The historical vandalism of Peter Kosminsky

This review of Peter Kosminsky’s “The Promise” was written by CiF Watch reader, D. Gold

Channel 4’s The Promise, its dramatization of the events leading up to the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, juxtaposed with a portrayal of the current situation, was captivating viewing. In terms of a gripping story, excellent acting and directing, as a production it had the full package. There was just one thing that let it down – the film’s brazen attempt to re-write history, in what could be characterized as a daring ideological raid against facts, context, and history.

Towards the end of episode three it descends into its most flagrant abuse of history, as it depicts Israeli children throwing stones at Palestinians. Of course there is some element of truth to accusations against Israel as well as against Palestinians, but the sheer audacity of the programme to imply that children throwing stones is an Israeli phenomenon would be amusing were it not so serious. Palestinians have been known for years not to just give their children stones to throw, but guns and detonation devices.

As the final episode begins, the civil war of 1947-1948 comes into focus, naturally without perspective or facts to accompany it. The historical record shows that when the Arabs rejected, and the Jews accepted, the two state solution proposed by the UN in 1947,  violent actions were launched by Israel’s enemies.  Among the first victims of this assault were Israeli passengers of a bus massacred by a group of Arabs from Jaffa.

Yet as Erin’s grandfather tries desperately to save a Palestinian family and a child in particular, we are reminded that the Arabs are nowhere near Israel and that the Israelis are trying to take strategic sites such as ports. As it is said during the episode, “if we don’t leave there will be nothing left to defend by the time the Arab armies get here.”

This was of course a strange portrayal of a conflict in which Israel was attacked first. Who does Kosminsky think attacked Israel – the invisible Arab army of Jaffa? Once again, the show finds itself fighting against history itself. Not a surprise though when you consider that the first episode recounted the history of Arabs and Jews living side by side in the area for a thousand years without mentioning that Jews were the indigenous population of the land which later became known as Palestine.

Incredulously, during one scene, the programme dramatizes an Israeli soldiers taking a girl from her home to be used as a human shield. The irony here is obvious but requires repetition. Hamas place missiles and rocket launchers near schools, hospitals, and other highly densely populated areas, in order to maximise the impact of Israeli self-defence against their rockets. Israel’s army, portrayed in this drama as unspeakably evil, are the only army in the world who have long practised warning civilians in advance of the areas and places that will be bombed. In fact, Israel goes to incredible lengths not to cause civilian casualties; such as sending in soldiers to fight hand to hand rather than launch air strikes against targets, as in Jenin in 2002. Yet there are scenes where Israeli soldiers fire into a home unannounced and without warning. To suggest that Israel uses Palestinians as human shields is the epitome of the programme’s inversion of reality.

Perhaps most chilling of all is the sight towards the end of an innocent Palestinian child being killed trying to escape the fighting – a sight that would shock anyone, but, due to the lack of context or any supporting historical context , seems to have been created in the imagination of Peter Kosminsky, and is, perhaps, the lowest point of the film, one which evokes the historical narrative of Jews who delight in killing innocent non-Jewish children.

Indeed, the cause of the historical falsehoods are enunciated by Kosminsky himself. In a long list of groups and people consulted, Kosminsky cites Palestinians and Israelis, but only Israelis from groups such as Breaking the Silence, who have a stated agenda to expose corruption in the Israeli army. By his own admission he has only sought the views of those who will be critical of Israel, and none who will defend it.

Ultimately my post is not a defence of Israel as such.  Rather, it is a defence of history, without which justice – a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – is unlikely to ever be realized.

Kosminsky’s “drama” is in conflict with history itself. We are all entitled to our views, regardless of how far-fetched or implausible, but no one is entitled to rewrite the historical record. The Promise is a well produced, superbly acted and elaborate work of historical vandalism.

73 replies »

  1. I’m not sure the 1.7 million people who watched it will share the same view. Many of them will no doubt see it as a drama, others will want to know more about an alternative version of events.

  2. The brainless vocabulary

    falsification of history = alternative version of events

  3. Clearly all films depicting historical events pertaining to Israel should be first censored by a “Truth Commission” comprising Peter the Hungarian, Mark Regev and Melanie Phillips.

    Or maybe we should be subjected to repeats of “Exodus” twice a week ?

