BBC accused of ‘deep-seated’ biases against Jews
The BBC has been accused of making a “colossal error” in its report on a November attack against Jewish teenagers on a bus in London and is being called on to apologize.
The public broadcaster was one of many outlets covering the November 29 Oxford Street attack against a group of Jewish teens who were sitting in a bus when a group of men started spitting at them from outside. The group made Nazi salutes and hurled threatening abuse at the teenagers.
A BBC London correspondent, while describing the attack, mentioned that “some racial slurs about Muslim people” could be heard from inside the bus, saying it wasn’t clear if that had played a role in the incident.
According to an independent report commissioned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, however, the anti-Muslim “slur” the BBC journalist was referring to, was actually a call for help in Hebrew by a Jewish man in the bus, translated as “Call someone, it’s urgent.”
A separate forensic analysis of the footage and forensic linguistic analysis ordered by the organization also confirmed that there was no slur, the organization said in a press release published on Thursday.
The results prompted the Board to make an official complaint to the BBC, calling the report an example of “deeply irresponsible journalism.” The organization’s president, Marie van der Zyl, called the BBC’s recollection of events a “colossal error” that it should publicly apologize for “at the very least.”
Van der Zyl questioned the BBC’s impartiality and said the story raised “serious questions about deep-seated biases within the BBC towards Israelis, and towards Jews in general.”
She said this and other “ongoing concerns” would be raised with the corporation’s Director-General Tim Davie in the new year.
The BBC, however, said it is standing by its report of the incident.
“There was a brief reference to a slur, captured in a video recording, that appeared to come from the bus,” a BBC spokesman said, as quoted by British media. He said the reference was included “so the fullest account of the incident was reported.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism also raised concerns over the report, writing to the BBC to “demand explanations” over what it called the “outrageous” coverage of the incident. The group said police investigating the attack “have found no evidence” of the supposed slur from the victims.
The controversy comes after the BBC was ranked third on the infamous Global Anti-Semitism Top Ten list by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the US — after Iran and armed Palestinian group Hamas.