BBC News

BBC blames Jewish victims on receiving end of antisemitic tirade caught on video.

By Emanuel Miller, HonestReporting

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is at the center of another controversy with claims that a report on its website wrongly insinuated that Jewish youths on the receiving end of an antisemitic tirade had made “racial slurs” during the assault against them.

On December 1, a group of Jewish youths celebrating Chanukah on a bus in central London were accosted by men who performed Nazi salutes and spat at them. The video of the incident sparked concerns for the safety of British Jews. However, a report filed by senior BBC journalist Harry Farley about the incident alleged, apparently baselessly, that “some racial slurs can be heard from inside the bus.”

After the GnasherJew investigation team examined the audio track from the incident, it became clear that no such slurs were audible. On Friday, the team claimed that only the Hebrew words “tikra lemishehu, ze dachuf,” — meaning “call someone, it’s urgent” — were said.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews urged the BBC to issue a correction and an apology to the victims, saying: “The BBC thought that they heard a slur in English. What they were actually hearing was a distressed Jewish man speaking in Hebrew appealing for help.”

There has been no suggestion from officials that the victims used any kind of racial slurs. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the video of the anti-Jewish attack “disturbing,” and the Metropolitan Police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

When challenged, Farley claimed that the slurs were captured in the above-referenced video and pointed to a specific time code, said GnasherJew. But no such slurs are audible. A screenshot reveals that Farley also claimed the alleged slurs were “picked up by my editors not me.”

Prominent Jewish celebrity Rachel Riley, who appears on the popular television show Countdown, tweeted that a “big mistake has clearly been made, now it’s time to own it and apologise.”

Asked for comment, a BBC spokesperson downplayed the severity of making false claims, before proceeding to justify them: “The article is about the police’s appeal for information. The main focus is the actions of the individuals the police want to identify. The audio appears to show that a slur can be heard coming from the bus. We have changed our story to clarify only one such slur can be heard clearly.”

It’s important to fully understand this reaction.

Despite widespread criticism from the Jewish community, the BBC only slightly amended the story. Instead of referring to “some racial slurs… heard from inside the bus,” it was changed to “A slur about Muslims can also be heard from inside the bus.”

But no credible evidence is presented to back up this claim.

BBC Repeatedly Tarred by Antisemitism

This is just the latest in a string of incidents calling the BBC’s impartiality regarding Israel and the Jews into question. In May, HonestReporting helped expose the antisemitic tweets of reporter Tala Halawa, following a lead by GnasherJew. After an HonestReporting tweet went viral, the issue received widespread media coverage, and the BBC eventually fired Halawa some weeks later.

And just last month, an HonestReporting investigation uncovered numerous antisemitic social posts by another BBC employee, Nasima Begum.

It is now abundantly clear that the BBC has a serious problem.

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