  4. Mostly Harmless, Peter. Events are as they occurred. There is no alternative version. One may apply a perspective to them, but that risks introducing bias, straight away. Second best is where there is a rigorous, unbiased analysis of circumstantial evidence.
    My reading of the comments made on the Channel 4 website is that, as you suggest, alongside those who point to the bias of The Promise, some viewers have taken what they consider to be a neutral stance, believing that more than one version can be valid. But there is also a third group, unable to see past the dramatisation and ignorant of the facts – they are those who regard The Promise’s narrative as the definitive story, with no alternative.
    What gives rise to groups two and three is The Promise’s falsifying historical events and distorting viewers’ perceptions by omitting crucial elements of context and doing so consistently in order to favour the narrative of the side which, in its own political discourse, consistently misrepresents facts and omits context. In other words, The Promise is dishonest propaganda, convincingly presented.
    The power of its message is the problem.
    So, trotting out the cliche, what’s to be done to turn the problem into an opportunity?

  5. Why doesn’t Israel come up with an alternative dramatization of events leading up to the foundation of the State of Israel in 48 then?..about the British imperialist involvment,about The expulsion of almost one Million Jews from their indiginous Arab and Muslim homelands, and the stories of those Jews who lived in North Africa and the Middle East for over 1000 years- of the relationships held between Jews and their Muslim neighbours,and what impact that expulsion had on the entire region and it’s populations,why doesnt Israel produce an historical account of the horrific situation survivors from the Holocaust faced…sailing the world on stinking sinking ships,being denied entry to port just about anywhere,why not explain the situation of the indiginous Jews in Palestine prior to 48 and of the situation of the Palestinians prior to 48,(there’s enough documentry footage of it!!!) its all very well to blame everyone else, but Why cant Israel find a coherant voice and start using it? why cant Israel produce a factual historical objective realistic series, theyv’e enough dramatists,writers,historians and film makers, if people in the UK and elsewhere sit down of an evening to watch a bit of TV and only ever see one account of history, one narrative. whose fault is that.?

  6. Stmx – see ‘Amud HaEsh’ (Pillar of fire) – made in Israel in 1979.
    I think it was broadcast in the UK many years ago, but a re-run would be very useful.
    Unfortunately, Israel cannot influence what foreign TV stations show or do not show, but the material is out there if they want it.

  7. @Israeli nurse, I was thinking of something a bit more up to date than a re run of something made in 79. I mean There were hardly any news reports,political commentry or anaylsis of the impact of years and years of suicide attacks against a civilian population, the daily ongoing fear that there might be a bomb on a bus,in a school,in a restaraunt,at a club or at a wedding reception, Israeli victims remain shadowy faceless people, not someones daughter,son,mother or father.Also the impact of years of missile attacks was not shown in any depth or detail.Surely, after all this time, some one, somewhere could come up with a factual historical drama or a documentry(even if it were a joint effort) Sometimes it seems Israel expects Jews in The diaspora do do all the talking and explaining,Where are all the outspoken,vibrant spokesman and women in Israel? wheres the comment and context in news reports shown here,? where’s the voice that details both sides in history?, it seems pretty mute to me.

  8. diss

    Clearly all films depicting historical events pertaining to Israel should be first censored by a “Truth Commission” comprising Peter the Hungarian, Mark Regev and Melanie Phillips.

    I can see that you attained the highest possible level of debate inside your limits of intelligence.

    I can understand your frustration not being able to answer factual arguments and you have to vent your consequent hate – better doing here in the virtual space than kicking your poor cat.

  9. Peterthehysterian:

    “vent your consequent hate ”

    Poor Peter, you see hate everywhere. There are certainly people who can help you my dear chap.

  10. diss

    I see hate everywhere? Not everywhere but in your posts “my dear chap”.

    OMG! My dear chap! Are you a member of the House of the Lords or simply playing a degenerate aristocrat?

  11. To quote someone else: La-La Land.

    Big deal. One apologist of racism quotes an other fellow traveller.

  12. http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/46069/experts-the-promise-deliberately-demonises-israel

    Director Peter Kosminsky told the Channel 4 website: “Feelings run very high and no matter how carefully one attempts to tread, it is obviously impossible to please everyone all the time.

    “I’ve tried as hard as I can not to suggest there are any easy answers to such a complex problem. There are no good guys and bad guys in this sad situation and we have tried very hard to show pluses and minuses on both sides.”

    the man is a bald faced liar

    i finally watched part 4 last nite

    in order to hold to his version of events, both in mandate palestine and current day israel, the entire 2 hour program leaps into total absurdity

    i did like how the family of the female suicide bomber was totally secular…that was a nice touch

  13. OK
    let’s sum it up “my dear chap”.

    You couldn’t answer any of my arguments because you have none.
    You are whining about the lack of open debate on this blog but you yourself only posts absolutely unfounded provocations and pretty amateurish and unfunny abuses.

