On September 8th the BBC promoted a radio report as follows on Twitter:
In fact, David Baker’s radio report “Torah & Tech in Israel” – which was broadcast both on ‘Crossing Continents’ on BBC Radio 4 and on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Assignment’ on September 8th – is far more interesting and nuanced than that Tweet suggests.
“Can you learn to code if you have spent your life studying religious texts? Can you be part of the fast-paced, secular world of technology and start-ups if you are from a conservative religious community? Israel has been called the ‘Startup Nation’, with a flourishing technology sector playing a big role in the country’s economy. But one group who have not traditionally been involved are ultra-Orthodox Jews, known as Haredim. They often live apart from mainstream Israeli society and adhere to strict religious laws covering everything from diet to dress and technology. Many men don’t work or serve in the army, spending their lives studying the Torah, subsidised by the government. It is a way of life that leaves many Haredim in poverty, and other Israelis resenting picking up the tab. But in recent years, the ultra-orthodox have been increasingly joining the high-tech world, working in big international tech companies and founding their own start-ups. David Baker travels to Israel to meet the new breed of high-tech Haredim, and find out how they reconcile taking part in the ‘Startup Nation’ with traditional Torah life.”
Unfortunately, that otherwise accurate and impartial report is marred by a rather basic – but for some reason not uncommon – inaccuracy in its introduction.
“This is the Wailing Wall and it’s Tisha B’Av: a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar. And thousands of Jews have gathered here to remember the destruction of the Jewish Temple in this very place 2,000 years ago. There are many here pushing up against these stones. This is the wall that was the original Temple which was destroyed here in 70 AD.” [emphasis added]
As has been noted here before:
“The term ‘Wailing Wall’ is of course a British invention, appearing in nineteenth century English travel literature and employed by the British after their conquest of Jerusalem in 1917. It is not used by Israelis or Jews: the much older place-name HaKotel HaMa’aravi – translated as the Western Wall – is the one used by the people for whom the site has cultural and religious significance. And yet, despite the fact that the BBC is conscientious about employing place-names such as Mumbai and Beijing rather than the old Anglicised terms Bombay or Peking, it continues to promote the anachronistic term ‘Wailing Wall’ even in its style guide.
“Western Wall – (in Jerusalem) avoid ‘Wailing Wall’ except after a first reference – eg: The man attacked tourists near the Western Wall (the so-called Wailing Wall).””
And – as noted last year in an article documenting inaccuracies in a filmed guide to Judaism provided to journalists by the BBC Academy:
“Standing in front of the Western Wall, Buchanan tells viewers:
“This is the remains of the outer wall of the Jewish Second Temple, built by King Herod the Great.”
No – that is a retaining wall of the Temple Mount plaza: not a remnant of the Temple itself.”
It is perhaps not surprising that journalists, producers and editors making content for the BBC repeatedly promote inaccurate information when one of their references on this topic is in itself inaccurate. The BBC Academy has however done nothing to correct the inaccuracies in its filmed guide to Judaism.