HARDtalk — An Intellectual Ambush Masquerading as Truth

HARDtalk — An Intellectual Ambush Masquerading as Truth

Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur
Hon. Dr. Ilan Pappe
Hon. Dr. Ilan Pappe

Dr. Pappe fortunately is diplomatic, forthright, and capable of avoiding Sackur’s strategy to condemn his work as non-academic and biased toward the Palestinians.

Sackur’s questioning continues to interrogate Pappe as one sided pointing out that after all “stuff happens” in wartime, borrowing a phrase from our own intellectual wizard, Donald Rumsfeld. Pappe’s response is both truthful and honest and it that fractures Sackur’s deflection of the real history Pappe records in his work.

by Prof. William A. Cook

The interview you are about to watch between Stephen Sackur and his guest Dr. Ilan Pappe is an example of pseudo-intellectual ambush built on deception and hypocrisy. The deceived are the viewers who assume that the host is asking serious questions about an important topic of special interest to his guest. Dr. Pappe is a Professor of history renowned for a series of books detailing the Israeli state, the most significant of which is The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Sackur uses this work to question Pappe’s academic credentials as breaching what he claims is a biased perspective, a work that is ideologically biased against Zionism.


Dr. Pappe fortunately is diplomatic, forthright, and capable of avoiding Sackur’s strategy to condemn his work as non-academic and biased toward the Palestinians. Sackur assumes academic integrity and honesty must be kind and comforting to those who have perpetrated crimes and not forthright in condemning what intellectual investigation has revealed. But in fact, the intent of “academic freedom” and its necessary corollary, academic tenure, is to ensure honest investigation of truth and its presentation to the academic community regardless of the individual feelings of the groups listening or studying that investigation. Pappe’s condemnation rests on the intent of the Zionists to destroy the Palestinians’ culture by stealing their land as they slowly incarcerate them behind walls controlled totally by the occupying forces of the Zionist state.

Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur
Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur

Sackur attempts to deflect this assertion by claiming Pappe used the term “genocide” in an interview some time back pointing out that “genocide” is the eradication of a people thereby demonstrating Pappe’s bias against the Jewish State.

What he does not refer to is the definition of “genocide” as defined by the United Nations in its Articles determining what constitutes “genocide.”

(See “Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: the Rape of Palestine” by this writer in The Plight of the Palestinians, Macmillan Publishers, 2010).

That definition came from the investigations of Raphael Lemkin in 1944, a study that used the Nazi genocide of the Jews as the reality of what constitutes “eradication” of a people. Israel as a member state of the UN has signed agreement with this newly defined description.

“These are the criteria that determine genocide under the UN Convention.

Article II:

“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:

a. Killing members of the group;

b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Article III:

“The following acts shall be punishable:

  1.    Genocide;
  2.    Conspiracy to commit genocide;
  3.    Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
  4.    Attempt to commit genocide;
  5.    Complicity in genocide.”

(Cook, “Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: the Rape of Palestine”).

Sackur’s questioning continues to interrogate Pappe as one sided pointing out that after all “stuff happens” in wartime, borrowing a phrase from our own intellectual wizard, Donald Rumsfeld. Pappe’s response is both truthful and honest and it that fractures Sackur’s deflection of the real history Pappe records in his work. People die; these actions of the Zionist state are crimes against humanity. How else can one talk about them? Sackur suggests that the dead in number are not that many when compared to other atrocities in wartime. “Small potatoes” he calls them. How comforting. Justify crimes against humanity because they were not necessarily intentional, just accidents of war. But the reality Pappe discloses is the fact that there was no war, there was no Palestinian army fighting against the 25 to 80 thousand experienced and well equipped Zionist forces. This was mass slaughter as even Benny Morris noted who confessed that the Zionists should have eradicated all the Arabs before the state was declared. How’s that for objectivity!

Finally, let me refer the viewers of this mock interview to the files available in the Rhodes House archives by Sir Richard C. Catling, Deputy Assistant of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Mandate Police. There he collects evidence of the Zionists intent from the very beginning to eradicate the Arabs living in Palestine, evidence seized by the Mandate police from the Jewish Agency and Haganah. If Sackur wants to truly know what the intent was and what it is, he need only read what is already in print with evidence to prove it.


