“The Promise,” Peter Kosminsky’s treatment of the British experience at the end of the Palestine Mandate, a six hour miniseries, debuted in 2011 and played in England, France, Australia, with limited viewing in Israel but was never released in the United States. Currently it’s available on Hulu.com and more recently on youtube, in HD and no commercials.

Like other agenda driven dramas about Palestine/Israel it shows a distorted history of what happened when the British ended their mandate and the State of Israel was born.



“The Promise” weaves a connection in its six hours between that period of history and the present day problems which continue to plague that region. Left wing political correctness and historical inaccuracy combine to give a dishonest slant on a story that pits good against evil, the Jews being the “evil” here and the Arabs and British being the “good.”

The producers had a perfect chance to tell a real story about what actually happened but instead chose to misrepresent history.

For example:

Over a series of several interviews Kosminsky and/or interviewers proclaimed:

“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. I would be very sad if someone were to consider the series as partisan. But rather than present an impossible perfect balance, what he hoped to create in the drama was more a kind of unstable equilibrium, so that audiences would find their sympathies shifting, repeatedly, from one side to the other.”

But, Kosminsky fails to do that on almost every level. He directly ties Zionist reason d’tre to the Holocaust with never a hint that the Zionist movement was almost 75 years old by the time of Hitler’s annihilation.

If we are going to tell a true story here then let’s tell it the way it really was, not the way a particular political faction would have liked it to have been.

In order to get the balance or just the “equilibrium” that is talked about above Kosminsky should have gone beyond the Palestinian driven Holocaust argument and demonstrated that the Jews have a religious liturgy which centers their history in that place.

He could have validated the Jews’ aboriginal connection to that land and showed an unbroken contiguous existence that began more than 2000 years before Mohammad was born and the Muslim claim to Jerusalem that was born with it.

But, he doesn’t and so what we end up with is a one sided view, partisan to its core, uneven in its depth and strictly Palestinian in its interpretation.

When Paul, the Jewish activist, meets with Omar, the “perhaps” reformed terrorist, in that statesman like scene in a room with other Palestinians somewhere in the territories talking about peace instead of war, Paul shakes the hand of his enemy as if to say we can live in peace.

Here’s the problem.

Why is there only the one Jew in a room filled with Palestinians who want only peace? In reality this scene should be the other way around. The room should be filled with Jews with only one or two Palestinians. That is in fact the case inside Israel or at least it was until the 1980s.

At Givat Haviva, an Israeli peace think tank in central Israel that is exactly what takes place. In a classroom 50 or 60 Jews meet with two or three Palestinians. The interaction is usually constructive for the Jews but one gets the feeling it’s only one way. There is no reciprocating dialog in the West Bank or Gaza as appeared in the teleplay. I know I was there and experienced it.

Again, if Kosminsky wanted to provide an “unstable equilibrium” showing both sides he should have done the scene realistically.

Kosminsky’s team claimed they interviewed eighty-two actual soldiers who served in Palestine who

“…overwhelmingly, told a similar story: they had started out `incredibly pro-Jewish’, but, almost to a man, they had shifted their allegiance and by the end of their stay “were feeling a great deal of sympathy for the Arabs.”

He attributes their “pro-Jewish” allegiance to their experience with Nazi atrocities during the war. For any scholarly look at that history, regardless of any experience allied soldiers had with the discovery of death camps, Nazi persecution or extremist anti-Semitism, English soldiers stationed in Palestine were never anything but pro-Arab, at least from the early 1930s onward.

There are three definitive reasons for this.

1) The anti Jewish feeling among the rank and file of Britain’s “Tommies” goes back to the early thirties and probably further. There were very few soldiers who actually sided with Zionist goals. So few in fact that history has considered them notable exceptions to the norm.

Probably the most famous of these was Captain Orde Wingate. Wingate’s persona is one that stands out precisely because he was so unlike the vast majority of his colleagues in believing whole heartedly in the Zionist cause. His biographers, John Bierman and Colin Smith wrote that Wingate upon arrival in Palestine in 1936 “found more sympathy for the Arabs than for the Jews.”

