Ex-BBC Chairman Says Broadcaster Should Apologize to Victims of Antisemitic London Attack if It Can’t Back Up Claims
A former chairman of the BBC has demanded that the public broadcaster apologize if could not prove, as it had claimed, that a group of Jews who were attacked in London by several Muslim antisemites had used anti-Muslim slurs during the incident.
The unfolding scandal stems from a Nov. 29 incident in which a group of teenage British and Israeli Jews from the Chabad movement, while singing Hanukkah songs on a bus outing in London, were attacked by men who yelled antisemitic slurs and slammed on the bus and its windows with their shoes and fists.
The BBC’s coverage claimed that the Jewish teens inside the bus had responded to their assailants with anti-Muslim slurs — an allegation that was forcefully rejected by community leaders.
While that report claimed that the victims were heard yelling “dirty Muslim,” it was later revealed that this was in fact a mishearing of a Hebrew phrase — “tikra lemishehu, ze dachuf,” which in English means, “call someone, it’s urgent.”
The BBC has thus far refused to retract the report, although it did amend the article to change an earlier assertion that more than one supposed slur was heard in the footage.
Now, the UK’s Jewish News has reported that former BBC chairman Lord Michael Grade has joined the criticism of the outlet.
“Given the available evidence, or rather lack of it, it is worrying that the BBC has so far defended its report that there were ‘clearly’ anti-Muslim shouts from the bus, while the antisemitic gestures were only ‘alleged,'” Grade said. “They need to provide the evidence to support their defense or rethink and issue an urgent correction and apology.”
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, on Tuesday sent a formal letter to the BBC demanding “immediate action to repair the damage done” and “discipline those responsible” for the slanders.
“Jewish children and their minders were targeted because they were Jews,” she said. “The fact of the matter is, what these Jewish people experienced and what we all witnessed via video was a clear and indisputable display of antisemitic harassment, abuse and threats.”
Noting that the Board of Deputies had investigated the charge and found it to be groundless, Van der Zyl called the BBC’s false claims of anti-Muslim slurs “a horrendous allegation, completely bereft of any evidence, and a deeply incendiary insinuation that is tantamount to victim blaming.”
“It is imperative that you correct your report to mitigate any further damage, and issue an apology to the victims for all the distress that has been caused,” she said.