BBC ignores Iranian Holocaust denial yet again

Back in September 2013 the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus was to be found promoting the notion of ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial on the corporation’s website. As was noted here when translations knocking the bottom out of that claim later came to light:

“Marcus’ conclusion was apparently reached after listening to the linguistic gymnastics of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, with the latter having claimed that Holocaust denial appearing on the official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader was a case of ‘lost in translation’.”

More recently, when the BBC’s Stephen Sackur  asserted that BBC audiences are in a position to “judge for themselves” the validity of Iranian denials of antisemtism and Holocaust denial, we noted that the BBC has made no effort to inform audiences of this year’s Tehran municipality organized Holocaust denial cartoon contest.

Another recent story which the BBC has refrained from reporting is that of the release by the Iranian ‘Supreme Leader’ of a Holocaust denial video on January 27thInternational Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“As the global community marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader uploaded a video to his official website questioning the magnitude of the Nazi regime’s mass murder campaign against the Jewish people during World War II.

In a video titled “Are the Dark Ages Over,” a series of photos showing killed or injured Palestinian children is displayed on screen, while a Farsi-speaking man, presumably Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, can be heard condemning the nations of the world for offering support to Israel.

It is Western powers headed by America that are [supporting Israel],” the narrator says. “This is while they say in their slogans that they are opposed to terrorism and [the Islamic State terrorist group].”

The speaker goes on to accuse European nations of silencing any view that does not conform to the historically accepted account of the genocide against the Jews by Nazi Germany.

“No one in European countries dares to speak about the Holocaust, while it is not clear whether the core of the matter is reality or not,” the narrator continues. “Even if it is reality, it is not clear how it happened. Speaking about the Holocaust and expressing doubts about it is considered to be a great sin. If someone does this, they stop, arrest, imprison and sue him. This is why they claim to be supporters of freedom.””MEMRI clip

An English language translation of that video can be found at MEMRI.

Unlike other mainstream media outlets such as the Telegraph, the BBC did not produce any stand-alone reporting on the story. Neither did the corporation’s extensive coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe at the same time as the video was released include any mention of the Iranian regime’s Holocaust denial. And whilst BBC coverage of International Holocaust Remembrance Day services and events was comprehensive, it would appear once again that the BBC is not of the opinion that its audiences also need to know about this contemporary manifestation of anti-Jewish hatred.   

BBC continues to mainstream extremist group

h/t Sussex Friends of Israel

The January 31st edition of BBC One’s “moral, ethical and religious debate” programme ‘The Big Questions’ included a revival of the ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ story from last year.

The inventor of that story, Asghar Bukhari, has apparently since relocated to the UAE but the organization he previously headed – MPACUK – was represented on this BBC programme by a former assistant to the controversial ex-MP for Bradford East – who is apparently not averse to doing a bit of fund-raising for extremists in his spare time.

As readers can see in the clip from the full programme below, Raza Nadim obviously still buys into that story and unfortunately host Nicky Campbell only adds credence to the outlandish conspiracy theory.  

Of course what is really disturbing about this programme is that fact that even after the spotlight placed on MPACUK’s long-known racism and extremism by Bukhari’s ridiculous claim and despite the UK government’s recognition of conspiracy theories and antisemitism as precursors to extremism, the BBC still continues to provide a platform for an organization flagged up in the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism a decade ago (from paragraph 140, page 29, here) and included on a list of proscribed organisations holding “racist or fascist views” by the National Union of Students.

