The BBC’s claim that Jewish people targeted by an antisemitic attack on Oxford Street were themselves guilty of an “anti-Muslim slur” has been proved beyond any doubt to be inaccurate, after the findings of two independent reports published today.
The first report, commissioned by the Board of Deputies, was undertaken by a highly reputable open source Internet and social media investigations agency. It explored whether the original video recording of the incident included an “anti-Muslim slur”. Additionally, the Board commissioned another report by an expert forensic linguist to examine the footage and report on the findings. Both the investigations agency and forensic linguist have come to the same conclusion; the findings show that, rather than an “anti-Muslim slur” being uttered, as the BBC claimed, the words in question are Hebrew – “Tikra LeMishehu, Ze Dachuf” (the translation of which means “Call somebody, it’s urgent”, in English). The audio in question, slowed down and enhanced by the investigation agency, further makes this clear.
In a piece for this week’s Jewish Chronicle, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has described the BBC’s “misreporting” as “a colossal error”, which “has added insult to injury in accusing victims of antisemitism of being guilty of bigotry themselves…But what takes this from an egregious failure to something far more sinister is the BBC’s behaviour when confronted with its mistake. Instead of admitting it was wrong, it has doubled and tripled down.” The President also states that the corporation’s behaviour “raises serious questions about deep-seated biases within the BBC towards Israelis, and indeed towards Jews in general.”
In her article, the President also notes that “it should not have been left to us, a Jewish communal organisation, to commission an independent report to prove this point. The BBC should have done this itself, rather than apparently conducting an internal investigation and finding no wrongdoing. To us, this apparent attempt to mark its own homework is reminiscent of the behavioural pattern the corporation has displayed amidst past scandals. Once again, instead of approaching a potential error with an open mind, its default response appears to be to circle the wagons and deny everything. This is clearly a calamitous approach to retaining the public’s trust.” She has called for the BBC at the very least to apologise publicly to the victims of the Oxford Street attack, and has referred to a meeting the Board of Deputies will be holding with the BBC Director General and other Senior Executives in January, which will include “a full and frank discussion of this issue.”
Further information on the Board of Deputies’ process for conclusively proving the BBC’s inaccuracy can be found in this article written by the Board of Deputies’ Digital Communications Officer, Adam Ma’anit.