    Thank you for your showing here the profile of a typical Israel-hater.

    Regarding your call “get a life” thank you very much I have a very good one and I enjoy it greatly especially when I see the intellectual and moral qualities of our opponents.

  14. This could be the Pillar of Fire. 7 parts.

    A massive URL i hope works.

    Sound quality in just a couple of minutes is a big improvement over K’s effort. But this is documentary.

  15. “couldn’t answer any of my arguments ”

    Dear chap, in this thread you have presented no arguments whatsoever: read your own posts.

    La-La Land.

    “typical Israel-hater”

    La-La Land.

    Get a life. Before it’s too late.

  16. Poor Peter’s “arguments:

    “your limits of intelligence”
    “your consequent hate ”
    “degenerate aristocrat”
    “apologist of racism ”
    “typical Israel-hater”

    This is all you have Peter and insults do NOT an argument make.

    Maybe you should invest in a dictionary.

  17. Ariadne

    youtube took down the doc because the makers want people to buy the vid

    can someone please write the distributor and explain to them the disservice they are doing?

    this show must now be made free so that all will view it

  18. diss

    if i were a film maker and decided that for years, the story of america in vietnam was presented too far to the left, would i be right in making a film that changes events so as to paint the nam in a much more favorable light for america?

  19. Since when is a dramatization of anything been considered factual? The escape valve is the term itself, dramatization—after all they couldn’t include all the information, it would run overtime. Unless it is a transcript of a trial, everything is up for grabs and interpretation. It is meant as either propaganda or entertainment or both. The Kings Speech is the perfect example, a dramatization,other than the stutter, does anyone actually believe that is the actual story?

    People will believe what they want to believe hook, line and sinker if it suits their needs, like our visitor Diss…..I personally subscribe to the Marvin Gaye school of thought….Believe half of what you see, some or none of what your hear…. Anyone who actually believes a TV dramatization based on sources from only one side of the conflict, no less, well…..I’ve got some fertile farm land in Death Valley….

  20. Walt, as you know, the Vietnam war has had radically different treatment at the hands of several directors.
    ‘The Deer Hunter’ showed no understanding of the Vietnamese and only looked at the effect on US soldiers (ignoring the 2m+ Vietnamese dead).
    ‘Platoon’…to the left you would say, but again…no Vietnamese angle at all.
    In fact, pretty well all the US films satisfy themselves with the US angle, the effects on US soldiers, their families and communities.
    There was plenty of messing with historical accuracy, as in: U571, Pearl Harbor, Charlie Wilson’s War…the list is endless.
    Israel and its supporters need to understand that not everyone sees the IP situation as they do…in fact very few do.

  21. Jane, top marks for your post. But let me assure you, I am quite able to understand the nuance between documentary and dramatization.

    I think the bile and insults directed at Kominsky are way out of line, that’s all.

  22. And walt, I’ve watched the first two episodes of The Proimise again. Second time around is boring and 3 and 4 were less convincing than 1 and 2 first time around.

  23. diss

    sorry, but your examples dont work

    not one of the directors of the movies you cited ever stated that they were presenting fact based drama

  24. Ariadne

    if you click on the link that you posted, you will see that youtube has removed the doc

    cant believe you wasted time trying to watch the show again….

  25. walt, I want to make sure of my conclusions about it. Anything good would still be good second time around.

    I can see Parts 1, 2, 3 and 7, I hope. Of the Israeli one, nothing.

  26. MH:

    “…others will want to know more about an alternative version of events.”

    Alternative version of events.

    It’s like saying that a person crossing the road without looking and being hit by a car has nothing to do with the FACT he didn’t look but with the POSSIBILITY the driver didn’t take a second cup of coffee that morning…

    There are facts and there are speculations and jumping the guns…

    I wouldn’t like to sit in a court as accused when your a judge!
    It’ll be like Saddam Hussein or Gadafi.

  27. Daniel

    i read your article….as well as rabbi jeremy rosen’s

    when kosminsky says he did extensive research before embarking on this project…he is lying

    there is no way this project took 7 years to make

    i think one of the funniest things he said was about tracking down ism members…shoot, they have a website

    right after the rachel corrie incident, i carried on an ongoing email conversation with one of the ism

    took me two minutes to find him

    kosminsky is a fraud…and it makes me now question his other docudramas

  28. You say Israelis don’t use human shields – False. My father was used as a human shield alongside 15 others in one night. I also know dozens of others who have been used as human shields.
    You say Israeli soldiers don’t storm a house without warning – False. I have been in that situation twice.
    You say Israel was attacked first in 1947/48 – False. The colonisation of the Zionist movement of Palestine was the first act of aggression.
    You imply that it isn’t the case that stone-throwing is a frequent activity of settler children – False. I have seen it happen on way too many occasions. Anyway, the point Kosminsky tried to bring across was that the soldiers do not act against such activities, which is true.

