Mira Bar-Hillel: 'agents of Israel' attacked me for criticisms of the government

By Marcus Dysch, March 28, 2013

A leading property journalist has defended remarks made during a Twitter row in which she admitted being prejudiced towards Jews.

Mira Bar-Hillel, the property and planning correspondent at London’s Evening Standard newspaper, said she believed attacks on her were being co-ordinated by “agents of Israel” and the Jewish community in response to her criticisms of the Israeli government.

Ms Bar-Hillel, who is Jewish, said: “I now feel for the soul of the state of Israel and its physical future. It is destroying itself from the inside.”

She was engaged in a row on the social networking site last week with Avi Mayer, director of new media at the Jewish Agency, after discussing Israeli settlements and non-Jewish Israelis.

Ms Bar-Hillel attacked Mr Mayer and European Jewish Parliament member Tal Ofer, who had also tweeted about her comments.

A complaint was lodged with both the police and the Evening Standard, following one tweet from Ms Bar-Hillel to Mr Mayer in which she said she was “prejudiced against Jews like you – and Tal – who are prejudiced against non-Jews”.

The newspaper dismissed suggestions the journalist had breached its code of practice and said her remarks were “personal opinions which are unconnected to her work”.

Ms Bar-Hillel, who was born in Jerusalem and served as a folk singer in the IDF, claimed she was the victim of a trolling campaign. “You cannot criticise anything to do with Israel or Jews. You start by criticising Israeli government policy and then you get attacked by Jews,” she said.

“I’m prejudiced against Jews who criticise me. Their religion has everything to do with it. I’m reporting something that’s horribly wrong with the policies of Israel and they attack me. In my long career no other group has acted in this way.

“When I’m being attacked I feel I’m being attacked by communal action. That community view is very dangerous. It is intimidation. The best way to respond to these things is to simply ignore them. It starts to be like a gang-bang.”

Mr Ofer said he was “astonished and saddened” by Ms Bar-Hillel’s comments.

He said: “As a member of European Jewish Parliament I am regularly fighting antisemitism in social media and in public, and I’m attacked by different individuals.

Now a journalist, who also happens to be a member of our Jewish community, declares openly she is ‘prejudiced against Jews’ and makes a racist slur against me for no reason.”

Mr Mayer said his tweets were in a personal capacity and did not represent the Jewish Agency.

He added: “Although I often encounter individuals with extreme views on social networks, the viciousness of Ms Bar-Hillel’s comments pushed me to figure out why she might be pursuing contact with me. I became aware of her noxious views regarding Jews, which ought to cause revulsion in all people of conscience and basic decency.”

Last updated: 10:45pm, March 28 2013