Director-General of the BBC Lord Hall says the corporation aims to be balanced in its coverage of Israel, but that reporting on the country’s conflict with the Palestinians was “tough”.
Speaking to a 200-strong audience at ORT UK’s business breakfast on Tuesday, the corporation head said: “It is hard… tough. We do aim to give as impartial coverage as we can across the period.”
He added: “I do not want you to doubt for one second our commitment to the coverage of Israel and Palestine – but also the wider Middle East.
“What I hope you have seen – in terms of what we have covered in Iraq, in Libya, Syria and broader – is a real commitment to ensure we are covering those terrible wars and countries, as best we can.
“It is embedded in the soul of everybody who works for BBC - a commitment to making sure we cover broader issues in the Middle East. And that to my mind is really important.”
Lord Hall made his comments after Laura Marks, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, said that her faith in the BBC had been damaged by its coverage of the Gaza conflict.
She told Lord Hall: “Over the summer, your coverage of Gaza rather dented my trust in the BBC.
“And whilst I fully appreciate the enormity of the problem and the disaster facing civilians in Gaza, I think that Jews in the country felt that you did not put the case for both sides. How would you respond to a feeling in this room that the BBC did not cover the problem facing Israel clearly because it had the humanitarian problem facing the people of Gaza – which overrode all of your coverage?”
Lord Hall attended the central London event, which raised £60,000 for the Jewish education charity, at the invitation of his friend and event host Lloyd Dorfman.
Philanthropist Mr Dorfman, chairman of the Office Group and Doddle, praised the work of ORT.
“By giving someone a first class education, especially someone who would not otherwise be able to receive such an education, you are enabling them to simply fulfil their potential and realise their dreams.
"Make no mistake, education is as important as healthcare and security when it comes to finding solutions to the world’s problems and ORT, supported today by ORT UK and all of us, is at the forefront of recognising and facing up to that challenge.”