BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ featured in CST report on antisemitic discourse

The Community Security Trust (CST) recently published a report titled ‘Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2012’. On page 20 of that report, under the chapter heading “Jewish conspiracy and the ‘lobby'”, the CST cites an edition of the BBC programme ‘Hardtalk’ from May 2012 as an example of the propagation of the age-old concept of the supposed power of an American ‘Jewish lobby’. 

As our colleagues at CAMERA noted at the time:

“Anchor Sarah Montague’s introduction set the stage for, in effect, a half‑hour smear of American Jews, predicated on bigoted attitudes prevalent in British discourse. She said:

American presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s increasing support for Israel.”

The CST notes that:

“Following complaints, a BBC spokesman stated:

“We consider the wording used in the introduction appropriate as the presenter was simply explaining and reflecting the public views of the guest. She makes clear these are the controversial views of Jewish American academic, Norman Finkelstein, and then robustly challenges him in the interview.”

Despite the BBC’s protest, it was Montague, not Finkelstein, who used the expression about US presidents being “in thrall to the Jewish lobby”. Furthermore, whilst Montague did challenge many of Finkelstein’s replies, the basic notion of a ‘Jewish lobby’ controlling American policy appeared to go unchallenged, and was indeed fundamental to the interview.”

It should of course be a sad day for the BBC – as well as a wake-up call – when it finds itself among such company as the Iranian regime’s Press TV and known Hamas supporters such as MEMO in a report by Britain’s leading authority on antisemitism.

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