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August 29, 2022 11:23 am
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Will BBC Take Action Against Journalists Who Posted Antisemitic, Anti-Israel Tweets?

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue

Opinion

The BBC logo is seen at the entrance at Broadcasting House, the BBC headquarters in central London. Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA.

The UK’s state-funded British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) claims that it is fully committed to impartiality and upholding editorial standards, as outlined in its strict code of conduct for staff members.

BBC journalists have been additionally told they must adhere to social media guidelines that warn employees against bringing the broadcaster into disrepute, for example, by advocating a particular position on any “controversial subject.”

The BBC has made it clear in the past that disclaimers in social media profiles, such as “my views [are] not the BBC’s,” are not a defense against “personal expressions of opinion on social media that may conflict with BBC guidelines.”

Breaching such rules can reportedly result in disciplinary action, including possible termination of employment.

We must therefore assume that the BBC will now investigate the numerous journalists working for its Arabic service who have launched anti-Israel broadsides on their personal Twitter accounts — all of which state they are employed by the BBC — that seemingly fall afoul of the broadcaster’s rules.

HonestReporting has examined the social media pages of dozens of employees of the Arabic language service and discovered the following:

Egypt-based BBC Arabic assistant producer Amna Khalil posted the hashtag “fuckisrael” as well as several comments about her hope that “Israel [is] going down.” Such remarks may well breach the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism, specifically with regard to hatred of Israel.

BBC Broadcast journalist Aya Hossam, who is also based in Cairo, tweeted an antisemitic reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, derogatorily describing the extremist group as “Jews.” For context, Gaza’s terrorist rulers Hamas were initially founded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organization.

Lebanon-based BBC journalist Marie-José Azzi described Israel as a “terrorist state” and an “apartheid” country in tweets supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Jewish state. It should be noted that BDS campaigners have frequently employed violent rhetoric, including calling for the destruction of Israel.

Jordan-based BBC television and radio producer Layla Bashar Kloub described all Israelis as “terrorists,” and suggested that only Arabs have any right to be in Israel.

UK-based BBC video curator Hala Hindawi labeled Israeli Jews “settlers,” and accused the country of “targeting children.”

The latter remark is reminiscent of ancient blood libels in which Jews were accused of killing children for their blood to be used in religious rituals.

When HonestReporting reached out to the BBC to ask what, if any, disciplinary measures would be taken against staff who have breached its social media policy, a spokesman said they could not comment on individual staff matters, but added that “where we see clear examples of staff breaching our social media guidelines then it is dealt with appropriately.”

We can therefore assume that the corporation will now respond accordingly to the issues we have raised.

Earlier this month, the British broadcaster was forced to cut ties with Gaza-based freelance producer Fady Hanona, after HonestReporting revealed his history of violent and antisemitic social media posts, including one that stated: “I don’t accept a Jew, Israeli or Zionist, or anyone else who speaks Hebrew. I’m with killing them wherever they are: children, elderly people, and soldiers.”

Another HonestReporting exposé resulted in the BBC firing journalist Tala Halawa, who had written numerous antisemitic tweets, including one post that stated, “Hitler was right.” Halawa had notably been part of the BBC team that covered the May 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict.

It would seem that BBC has a habit of failing to properly vet its staff to ensure adherence to guidelines that were designed to uphold its journalistic obligations — specifically with regard to the posting of offensive and derogatory comments online.

Will the BBC now take action against the latest raft of journalists whose commitment to impartiality is evidently belied by a documented animus toward Israel? Time will tell.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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