My book The Plight of the Palestinians was initially titled As the World Watches: Genocide in Palestine. The board of directors at Macmillan asked to remove the word genocide from the title. But they did not change one word of the chapters that record the reality that has taken place in the first decade of this new century that matches the intent of the original Zionists that controlled the immigration of the Jewish people into Palestine and undertook a massive and calculated destruction of over 418 Palestinian towns and villages as they gradually stole the land of the Palestinians from a defenseless people.

This is called “hardball” as though the interrogator asks hard questions of his guests when in truth he is hypocritically using them for his own purposes:

Related post:

HARDtalk Speaks to Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe

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Prof. William A. Cook is Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. He serves as senior editor at MWCNEWS. His commentary and analysis have been featured in several online publications. He is author of The Rape Of Palestine: Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy and The Chronicles Of Nefaria. The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction by Dr. William A. Cook is out now, available to order from Palgrave Macmillan! His work that has spanned the Bush era up to now resulted in 100s of articles and three books.


  1. HardTalk is a show where guests gets get grilled by the host.
    They are asked challenging, often confrontational questions.
    That’s the whole point. We don’t know what Mr Sackur’s real opinions are.
    He was doing his job.

    Pappe rose to the challenge and handled himself well.

    Mr Cook is reading too much into this.

    Mr Cook makes this bizarre assertion:

    “Sackur assumes academic integrity and honesty must be kind and comforting to those who have perpetrated crimes and not forthright in condemning what intellectual investigation has revealed”.

    Mr. Sackur ever said anything that indicates he “assumes” any such thing.

    Mr Sackur was just giving Dr. Pappe an opportunity to respond to charges that have been leveled at him over the years by many, based on something Mr Pappe himself said. Mr Pappe had said that he was biased in an interview years ago and Mr. Sackur gave Dr. Pappe an opportunity to explain and clarify, to a wide public, what he meant. He actually did Mr. Pappe a favor.

    It would have been irresponsible if he didn’t bring it up since it has been a charge leveled at Mr Pappe for years, which he brought on himself by his statements.

  2. I agree with Cook 100% that the likes of Sackur and his so-called Hardtalk programe is nothing but “a pseudo-intellectual ambush built on deception and hypocrisy. The deceived are the viewers who assume that the host is asking serious questions about an important topic of special interest…”

    That said, yes, a media savvy Dr. Ilan Pappe did a good job of competently rebutting Morris’s criticisms and viewpoint.

  3. Israel supporters also get upset when their spokesman are asked tough questions.- as has been the case on Talkback.

    In both cases, theirs and yours, I believe it reflects a lack of confidence in the honesty and rectitude of your beliefs, if the simple matter of being asked a challenging question causes such distress.

    • Hardtalk… the title, gives it away. It is usually intended to provide a provocative and titillating confrontation of conflict and controversy between a glib and “forceful” interlocutor and an innocent and defensive victim. “Hard Talk!”


      Hardtalk usually has no interest in getting out the truth, or illuminating what really happened, why, or who! Their only interest is in entertaining, much in the same manner as a Bull Fight in Spain or a Cock-Fight in the Philippines.

      Cock fights are outlawed as inhumane treatment of animals in most of the so-called “civilized” world.

      Dr. Pappe does a good job presenting his position,and defending it, despite the interlocutor’s efforts to destroy his argument and break his victims equanimity as they usually succeed in doing. Not everyone is a media savvy George Galloway, or Ken O’Keefe or Dr. Ilan Pappe.

      It is Dr. Pappe’s calm,logical and truthful responses defending his position that makes the interview worth watching.

      He stands firm in his contention that the record shows that Israel was born of a pre-meditated, deliberate programme of “Ethnic Cleansing.”

