Board leader backs BBC's reporting

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Board of Deputies vice-president Jerry Lewis has defended the BBC over its reporting of the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar in the West Bank three weeks ago.

MP Louise Bagshawe last week said that she would complain to the corporation about its "inexcusable" lack of coverage over the butchering of five members of the family. The BBC had also come under fire from organisations such as Honest Reporting and Bicom.

But at the Board's plenary in Brighton, Mr Lewis, who broadcasts for Israel Radio, took issue with the objections.

He told the JC after the meeting: "On this occasion, the BBC was accurate and given the resources they had deployed in Japan and across the Middle East, there was no way the incident would get more coverage than it did."

But many Jewish viewers had judged the BBC on a single website report referring to "settlers" on Saturday night, he argued. By that time, events had moved on because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had spoken of building more settlement housing, he said.

On this occasion the BBC was accurate

Mr Lewis said: "Unwarranted attacks will alienate those very people at the BBC we need to persuade on other occasions that we have a valid complaint."

The meeting's main speaker was Geoffrey Smith, the director of the Christian Friends of Israel, who told delegates: "As Weizmann famously remarked, the Jewish people had Jerusalem when London was a marsh."

During the weekend the 170 Board representatives enjoyed a fish and chips supper and cabaret performed by community members at Ralli Hall in a "Taste of the Sea" evening. Debra Goodman, co-chair of Sussex Jewish Representative Council, presented the evening and emphasised how pleased the community was to host the event. She mentioned the loss of the Rep's co-chairman, Ivor Miskin, who had passed away a few days earlier.

The plenary included an exhibition of the history of the Board, and a talk about the Jews of Brighton by Godfrey Gould, chairman of the local Jewish historical society.

The Deputies attended Shabbat services in the city's synagogues and addressed the congregations.

Last updated: 10:07am, April 5 2011