We’ve monitored the BBC — now we want to influence its future
STUDIES BY groups such as the Community Security Trust and the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism following last year’s Gaza conflict highlighted the inescapable connection between media coverage of a war thousands of miles away and antisemitic incidents in Britain.
In July this year, Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech outlining the government’s five-year strategy for dealing with extremism. In it he raised issues including the promotion of conspiracy theories relating to Israel and Jews, and the dissemination of antisemitic tropes.
With its unparalleled outreach and worldwide influence, the BBC has an obvious obligation to exercise responsibility regarding these issues.
The upcoming review of the BBC’s charter presents a once-in-a-decade opportunity to address the question of whether that obligation is being met, and to examine the wider effects of BBC coverage of Israel, Jews and antisemitism on community cohesion in Britain.
BBC Watch — an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (Camera) — is dedicated to the promotion of accuracy and impartiality in the BBC’s coverage of Israel.
Three years of daily monitoring of BBC content has produced a wealth of documentation that is relevant to the charter review process.
Analysis of BBC content has raised concerns, including one about the accuracy of reporting. One recent example was the promotion of the false notion that the Israeli government intended to change the status quo on Temple Mount, broadcast on BBC World Service radio on September 13 by BBC Arabic’s Nawal Assad.
He told millions of listeners: “The Israeli government seems like it’s going towards a situation where there would be shared times of prayers in that area which Muslims consider to be their third holiest mosque.”
BBC Watch’s proposals have been submitted to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee BBC Charter Review Inquiry and will be presented at an event in Parliament next week. Members of the public will have the chance to hear about these proposals at a panel discussion in north London on November 10 (details at http://bit. ly/1KVJbuY).
Charter review presents a once-ina-decade opportunity
Hadar Sela is BBC Watch managing editor