Related Articles:

Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK spokesman: “Zionists are most vile animals to walk the earth”  (UK Media Watch)

BBC’s Director of Standards: it ‘aint what they say, it’s the way that they say it

h/t CST

As readers no doubt recall, on December 22nd listeners to a BBC Radio London phone-in show heard an inadequately challenged thirteen-minute antisemitic rant which later garnered both media attention and complaints from the general public, with the latter receiving dismissive responses from the BBC.BBC Radio London

In an article titled “Bigotry on the Air: Why broadcasters need to challenge hate-mongers” which appeared at the Ethical Journalism Network, some insight into the background to the BBC’s handling of those complaints emerges. Relating to that BBC Radio London show, the EJN’s Tom Law writes:

“This case raises serious ethical questions: How do people working on the edge of live news protect themselves – and their audience – from people with a hateful agenda? How can journalists ensure that they allow free speech, but maintain their ethical duty to do no harm? And what more should be done to help journalists to counter bigoted speech?

According to chair of the Ethical Journalism Network Dorothy Byrne, many of the answers are found by applying the regulations imposed by Ofcom, Britain’s independent state regulator of broadcasting, but much depends she warns on how “hate speech” is defined.

A good broadcaster, she says, would cut the person off and apologise to the listeners, depending on the content, while some programmes would challenge the speaker. She quotes a recent example when a young Muslim woman attacking gay people on the radio. “Instead of cutting her off, the presenter argued with her vociferously and you could say that was the best way to deal with that,” says Byrne.”

The article goes on to quote the BBC’s David Jordan.

“David Jordan, Director of Editorial Policy and Standards at the BBC told us that for live radio shows where members of the public phone in, presenters and producers are obliged to follow the ‘Harm and Offence’ provision of the OFCOM code, which states they must:

“…provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.”

The code goes on to say that offensive material must only be used where it can be justified by journalistic context.

In addition, the BBC has its own editorial guidelines on live output. People spouting offensive views are normally dealt with directly, says Jordan. The decision to challenge offensive speech is left to presenters and journalists. The BBC also pre-screens telephone calls into phone-in shows. […]

The issue, says Jordan is not about people saying things that some people may find offensive whether it is in relation to immigration or race or the Holocaust. “It is about how those views are expressed. If they are expressed in clearly racist ways using racist phrases or words then you might cut the debate off,” he says.” [emphasis added]

David Jordan does not expand on how “racist phrases or words” are defined (or by whom) but apparently, just so long as such terminology is not employed, the BBC is not overly concerned about acting as a conduit for the mainstreaming of antisemitic discourse – which for some reason it appears not to view as falling under the OFCOM category of “harmful and/or offensive material”.

Every time such issues arise, the responses from BBC officials make the dire lack of education and awareness about the issue of antisemitism within the corporation more and more glaringly obvious.

Related Articles:

BBC Trust’s ESC rejects complaint about Tim Willcox’s ‘Jewish faces’ remark

BBC ECU rejects complaints about Tim Willcox’s ‘Jewish hands’ remarks

BBC News gives a megaphone to BDS rhetoric yet again

Visitors to the ‘Manchester’ page on the BBC News website on January 22nd found the BBC’s version of a story reported two days earlier by the Jewish Chronicle.Sheridan Suite story

The story relates to the cancellation of a rally, scheduled for January 31st, organized by North West Friends of Israel and additional Jewish community organisations. The BBC’s article – titled “Manchester’s Sheridan Suite pulls out of pro-Israeli event” opens as follows:

“A venue has pulled out of hosting an event in support of Israel after pro-Palestinian supporters complained.

North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI) said the Sheridan Suite in Manchester had “succumbed to gross intimidation” by cancelling a booking for 31 January.

A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups said it was “a moral duty” for firms to refuse to host events that “glorify Israel’s decades-long illegal occupation… of the Palestinians”.”

A more fitting description of the groups concerned would of course be ‘anti-Israel’ rather than “pro-Palestinian” but there is nothing novel about the BBC’s failure to accurately represent such activists.

Having expanded on NWFOI’s comments in seventy-seven words, the article then goes on to devote one hundred and eleven words to unqualified, context-free promotion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign’s messaging.

“Advocates of a boycott claim it exerts pressure on the Israeli government, particularly over the building of settlements in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, which has been condemned by the United Nations.