      Some initial Pappe quotes from the interview:

      “Having a safe haven for people who were victimized, does not give them the license to victimize someone else”

      “Ethnic Cleansing is an operation at the end of which one ethnic group is being displaced by another”

      “Nobody can argue with the fact that half of Palestine’s people were expelled; half of Palestine’s cities and villages were destroyed; that Palestinians lost Palestine because Zionism created a jewish state. This is by even the most conservative definition an act of Ethnic Cleansing”

      “Imagine that half of Britain’s population would have been expelled? Imagine that half of Britain’s cities was demolished to the earth?Imagine if half of Britain’s villages would be destroyed? Then I would like you to come on an Israeli television and tell me that this is “small potatoes”…It’s about “human suffering” created by people who until today is immune from International condemnation for the crimes they have committed.”

      • Wonderful and truthful analysis of the interview that you posted. You leave us with very sobering thoughts about our humanity in the end. Thank you. It was a great pleasure and absorbing read!

  4. Please give an example of deception and hypocrisy in the questioning?

    Surely the question about genocide was a legitimate question. Based on the UN criteria any one of the 5 acts constitutes genocide. Based on the first one “killing members of the group” the Palestinians could be said to be committing genocide against Jewish Israeli’s, which is obviously absurd. So what constitutes genocide is really about intent and is open to interpretation.

    In his introduction to a History of Modern Palestine Pappe wrote the following; which certainly means the question about bias was legitimate.

    “My bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the “truth” when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers.”

    • Hello le,

      I have no time to waste listing out Sackur’s numerous lies in this segment of Hardtalk, its obvious for those who are interested and have been closely observing this conflict.

      Is he trying to tell his viewers there is a legitimate debate in favor of Israel here??

      I’d challenge him to air this fact-filled video for his viewers, if he is as honest as his guest on the show :

      The global civilized community are sick of Israel, it is the likes of Sackur in the media, and there are many like him that assist in prolonging this CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY instead of condemning the obvious culprits and working towards putting a stop to it. President Obama and John Kerry implied in their recent statements that they can no longer defend Israel.

  5. It is hard not to view this ‘interview’ from the BBC of all organisations, (remember the Mavi Marmara BBC coverage) as just another well orchestrated program designed and probably written by the Zionists within the BBC who Sackur obviously represents.

    It is worth really analysing this interview, the references made by Sackur in his continuous interruptions, always at a point where Pappe’s answer was was straying away from his planned interview.

    I do love the “stuff happens” phrase used by Sackur. As Pappe stated, the book is about what HAS happened. No dispute there. It is called history, not fantasy according to Tel Aviv, the Mark Regev version of history now seen for what it is around the world.

    If he had been interviewing a man of a less peaceful nature he would not have got away with his rudeness. His exaggerated emphasis on certain words, (listen again if you have any doubts), made his bias so obvious. Well rehearsed, carefully controlled.

    Sackur is a Zionist sycophant, through and through , a puppet for the continued BBC efforts to promote the state of Israel and all BBC news broadcasts and political comment add to this statement. It has been this ways for a decade. His pathetic references to democracy, voting, living standards and by using the Jerusalem Post as his source, added to his lack of honesty in this trumped up BBC offering.
    No doubt he will be well rewarded for his effort, his final references to Iraq and Syria being the anti-Islamic card designed to muddy the waters.

    Be under no illusion, readers. A cunning operator is Sackur, a real BBC man

  6. I cannot agree that an interviewer is doing his (or her) job by constantly breaking up their guest’s responses with their own opinions, and rarely, if ever, responding to an answer that their guest has actually managed to give without too many interruptions.

    Steven Sakur is a rude, BBC/Zionist-sympathising spokesperson who should never be allowed near a camera/microphone combination of this publicly funded broadcasting organisation.

    Having said that, Dr. Pappe acquitted himself admirably, in the face of a person who is, quite clearly, immune to the ongoing suffering of men, women and children who ARE being ethnically cleansed by Israeli Zionists. How would he like to be tossed out of his own home, his children murdered and he and his wife banished from all they hold dear, forever?

    What a miserable excuse for a human being is Stephen Sakur.

  7. I noticed the UN’s definition of applicable criminal terms Israel is accused of is not even mentioned in the interview.

  8. Sackur should be forced to live in a sack, preferably an airtighjt one, sealed. He is the master of circular argument. Typical Jewish tactic, start in the middle of the story. “War is bad, the Palestinians lost, tough luck.” As if the war was somehow justified or that its causes were justified. They never get around to THAT part, do they?

