BBC in hot water over antisemitic caricature in Proms programme

The Algemeiner brings us a story which once again highlights the pressing need for the BBC to educate its staff on the topic of identifying antisemitism.Algemeiner pic

“The BBC apologized on Friday for publishing an antisemitic caricature of famed Jewish violinist Leopold Auer in a program for its annual summer concert festival.

“We use a range of caricatures and illustrations in our concert programmes and wanted one of Leopold Auer,” a BBC spokesperson said in an email to The Algemeiner. “We’re sorry to anyone who was offended by the image choice – this was never our intention.”

The spokesperson also said the BBC has “no plans to use that image again.”

The offensive illustration of Auer appeared in the program for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The concert was part of the BBC Proms, an eight week-long festival of concerts, lectures, workshops and family events, ending with the famous Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall. A number of composers specifically dedicated pieces to Auer, including Tchaikovsky.”

Read the rest of the Algemeiner article here and the Jewish Chronicle’s report here.  

No BBC coverage of antisemitism at event organised by its most promoted NGO

An anti-Israel demonstration which took place in the heart of London on September 9th, ostensibly to protest a two-day visit to the UK by the Israeli prime minister, received no coverage on the BBC News website on the day that it took place.

That editorial decision is all the more interesting when one considers that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – which organised the protest – and some of its supporting groups are not infrequently promoted on BBC platforms.

demo London organisers

demo London woman with placard

credit: Sussex Friends of Israel

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign was in fact the non-Israeli NGO most promoted in BBC Israel-related content during 2014. Only recently BBC audiences saw coverage of another event organised, among others, by the PSC, the Stop the War Coalition and Friends of Al Aqsa. FoAA’s Ismail Patel has appeared on various BBC programmes, as have the spokesperson for ‘War on Want’ and representatives of FOSIS.

It would therefore have been relevant for audiences to be made aware of the fact that an event organised by groups to which the BBC frequently gives a platform was marked by hate speech, antisemitism and support for terrorism.

For example, as the Jewish News reports (link includes video):

“A pro-Palestinian protester waved a penny at pro-Israel demonstrators and shouted “you only understand money”, before police placed handcuffs on him. […]

In the short clip filmed outside Whitehall by the Zionist Federation UK, he tells pro-Israel demonstrators: “Here have a penny..” adding “you only understand money” a number of times.”demo London Hizb flags 2

A woman identified as Pamela Hardyment felt free to advocate ethnic cleansing and genocide of Israeli Jews on camera.

“In another incident caught on camera, a […] woman tells Israel supporters that the Jews in Israel should “go into the sea, they’re not coming here.

“We would absolutely march against Zionists coming here as refugees,” added the woman, clad in a keffiyeh and carrying an umbrella bearing the word “Palestine.”

“So you want another Holocaust?” the pro-Israel activist asks her. “I don’t know what the Holocaust is,” she replies.

“I want them out of Israel,” the woman says later in the video, referring to Israeli Jews.

“You’ll have to kill them all,” says a voice off camera. “Well, so be it,” she responds as she walks off.”

The first mention of that demonstration came a whole day after it took place in an article titled “Netanyahu urges action to stop Middle East ‘disintegrating’” which appeared on the BBC News website’s UK and Middle East pages on September 10th. There readers were told that:

“Campaigners clashed ahead of the visit.

Protesters demanding Mr Netanyahu’s arrest for alleged war crimes in Gaza clashed with pro-Israel activists on Wednesday.”

Clearly that is not an accurate or comprehensive portrayal of the demonstration, so perhaps the BBC would like to share with its funding public the editorial considerations behind the airbrushing of antisemitism, hate speech and support for terrorist groups from the picture it presented to its audiences?

Related Articles:

When criticism of Israel crosses the line to extreme antisemitism: London edition   (UK Media Watch) 



No BBC coverage of UNRWA linked antisemitic cartoons

Thanks to a lot of hard work from blogger Elder of Ziyon and the NGO UN Watch, the issue of antisemitic images posted on social media by some UNRWA employees has recently been brought to public attention.