    Just face it – Israel was born out of terror, dispossession and outright crimes. Denying this and carrying the crime on is what de-legitimises Israel. Israel will not be in peace until it admits its faults and people like you are disgusting terror apologists.

  29. Anon, where did all the Arab immigrants come from?

    And why did they come when Jews are so murderous?

    Or – do you have some flaws in your pro-terrorist propaganda?

    For a start:

    “Wall of Lies” — Israel “Apartheid” Wall

    97% of this “wall” is only a fence, and it was erected IN RESPONSE to terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. More than a dozen other countries use the same thing to defend against terrorist attacks, prevent weapons trafficking, and curb illegal immigration, among other things.

    See the video

  30. Yes there are wide gaps and yet attacks have stopped anyway. Also, there are very many Palestinian towns on the West of the wall (to quote The Promise – “this is a Palestinian village inside the checkpoint, this is a Palestinian village outside the checkpoint, which one does the terrorist come from?!”. These facts make it hard to believe the “security” narrative. Anyway, whatever the purpose of the wall, it is illegal. It is not actually debatable whether the wall is legitimate or not – it is very simply illegal.
    “Pro-terrorist”?! You are the terror apologist. You are also close-minded. Have you ever been to a Palestinian town?
    There were no Arab immigrants. My grandfather’s family owned 4 orange groves in the British Mandate of Palestine when the British came in the First World War, passed down the generations. My grandmother’s family is from Jaffa – she was born there in the 1930s, before most of Israel’s cabinet had even stepped into Palestine. Hardly immigrants.
    Also, Jews are not murderous. That’s an incredibly offensive and anti-Semitic claim to make. Shame on you.

  31. “Anyway, whatever the purpose of the wall, it is illegal. It is not actually debatable whether the wall is legitimate or not – it is very simply illegal.”

    The “wall” is 95% fence. You say wall because it evokes an emotional reaction, even though it is a dishonest and ugly distortion of the reality.

    And no, there is nothing illegal about it. Suicide bombing is illegal. Building a fence to defend from suicide bombings is perfectly legal.

    The fact that some Palestinian-owned land was confiscated to build the fence is simply the price you pay for hosting terrorists.

    Tough titties I say. The Arab states didn’t bother building fences when they were attacked by Palestinian terrorists, they wiped them out. When the Palestinians attack each other, there is no “peace process” it is kill or be killed.

    But with Israel…negotiations, peace process, cease fire, humanitarian aid. And yet you still say they are Nazis?

    Hopeless I say…hopeless

  32. There are checkpoints at every airport in the world,

    to screen out islamofascist terrorists and prevent a repeat of
    – the bombing of Pan Am 103
    – 9/11 sneak attack
    – sneaker bomber
    – underwear bomber
    – liquid bomber

    If foiling islamofascist terror attacks is a NAKBA, then I approve of NAKBA.

  33. Anyway, whatever the purpose of the wall, it is illegal.

    Thank you Anon. You just said that for Israelis protecting their lives against murderous suicide attacks is illegal. Thank you for your contribution.

    It is not actually debatable whether the wall is legitimate or not – it is very simply illegal.

    Says so the UN – the undemocratic collection of third world dictators, religio fascists and human rights warriors like Qaddhafi’s Libya and the Kims’ North-Korea – plus Anon.

  34. What Anon entity and the unhrc forget is that :
    – placing bombs on commercial airliners is illegal
    – bombing buses is illegal
    – bombing trains is illegal
    – hijacking planes is illegal
    – hijacking ships is illegal
    – hijacking countries is illegal
    – threatening another country with genocide is illegal
    – using poison gas on the Kurds is illegal
    – firing rockets into a country is illegal
    – beheading people is illegal
    – stoning women to death is illegal in the civilized world
    – hanging people because they are gay is illegal
    – dynamiting other religions holy sites is illegal

    Compare the deeds of Israel against the deeds of islamofascists worldwide and lets see which side is the aggressor.

  35. And not a word from anon on Arab immigration following the early Zionists’ purchase and development of land under the Ottoman empire and Arab immigration after the creation of the Mandate.

