Claim that BBC ‘recycles antisemitism’
THE BBC could be perceived as “institutionally antisemitic”, according to a leading academic expert on Jew-hatred.
Lesley Klaff claimed the corporation was guilty of “recycling antisemitic tropes” and had contributed to negative attitudes towards British Jews.
A senior law lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, Ms Klaff made the remarks at an event co-organised by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Campaign for Truth and the monitoring group BBC Watch. The organisers said over 500 people attended the session at Finchley United Synagogue in north London on Tuesday.
Ms Klaff said the disproportionate attention afforded to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the BBC suggested the corporation could be seen as institutionally antisemitic. The BBC was giving too much importance to the role Jews play in the world, which was a common form of antisemitic rhetoric, she claimed.
Giving examples of studies that showed a correlation between media coverage and antisemitic incidents in the UK during last year’s Gaza conflict, Ms Klaff concluded: “The BBC plays a significant role in the creation and maintenance of negative attitudes towards British Jews.”
Jonathan Turner, UK Lawyers for Israel chairman, was critical of the BBC’s complaints procedure, claiming the broadcaster upheld less than one per cent of complaints received over a fiveyear period.
“For all the BBC’s wonderful programmes, I have come to the conclusion that the world would be a better and safer place if the BBC were dissolved,” Mr Turner said, to applause.
At a packed meeting organised by BBC Watch in Parliament on Monday, former BBC governor Baroness Deech said there was a “fashionable disgust” with Israel in the West.
The peer told the audience of around 70 people that she wanted to see a “fearless person of distinction” installed as an independent ombudsman to investigate complaints of bias.
Hadar Sela, British-born managing director of BBC Watch, said her group had made a submission as part of the government review of the Corporation’s charter.
She claimed that inaccuracies in BBC News website reports were being incorporated into school pupils’ work as a matter of historical record and were facilitating antisemitic discourse.
BBC Watch would call for increased historical accuracy in the corporation’s reporting, better management of historical online content and a dedicated complaints page on the BBC News website.
A spokesperson for the BBC said the corporation strongly rejected any claims of institutional antisemitism.
“BBC News is cited as the most trusted news source in the country because of our commitment to impartiality… We will continue to report and analyse the sometimes fast-moving events in an accurate, fair and balanced way using a range of voices,” she added.