“UN Watch released a new report today documenting 12 different Facebook accounts operated by UNRWA officials that openly incite to antisemitism and terrorism, and urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl to terminate the responsible officials, condemn the offending posts, and establish a commission of inquiry, comprised of representatives of top donor states to investigate the culture of impunity for perpetrators of racism and incitement that pervades UNRWA.”

BBC audiences, however, have no idea of the existence of this story because the corporation (which of course frequently promotes the UNRWA agenda) has not been among the mainstream media outlets which reported it – despite being urged by UNRWA’s spokesman not to do so.

Gunness tweet FB story

Could it be that Chris Gunness thinks that all journalists are likely to be as compliant with his efforts to censor content as the BBC apparently proved to be last summer?

BBC Radio Wales promotes and endorses anti-Israel activist with a penchant for Nazi analogy

The ‘Stop the War Coalition’ is just about the last organisation one would approach for rational, impartial, factual and informative comment on anything connected to the Middle East. As has been noted here before, the StWC:

“… collaborates with 9/11 ‘troofers’ and antisemites such as Lowkey. It supports the annual Al Quds Day anti-Israel hate-fest organized in London by the Khomenist-regime’s UK supporters at the IHRC. It dabbles in anti-Americanism and antisemitism of its own and has rallied in support of the Assad regime in Syria and the Iranian dictatorship.” 

Nevertheless, that was precisely the group from which BBC Radio Wales solicited comment in an item concerning Cardiff council’s cancellation of a photography exhibition showing coexistence in Israel through football less than a day after it opened which was broadcast on September 4th on its ‘Good Evening Wales’ programme.BBC Radio Wales Cardiff exhib

As readers are no doubt aware, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality demand that the “viewpoint” of interviewees be clarified to audiences.

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

However, no adequate clarification was in evidence when presenter Gareth Lewis introduced the first section of this two-part item (available from 36:36 here for a limited period of time).

Lewis: “The Israeli embassy has called Cardiff Council ‘outrageous’ for ending early an exhibition about multi-faith football between Jews and Palestinians just days before the Wales-Israel European qualifying match. Cardiff Council said it received a complaint about the exhibition and was made aware of the potential for a large demonstration outside the city’s main library where the exhibition was being held. It also said it didn’t want to be seen as displaying political bias. Well, Adam Johannes joins us. He’s from the Stop the War Coalition. Good to have you with us.”

That brief introduction of course did nothing to inform listeners of the “particular viewpoint” lying behind the inaccurate information they heard from Johannes during the next four and a half minutes, which included the following:

Palestinian 'footballer' Ayman Alkurd killed in 2009 (photo: Elder of Ziyon)

Palestinian ‘footballer’ Ayman Alkurd – killed in 2009 (photo: Elder of Ziyon)

Johannes: “Erm, well, I think the exhibition should have never really been staged in the first place. It was sponsored by the Israeli embassy. It was essentially, I think, a PR stunt to gloss over the reality of football in the Middle East which is a very serious situation. For instance – if I can give you an example – over the last decade or so four players in the Palestinian national team have lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Other players have been detained without trial sometimes for months or years. Players are regularly prevented from attending matches. The Palestinian national team for instance…Israel is playing in Wales but at the same time Israel’s preventing Palestinian players going from Gaza to the West Bank to play an important match against the UAE. So when you have a country which prevents other, you know, other FIFA members from playing football, then really I think we have to say that Israel – until it allows Palestinians to play football – should be expelled from UEFA and FIFA.”BBC radio Wales Cardiff cogat tweets

Gareth Lewis made no effort to provide listeners with the much-needed context deliberately omitted by Johannes. He failed to tell them that it is the known connections of some Palestinian footballers to terrorist organisations which have brought about their detention. He neglected to inform BBC audiences that at least three of those four players who “lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military” were active members of terrorist organisations (two Hamas and one PIJ) who took part in fighting against Israel during Operation Cast Lead. And he omitted any mention of the fact that it is precisely issues such as those above which make security checks for Palestinian footballers exiting the Gaza Strip necessary and that the topic of movement is often more complex than meets the eye.

