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Daily Israel Report

BBC Correspondent Under Fire for 'Jewish Lobby' Remark

A BBC correspondent came under fire by the Board of Deputies for using the term “Jewish lobby” in discussing the American election.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 11/8/2012, 5:20 PM

A pedestrian walks past a BBC logo
A pedestrian walks past a BBC logo
Reuters

A correspondent for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) came under fire by the Board of Deputies for using the term “Jewish lobby” in discussing the American election, The Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported.

In a recent Twitter question and answer session, BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay had been asked why both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had been “so defensive” when questioned about their commitment to Israel.

She replied to the question by saying that the U.S. “sees Israel as a key ally in Middle East — but no one running for president wants to alienate the power and money of the Jewish lobby”.

Board chief executive Jon Benjamin said that the reporter’s “loose use of language really has to be seen in a context where support for America’s key ally in the Middle East is cynically questioned — and the motives of Israel’s supporters are seen as suspect”.

Successive US governments, he said, “have recognized the value of this strategic relationship to the national interest, and it is unfortunate that a BBC journalist falls into the trap laid by Israel’s enemies and conspiracy theorists of reducing support for Israel to parlance of Jewish money and power."

A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that Kay’s remark “reveals a surprising lack of understanding of the broad support of the American people for a strong US-Israel relationship, which is the underpinning of US foreign policy toward Israel,” the JC reported.

“[A]t worst,” the spokesman said, “the remark suggests she accepts the mythic notion of a powerful Jewish cabal able to control how US foreign policy toward Israel is determined.”

“Of course, this just may be another example of how complexity and context are sacrificed for the sake of an answer limited to 140 characters,” the spokesman added.

The network responded to the remarks by saying said that the correspondent’s “primary point in responding was that the US regards Israel as a key ally in the Middle East and also recognizes the importance and influence of this relationship on the voting."