Ex-BBC TV chief brands the corporation 'institutionally antisemitic'

Ex-BBC TV chief brands the corporation 'institutionally antisemitic'

November 25, 2023

Ex-BBC television chief brands the corporation ‘institutionally antisemitic’ amid criticism at broadcaster’s coverage of Israel-Hamas war

A former BBC television boss has branded the corporation as ‘institutionally antisemitic’ as it faces criticisms for its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

Danny Cohen, who worked for the corporation for eight years, said he believes there is ‘institutional bias at play’ in the broadcaster’s coverage of the war.

He argued that the BBC has covered the conflict ‘with anti-Israel bias’ and ‘risks adding fuel to fire of antisemitism’ across Britain, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

Mr Cohen has called for an ‘independent inquiry’ into what he has alleged are the corporation’s ‘editorial and management failures’.

His criticism comes just five days after the BBC was forced to apologise after it sparked uproar for incorrectly reporting that Israeli soldiers were ‘targeting medical teams and Arab speakers’ in a raid on Gaza’s main hospital.

The national broadcaster has faced numerous accusations of bias in its coverage of the conflict since Hamas invaded on October 7.

Former BBC television chief Danny Cohen, (pictured) who worked for the corporation for eight years, has branded the corporation as ‘institutionally antisemitic’ as it faces criticisms for its coverage of the Israel- Hamas war

He argued that the BBC has covered the conflict ‘with anti-Israel bias’ and ‘risks adding fuel to fire of antisemitism’ across Britain (file photo)

Mr Cohen, writing for The Telegraph, has claimed that the BBC has failed viewers by refusing to refer to Hamas fighters as terrorists and for describing the October 7 massacre as a ‘cross-border attack’. 

He described the broadcaster’s choice of verbiage as ‘offensive’ and ‘reductionist’ as he called for a probe into an alleged antisemitism and anti-Israel bias at the BBC. 

The former BBC television director claimed that the firm’s senior management is ‘complicit’ in the ‘egregious examples of bias’ that has allegedly been demonstrated by its staff.

‘On a daily basis Britain’s Jews are being harmed through its unbalanced reporting of the Israel-Hamas war and the failure of its senior management to get to grips with it,’ he wrote, adding that the Jewish public is being ‘harmed’ through BBC’s ‘unbalanced reporting’.

Mr Cohen, who was responsible for shows including Happy Valley and Poldark, reiterated that the BBC is an ‘extremely powerful institution in the UK’ and warned that ‘people follow it and note what it says’. 

He added: ‘If it reports inaccurately or [gives] unbalanced information, it risks adding fuel to fire of antisemitism.’

MailOnline has approached the broadcaster for comment. 

The BBC, following weeks of pressure and criticism, did eventually agree to describe Hamas as a terrorist organisation proscribed by the UK government and said it would no longer refer to its members as ‘militants’.

The corporation last week was also forced to issue an apology after newsreader Monica Miller misquoted a report about the raid which the army is calling a ‘targeted operation against Hamas‘.

BBC newsreader Monica Miller misquoted a report about what the IDF is calling a ‘targeted operation against Hamas 

Speaking about the unfolding incident in Gaza, Miller misread the initial report made by Reuters news agency, telling viewers: ‘We are hearing from Reuters that Israel says its forces are carrying out an operation against Hamas in Gaza’s al Shifa hospital.

‘And they are targeting people including medical teams as well as Arab speakers.’

The newsreader then went on to repeat the claim again, stating that Israel was ‘targeting Arab speakers as well as some of the medical staff there’.

Reuters had in fact been quoting a statement from the Israeli military that said Arab speakers and medical staff had accompanied its soldiers into the sprawling medical building as the raid began. 

The Board of Deputies of British Jews called for an immediate apology from the broadcaster adding that ‘incidents like this make a mockery of the BBC’s oft-stated dedication to professionalism and impartiality’.

Civil defence team and civilians conduct a search and rescue operation in the rubble of the destroyed building hit by Israeli forces on November 20, 2023

Palestinians search through the rubble of a collapsed building searching for survivors and victims following the Israeli bombardment of Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on November 20, 2023

In a statement on X, the BBC said last week: ‘As BBC News covered initial reports that Israeli forces had entered Gaza’s main hospital, we said that ‘medical teams and Arab speakers’ were being targeted.

‘This was incorrect and misquoted a Reuters report. We should have said IDF forces included medical teams and Arabic speakers for this operation.

‘We apologise for this error, which fell below our usual editorial standards. The correct version of events was broadcast minutes later and we apologised for the mistake on air later in the morning.’ 

Last month the broadcaster also sparked backlash over its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war after a reporter speculated that a rocket that hit Gaza was an ‘Israeli air strike’, adding that it was ‘hard to see’ what else it could be.

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