    They do the same trick with the “1967 borders” scam, as if the “1967 borders” were somehow legitimate. They never admit that Israel is ALL stolen land, so even the act of uttering the words “1967 borders” is a legitimizing tactic.

    The REAL issue is, as Pappe realizes, is that Jews killed and expelled the Palestinians, who fought back valiantly but were no match for World Jewry who armed the Israelis to the teeth, for the expressed purpose of taking their land, which they had planned for at least 70 years.

    Fact is, folks, I have more right to the Taj Mahal that the Jews have to Palestine. Israel has ZERO right to exist. It NEVER had a right to exist. There’s nothing to argue about, but the fact that we do anyway is proof that the bastards won.

    “Oh, they couldn’t REALLY be that bad, could they?”

    Yes folks, they are. Gentiles have a hard time understanding just how EVIL these “people” really are.

  9. Thanks to all who have responded to my introduction to this interview. My remarks were not intended to be derogatory to Mr. Sackur but rather to note the probable conditions he seems to operate under now. Let me offer an historical item that might reflect this change.

    “The mainstream media in Britain, however, were more critical of the desert slaughter. A BBC report mentioned that the vehicles taken out of Kuwait City were mostly civilian vehicles and that there were very few tanks or artillery on the Highway of Death, raising the question whether the fleeing Iraqis with their hostages were a legitimate military target. The BBC’s Stephen Sackur also discerned evidence of cluster bombs, antipersonnel weapons that are designed to break up into hundreds of little bomblets to maximize damage to both humans and machines. Sackur wrote: “It was the scale of the American attack that took my breath away. Was it necessary to bomb the entire convoy? What threat could these pathetic remnants of Saddam Hussein’s beaten army have posed? Wasn’t it obvious that the people of the convoy would have given themselves up willingly without the application of such ferocious weaponry?” (in MacArthur 1991, p. 265).

    What a difference time makes. I reference the above quote from Stephen Sackur’s earlier reporting as a BBC correspondent with his declared shock at the American attack on the escaping convoys as the Highway of Death unfurled, questioning the slaughter as necessary, citing its failure to save those being incinerated simply by asking them to “give themselves up,” offering a legitimate alternative to the holocaust he witnessed. Here is the reporter presenting his personal reaction as a viable part of his responsibility as a reporter.

    Sackur’s response to the savagery he witnessed is not to a military strategy or a political choice made of the military, it is a humanitarian response that brings to light the inherent morality that must be accounted for if all living are to be held responsible for the rights of all; morality sees through the fog of war’s propagandistic clouding of reason to illuminate truth. That same responsibility belongs to the scholar as Ilan Pappe demonstrates in his work; his witness is to the evidence before him in the archives released about the Jewish Agency and Haganah, and the four plans to rid the land of Arabs (Palestinians) by whatever means possible. The Zionist actions to carry out that end are noted by Pappe as contrary to the existing international laws and conventions which are based on humanitarian morality that applies to all. He can footnote his truth as evidence as the reporter can provide visual evidence of what he witnesses.

    Curiously, Sackur has altered his approach when questioning Dr. Pappe. Had he interviewed himself about that “Highway of Death” report, he would have asked: “Do you think revealing your personal bias against the Americans is fair reporting, objective reporting?” “Isn’t it necessary to wait and gather all the facts before stating that bombing the convoys was unnecessary?” “Don’t you think you have compromised your journalistic credentials by reporting in this manner?”

    Others have reported on the somewhat recent editorial conditions operating at BBC (http://www.thecommentator.com/article/2479/bbc_trust_backs_anti_zionist_calls_for_more_bias… Jan 18, 2013). Conceivably Sackur has guidelines he must follow to limit responses so that negative “opinions” are eliminated or blunted. Other reporters, like Dan Rather, have revealed how such dictatorial conditions have hampered truth in reporting. If that is the case, then such apparent interviews are not revealing the true intent of the program or the interview ((http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/20/dan-rather-cbs-news-corporate-media_n_1531121.html May 20, 2012).