Lewis also failed to correct the misleading impression created by Johannes’ risible claim that “Palestinians want to keep politics out of sport” by informing listeners of Jibril Rajoub’s record of coopting sport precisely for political purposes. He neglected to inform audiences of the all-important context behind the following statement from Johannes:

“….the Palestine stadium in Gaza has been bombed twice by the Israeli military – the main football stadium, you know, for Palestinians….”

 And Lewis obviously had no concerns about providing Johannes with a BBC platform for the promotion of additional crude delegitimisation:

“…remember the days of apartheid South Africa. People used to hold up these small examples of coexistence […] to gloss over the fundamental reality of institutionalized racism, of apartheid.”

Later on in the programme (from 1:35:55 here) a further five minutes were devoted to the same topic and the interviewee this time was the Israeli embassy in London’s spokesman, Yiftach Curiel. Introduced by presenter Peter Johnson, the segment began with an edited rerun of some of Johannes’ propaganda, again without adequate clarification concerning the views of man and his organisation.

Johnson: “Well earlier on this programme we spoke to Adam Johannes from the Stop the War Coalition who was supporting the withdrawal of the exhibition. He said it glossed over the reality of the situation in the Middle East.”

Johannes: “Erm, well, I think the exhibition should have never really been staged in the first place. It was sponsored by the Israeli embassy. It was essentially, I think, a PR stunt to gloss over the reality of football in the Middle East which is a very serious situation. For instance – if I can give you an example – over the last decade or so four players in the Palestinian national team have lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Other players have been detained without trial sometimes for months or years. Players are regularly prevented from attending matches. So when you have a country which prevents other, you know, other FIFA members from playing football, then really I think we have to say that Israel – until it allows Palestinians to play football – should be expelled from UEFA and FIFA.”

Johnson: “Adam Johannes of the Stop the War Coalition speaking on this programme a little earlier.”BBC Radio Wales Cardiff Johannes FB PSC

In addition to failing once again to provide the much-needed missing background and context to Johannes’ claims broadcast to listeners twice within the space of an hour, during his conversation with Curiel, Johnson even told audiences that they were legitimate.

Johnson: “OK, the point that Adam Johannes made is a valid one – that it isn’t actually easy for Palestinians to play football in the Middle East and that Israel has actually impeded the travel of Palestinian footballers. I mean that much is true.” [emphasis added]

Ironically in an item laden with anti-Israel propaganda, Johnson later added:

“There will be those, Yiftach, who merely see this [exhibition] as an opportunity for Israeli propaganda in Wales….”

So what should BBC Radio Wales have told its listeners about Adam Johannes before it provided him with an unhindered platform for partisan political messaging which even got BBC endorsement from Peter Johnson?

Here, in his own words, is Johannes’ bio from a site called ‘Radical Wales’:

BBC Radio Wales Johannes bio

Audiences should also obviously have been told that Johannes has been involved in football-related anti-Israel campaigning for some time and is one of those involved in organizing the opportunistic agitprop ahead of the Israel-Wales match in Cardiff. Listeners would also have been better able to put Johannes’ contribution to this programme into its correct context had BBC Radio Wales bothered to tell them that he is fond of using Nazi analogies during his anti-Israel campaigning, as the following example from 2012 shows.

Not only did BBC Radio Wales clearly breach its own editorial guidelines by failing to provide listeners with any of the very relevant background on Adam Johannes or the ‘Stop the War Coalition’, but it also materially misled audiences on the topic of Palestinian football by failing to provide the facts and context missing from its interviewee’s politically motivated diatribe.  

Related Articles:

Beyond the BBC narrative: Cardiff, coexistence and Israel

BBC yet again conceals terror connections of Palestinian ‘footballers’


BBC Radio Wales – contact details

BBC Complaints






The BBC must tell its audiences how it defines antisemitism

h/t BB

As was documented here at the time, on July 23rd BBC Radio 4 chose to air a repeat broadcast of a show by comedian-cum-political-activist Jeremy Hardy (originally aired in September 2014) which promoted crude stereotypes and factual inaccuracies.  

A member of the public who complained to the BBC received a response which includes the following interesting statement:

The BBC would never include what it considered to be anti-Semitic material in its comedy programmes; here the production team and Radio 4 took great care in reviewing the programme’s content to ensure this, especially in the satire concerning actions of Israeli governments past and present. No offence was intended by the jokes and satirical observations in the programme.”

