Marcus Dysch

This was not an investigation, it was the harassment of Jews dressed up as entertainment

Al Jazeera's documentary series was a fishing expedition in which its undercover reporter attempted to catch out British Jews

January 12, 2017 15:25

If you thought the first part of Al Jazeera’s supposed expose of Israeli lobbying in Britain was ridiculous, then the second, shown today, will leave you downright sickened.

The Qatari government-funded channel appears to have embarked on an exercise that is nothing more than straightforward Jew-baiting dressed up as an investigation.

This is trolling on an epic scale. When people talk about living in a post-truth age, this is it, broadcast on YouTube for all to see.

In one of today’s key scenes, Ella Rose – a former Union of Jewish Students president who now works as director of the Jewish Labour Movement – is shown moved to tears after repeated clashes with anti-Israel activists.

It is hard to see Ms Rose’s exploitation by “Robin Harrow”, the undercover reporter, as anything other than harassment.

Indeed, I understand Robin’s off-camera treatment of Ms Rose could now become the subject of a legal complaint.

Today’s episode also features Jackie Walker, a woman whose chutzpah knows no bounds.

After she was suspended last September by Labour for a second time over antisemitism concerns, the former Momentum vice-chair complained bitterly that she had been stitched up after footage of her questioning aspects of Holocaust Memorial Day at a JLM conference session were leaked to the media.

Today? She is using footage recorded undercover in the same session by Robin to show how she was “constantly interrupted” while making her factually inaccurate comments about HMD.

The episode moves on to show him running across a road to meet up with Ms Rose, who by now is in tears. News has broken of her former job at the Israeli embassy, the voice-over tells us.

Ms Rose cries as she recounts how the online anti-Israel hate-site Electronic Intifada has revealed details of her former employment, and Ms Walker has been “slamming” her online.

It makes for deeply uncomfortable footage, not least as the viewer now knows that Robin’s supposed consoling is utterly false. He knows how these images will be used to embarrass her and manipulates the situation accordingly.

Hardly any surprise that moments later Ms Rose is shown saying “f*** you, f*** you, f***ing antisemites the lot of them”, apparently directed at the various aforementioned parties.

Of course her comments have subsequently been seized on by the perpetrators of her torment. In fact Ms Walker, the supposed perennial victim, is immediately shown in the film looking shocked and saying “oh my God” when Ms Rose’s words are replayed to her.

Sadly in the next scene the JLM director is seen boasting that she could “take” Ms Walker in a fight using krav maga martial arts.

This leads to Jackie Walker finishing up by claiming she will make a formal complaint to the Labour Party about Ms Rose and the JLM. Ms Walker remains, of course, suspended from that party pending an investigation.

Asa Winstanley, the Electronic Intifada writer who had “revealed” details of Ms Rose’s embassy job, is then wheeled out by Al Jazeera to explain his apparent success.

He looks misty-eyed as he describes feeling “threatened” by her suggestion he was a “dickhead” who could “go and die in a hole”.

What Mr Winstanley does not reveal is that he had himself been warned at the Labour conference last September that the JLM regarded his work on Ms Rose as “bullying of a young Jewish woman because of her career choices”, a charge he disagreed with at the time, saying people had “a right to know” about her past employment.

The Orwellian nature of Al Jazeera’s disgraceful set-up is plain to see.

These are not “revelations”, and this was not an “investigation”. It was a fishing expedition in which the channel, and its undercover reporter, attempted to catch-out young British Jews.

Broadcasting standards watchdog Ofcom's code states that programme makers "should not normally obtain or seek information, audio, pictures...through misrepresentation or deception", without adequate public interest justification.

There is no public interest in seeing a young Jewish activist left crying by the side of the road for doing her job.

But of course, three of the top five currently trending articles on Al Jazeera’s website relate to this “investigation”.

The channel, and its Qatari masters, provided their viewers with exactly what they want – the harassment of Jews dressed up as entertainment.

It is a disgusting project and should be stripped of any vestige of journalistic credibility to which Al Jazeera and its supporters lay claim.

*This article has been amended to refer to Ofcom and not the Independent Press Standards Organisation

January 12, 2017 15:25

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