BBC Editor Denies Being Anti-Semitic After Tweet

BBC's Middle East Editor rejects allegations he is anti-Semitic after tweeting that Netanyahu "plays the holocaust card".

Ben Ariel ,

BBC offices (file)
BBC offices (file)

The BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, has rejected allegations that he is anti-Semitic after he tweeted an offensive message against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his speech to Congress last week.

As Netanyahu was speaking, Bowen noted that he had mentioned Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, and added, “Once again Netanyahu plays the holocaust [sic] card”.

Bowen immediately faced attacks on Twitter over his comment and, on the Jewish Chronicle website, Alan Johnson wrote that Bowen’s comments were a “bloody disgrace”.

Bowen subsequently responded to the criticism on Twitter, saying comments that he was anti-Semitic or a Holocaust denier were “untrue and offensive”:

According to the Guardian, a BBC spokesperson also denied that Bowen was anti-Semitic.

“Jeremy was using Twitter and journalism shorthand whilst live-tweeting PM Netanyahu’s speech. The context of his comment is that a major part of PM Netanyahu’s critique of the proposed Iran deal was based on the specter of another holocaust. Jeremy’s tweet was designed to reflect that context. He absolutely refutes any suggestion of anti-Semitism,” the spokesperson was quoted as having said.

The British network has a history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic behavior. Last month, the network’s correspondent Tim Wilcox shocked many viewers with his questioning of a Jewish woman at the "million-man" march in Paris following attacks by Muslim extremists which killed 17 people, including four at a kosher supermarket.

As the woman, named Chava, expressed her fears over rising anti-Semitism in the country - fear shared by most of France's half a million-strong Jewish community - Wilcox inexplicably interrupted her to state that "many critics though of Israel's policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well."

Wilcox offered a weak apology in response to the controversy - saying only that it was "poorly-phrased". The BBC said it would not be punishing Wilcox for the statement, saying it had considered whether his comments "constituted a serious breach of editorial standards, of a kind which would require due public correction and apology", but ruled that was not the case.