The BBC Sex Scandal and the Battle to Establish Israel
by Moshe Phillips
A shocking BBC sex scandal has caused Britain’s political elite and journalists to examine how allegations of abuse should be dealt with. The latest revelations are from a report published on January 11 and coauthored by police and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The late BBC TV host and former cultural icon, Jimmy Savile is now believed to have raped over 30 individuals, committed over 200 attacks on 40 victims and abused children as young as eight years old.
The BBC case brings to mind the horrific persecution of young Zionists who battled the U.K. in the 1930s and 1940s during the British Mandate era in Israel. The abuse against young Jews included murder and sexual torture and went largely unreported in Britain. It is worth noting that in the 1940s the BBC consistently portrayed the Zionist struggle to end British rule as a terrorist and criminal movement and continues to be highly critical of Israeli policy. The BBC also largely ignored reports of Nazi death camps throughout World War Two.
Two stories that do much to shed light on the true nature of the British Mandate and the crimes committed against young Zionists are the cases of 16 year old Alexander Rubowitz, who was believed to have been murdered by Major Roy Farran, and Yaacov Eliav, who was attacked sexually by Inspector Ralph Cairns while in British police custody.
Yaacov Eliav was a young underground fighter in the Irgun when he was assaulted. In Eliav’s memoir Wanted (translated from the Hebrew and published in 1984 in the U.S. by Shengold) he graphically detailed the attacks by the Palestine Police CID he endured in early August 1939.
“I was stripped naked…” Eliav wrote. “(M)y underpants stuffed into my mouth… Cairns put a rubber glove on his right hand, and began to squeeze my testicles, one at a time…keeps squeezing, lifts me by my genitals, drops me and continues to squeeze.”
On a subsequent day Cairns showed Eliav a photo of his young girlfriend and threatened to kidnap and rape her. “We will… strip her naked and do to her what we did to you.” Eliav described another attack when Cairns asked him “You want us to rape your sisters right here? …in front of your eyes? …he spits on me, kicks me, puts a burning cigarette against my skin…”
Eliav was just over 20 when the attacks occurred. He was tortured for four days. Cairns was assassinated in Jerusalem by the Irgun on August 26, 1939. His death came days after a news poster appeared accusing him by name of attacking “two Jewish girls by pushing fingers into their eyes and pinching their nipples.”
The book Major Farran’s Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State by Professor David Cesarani was published in 2009. Cesarani detailed the story of Alexander Rubowitz, a sixteen-year-old Stern Group member who was abducted on a crowded Jerusalem street in the middle of the day in May 1947. Rubowitz’s body has never been recovered.
Rubowitz was hanging news posters for the Sternists when he was kidnapped. Evidence left at the scene linked Farran to the abduction and he was court-martialed on charges he murdered Rubowitz. Farran was acquitted by the British court. He was freed despite having confessed about the murder to his commanding officer. Requests by Rubowitz family to re-open the investigation were ignored.
A Jerusalem street in the East Talpiot neighborhood was named after Rubowitz as a memorial and a historical marker was placed at the site of his abduction.
When Menachem Begin, the former Irgun commander, was elected prime minister of Israel in 1977 he launched a campaign to memorialize Irgun and Stern Group martyrs. Not just streets were named after them but everything from settlements to postage stamps were used to honor them.
Over 35 years after Begin started his efforts the question of whether today’s young Jews can comprehend the depths of the sacrifices made to free Israel from British rule remains. One thing remains certain: the BBC’s biased news coverage of Israel endures.