Europan Jewish Association chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin sent a harsh letter to the Director General of the BBC after an interviewer claimed during an interview with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that "the Israeli forces are happy to kill children.”
"It is often noted that any reporter or journalist who makes an assertion about the Israel-Palestine conflict tends to hide behind a sofa immediately after making it due to the sensitivities involved and the risk of provoking the ire of one side, or sometimes both. This is the nature and risks that come with rigorous and thorough journalism. But one, viewer and panelists included, expects a trade-off: The semblance of balance or assertions that can be held up to scrutiny, agreed with, or rebutted in the cut and thrust of an interview. Sir, an assertion such as “the Israeli Forces are happy to Kill Children” cannot possibly meet the standards of journalistic probity that the BBC is world-renowned for. This blatant untruth, heavily loaded with emotion, and sinisterly reminiscent of the blood libel that has plagued Jewish communities over millennia, was broadcast to a potential audience of millions and articulated by BBC News anchor Anjana Gadjil in an interview with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett," Rabbi Margolin said.
"Happy to kill children? What a disgusting accusation to make about a country whose armed forces go to enormous lengths to avoid civilian casualties. These Children? 17 and 18-year-old armed terrorists out to kill Israeli soldiers and civilians! Sir, this cannot stand. Such a blatant lie is not befitting of journalism, much less the code of conduct of the BBC. We urge you to reprimand Anjana Gadjil and retract the assertion as soon as possible.The BBC issued a response to Rabbi Margolin's letter, stating: “We have received comments and complaints concerning an interview with the former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about recent events in the West Bank and Israel. The complaints raised relate to specific interview questions about the deaths of young people in the Jenin refugee camp.
Across the BBC’s platforms – including the BBC News channel – these events have been covered in an impartial and robust way. The United Nations raised the issue of the impact of the operation in Jenin on children and young people. While this was a legitimate subject to examine in the interview, we apologize that the language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate.”
Bennett was shocked by Gadjil's accusation and pushed back, saying: “You know, it’s quite remarkable that you’d say that because they are killing us. Now, if there’s a 17-year-old Palestinian that’s shooting your family, what is he?”
Gadjil replied, “Under your definition, you are calling them terrorists. The UN calls them…” Bennett then interrupted her and said, “No, no, I’m actually asking you: What would you call a 17-year-old person with a rifle shooting at your family and murdering your own family? How would you define that person?”
“We’re not talking about that,” she insisted. “The UN has defined them as children, and we know that four people between the age of 16 and 18 have been killed in this targeted attack. Let’s not forget it’s a targeted attack. The Israeli forces are going and looking for these people.”
18 Palestinian Arabs were killed during the counterterrorism operation which was launched in Jenin this week. All of the fatalities were combatants.