BBC allows anti-Semitism
by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-07-31
The BBC has said that anti-Semitic postings and links to Jewish hate sites on its message boards do not breach its own guidelines and even though they may cause offence, harm and distress, they will be allowed to stay.
SomethingJewish contacted BBC director general Mark Thompson and director of Future Media & Technology Ashley Highfield asking why the corporation has allowed its message boards to be used for attacks on Jews and forcing the Jewish community to be constantly on the defensive to respond to hate fuelled postings and mis-quotes of the Torah.
In an email from BBC Information, which claims that Thompson "has authorised us to reply on his behalf" the BBC is sticking to its position that anti-Semitic postings, such as those recently posted, but were eventually removed after pressure are suitable for the BBC to show.
In a response to SomethingJewish regarding a series of postings on the 5 Live Message boards earlier this month by "Iron Naz" in which statements such as "Why are Jews allowed to attack non-jews, and if a non-jew fights back, he must be killed?" and "please comment on these two quotes from Jewish religious texts: A pregnant non-Jew is no better than a pregnant animal." Coschen hamischpat 405 And another "The souls of non-Jews come from impure sprits and are called pigs." Jalkut Rubeni gadol 12b. now is this what Britians jews think of non-jews? (sic)" were allowed to stay up, the BBC said:
"The moderators read all posts on the Five Live news board and remove those that are seen to break the House Rules of the site. They do not fact check the content posted by the public when they read contributions to the board, nor do they remove or edit postings containing factual inaccuracies regardless of the subject matter, even when alerted to them, as being factually incorrect - either partially or completely - is not against the House Rules."
The BBC's own House Rules state: "We reserve the right to fail messages which are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others" and "are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable."
Mark Gardiner from the Community Security Trust has said of the BBC's approach to dealing with hate and racism on its own message boards: "The BBC obviously no longer recognizes anti-Semitism even when it slaps it in the face. It is bad enough that it is up to readers to police what the BBC publish on their own Web sites, but it is far sadder that this public body should actively refuse to remove the filth."
In the email from BBC Information, it further added: "If people see a posting on a message board that they think may contain factual inaccuracies then we suggest that they post to the board to correct the other person's mistake, or misapprehension. Subsequent to this post being made, many people did indeed post to the board to explain why the posting was incorrect. This is more beneficial to the debate, as the initial poster, along with all of the other readers and posters to the message board, will be able to read the correction or alternative viewpoint and gain a greater understanding of the issues."
Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark told SomethingJewish: "One would expect the BBC to treat anti-Semitism in the same way as any other form of racism with a zero tolerance approach. This is a worrying development coming so soon after a parliamentary inquiry warned of the spread of antisemitism on the internet."