Four groups, including Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine, issued a statement, saying: “It is not anti-Semitism to oppose the Israeli regime and its oppressive system of domination over the Palestinians.”

They claimed event organisers were trying to “plead victim while more theft of Palestinian land takes place every day”, adding that its campaign was similar to international boycotts of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, when anti-apartheid activists tried to bring down white minority rule.”

As is consistently the case in any BBC report involving the subject of BDS, no effort is made to inform readers of the real agenda which underlies that campaign. It would have been relevant, for example, for readers of this report to know that the chair of the Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign is on record as saying “What we want to see the end of is the Zionist state” and for them to understand that opposition to Jewish self-determination falls within accepted definitions of antisemitism.  

The result is that once again the supposedly ‘impartial’ BBC whitewashes the messaging of the anti-peace BDS campaign whilst mainstreaming its tactical rhetoric such as the ‘apartheid’ trope.

Notably, another recent story from the UK connected to “pro-Palestinian” supporters of BDS silencing free speech – which was reported by mainstream media outlets such as the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Jewish Chronicle and the Telegraph – appears to have received only minimal local coverage from the BBC three days after the incident took place.

Related Articles:

Context-free amplification of BDS in BBC reports on London Mayor’s remarks

Chair of Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign declares Israeli Hoopoe birds ‘Aves non gratae’

‘Air Flotilla 2’ Participants – the trailer (Anti-Zionist ‘activists’ consumed by hate)

Are BBC audiences positioned to ‘judge’ Iranian denials of antisemitism?

The January 16th edition of ‘Hardtalk’ was devoted to an interview with two people described as “respected political analysts” from Iran and Saudi Arabia. The programme is available in the UK on iPlayer here and an audio version broadcast on BBC World Service radio is available here.

“There’s a faultline that lies beneath much of the current turmoil in the Middle East, and it runs between Riyadh and Tehran. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are locked in a series of conflicts by proxy. It’s a dangerous and costly struggle for regional supremacy that weaves from Lebanon to Yemen by way of Syria and Iraq. Stephen Sackur talks to Mohammad Marandi in Tehran and Jamal Khashoggi in Jeddah. Is there any way to take the heat out of the Saudi-Iranian confrontation?”

Oddly for a programme with that synopsis, at around seven minutes or so in, the discussion took another turn.

But does host Stephen Sackur’s claim that audiences listening to that Iranian propaganda from Marandi can “judge for themselves” really hold water? In order for that to be the case, the BBC would have had to report, for example, on the subject of this year’s Holocaust denying cartoon contest.Hardtalk 16 1 filmed

“Iran has announced that it will be holding a cartoon contest aimed at creating caricatures denying the Holocaust. This year, the contest’s grand prize has been increased from $12,000 to $50,000.

The contest, organized by the Teheran municipal authority, is calling for cartoonists worldwide to send in works denying and satirizing the Holocaust. Unlike previous contests of this kind, this one is especially significant due the fact that it is organized by official authorities of the Iranian capital, and has an international emphasis. The prize money is also several times what it was before.”

Not only has the BBC not covered that contemporary story but in the past it has downplayed similar events.  It has also distorted the results of a poll on antisemitism in Iran, promoted the false notion of ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial, airbrushed statements concerning the Holocaust made by Rouhani and in general done its level best to promote the chimera of a ‘moderate’ Iranian regime.

Contrary to Sackur’s claim, it is therefore highly unlikely that BBC audiences would be able to “judge for themselves” the authenticity of the claims made by the gently spoken Mr Marandi because the BBC has for the past two and a half years consistently avoided fulfilling its obligation to “keep them in touch with what is going on” in that field.

A new report on an issue ignored by the BBC

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has compiled a report about an issue which those getting news and information about the Middle East from the BBC will be unaware even exists. PMW’s overview of Palestinian Authority Antisemitism in 2015 was recently released at a conference in the European Parliament.PMW report

“The report documents that the Palestinian Authority continued to emit overtly Antisemitic messages throughout 2015, portraying Jews as inherently evil, comparing them to apes and pigs, and depicting them as a threat to all humanity. The PA has also continued to lend credence to the Antisemitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which claims that Jews conspire to take over the entire world.”

