The Simon Wiesanthal Centre recently placed the BBC third in its annual list of the “Global Antisemitism Top Ten”. Iran and Hamas are no doubt relieved to have maintained their top ranking. Many may find this decision baffling and provocative. Marvin Hier of the Wiesanthal Centre says that they anticipated the reaction and that their decision came after months of intense debate and discussion.
“We believe the BBC has been guilty of several incidences of antisemitism during the past year,” he said.
“People might assume we would put neo-Nazi groups on our list,” Hier told the paper, “but the BBC is there because when a globally recognized organization allows antisemitism to creep into its reporting, it makes it all the more insidious and dangerous.”
One recent incident alone is enough to place the BBC under intense scrutiny : its reporting of the antisemitic attack on a group of Jewish youth celebrating Hannukah at Oxford Street on 29 November 2021. The Jewish youths were singing, dancing and minding their own business when anti-semitic thugs turned upon them. They spat, threw their shoes and raised Nazi salutes as the youths were driven away in a bus.
The BBC reports on the incident however mentioned that someone inside the bus had uttered an anti-muslim slur (in English) and set off a whole new firestorm. The reports categorically stated ‘Some racial slurs about Muslims can also be heard from inside the bus’ (this has been stealth edited to “A slur”). Note also how the anti-semitic abuse is alleged or apparent but the antimuslim slur – the subject of so much controversy! – is incontrovertible. The effect of this claim seemed to be to exculpate the attackers and imply the attack was provoked in some fashion.The video which was available to the public had some audio which when scrutinised by Hebrew language speakers from the community contained no such slur. The Jewish group is adamant that no one inside the bus uttered such words. The BBC however doubled down several times, claiming its own (Hebrew) language experts detected the slur. Why Hebrew language experts were consulted to determine a slur spoken in English is a mystery fathomable only to the BBC.
In the audio someone is heard saying in apparent Hebrew: “Tikra lemishehu, ze dachuf” – “Call someone, it’s urgent”. It is understood the BBC took this to be someone shouting in English: “Dirty Muslims”.
Former BBC chairman Lord Michael Grade has urged the corporation to prove its claim or apologise. The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has written privately to Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, to express his concerns. An FOI request to the BBC to release evidence for this astonishing claim was rejected.
I’ve just had the response from the BBC to my ‘Freedom of Information’ request regarding their Oxford Street report.
In what will come as no great surprise the BBC are digging their heels in and going with ‘we heard it even though no one else did’ defence pic.twitter.com/D85CktGi3n
— Self Declared Zionists (@SussexFriends) December 22, 2021
The BBC made a very serious and libellous claim and it beggars belief that it cannot release evidence to shut up its critics. That this isnt more of a political scandal is astonishing.
Edited to add : Two independent studies commissioned by Jewish community organisations have found that the audio definitely contains no slurs and the BBC has traduced the victims of a hate crime. The Board of Deputies is meeting with the Director General of the BBC in the new year and we will see how this matter is resolved.
The BBC’s claim that Jewish people targeted by an antisemitic attack on Oxford Street were themselves guilty of an “anti-Muslim slur” has been proved beyond any doubt to be inaccurate, after the findings of two independent reports published today. pic.twitter.com/Qb9NwIRLCr
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) December 30, 2021