Board of Deputies president met BBC director general to discuss antisemitism rift

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Board of Deputies president met BBC director general to discuss antisemitism rift

Marie van der Zyl revealed she sat down with Tim Davie to raise concerns over the broadcaster's coverage of the community, including the Chanukah bus incident in Oxford Street

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Dozens of people attended Monday's protest outside BBC New Broadcasting House (Photo: Campaign Against Antisemitism)
Dozens of people attended Monday's protest outside BBC New Broadcasting House (Photo: Campaign Against Antisemitism)

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has revealed she has met with BBC director general Tim Davie to discuss the on-going rift over its reporting of communal issues – including the now infamous coverage of the Chanukah bus incident in Oxford Street.

At Sunday’s Board plenary, the President confirmed: “On Tuesday the 18th of January we did have a meeting with the director general Tim Davie and other senior BBC executives.

“We have strongly advocated our position over the BBC’s misreporting of the Oxford Street attack.

“We have subsequently engaged in further correspondence with the director general about the antisemitic attack.”

The President also said the Board expected to hear back from the BBC “this week” and that she would provide more details to Deputies as soon as the response came.

“It is most important to get the right result,” she added.

The BBC had sparked fury following its reporting of an antisemitic incident on Oxford Street on November 29, with video showing a group of men hurling abuse and spitting at a group of Jewish teenagers sitting inside a bus.

The incident was treated as a hatecrimeby police, but in its original report, BBC News said ‘racial slurs about Muslims could be heard inside the bus’.

The Board said an audio expert had proven that alleged “slurs” from the passengers was in fact Hebrew being spoken.

The BBC say Hebrew speakers confirm their reporting to be correct.

Marie van der Zyl

The website story, and a BBC London report, attracted hundreds of complaints from the Jewish community.

BBC chiefs have said the issue has been passed to an independent standards authority for review.

The Board have threatened to take the issue to Ofcom is the BBC fail to apologise.

Last Wednesday Jewish News revealed Lord Mann had also met with BBC Director General Tim Davie to discuss the simmering row over coverage of antisemitism issues by the broadcaster.

Tim Davie

In a near one-hour long meeting, which took place at BBC Broadcasting House on Wednesday, it is understood that Lord Mann expressed “major concerns” about the reporting of issues affecting the Jewish community by the channel’s outlets.

It is understood Mann raised the BBC website and BBC London reporting of the Chanukah bus antisemitic threats incident, which took place last November in Oxford Street.

He is also believed to have raised further concern over reporting of last weekend’s Texas synagogue hostage incident – including a BBC News at 10 broadcast that failed to mention the word “antisemitism” in connection with the siege at the Colleyville synagogue.

Sources said Davie was keen to listen to the concerns raised by Mann, who also stressed how an incident such as last weekend’s synagogue siege in Texas raised concerns amongst Jewish communities worldwide.

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