The pdf version of the report can be found here.

The BBC’s response to complaints about antisemitic rant on Radio London

The BBC Complaints department’s response to complaints relating to a segment of a phone-in show hosted by Simon Lederman which was broadcast on BBC Radio London on December 22nd is as follows.BBC Radio London

“The aim of Simon Lederman’s overnight phone-in is to discuss issues and to explore wide-ranging views.

The listener in question called the programme saying he wanted to talk about his belief that the UK is a plutocracy not a democracy. That was the reason he was put to air in the first place, but it soon became clear that he had another agenda about Zionism and Simon chose to explore and challenge those opinions. The caller was repeatedly challenged throughout the call, to such an extent that, at one point, the caller complained that he was not being allowed to make his point. Simon eventually ended the call saying “we’re back to where we started” and it was clear the discussion was not progressing. 
With regard to the length of the call, phone in programmes in the middle of the night are generally more conversational and callers are often given more time than at other times of the day because it is a quieter period with more time to develop discussions.

When debating controversial and sensitive subjects such as this, there is potential for offence, but Simon Lederman is an experienced journalist with a good understanding of BBC Editorial policy which he made every effort to follow on this occasion by robustly challenging the caller. However, BBC Radio London apologises for any offence caused by the caller’s views.”

This is the second time that the BBC has claimed that the caller was “challenged on his views throughout the conversation” but as was noted here at the time; that is not actually the case.

“The repeated claim that “Zionist Jews” control and “own” the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve, corporate America and the media was not adequately challenged: at no point did the presenter inform listeners that those claims are simply untrue.

The inaccurate claim that “most of the Jews of the world” come from “an empire called Khazaria” was not challenged at all. That perhaps is a little less surprising when one considers that the BBC has previously given airtime to the main proponent of that myth.

The inaccurate assertion that “real” Judaism “has nothing to do with Zionism” was not challenged and neither were the inaccurate claims that “Balfour created essentially the State of Israel” and that “the British had a protectorate” in Palestine. Indeed the reaction from the presenter to those last two inaccuracies was to say “right”.”

Causing offence is just one aspect of this story; the other is the mainstreaming of falsehoods, antisemitic discourse and conspiracy theories on public radio. To that, the BBC has yet to provide an adequate and responsible response and, until it admits that the caller’s agenda was not “about Zionism” (which, notably, this BBC response classifies as a “controversial” topic) but about getting a platform for the spread of antisemitic tropes, it is doubtful that it will be capable of doing so.

Related Articles:

Mainstreaming antisemitic discourse on BBC Radio London

Antisemitic rant on BBC Radio London gets media attention     



BBC Trust’s ESC rejects complaint about Tim Willcox’s ‘Jewish faces’ remark

A complaint concerning a BBC programme which was flagged up in the CST’s report on Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2014 has been rejected by the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee.BBC Papers on website

A link to the original programme can be found below:

More BBC promotion of the ‘Jewish lobby’ trope

The BBC’s initial – and not dissimilar – response to complaints about the programme is documented here:

BBC doubles down on presenter’s ‘mansion tax’ comment

The ESC’s full decision can be found on pages 17 to 23 inclusive here with a summary appearing on pages 6 and 7. Whilst the full text of the original complaint is not available, some of the content of the decision appears – to put it politely – to have missed the point.

“The Committee concluded that:

 A reference by the presenter to ‘Jewish faces’ was not anti-Semitic in the context of a discussion about prominent Jewish people (donors to the Labour party). The presenter had been struggling for a phrase to sum up the group of people they were discussing in the heat of the live discussion, and had come up with Jewish “faces”. Trustees noted that the word “face” or “faces” was in common use as a synonym for a prominent person or people. Trustees considered it was clear that this was the meaning the presenter had intended the audience to take and that the potentially offensive meaning understood by the complainant, suggestive of a negative stereotype of Jewish facial features, would not have been intended; nor would the majority of the audience have interpreted it in that sense.”

