‘Death to Israel’ journalist still used by BBC

Mayssaa Abdul Khalek also backed a disgraced France 24 correspondent who praised Hitler


Mayssaa Abdul Khalek

v A Lebanon-based television pundit who called for “death to Israel” and defended a disgraced journalist who had joked about Hitler barbecuing Jews is still appearing as a commentator on the BBC, despite the JC disclosing her disturbing remarks.

In January, we revealed that Mayssaa Abdul Khalek had called on Arab states to attack Israel, described an Israeli city as an “imperialist colony” and labelled Israel “occupied Palestine”.

The BBC said in response that while the reporter was not a presenter, she should have been “challenged” on her comments on air.

Since then, however, Abdul Khalek has been seen on BBC Arabic referring to Israel as “an imperialist colony” and describing its cities as “occupied Palestinian territories” without being challenged, according to researchers at media monitoring group Camera Arabic, who have examined the channel’s output.

In March, Abdul Khalek praised Joelle Maroun, France 24’s former correspondent in Lebanon, who had been sacked after a series of posts she made about Adolf Hitler were revealed.

Writing on social media in 2013, Maroun said: “They asked Hitler, ‘what did you do with the Jews?’ He said ‘nothing extraordinary, just having barbecue with the guys.’”

In other tweets, she wrote, “if only Hitler was Lebanese,” and “rise, Sir Hitler, rise, there are a few people that need to be burned”.

Writing on X, Abdul Khalek said: “All solidarity with colleague Joelle Maroun, everybody bears her witness for her professionalism, objectivity and alignment to the side of truth without differentiation or bigotry.”

Abdul Khalek has used incendiary language while appearing as a pundit on BBC Arabic and on her personal social media account.

In 2021, describing on air how a Lebanese man had died, she said: “He and a group of youths were hit by RPGs that Israeli military shot at them during their attempt to cross the border fence in front of the imperialist colony of Metula.” Metula is an Israeli town on the Lebanese border. Without being interrupted by the presenter interviewing her, she added: “These events also come after three rockets were launched yesterday from south Lebanon towards occupied Palestine.”

In a 2016 social media post about the Syrian war, Abdul Khalek wrote: “Death to Israel”.

She continued: “Is it your business to resist the Arab countries or Israel? Oh, sorry, Israel is an ally of your friend Russia, and they coordinate in the Syrian war.”

When previously contacted about Abdul Khalek’s comments, the BBC said: “Mayassa Abdul Khalek is not a BBC News Arabic co-host or presenter. She is a contributor invited on occasion to talk about Lebanon.

“In a live and brief interview held May 14, 2021, when Ms Abdul Khalek delivered her analysis on rockets fired from Lebanon on May 13, 2021, she should have been challenged when she described Metulla as a ‘colony’. Further, when Ms Abdul Khalek commented on the intended target of the rockets, the presenter should have disputed her remark that they were headed to ‘occupied Palestine’. They were presumably launched towards northern Israel, which the BBC wouldn’t describe as ‘occupied Palestine’. We do not ban guests from appearing on the BBC. Careful judgments are made and will continue to be made about the guests we invite on and the context in which we hear from them.”

BBC Arabic, which is run by the BBC World Service, is supposed to be bound by the same rules that apply to channels in English, including the core requirement for impartiality.

A BBC Arabic spokesperson previously said: “The BBC invites a range of contributors on our programmes as we are committed to hearing a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives, and as audiences expect, our journalists routinely question and challenge the views of contributors."

The BBC was contacted for comment about Abdul Khalek’s recent social media activity and its continued use of the Lebanon-based journalist.

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