BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ revisits antisemitism and anti-Zionism

As we know the BBC’s record on preventing, identifying – and correcting – antisemitic discourse in its own content is worryingly dismal. Likewise, the BBC has been unable to explain anti-Zionism to its audiences adequately and attempts to do so have been repeatedly marred by promotion of the Livingstone Formulation. Not surprisingly therefore, the BBC’s coverage of the issue of antisemitism in the ranks of the UK Labour party has also repeatedly been unsatisfactory and unhelpful to its funding public.

Against that backdrop, parts of the September 11th edition of ‘Hardtalk‘ (broadcast both on television and BBC World Service radio) with the British writer Howard Jacobson were noteworthy.

From 08:38 in the video below the topic of conversation turned to antisemitism with Jacobson concluding:

“…it would be madness to suppose it’s [antisemitism] not there and it is here in this country in a particular guise.”

Host Stephen Sackur jumped in:

Sackur: “But maybe sometimes…well…maybe sometimes you see it in places where actually it is something else. And I’m thinking here about the conflation, some would say, the conflation of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment or anti-Zionist sentiment.”

Jacobson: “I don’t conflate it.”

Sackur: “Some do.”

Jacobson: “Well there may be some who do. I mean a lot of people are accused of conflating it when they don’t. They are two separate things but that doesn’t mean that they are bound to be separate things. It is quite true that an anti-Zionist need not be an antisemite but that doesn’t mean that an anti-Zionist is never going to be an antisemite.”

Sackur: “But they are two distinct and different things. One is political and ideological. One is essentially about the hate of a people and a religion.”

Following Jacobson’s reply to that assertion, Sackur changed the subject, claiming that he had already “explored” the topic of Zionism in a previous interview with anti-Zionist Ilan Pappe which in fact took place over three years ago. Sackur then turned the conversation to the topic of antisemitism in the UK Labour party, claiming that “the Labour party has dealt with that”.

Howard Jacobson’s response and Sackur’s subsequent invocation of a controversial letter to the Guardian can be viewed below.


6 comments on “BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ revisits antisemitism and anti-Zionism

  1. I watched this interview twice, as it happens, while staying in Ravenna, Italy. The most disgraceful thing about Stephen Sackur is that this flagrant Israel-hater and crypto-antisemite was once the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent! That gives you a clue as to the kind of people the BBC send out to Israel! The joke is that the only safe place for journalists in the Middle East is Israel! And the BBC has its whole Middle Eastern HQ there, even filing reports from Iran via Jerusalem.

  2. The political and “ideological” aspect of antizionism/antisemitism is realonly to arabs who deal with it from their imperialist point of view since they want evey inch of Palestine not to christians who do not claim this territory? Chrisitans antizionism IS purely and evidently antisemitism.

  3. Pingback: 09/18 Links Pt2: Phillips: Hello Refugees; European Arrogance Costs Lives – 24/6 Magazine

  4. Josephinebacon says it as it is, she is absolutely spot on, when Israel was under attack from Gaza, the correspondents wrote from Gaza, what the anti semitic world wanted to hear, that sells news papers. When they the correspondents left Gaza, they reported that the terrorists did fire from hospitals, that they did store their ammunition in schools and hospitals, while the BBC blamed Israel for killing women and children.. The BBC is disgusting…given time the British people will realise their folly, and what lies ahead for the protection of a religion that teaches murder and mayhem supposedly in the name of A prophet who taught his followers to kill and capture.

  5. Not much conflation going on???

    So being “anti-Semitic” is wrong, but being “anti-Israel” is reasonable? Even though no other such “anti-[country]” sentiments exit or would ever get a pass? (“He’s simply “anti-Iran”, you idiot, not anti-Shiite”! “He’s simply anti-Gaza!…nothing to do with Palestinians!”)
    Even when criticizing the worst of US policy, people wouldn’t get away with saying “I love Americans! I’m simply anti-America!”

    Ditto “anti-Zionism”. (“I totally love Basques!! It’s only Basque separatism I loathe!”)

Comments are closed.