Claim that BBC ‘re­cy­cles an­ti­semitism’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY NAOMI FIRSHT AND MARCUSDYSCH

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.

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