The key words in that sentence are obviously “what it considered to be”. As we learned from the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit’s response to complaints about remarks made by Tim Willcox during a broadcast from Paris in January 2015, the BBC does not use the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism and as was observed at the time:

“It is worth noting at this point that Steel’s rejection of the classification of Willcox’s statement as antisemitic is based on the following claim inserted as a footnote:

“In fact the phrase isn’t part of the EUMC definition, but is one of a number of examples provided of what might be considered anti-Semitic under the definition, subject to “taking into account the overall context”.  The EUMC definition was withdrawn in 2009 by its successor organisation, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, which has published no definition of its own.”

This of course is not the first time that the BBC has exploited the fact that the European Agency for Fundamental Rights has not put out its own definition of antisemitism because its mandate does not include such activities. Whilst the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism was indeed removed from the FRA’s website along with other EUMC documents in 2013, it has not been “withdrawn”.”

So, whilst we do know that the BBC does not work according to the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism, we do not know which definition it does use and hence the BBC’s funding public has no way of determining what the corporation does in fact consider “to be anti-Semitic material”.goalposts

That of course makes it very difficult for any member of the public wishing to submit a complaint concerning antisemitism in BBC content to know whether it is worth his or her time and effort to do so because the ‘goal posts’ are unclear. It also means that public funding is likely to be wasted on handling complaints which, were the general public privy to the BBC’s definition of antisemitism, may not have been submitted in the first place.

At the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem in May, one of the many issues identified was the need for media organisations to adopt standard accepted definitions of antisemitism such as the EUMC Working Definition or the US State Department definition.

Until the day the BBC recognizes the imperative of working according to internationally accepted definitions, in the interests of transparency and accountability it must at least publish its own definition of antisemitism and inform its funding public with which experts (if any) it consulted in order to arrive at a definition it obviously considers to be superior to and more authoritative than the existing ones.


BBC WS WHYS initiates discussion of the apartheid trope, moderation fails

The August 18th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Have Your Say’ included an item about “the Israeli columnist who’s decided it’s time to call Israel an ‘apartheid’ society”. We will be discussing that programme in a future article but in this one we will take a look at the related post on the ‘World Have Your Say’ Facebook account on the same day.

As a reminder – the BBC uses social media and discussion boards as part of its interpretation of the public purpose remit titled ‘Global Outlook’, according to which it will “[e]nable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”.

“BBC Trust: “The BBC should inform conversation and debate, providing forums where its international audiences can debate issues they find important.””

The WHYS Facebook post the following question:”Apartheid”: right or wrong word?

WHYS FB main

Obviously anticipating the type of offensive comments not infrequently seen when Israel-related topics appear on such BBC discussion boards (see examples in the related articles below), the first comment on that post was posted by WHYS itself:

WHYS FB warning

Below are examples of some of the comments the WHYS moderators apparently did not consider “abusive or inappropriate” seeing as they were left standing on the thread.





‘Powerful’ and ‘influential’ Jews:




‘Ethnic cleansing’:


Promoting the elimination of Israel:


Nazi analogy:




‘Jews are pigs’:




Special demands of the BBC’s Jewish journalists:


Nazi analogy:


Nazi analogy:


Once again we see that defamatory falsehoods, racial abuse and antisemitic tropes pass BBC ‘moderation’ with no problem at all. Perhaps the BBC would like to explain to its funding public how that can be considered as contributing to its mission of ‘informing conversation and debate’. 

Related Articles:

BBC WS WHYS Facebook moderation fails again

Nazi analogies and ‘apartheid’ defamation on BBC World ‘Have Your Say’ Facebook account

BBC’s WHYS promotes Gaza interviewee with a penchant for antisemitic imagery

Antisemitism on BBC WS ‘World Have Your Say’ Facebook page

Antisemitic comments (again) on BBC WHYS Facebook post… about show on antisemitism


BBC R4’s ‘Sunday’ talks the talk on antisemitism

The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, John Mann MP, was a guest on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Sunday’ on August 9th. The item (available here from 05:21) was introduced by host William Crawley as follows:Sunday John Mann

WC: “Last week it was reported that the number of incidents of antisemitism in the UK is on the rise and a common analysis of that spike in anti-Jewish prejudice is the inability or unwillingness of some people to distinguish between the religion of Judaism and the politics of the state of Israel. But antisemitism has a longer history than comparatively recent disputes about the place of the Jewish state in the Middle East and that long history is surveyed in a new book – ‘Antisemitism: The Oldest Hatred’. Its author is the Labour MP John Mann who for the past ten years has chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.”

