Board of Deputies of British Jews responds to Ofcom BBC ruling

The President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has described the publication of an Ofcom report into the BBC’s conduct in covering an antisemitic incident as having “validated significant concerns” regarding the corporation’s reporting.

The Ofcom ruling, published this morning, describes the BBC as having “failed to observe its Editorial Guidelines on due impartiality and due accuracy” and finds it engaged in “serious editorial misjudgement”.

The Board of Deputies made the complaint to Ofcom regarding the BBC’s conduct over an antisemitic incident which took place on Oxford Street last November, during which a bus of Jewish people celebrating Chanukah was attacked by individuals shouting abuse and making Nazi salutes. The perpetrators of the attack have, almost a year later, not been identified or tracked down.

The BBC’s coverage of the incident subsequently attempted to claim that “an anti-Muslim” slur had been heard from inside the bus, publishing a recording to back this claim. However, the Board of Deputies proved, via an expert linguist and a detailed forensic report, that what had actually been said were the Hebrew words “Tikra LeMishehu, Ze Dachuf” – “Call somebody, it’s urgent”. The BBC’s subsequent conduct, which failed to properly acknowledge this, was detrimental to its relationship with British Jews, which Ofcom acknowledges in its report, stating that “In our view, the failure to report swiftly that the audio was disputed created an impression of defensiveness by the BBC among the Jewish community.”

In response to the publication of Ofcom’s ruling, Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, said:

“Ofcom’s ruling on the BBC’s conduct in relation to the antisemitic Oxford Street attack has made it clear that ‘the BBC failed to observe its Editorial Guidelines on due impartiality and due accuracy’ and has described the corporation’s ‘serious editorial misjudgement’ in this matter. This ruling, in response to the Board’s written complaint, validates our significant concern over the BBC’s actions on this issue. We will now consider whether to take this issue to a judicial review.”

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