Antisemitic graffiti near a London Underground station. The graffiti reads “dirty f***ing Jew” beside an image of a swastika..
(photo credit: COURTESY COMMUNITY SECURITY TRUST)
In a recent conversation about antisemitism in Britain, an Israeli journalist commented, “Of course you won’t see antisemitism in the British media.” That assumption – however logical it may seem – is, sadly, not correct.
While the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the British government and many other countries, the world’s biggest and most influential media organization, the BBC, still does not work according to that – or any other – accepted definition.
Viewers of BBC coverage of events following the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher supermarker terrorist attacks in Paris in saw an interview with a French-Israeli woman who expressed concern about Jews being targeted in France.
The BBC journalist promptly retorted, “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.”
Accepted definitions of antisemitism include “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.” However, the BBC rejected the many complaints subsequently submitted, taking it upon itself to define what is and what is not antisemitism.
The BBC repeatedly fails to properly identify antisemitism in British politics, and has facilitated the amplification of antisemitic tropes such as “the Jewish lobby.” When the BBC has decided to explain antisemitism to its audiences it has more often than not promoted the Livingstone Formulation (the accusation that a person raising the issue of antisemitism is doing so in bad faith and dishonestly), stating, “Others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with antisemitism to avoid criticism.”
The Community Security Trust’s report on antisemitic incidents in the UK during the first half of 2018 includes a photograph showing antisemitic graffiti reading “Jews kill children,” found in the town of Leicester in May 2018. Why would such graffiti, with all of its medieval overtones, appear in 21st-century Britain? In late 2012, the BBC vigorously promoted a story claiming that the infant son of one of its own employees in the Gaza Strip had been killed in an Israeli airstrike. Four months later, a report issued by the UN stated its investigation found that the child’s death had, in fact, been caused by “a Palestinian rocket that fell short.” However, the damage caused by the BBC’s widespread promotion of an unverified story had already been done, and the following year, anti-Israel demonstrators were seen in London carrying placards bearing an image from that story with the slogan “65 years of murder.”
In 2017, the BBC’s Yolande Knell promoted a story about a baby born in the Gaza Strip who died of congenital heart disease, and claimed that Israel had not given him a permit to exit the territory.
Yet, Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said no such request had even been received from the Palestinian Authority. A similarly unverified and anonymous story was recently aired on one of the BBC’s domestic TV channels.
Last May, the BBC produced several reports claiming that a baby named Leila al Ghandour had died in the Gaza Strip after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces. Although Hamas subsequently removed her name from its casualty list – and despite BBC Watch corresponding with the BBC since June 2018 on the issue – the claim that Israel was responsible for her death still appears on the BBC News website.
When Britain’s most influential and trusted broadcaster promotes unverified stories about the deaths of children in the Gaza Strip again and again, is it really any wonder such antisemitic graffiti appears on a Leicester street?
The writer works with CAMERA’s BBC Watch. She will be speaking in Tel Aviv on February 10 about ‘British Antisemitism-It’s Personal: In Politics, On Campus, In Media.’ For more information, call 02-625-3949.
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