Listeners familiar with the BBC’s response to complaints concerning a reporter who, back in January, displayed precisely such “inability or unwillingness […] to distinguish between the religion of Judaism and the politics of the state of Israel” might have found Crawley’s detached description jarring.

Following John Mann’s explanation of why he wrote the book, Crawley came in again:

WC: “It’s complex sometimes because of the language and you point this out in the book: that sometimes people use language that covers…as a cover story…for antisemitism and it can be subtle; it can be difficult sometimes to recognize. Let’s explore that a bit, can we? Where do you see subtle forms of antisemitism today?” […]

JM: “The ways it creeps in that are distinctive and unusual are because of some of the caricatures of successful Jewish people. So concepts of wealth, of ownership – for example ownership of the media, ownership of business, control of countries – and not least the United States. That comes in a lot and it allows people – sometimes deliberately, more often, more ignorantly – to cross the border of what’s acceptable in terms of discourse […] and it’s this concept that the powerful Jew, the wealthy Jew, is used a lot. One example of how that is almost in the mainstream now: in the Baltics this is the imagery that’s there – similar to the imagery used by Goebbels and the Nazis – which is of this Jewish businessman-type figure, wealthy, controlling; a hidden influence who is malevolently affecting the future of society. That is used in the mainstream in the Baltics […] and to be honest, that’s quite extraordinary for part of the European Union.”

It is of course also quite extraordinary for the UK’s public broadcaster – but nevertheless, precisely such imagery was promoted in a BBC television programme on November 8th last year and the BBC failed to respond appropriately. Moreover, promotion of the ‘Jewish lobby’ trope and claims of Jewish and/or Israeli control of the United States have been documented on numerous occasions on these pages – see for example here, here, here, here and here.

Towards the end of the item, Crawley asks John Mann “how best to challenge the normalization of that kind of prejudice?” and the reply includes the following:

JM: “…you deal with your own backyard first. You deal with those in your own local community; you deal with those in your own workplace. In politics you deal with those in your own political party.”

Until the BBC begins to ‘walk the walk’ by seriously and frankly addressing its own issues concerning the mainstreaming of antisemitic discourse in its content and on its discussion boards, items such as this one can obviously only be viewed as cynical and opportunistic lip service to a very serious topic.

Related Articles:

Report of All-Party inquiry into Antisemitism adduces BBC content

BBC doubles down on its creative translation of ‘Yahud’

Recent weeks have seen two cases in which the BBC chose to inaccurately translate the Arabic word ‘Yahud’ (Jews) when it was spoken by Palestinian children. In Lyse Doucet’s programme ‘Children of the Gaza War’ the word was translated as ‘Israelis’ and in Adam Wishart’s ‘The Train that Divides Jerusalem’ as ‘soldiers’.  

Members of the public who complained about the former programme received a template response from BBC Complaints.

template response yahud

A reader who contacted the BBC about the same issue in the second programme received a reply which included the following:

Reply complaint Wishart prog

That BBC Trust decision from 2013 – apparently viewed by the BBC complaints department as a one-size-fits-all precedent – can be found here.

Of course the real issue here – and the reason people have made complaints – is that the BBC’s substitution of ‘Yahud’ with its own choice of different words denies audiences understanding of the incitement and indoctrination to which Palestinian children are subjected. That topic has not been addressed in any of the responses we have seen from the BBC complaints department.  

Related Articles:

BBC Trust ESC rules: no requirement to translate accurately

The history – and the BBC Trust decision – behind Lyse Doucet’s mistranslation of ‘yahud’

BBC does know how to translate ‘Yahud’ – when it is said in the UK

BBC’s Panorama Jerusalem train programme takes viewers on a predictable journey