The New York-based American Jewish Committee blasted the BBC on Sunday for airing an accusation that Jews around the world assist in supposed Mossad assassinations.
The AJC said in a statement that it was “dismayed that a guest on BBC Radio 4 was allowed to state unchallenged” that the Mossad relies on Jews for assassination plots.
“This baseless accusation crosses every red line between legitimate public discussion and bigoted fear-mongering,” said AJC executive director David Harris. “In less than a minute, the BBC has cast a shadow on the lives of Jews worldwide.”
BBC Radio 4’s PM
program interviewed Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon’s Spies
, a book about the Mossad, about the January 20 assassination of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
Local authorities and many international media outlets believe that the killing of Mabhouh, who bought rockets for Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip, was carried out by the Mossad.
In explaining the Mossad’s operating methods outside Israel, Thomas told PM
host Eddie Mair, “They have a whole backup system called ‘asylum.’ These are people, local residents, Jewish people, who help the Mossad. It is estimated to be in the world about half a million; some people say a million; I tend to say it’s about half a million, all of them Mossad people.”
“Of course, Mr. Thomas is irresponsible in making such unfounded assertions on a radio program heard around the world,” said Harris, “but even more shocking is BBC, a premier public broadcaster with a far-reaching global network. How can the interviewer allow such aspersions to be cast on a community without the reporter calling the so-called expert to order?”
The comments also drew condemnation from observers of the BBC.
“Unfortunately, such ugly and nonsensical statements on the BBC come as no surprise. The BBC often handpicks interviewees who are likely to say such things as part of a wider pattern to demonize the State of Israel,” said Tom Gross, a former Middle East correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph
and a Middle East analyst who has long been critical of BBC coverage of the region.
The AJC called on the BBC “to examine this disgraceful transmission, apologize to Jews around the world and remove from its archive the slanderous words.”
Reached for comment, the BBC press office in London said, “This
interview was part of a wider piece about the assassination of Mahmoud
al-Mabhouh which involved contributions from a number of people
including Gordon Thomas, an author of a book about [the] Mossad.
“The sentiments expressed by Gordon Thomas were clearly his own
opinions. They came at the end of the interview when it was being
wrapped up and there was no time to come back on them.”