Jewish Community Pickets BBC Following ‘Victim-Blaming’ Coverage of Antisemitic Attack

TOPSHOT - People hold up placards and Union flags as they gather for a demonstration organised by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in central London on April 8, 2018. - Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under increasing pressure to address …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of people attended a demonstration outside the BBC’s London headquarters protesting their coverage of an antisemitic attack that took place in Oxford Street on the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, accusing the broadcaster of victim-blaming.

On Monday night, around 250 protesters held placards that read “BBC News Stop Blaming Jews”,  while chanting, “BBC News tell the truth!” and “BBC News where’s the proof!”.

The protest was called over anger following a BBC report that claimed during an antisemitic attack in central London, anti-Muslim phrases could also be heard being spoken in a video recording. Members of the Jewish community rejected the claim, asserting that no such phrases were said and that the BBC report was outright false.

Although several UK media outlets reported on the incident, only the BBC made the claim. Breitbart London reviewed the available footage at the time of the incident and no such phrases could be detected.

In the footage of the antisemitic attack last month, men were seen spitting, shouting, and even striking with removed shoes a private-hire bus carrying Jewish teenagers out celebrating the first night of Hanukkah in Oxford Street, London.

Community charity the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) confirmed the protest was triggered by the BBC publishing an article that alleged “a slur about Muslims can also be heard from inside the bus”.

On the BBC London Evening News, a BBC reporter also suggested, “it’s not clear what role [the supposed slurs] may have had in the incident”, the Daily Mail reported.

In a speech at the rally, Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said per the newspaper: “We don’t want to be here, but we have to be here, because we have to say: ‘BBC News, stop blaming Jews.'”

He continued: “We see no evidence for the BBC’s claim, which is a distraction from the real story, which is that Jewish teenagers were prevented by racist thugs from celebrating Chanukah.”

Fiyaz Mughal OBE, the founder of Muslims Against Antisemitism, also spoke at the protest.

He commented: “It’s sad we have to come out here again, when Jews are blamed by institutions that we think we should have trust in.”

The protest as well as wider elements of the British Jewish community have accused the BBC of victim-blaming and condemned the BBC’s reporting of the event.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has repeatedly insisted that there is no evidence that an anti-Muslim slur was made, with a spokesperson commenting earlier this month: “The audio from the footage is completely indistinct. If someone was shouting abuse from inside the bus then of course it should be investigated, but we cannot discern any voice in the video saying what the BBC claim was said.”

The Jewish News corroborated this assertion, as they claim “in the audio someone is heard saying in apparent Hebrew: ‘Tikra lemishehu, ze dachuf’ – ‘Call someone, it’s urgent’. It is understood the BBC took this be someone shouting in English: ‘Dirty Muslims’.”

The CAA said this week: “We are demanding explanations over the BBC’s outrageous coverage of the recent antisemitic incident on Oxford Street during the Jewish festival of Chanukah, when the BBC’s reports victim-blamed Jewish teenagers for being attacked.

“This incident is one of many in which the BBC has victim-blamed Jewish people for antisemitism, downplayed racism towards Jews, platformed antisemites and fuelled antisemitism in Britain.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews also accused the BBC of adding “insult to injury”.

StandWithUs, a pro-Israel advocacy organisation, has called for the BBC to retract their “false allegations” and apologise.

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