Community to hold rally outside BBC HQ to protest against report

Public broadcaster called upon to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism


The Campaign Against Antisemisitm has announced a demonstration outside the BBC headquarters to protest against the corporation’s alleged smearing of the young Jewish victims of antisemitic abuse.

The rally, to be held outside Broadcasting house on Monday at 6:30pm, will demand that the BBC either provides incontrovertible proof of its claims or retract them.

It is the latest escalation in a major row between the corporation and the Jewish community this week.

Successive BBC reports contained a widely debunked report that a Charedi teenager could be heard voicing an anti-Muslim slur as his group was surrounded by abusive men doing Nazi salutes in Oxford Street last week.

One BBC London report even suggested the teenagers, who were celebrating Chanukah, may have provoked the onslaught themselves.

The story prompted further outrage for reporting the anti-Muslim statement as fact while describing the abuse faced by the youngsters as “alleged” antisemitism.

In a letter to the BBC’s bosses, Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) asked for an explanation as to why the BBC article on the incident reported the alleged anti-Muslim statement as fact “while the evident antisemitism is caveated as mere allegation”.

The letter also called on the BBC to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, adding: “We once again offer to provide the Corporation with training in how to identify and deal with antisemitism, which will go some way to restoring what little remains of the confidence of the Jewish community in our nation’s public service broadcaster.”

The Board of Deputies also wrote to BBC Chairman Richard Sharp and Director General Tim Davie: “The victims of antisemitic abuse are now being smeared as racists and therefore somehow less deserving of sympathy or, in the worst case, deserving of the abuse they received.

“This is deeply irresponsible journalism.”

Speaking to the JC, Board President Marie van der Zyl added: “The BBC’s refusal to accept its mistake and apologise for this has made things far worse.

“Certain aspects of the corporation’s international reporting have long been viewed with suspicion by many in our community. If the corporation does not accept its mistake and apologise to the Jewish victims of the Oxford Street incident then it risks irrevocably damaging what domestic credibility it still had within our community.”

Analysts found that a phrase thought by some to say “dirty Muslims” was in fact the Hebrew words “Tikra lemishehu, ze dachuf”, meaning “call someone, it’s urgent”.

One of the victims’ parents, Yechiel Wilhelm, tweeted: “BBC News has demonised my son, who was on that bus, to serve their anti-Jewish agenda.”

The Board called on the BBC to apologise: “What they were actually hearing was a distressed Jewish man speaking in Hebrew appealing for help.”

Rabbi Schneur Glitzenshtein, who organised the bus trip, confirmed that none of the victims had used Islamophobic language. “Not one word,” he told the JC in a candle lighting ceremony on Sunday, defiantly organised where the abuse had taken place.

“Only good things. Happy words, happy songs. We came with the light, with happiness,” he said.

Joanne Order, a Chabad member, was on the bus looking after the deeply religious children. She told the JC that it was unthinkable that they would ever use such bad language.

“We were basically all speaking Hebrew to each other,” she said. “Some people spoke English, but mostly between us we speak Hebrew… Nobody could say that, you could even hear on the video nobody is saying it.”

Rabbi Glitzenshtein explained it was important to return to the same spot to celebrate. “We are coming with the light, and the lights of the Jewish nation will continue,” he said.

When approached for comment about the original BBC article, a BBC spokesman said : “The audio appears to show that a slur can be heard coming from the bus. We have changed our story to clarify only one such slur can be heard clearly.”

The BBC was approached for further comment regarding the allegations made by the children’s parents.

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