Together with many other media outlets, on the morning of December 12th the BBC News website’s UK page reported the landmark decision of the British government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which was compiled earlier this year.
The BBC’s report – titled “Anti-Semitism: Official definition ‘will fight hatred’” – opens:
“The government plans to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism to help tackle hatred towards Jews.
Police, councils, universities and public bodies can adopt the wording, Theresa May will say in a speech later.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which the UK belongs to, created the definition.
It calls anti-Semitism a “perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.””
Just two paragraphs later some of that information is repeated:
“The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance hopes its definition, agreed this year, will be adopted globally.
It defines anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”
It adds: “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.””
Later on readers are informed that:
“Conservative MP and special envoy for post-holocaust issues, Sir Eric Pickles, told the BBC that the new definition “catches up with modern anti-Semitism”.
“I think it’s important not to conflate Jewish people with Israel,” he said. “That actually is the point in the definition.””
However, nowhere in this report are BBC audiences provided with a link to the IHRA definition of antisemitism which is its subject matter. The BBC’s funding public therefore remains unaware that it includes clauses relating to Israel, including one recently brought up on these pages.
Notably, the last four paragraphs of the BBC’s report relate to the UK Labour party and while failing to inform readers of criticism of the Chakrabarti Report – including its refusal to provide a definition of antisemitism – the BBC did insert a link to a previous BBC report which amplifies the Livingstone Formulation.
“Labour, which has faced accusations that it has failed to tackle anti-Semitism in its own membership, welcomed the move.
A spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said hatred towards Jews was “as repugnant and unacceptable as any other form of racism”.
Earlier this year Baroness Chakrabarti, the former director of civil liberties group Liberty, chaired an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the party.
It found the party was not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism, but there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”.”
Remarkably too – although it is not infrequently the case in BBC content – both the images chosen to illustrate this article portray members of a stream which is a minority within the British Jewish community.
Some fourteen hours after its initial publication, a link to the IHRA definition has now been added to the BBC’s report.