The real significance of this ruling, however, is found in the fact that the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee obviously considers itself to have sufficient authority, knowledge and expertise to determine what is – or in this case, what is not – antisemitism even though one of Britain’s leading expert bodies on that form of racism has classified the programme concerned as an example of antisemitic discourse.



The BBC World Service, the partner radio station and the terror-glorifying cartoon

h/t PMB

Anyone searching for information on how to listen to BBC World Service radio broadcasts in the Middle East would (via this page) come across a document titled ‘A guide to listening in English: October 2015 – March 2016’.

The section titled ‘How to Listen’ provides a list of frequencies which includes some radio stations described as partner stations of the BBC and among those is Radio Bethlehem 2000 on 106.4 FM.

R Bethlehem partner

The BBC’s partnership with Radio Bethlehem 2000 first began over a decade ago.

“Radio Bethlehem 2000 listeners can hear 12 hours a day of BBC programming, in Arabic and English.

Hosam El Sokkari, Head of BBC Arabic, said: “Our partnership with Radio Bethlehem 2000 is an important addition to the BBC’s FM presence in the Arab world.”

Until April 1st 2014, the BBC World Service – which includes BBC Arabic – was funded by the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. After that date, funding arrangements changed and the World Service is now funded by the licence fee. The BBC has separate editorial guidelines concerning partnerships for services funded by the licence fee and for those which are not but both sets of guidelines include similar “key principles”.

“The BBC’s impartiality, editorial integrity and independence must not be compromised by any external relationship.


“The BBC’s editorial impartiality and integrity must not be compromised. The BBC must retain editorial independence and editorial control of its output

Our choice of partners must be justified and should not risk bringing the BBC into disrepute.” (Partnerships: Guidance in Full)

The image below was posted by Radio Bethlehem 2000 on Facebook on January 1st after two Israelis had been murdered and seven more injured – two critically – in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv.

Radio Bethlehem cartoon

Can the BBC claim that its choice of a partner that glorifies terrorism using an antisemitic caricature does anything other than bring the corporation into disrepute?


BBC World Service partners – contact details


BBC’s Tim Willcox featured in end of year media roundups

As previously mentioned, the most read BBC Watch post of 2015 was ‘BBC’s Tim Willcox in Paris: a new low‘ from January 11th.Willcox

Documentation of the BBC’s subsequent handling of that incident can be seen in chronological order below.

BBC response to Willcox complaints: he sent a Tweet

Update on the BBC’s response to complaints about Willcox statement

BBC ECU rejects complaints about Tim Willcox’s ‘Jewish hands’ remarks

BoD weighs in on BBC’s rejection of Willcox complaints

Update on the BBC’s handling of the Tim Willcox case

Not surprisingly, that story is featured among CAMERA’s ‘Top Ten MidEast Media Mangles for 2015’.

“In an outrageous BBC interview on January 11 on a Paris street during the mass unity rally after the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the Jews at the Kosher market and other victims, a Jewish woman said recent events resemble the 1930s and Jews should respond by making clear they’re being targeted, Tim Willcox of the BBC interrupted her to say, “Many…many…many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well,” in effect proclaiming that murdering Jews in a Paris supermarket is understandable. Under a hail of criticism for the exchange, Willcox made a half-apology on Twitter, tweeting, “Really sorry for any offence caused by a poorly phrased question in a live interview in Paris yesterday – it was entirely unintentional.” The BBC took no further action, leaving one to wonder whether the BBC subscribes to irrational and bigoted views that justify murderous attacks on Jews around the world.”

The episode is also included in the list of ‘highlights’ which prompted the award of the title ‘Dishonest Reporter’ of the year to BBC News from Honest Reporting.