2) The common English soldier brought with him to Palestine the understated British version of “a widespread if not particularly malignant form of social anti-Semitism common among Britons of all classes.” While a far cry from Nazi hatred of Jews, British anti-Semitism, like American anti-Semitism was in full bloom in the 1930s, subtle, direct and socially and culturally confining to the Jewish community. It existed, and to say otherwise would be another distortion of actual history.

3) Englishmen had an overwhelmingly positive fascination with Arab culture. Late 19th and 20th century England was swept up into the magic of 1001 Arabian nights and other tales that were made very real by T.E. Lawrence and others that thrilled English children at bedtime–English children who grew up to be English soldiers. By the mid 1930s English support for the Arab solution to Palestine was held by the vast majority of English soldiers stationed there.

If this was true a dozen years or more before the end of WWII then how could all eighty-two veterans, interviewed have stated “so similarly” that they were so “incredibly pro Jewish?”

Either the veterans of Palestine after WWII were not entirely truthful in their interviews, maybe to hide a shameful anti-Jewish past or Kosminsky is trying to enhance his own left wing political agenda about what he thinks is going on in the Jewish State then and now.

Either way it’s unconscionable to portray the main character, the composite Leonard Matthews as being pro Jewish in the beginning of the story.

To show how undeserving the Jews were to be given statehood, “The Promise” centers on the more extreme liberation groups of Jewish Independence. LEHI, the terrorist group showcased in this drama is sometimes known as the “Stern Gang” or “Stern Group.”

The drama overlaps Jewish terror with Menachem Begin’s ETZEL but most of the operations taken from history dramatized in the teleplay are those attributed to LEHI, the more extreme of the two revisionist philosophies.

Engaging in assassination of British officials and terror of Arab communities, LEHI existed on the fringes of Palestinian Jewish liberation society. Kosminsky uses some of their more distasteful brutality and weaves it to show a tolerance if not a full acceptance by the entire Jewish community which is wholly untrue.

With never more than 250 members at any one particular time during its entire existence LEHI was not supported by the vast majority of Palestinian Jews the same way that Israelis today reject the more extreme philosophies of ending the conflict. Most Israelis then as now find them repugnant and not in line with standard Jewish thinking.

Through this weave of the worst Jewish terror committed during those years Kosminsky creates the “ugly Jew” of the 1940s and speeds this behavior back and forth between then and now leaving the viewer to believe Israel is that way currently, was that way then, and all of the 65 years of its existence in-between.

Therefore, watching “The Promise” gives the impression that most Israelis today favor a forced expulsion or worse, extermination of the Arabs and are conducting themselves no different than did the “Sternists” 65 years ago. We are left with nothing less than the undying support for the Palestinian solution to the problem, namely the destruction of the State of Israel.

The typical Jew in the story is never given time to explain himself. His one dimensional focus is a caricature of reality both then and now. Simply, the argument concludes the Jews are a people who have no business living in that part of the world. Furthermore, the Zionist enterprise was a huge mistake and needs to be reversed.

Most Israelis favor peace through a two state solution. History has shown that most Palestinians do not, unless Israel would acquiesce to demands that would render the Jewish State no longer Jewish. Therefore, only one solution remains, the destruction of Israel by any means necessary.

To reach that end Palestinians elected Hamas, the Muslim answer to the Stern Gang, with a mandated majority of over 60% of the vote. In other words “one Palestine from the river to the sea.” A pretty ominous note to end on but after watching the “The Promise” what other choice is there for the common person who is not involved with that part of the world and just wants everyone to live in peace.

When I first saw “The Promise” and read the blurb about it on Hulu, I was very excited. At last someone had taken the time to dramatize what happened at Israel’s birth. I mean how many times can one watch Otto Premingers’ over the top “Exodus” from 1960?

Imagine my disappointment when it became painfully clear that this was going to be just another diatribe trying to raise support for the Palestinian arguments favoring the eventual destruction of the Jewish State.

By the end of the final chapter I had to ask myself this question. Why does the media continue to distort what actually happened?

Why not tell the truth? There indeed might be truth on both sides as suggested by the producers but with treatments like Kosminsky’s, we continue to wade in the murk and fog of distortion, half-truths and one sided thinking.

If you would like to see the trailer to the mini series clink on the link

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Jewish community examiner

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