The US State Department’s recently published ‘International Religious Freedom Report for 2012‘ was the subject of an article entitled “Bigotry against Jews and Muslims on the rise, says US” which appeared on the Middle East page and the US & Canada page of the BBC News website on May 20th.
Interestingly, the BBC’s summary of the report chose to concentrate on rising antisemitism in Egypt, Venezuela and Iran whilst ignoring the State Department report’s observations regarding Europe.
“…a member of the Golden Dawn party in Greece read from the notorious Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, during a parliamentary session. In a worrisome sign, such anti-Semitic and xenophobic parties gained seats in parliaments, and a rise in violent attacks on Jews in Europe included several shocking incidents. Hungary saw continued racist commentary by an openly anti-Semitic political party with seats in parliament, the Jobbik Party, and also witnessed an attack on a member of the Jewish community outside of a prayer house in Budapest. In France, an Islamist extremist killed a rabbi and his two children, along with another student, outside a Jewish school in Toulouse. While a number of governments took active measures to combat anti-Semitism, this pernicious evil continued to spread.”
Particularly notable – given the BBC’s own recent whitewashing of antisemitism in Tunisia (see here, here and here) – is the omission from the BBC article of the conclusions of the report relating to that country.
“In Tunisia, Salafists (fundamentalist Sunni Muslims) attacked synagogues and issued anti-Semitic messages, as did some imams during Friday prayer sermons. Certain Salafist imams preached anti-Jewish and anti-Christian messages, including calling for the killing of non-Muslim citizens. Police arrested five persons, including one police officer, for allegedly plotting to kidnap Jews in Zarzis in October for ransom.”
Unfortunately, the BBC’s own record on combating antisemitism is by no means as good as it could – and should – be. In addition to whitewashing and downplaying antisemitic remarks made by certain public figures in the UK, it has on occasion furthered the spread of anti-Semitic discourse by, for example, allowing the unhindered promotion of antisemitic tropes by interviewees as well as the airbrushing of a known antisemitic hate preacher, the promotion of a film company which uses antisemitic imagery and the hosting of an openly antisemitic guest on more than one occasion.
On BBC internet comment boards it is not rare to see antisemitic comments permitted to stand (for example see here, here, here and here), with the overall impression being that the BBC’s moderators and the editors responsible for keeping the discussion within BBC guidelines are not sufficiently proficient in identifying comments which meet the definitions of antisemitism.
That impression was once more reinforced by some of the comments which got past moderation in the discussion under this particular BBC article pertaining – ironically – to the spread of bigotry.
Next week (May 28th – 30th inclusive) Jerusalem will host the ‘4th International Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism‘. Readers interested in watching live streaming from the conference’s plenary session will be able to do so at this URL. BBC Watch will be participating in the working group on antisemitism on the internet and in the media.