NBC: Terminate film project promoting Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied East Jerusalem

Palestinian Civil Society and National Institutions to NBC:

 Terminate the NBC film project promoting Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied East Jerusalem

Respect corporate responsibility for international law and Palestinian human rights

We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations and national institutions, condemn in the strongest terms the plan of the American TV company NBC to produce and broadcast a drama series that will give legitimacy to Israel”s policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem. The NBC”s engagement in such a film project is deeply unethical. It also entails reputational risks and legal responsibility for complicity in the serious violations of international law, war crimes and human rights abuses committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian city. We urge the NBC”s management to respect basic standards of ethics, law and human rights of the Palestinian people and to terminate immediately all involvement in this film project. We also appeal to filmmakers, journalists, media networks and all people of conscience worldwide to support our call and engage the NBC management.

According to Israeli and U.S. press reports, the NBC-owned cable and satellite TV network USA is cooperating with Israeli authorities, film makers and the Keshet Media Group to produce an action series entitled DIG mainly in occupied East Jerusalem, near the Old City. Most of the filming will take place in the so-called “City of David national park”, which is located in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan and operated by the Israeli settler organization El”ad and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority. The film project was initiated by Nir Barkat, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, who considers it to be “a significant milestone on the road as Jerusalem becomes an attractive location for international productions.”[1] “It was clear to me”, says Barkat, “that we would succeed in connecting between Hollywood”s great success and Jerusalem”s huge potential … the City of David, the place where it all began.” Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also praises the project: “The series will help brand Jerusalem as an international tourism destination.” It is no surprise, therefore, that Israel”s Jerusalem Municipality will take part in the funding of the project, along with the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Tourism.[2]

However, occupied East Jerusalem is not Israeli but Palestinian under international law, and Israeli settlements, “national parks” and “tourist sites” there are illegal. The United Nations” Security Council has repeatedly condemned Israel”s 1967 annexation and the transfer of Israeli civilians (settlers) into occupied East Jerusalem, characterizing these policies as acquisition of territory by force and forced population transfer.[3] The International Court of Justice has confirmed that Israel is responsible for these serious violations of international law which undermine the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people.[4] A UN investigation concluded in 2013 that the Israeli settlements result in systematic racial segregation and discrimination, and in war crimes which fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.[5]  All of this applies to the Israeli “City of David national park” in Silwan. Representatives of the EU and UN agencies in Jerusalem confirm that this Israeli “tourist site” has been established in occupied East Jerusalem in violation of international law. They alert of the on-going demolition of Palestinian homes and forced eviction of Palestinian residents of Silwan by Israeli authorities and the settler organization El”ad, who are seeking to expand the illegal site.[6]

Under international law, business enterprises such as the NBC have an obligation to respect human rights and abstain from – or terminate – involvement with the illegal Israeli annexation and settlement enterprise in occupied East Jerusalem.[7] As members of the oppressed Palestinian people, we were appalled to learn that the NBC considers the Israeli-promoted drama series in the “City of David national park”, which has become a symbol of Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization of occupied East Jerusalem,  to be “the big, buzz-worthy project” that the company has been looking for.[8] We consider the NBC”s involvement in this project, which aims to captivate, thrill and influence the perceptions of millions of viewers around the world, to be deeply immoral, shameful and an act of complicity in the serious violations of international law, including war crimes and human rights abuses, committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.

From occupied East Jerusalem, we call upon the NBC to terminate immediately all involvement in this project.

We appeal to filmmakers, journalists, media networks and all people of conscience worldwide to support our call and engage the NBC management.

Occupied East Jerusalem, November 2013,

The Civic National Commission on Jerusalem, including:

Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations

Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)

Council of National Forces in Palestine

Jerusalem Clubs League

Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem

General Union of Palestinian Women

Palestinian Theater League

Coalition for Jerusalem

Arab Studies Society/Faisal al Husseini Foundation

Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)

Yabous Palestinian Cultural Centers Network

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee

Silwan Youth Club

Al Thouri Youth Club

Silwan Graduates League

Silwan Women”s Society

Wadi Helwa Information Center, Silwan

Al Bustan/Silwan Committee



[3] See, for example, UN Security Council resolutions 252 (1968), 267 (1969), 298 (1971), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465, 471, 476 and 478 (all 1980).

[4] International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory, 9 July 2004.

[5] Report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, A/HRC/22/63, 7 February 2013 (FFM/Israeli settlements).

[6] EU Heads of Mission Jerusalem Report 2012. OCHA-oPt, East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns, March 2011

[7] UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (endorsed by the Human Rights Council on 16 June 2011). Also: FFM/Israeli settlements, para. 117

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