The BBC has demanded that the victims of an antisemitic attack on a bus carrying Jewish teenagers reveal their identities before it responds to a complaint about its coverage of the incident, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Video footage from the incident, which occurred during the Hanukkah holiday, shows the young men yelling antisemitic abuse and threats at the open-top bus, while also attempting to smash its windows and spitting at it. and others made Nazi salutes.
Some of them also took off a shoe and hit the bus with it, which is an insult in Arab culture, as the bottom of the shoe is considered unclean.
The BBC report on the attack included a claim that someone on the bus made anti-Muslim slurs, going as far as to present the purported slurs as fact while referring to the videotaped attack as "alleged."
Jewish organizations which examined the video have found that the statement the BBC claimed was an anti-Muslim slur was actually a man saying in Hebrew: "Call someone, it's urgent." Jewish groups have accused the BBC of victim blaming and attempting to find a way to blame both sides for the antisemitic attack.
Police investigated the attack as well as the BBC's claim. A police source told the Campaign Against Antisemitism that no evidence had been found to substantiate the BBC's claim that an anti-Muslim slur had been used and that that part of the investigation had been closed.
The BBC has refused to apologize or to acknowledge that its reporting was flawed, and has demanded that the victims of the attack reveal their identities. In its response to the victims' attorney, it said that “we will be unable to substantively further progress your legal complaint until you identify your clients.”
UK Lawyers for Israel executive director Jonathan Turner accused the BBC of attempting to intimidate the teenaged victims into dropping their complaint over the report.
“The BBC does not need to know who the claimants are to investigate the veracity of their own report," Turner told the Jewish Chronilce.
Other legal experts have also slammed the BBC's demand, noting that the victims are not currently seeking legal damages, many of the victims are minors, and that a news organization should not need the victims' names to correct errors in its own reporting.