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BBC Tones Down British MP’s Comments on Jews and the Holocaust

January 29, 2013 12:58 am 1 comment

The BBC attempted to contextualize Ward's anti-Semitic comments.

As readers may have heard, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East – David Ward – made a reprehensible comparison between the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict just days before Holocaust Memorial Day is marked in his country and others on January 27th.

The Commentator, which first broke the story, has the details:

“British Member of Parliament David Ward has issued a statement to the ‘Asian Image’ magazine, juxtaposing the Middle East Conflict with the Holocaust.

As Holocaust Memorial Day is to be observed on Sunday, the Liberal Democrat MP, upon signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, stated:

‘Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.'”

Ward later gave a statement to The Commentator in which he said:

“The Holocaust was one of the worst examples in history man’s inhumanity to man. When faced with examples of atrocious behavior, we must learn from them. It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.”

The situation worsened as Ward gave an interview to Sky News and another interview with him emerged from last November – during Operation Pillar of Cloud – on BBC Radio Leeds, in which he said:

“If all the illegal settlements were vacated and the land given back there wouldn’t be any rocket attacks.”

For more details of, and commentary on, the incident see the Telegraph, the Commentator, Paul David Evans, the Jewish Chronicle, the Independent, Harry’s Place and the Guido Fawkes blog.

So how did the BBC relate to the story? Well, it interviewed Ward on Radio 5 live (which can be heard via the link below) – although with nowhere near the tenacity of the Sky News interviewer. It also published an article about the incident on the UK Politics page of the BBC News website. There, it stated (image top left) that: [emphasis added]

“He accused “the Jews” in Israel of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… on a daily basis.”

Except he didn’t. Ward referred to “the Jews” in general.

So why did the BBC think it appropriate to try to tone down and ‘contextualise’ Ward’s abhorrent remarks?

Update: read Chas Newkey Burden’s commentary on the subject here.

Update 2: David Ward has now issued an apology. The BBC has published another article on the subject in which it repeats the use of the same phrasing employed in its first report.

Likewise, the BBC News Twitter account also phrased Tweets promoting its latest report in a manner which clearly suggests that Ward’s remarks related to Israelis instead of “the Jews” as a collective.

The BBC tweets about the David Ward remarks.

Once again, one must ask why the BBC appears to be trying so hard to blur the antisemitic nature of Ward’s remarks and why in doing so, it seems to be unaware that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is also defined as antisemitism under the EUMC working definition.

1 Comment

  • owainglyndwr1416

    “Once again, one must ask why the BBC appears to be trying so hard to blur the antisemitic nature of Ward’s remarks and why in doing so, it seems to be unaware that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is also defined as antisemitism under the EUMC working definition.”

    I would never draw a comparison of Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. Bolsheviks YES, not the Nazis.

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