmed that the BBC is happy to refer to the whole of Jerusalem as an “Israeli” city. It sees no need for its journalists to make the facts of international law, or even UK government policy, clear to its audiences.

    • bintbiba on June 5, 2014, 11:46 am

      I , for one don’t watch the BBC any more. Their News are abysmal and obviously biased. What they did to Nigel Kennedy during last year’s Proms was shameful, blatant censorship and denial . Unforgivable !

    • Bumblebye on June 5, 2014, 1:23 pm

      They have an Israeli, Raffi Berg, in charge of the Middle East desk.
      They have a zionist leader, in James Harding.

      As of April this year (iirc), the World Service funding no longer comes separately, from government, but out of the bbc licence fee – and ME seems to have been turned over to Berg’s preferred biased editors.

      This is one of several reasons i refuse to use a tv, and definitely won’t be paying for their damn licence! It’s appalling that some fraction of less than half a percent of our population can dictate bbc positioning, leading to total mininformation rather than honest news appearing.

      • bintbiba on June 5, 2014, 2:05 pm

        Bumblebye, due to my being ancient, I am exempted from the license fee. Still won’t watch as a freebie.

      • Bumblebye on June 5, 2014, 3:04 pm

        No, you can’t be ancient until you’ve been enjoying the freebie for at least 25 years! And hopefully longer. In good health!

  4. bryan on June 5, 2014, 12:57 pm

    The reference to City of David is a “term freighted with pejorative implications” – perhaps City of Herod, City of Hadrian or City of Saladdin would be a more accurate reflection of historical reality?

  5. NormanF on June 5, 2014, 2:13 pm

    There are liars and then there are liars.

    Jerusalem is the oldest Jewish city on earth. I get amused at so-called “human rights” groups working to deliberately expunge the city’s Jewish connection from history as though it did not exist.

    I attach little credibility to the protests of people who have never said a word about the 200,000 Arabs slaughtered by Syria. But they are outraged – outraged! that Jerusalem’s place as a Jewish city should be highlighted in an American TV program.

    What is at work here is not a concern for human rights. Its good old-fashioned anti-Semitism and politically correct de rigeur Israel-bashing. Of course, a free society is safer for such lying frauds to criticize than a totalitarian dictatorship. On the human rights Animal Farm, some animals are less equal than others.

  6. just on June 5, 2014, 6:40 pm

    “BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Thursday strongly criticized an announcement by the Australian government that it is to stop referring to East Jerusalem as occupied territory.


    Ashrawi said it is “disgraceful” and “shocking” that on the 47th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza that Brandis would make such “inflammatory” statements.

    “Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem is beyond ‘pejorative’ and ‘inappropriate’; it is a deliberate and egregious violation, not just of international humanitarian law and consensus, but of the basic norms of responsible behavior that governs relations among civilized states.”

    “Trying to fabricate or distort the law to fit Israel’s lawless behavior is shameful and dangerous. Attorney-General Brandis, whether out of ignorance or whether out of blind bias, is trying to render Australia complicit in the Israeli occupation, and is forcing it to become an advocate of international criminal behavior,” she concluded.

    East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.

    On May 21, 1968, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed that the “acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible.”

    The resolution stated that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.””

    Ashrawi and Erekat — calling out the lawless today!

    • just on June 6, 2014, 8:08 am

      Some responses to Brandis/Australian gov’t denial of facts:

      “Bob Carr, who in his recent memoir upbraided Julia Gillard for being captured by the “pro-Israel lobby”, weighed-in on the Brandis shift on Friday.

      “If Australia is saying that you can’t talk about an ‘occupied east Jerusalem’, all of that logic means that Australia is now saying you can’t talk about an occupied West Bank,” Carr told the ABC.

      He suggested Australia’s foreign policy was now more pro-Israel than majority opinion in Israel, and contended the latest Australian shift would not go down well in Washington.

      “The State Department would be appalled,” Carr said. “We have sided with the religious, ethno-nationalist right of Israeli politics. That means we are encouraging the hardliners – the most hardline of the hardline in Israel – to think in terms of a greater Israel, an annexation of what has been seen by the world up until now as territory occupied as a consequence of the 1967 war,” Carr said.

      Peter Rogers, who was the Australian ambassador to Israel between 1994 and 1997, told the ABC on Friday that Australia’s policy on Israel now was, in essence, illogical.

      “I really see absolutely no logic to it. I see no benefit for a government that still proclaims that it has an interest in a two-state solution to be supporting activities on the ground that defy the prospect of that actually happening,” Rogers said.

      The government has faced a fierce domestic political backlash from Jewish groups, and well as other faith and ethnic communities, about its proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, reforms that are being spearheaded by the attorney-general.

      Peter Wertheim, the executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who has been active in a broadly-based community campaign against the RDA changes, said on Friday that he saw no connection between Brandis’s statement this week on east Jerusalem and the discrimination fracas. “I don’t see any connection whatsoever,” Wertheim said.”

  7. Hostage on June 5, 2014, 6:53 pm

    Human rights groups accuse NBC of deceit about ‘DIG’ filming locations in occupied East Jerusalem

    Worse still, viewers don’t care for their programming anyway. They dropped to fifth place behind Univision last year.

  8. a blah chick on June 5, 2014, 8:32 pm

    I’m curious, is there anyway to film in East Jerusalem without dealing with the rightwing nut jobs?

    Also, why is an American network accepting grants to make this thing? Don’t they have enough of their own money?

  9. a blah chick on June 5, 2014, 8:48 pm

    It gets worse. From the Times of Israel: “It’s been a busy month for Raff — he has another television program headed for U.S. screens, FX’s “Tyrant,” currently filming in Tel Aviv.” I think this is about that dude in Syria.

    You know Raff is missing the boat here. He doesn’t need to poach other people’s stories, he’s got plenty he can document in his own country. How about a slam bang movie about Operation Susannah and the Lavon Affair? Or maybe something more recent, like the poisoning of Arafat or the assassination of Rabin?

    • ritzl on June 6, 2014, 5:19 am

      I’d like to see one about those guys that got the graffiti up in time for the Pope’s stop. Apparently it took several attempts and some sneaking around at night under the noses of Israeli guards. Elements of the miraculous.

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