BBUK Bureau sends letter of complaint to the BBC
Mr. Tim Davie
10 December 2021
Dear Mr Davie
On behalf of the Jewish human rights group B’nai B’rith UK, I would like to condemn in the strongest terms the refusal of the BBC to apologise for the blatantly misleading news report from 1st December which covered a racist incident in London. I believe that this reflects badly on your organisation and shows a level of disdain towards the Jewish community which is currently suffering from unprecedented levels of antisemitism.
On Monday, November 29th, a group of Jewish schoolchildren were out in London celebrating the festival of Channukah. After dancing in the streets and handing out doughnuts, as part of their festive tradition, they boarded the bus. What followed was a racist attack in which a group of men could be seen performing Nazi salutes, spitting at the bus and threatening the children inside. Your report confirmed that the police were treating this as a hate crime.
Yet your report made the suggestion that the incident involved mere ‘allegations of antisemitic abuse’. The footage itself displayed very clear evidence that Jewish children were being assaulted with Nazi salutes. In what sense could this be a mere ‘allegation’ of racist abuse? The wording is insulting and suggests that doubt can legitimately be cast on whether Jews were attacked.
Worse, the report made the insinuation that ‘A slur about Muslims can also be heard from inside the bus’. This was changed from the original report which claimed that ‘racial slurs’ could be heard. Hebrew speakers have gone extensively through the footage and listened to the voices of those inside the bus. All that can be heard are cries in Hebrew which are completely innocuous and not one single one can be taken to be an anti-Muslim slur. Yet this alleged comment is presented as fact, despite the lack of evidence given to back it up.
Why has the BBC not come forward with evidence to substantiate this assertion? In any case, it is impossible for listeners to make up their own minds as you have chosen to bleep out the words in question.
What this report has done is to shift the focus quite egregiously from reporting a racist crime to scrutinising a muffled recording for a possible slur, the evidence for which is currently non-existent. It casts doubt on the words of the victims and worse, suggests that they are perpetrators of racism. It is not surprising therefore that the Jewish victims feel demonised because of this vicious calumny.
It is now time that the BBC apologises for this scurrilous reporting. We are calling on you to correct the piece so that it fairly represents the events that happened and ceases to cast malign allegations against innocent children.
Finally, there is a clear need to fully understand the manifestations of antisemitism in modern society and the ways in which it is routinely denied. In this respect, B’nai B’rith’s research arm is happy to provide assistance to the BBC.
We look forward to your response.
Director, B’nai B’rith UK’s Bureau of International Affairs