  10. I am in support of all the people and their comments. This should ram home the clear and obvious fact that the BBC is what it is has always been since the Zionists got their hands on it, a mouthpiece for Jewish propaganda. Just look at the UK Cabinet, the likes of Hague and Cameron, Harper in Canada, as bad as one could find anywhere and Australia and on it goes.
    When Jews get a grip on your vitals, they don’t let go and if you wriggle too much, they make it hurt.

    And so it is reflected in such Hardtalk program indicating by the title that the interviewer should be able to get away with murder as Sackur tries to do in this program. Fortunately, in dealing with an intelligent historian such as Pappe, he failed miserably but one should be aware of the increasing trend in such programs to push the Israeli barrow at all times.

    Just analyse the BBC management and their political masters and the likes of Jane Corbin and her contribution to dishonesty in journalism.
    When the Jews own you, they own you 24 hours a day.

    As William has said above, “What a difference time makes” when one sees Sackur’s reporting in years past, none of which would ever be repeated by him in 2014 as a fully-fledged Zionist fellow-traveller.

  11. A quick calculation shows that in Britain there are about 260 British people to every one Zionist Jew. British means either born and bred, but patriotic, placing the UK first and working for the good of the country. Not a spy, not engaged in corrupt practices, graft and bribery and lusting for influence to build up their country in Israel. Nothing else figures in the mind of Zionists and their goyims

    No one could add to the description of a Zionist, anywhere, those qualities above.
    Loyalty? Never.

    And yet, their control of foreign policy, absolute control of media, the Prime Minister and half his cabinet, the Labor Party and now UKIP, selling out as they have.
    Surely the political climate that exists in most countries these days is a breeding ground allowing the likes of Cameron and Hague to shape their policies as they have been told to do…… and doesn’t it show. One as bad as the other now and all dancing to the Jewish tune.

    How the mighty have fallen.

    So this ‘interview’ by Sackur can only be a response to that level of evil influence. His arrogance, rudeness and bias indicates one thing to me. If the UK does not shake off this cancer, you will become like the USA, totally controlled by Israel, in every way, every day.

    Almost there.

    Sackur is a perfect example of what is wrong with the country but other than in these columns, do we hear any complaints?

  12. reportage on the above Pappe BBC interview, on Israel’s assault on Gaza —


    ““This is about human suffering created by people who are immune from international condemnation” . . .

    QUOTE: Behind this latest conflict lie long-standing historical issues – an occupation which makes peace impossible for both Israelis and Palestinians.?

    Israeli historian Ilan Pappe places Zionism under an uncompromising lens in his latest book The Idea of Israel. He was interviewed on BBC HARDtalk on why he believes Israel is founded on a deliberate programme of ethnic cleansing.?
    Nobody can argue with the fact that half of Palestinian people were expelled, half of Palestinian cities and villages were destroyed, that Palestinians lost Palestine because Zionism created a Jew state; this is an act of ethnic cleansing… what has happened is a crime against humanity.

    93% of the land is exclusively Jewish in Israel. Palestinians are not allowed to build new settlements, new villages, they are not allowed to expand the cities. They are not getting the same national security, the same welfare benefits as the average Jewish person is receiving in Israel. Their educational system is segregated from the Jewish educational system. On every aspect of life – judicial, legal, financial – they are discriminated against.??

    Far more important than anything else is the fact that the state does not recognize them as part of the nation. Because the state does not recognize them as part of the nation, there has been in the last 10 years a wave of legislation that questions their belonging to the state and it hangs as an axe over their heads. They live very precarious lives as we have seen in the south of Israel where 70,000 Palestinians are being driven out of their villages as we speak.?

    Zionism has a vision of having as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible.?? ” END QUOTE

  13. @ Alan McNeil —

    “If the UK does not shake off this cancer, you will become like the USA, totally controlled by Israel, in every way, every day.”

  14. I sat & watched mr.Sakur interview or should i say interrogate one of the heads of doctors without borders, & accuse her & her organisation of working with Daesh (isis). this appalled & angered me so much i can only judge the BBC as one of the most guilty of ‘fake news’ & if you watch the BBC they ‘lie by omission’ on such a regular basis, how can anyone take them seriously. the BBC sicken me & dont make me proud to be british.