BBC Honcho Says ‘Tough’ to Present Balanced Coverage of Israel-Hamas War
BBC Director-General Lord Hall said on Tuesday that though his publication strives to achieve balance in its coverage of Israel, reporting on the country’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip last summer was “tough,” the UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported.
“It is hard… tough. We do aim to give as impartial coverage as we can across the period,” he said, while addressing 200 people at a business breakfast in London hosted by ORT UK. “I do not want you to doubt for one second our commitment to the coverage of Israel and Palestine – but also the wider Middle East.”
The BBC head made the comments after Laura Marks, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, asked him to respond to sentiments among Israel’s supporters that the BBC’s coverage of the summer conflict was unbalanced against the Jewish state. Marks told Hall that the network’s coverage of the conflict “dented my trust in the BBC.”
“And whilst I fully appreciate the enormity of the problem and the disaster facing civilians in Gaza, I think that Jews in the country felt that you did not put the case for both sides,” she told the BBC chief. “How would you respond to a feeling in this room that the BBC did not cover the problem facing Israel clearly because it had the humanitarian problem facing the people of Gaza – which overrode all of your coverage?”
Hall claimed that every BBC employee is committed “to making sure we cover broader issues in the Middle East. And that to my mind is really important.”
He added: “What I hope you have seen – in terms of what we have covered in Iraq, in Libya, Syria and broader – is a real commitment to ensure we are covering those terrible wars and countries, as best we can.”