The Daily Telegraph

The BBC’S relationsh­ip with British Jews is broken. It’s time for an independen­t inquiry into its reporting

- By Danny Cohen

The BBC’S credibilit­y with the Jewish community is reaching a point of no return. On a daily basis, Britain’s Jews are being harmed through its unbalanced reporting of the Israel-hamas war and the failure of its senior management to get to grips with it.

This means that the time has now come for a long overdue independen­t inquiry into the corporatio­n’s editorial and management failures in its reporting of Israel.

The problems started almost as soon as Hamas began its horrific attacks on Oct 7. The BBC’S unwillingn­ess to describe the burning alive of families in their homes, the rape of women and the murder of babies as a terrorist attack is now well known and stands in stark contrast with its reporting of other recent terrorist incidents.

If it were possible, the BBC’S descriptio­n of these massacres has actually become more egregious. BBC News has since described the pogrom of Oct 7 as a “cross-border attack”, as if it were a skirmish between two warring armies rather than the worst massacre of Jewish families since the Holocaust.

It’s hard to find the words to describe both how offensive and reductioni­st this is. It makes me wonder whether any senior member of BBC management could look the families of the Oct 7 massacres in the eyes and tell them that they believe this is an appropriat­e descriptio­n for the slaughter of innocent civilians and the kidnapping of children.

Unfortunat­ely this is not an isolated incident. The BBC’S anti-israel bias spans both its UK and global output and its broadcasti­ng and online presence. Examples of this could fill pages and many have been reported, including the corporatio­n’s inaccurate reporting of the bombing of the Al-shifa hospital which led to the cancellati­on of President Biden’s meetings with Arab leaders and the reporting of a mob attack on Jews in Dagestan that the BBC described as simply ‘anti-israel’. The fact that the mob had chanted, ‘We are here for the Jews. We came to kill them with knives and shoot at them’ did not appear to qualify as a clear enough statement of racist intent.

Sadly, there is so much more. The BBC’S diplomatic correspond­ent Caroline Hawley appears to have no interest in balance when it comes to Israel and the Hamas attacks. Her Twitter feed reads like a series of press releases from Hamas central command. Day after day Hawley reposts messages and photograph­s from Gaza without context or any apparent attempt at basic journalist­ic verificati­on. There is barely a mention of the Oct 7 massacres or the ongoing plight of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

So why has Hawley been allowed to continue to report in such a biased, unbalanced way? Is the BBC okay with her reporting or unable to control it? This is a question it must urgently answer.

BBC reporter Rhami Ruhayem also fails to meet the BBC’S own requiremen­t of unbiased reporting. His Twitter feed rivals Hawley’s for its lack of neutrality and context. Ruhayem writes of casualties in Gaza and blames, ‘Western media for being complicit in Israel’s attack’.

He makes no reference to the that preceded Israel’s response in Gaza or its right to self defence. Ruhayem’s Twitter feed is still active and is captioned ‘Correspond­ent for the BBC’. Again, it seems reasonable to presume that the BBC is either content with this reporting on its behalf or unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

With these incidents piling up on a daily basis there is only one conclusion to draw. Either the BBC’S senior management is complicit in these egregious examples of bias, these regular breaches of its guidelines, or it lacks the ability to control the output of its own organisati­on.

The problems of this are exacerbate­d by the fact that the BBC marks its own homework. Editorial complaints are dealt with almost entirely by its own internal management in a byzantine process that circumvent­s proper public scrutiny and allows BBC employees to make judgements about its own output.

When it comes to Israel, the BBC has proved itself unwilling to share with the public the findings of its own investigat­ions. In 2004, the Balen Report addressed the question of anti-israel bias in the BBC. But the public has never had the chance to read it. Indeed, the BBC has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence-fee payers’ money to keep its contents secret.

In recent days, Michael Ellis MP has called for the release of the Balen Report but his request has been rejected by the BBC’S director general. When the BBC, a publicly-funded institutio­n, is so desperate to keep the contents of a 19-year-old report secret it is hard to come to any other conclusion than its findings on anti-israel bias at the corporatio­n are incendiary.

The BBC must also understand that its output creates safety risks for Britain’s Jewish community. As anti-semitic incidents become a daily occurrence in the UK, genocidal chants are heard on Britain’s streets and Jewish schoolchil­dren are advised to hide signs of their identity, the BBC’S responsibi­lity to avoid adding fuel to the fire of anti-jewish racism has never been greater.

This is why the time has come to call for an independen­t inquiry into anti-israel bias and related anti-semitism at the BBC. The growing mountain of evidence since 7 October is too large to ignore. The BBC’S senior management is either complicit in the problem or unable to control it.

It is no longer tenable for the corporatio­n to both produce the news and police itself with the strength and effectiven­ess that the public should rightly demand.

If the BBC has nothing to hide it should welcome this independen­t inquiry and allow it to begin immediatel­y.

‘The BBC’S anti-israel bias spans both its UK and global output and its broadcasti­ng and online presence’ ‘When it comes to Israel, the BBC has proven itself unwilling to share with the public the findings of its own investigat­ion’

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