    In their 1400 year history Muslims are estimated to have murdered 270 million people. They haven’t stopped but somehow that fact is invisible to Jew-haters.

    And what about the Nazi connections of the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians? All invisible to the haters too.

  36. Anon: “Also, Jews are not murderous. That’s an incredibly offensive and anti-Semitic claim to make. Shame on you.”

    Your understanding of the English language is failing you.

  37. “Walt, as you know, the Vietnam war has had radically different treatment at the hands of several directors.”

    1) This has nothing to do with different perspectives. It is to do with the deligitimization of the Jewish state. Only Israel of all the nations in the world is deligitimized in this fashion.

    2) The Vietnam War, in which the US travelled halfway around the world to rape Vietnam and Cambodia, is the incorrect analogy. The founding of the United States is a correct analogy. Where have been the movies examining the genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out by the US in the name of freedom and independence? Where can I see a movie that portrays the founding fathers of the United States as racists and genocidal mass-murderers? Another correct analogy would be World War II when both the U.S. and Britain collaborated in the Holocaust and committed mass-murder and genocide at, inter alia, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    “Israel and its supporters need to understand that not everyone sees the IP situation as they do…in fact very few do.”

    A gross exaggeration. However, with that in mind, do not forget also that the vast majority of people on earth either collaborated in the Holocaust or displayed supreme indifference to it. Jews are used to other people telling them they are thieves and liars and cheats. This is nothing new. It is also nothing new for some Jews to collaborate with the enemy.

    “To quote someone else: La-La Land.”

    If you are trying to convince Jewish people, you won’t get very far by quoting Linda Grant.

  38. “Just face it – Israel was born out of terror, dispossession and outright crimes.”

    Anon demonstrates perfectly why pigs will fly before the “Palestinians” get another state in addition to Jordan.

    “My grandfather’s family owned 4 orange groves in the British Mandate of Palestine”

    Yes, and my grandfather’s family owned many properties in Lodz in Poland. I have friends whose families owned millions of dollars of property in Egypt and Iraq. There are countless people all around the world whose families have lost property in the past due to wars and have now moved on. Until you people also learn to do so, you will continue to remain locked in the past, impoverished and backward.

  39. Hoi Polloi, Do you think that if nazi germany or imperial japan had the atom bomb that they wouldn’t have used it on the US, UK, SU, China?

    WW2 was a fight to the death. Them or us.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unfortuneately necessary because imperial japan hadn’t agreed to surrender unconditionally.

    WW2 in the european theater would have ended sooner if Shitler got married sooner.

  40. “Do you think that if nazi germany or imperial japan had the atom bomb that they wouldn’t have used it on the US, UK, SU, China”

    Employing the same logic the Allies could have used gas chambers.

    In any event, as a Jew, I see little difference between the two sides. The Jews of Europe were betrayed by the Allies in the worst possible way. In actual fact, I believe it went beyond betrayal and became actual collaboration. Two examples:

    1) Why the BBC ignored the Holocaust: Anti-Semitism in the top ranks of broadcasting and Foreign Office staff led to the news being suppressed, says Stephen Ward


    “ANTI-SEMITISM in the higher ranks of the Foreign Office and the BBC during the Second World War led to a policy which suppressed news about Germany’s attempt to exterminate European Jews, new research will show this week.

    The attitude was reinforced by a belief that the British population was anti-Semitic and that anti-German propaganda about atrocities in the First World War, which was often fiction, had made the public sceptical of such stories. Early in the war the Government and the BBC agreed that this time, British propaganda would contrast Nazi ‘lies’ with British truthfulness and a ‘good clean fight’.

    The evidence is contained in documents from the BBC archives and Government papers at the Public Record Office, which have been uncovered during research for a new Radio 4 series, Document. The first programme will tell of the relationship between the Foreign Office and the BBC between 1939 and 1945.

    The papers, together with interviews with some of the surviving figures, show that both Foreign Office and BBC officials held a low opinion of Jews, and believed this was shared by the public.

    They deduced that saving millions of Jews would not be seen as a desirable war aim by the British. At other times they justified suppression of details of the atrocities by arguing that they would not be believed.”


    2) Memorandum of Conversation by Mr. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt regarding a meeting with Anthony Eden March 27, 1943

    “Four months after the State Department confirmed the dimensions of the Holocaust, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden met in Washington with President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles. At this meeting, Eden expressed his fear that Hitler might actually accept an offer from the Allies to move Jews out of areas under German control. No one present objected to Eden’s statement.”