BBC report on antisemitism in France marred by its own record

Why BBC audiences are not well placed to understand reporting on statements made by the French president.

On February 21st a report titled “Macron announces crackdown on anti-Semitism in France” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page. Readers were told that:

“French President Emmanuel Macron has announced new measures to tackle anti-Semitism, following a spate of attacks.

He told Jewish leaders that France would recognise anti-Zionism – the denial of Israel’s right to exist – as a form of anti-Semitism. […]

Mr Macron added: “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism. This is why I’m confirming that France will put forward the definition of anti-Semitism as drawn by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.””

Readers may recall that this is not the first time that Mr Macron has addressed the issue of anti-Zionism: he previously did so in July 2017.

““We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism,” Macron said an event in Paris marking the mass deportation of French Jews during World War II.”

As documented here, the BBC chose to sideline that statement at the time and subsequently failed to report a similar one made by the UN Secretary General. Two days after Mr Macron’s 2017 statement, BBC Radio Ulster held a phone-in presented as follows:

“We debate the very controversial claim by the French president that anti-Zionism is simply another form of anti-Semitism” [emphasis added]

Now that the BBC has got round to accurately reporting Mr Macron’s position on anti-Zionism it is worth taking a look at what its audiences have been told about that subject to date.

Although the BBC does not work according to the IHRA definition of antisemitism (which was adopted by the British government in 2016), in April 2016 it nevertheless considered itself sufficiently qualified to produce a backgrounder titled “What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?“.

As was noted here at the time, that article promoted the Livingstone Formulation, failed to inform readers what anti-Zionism actually means and focused on promoting the inaccurate and misleading notion that anti-Zionism is the same thing as expressing criticism of the policies and actions of the Israeli government, even while advancing the ‘Zionism is racism’ canard.

“The UK Labour Party has been at the centre of a row over anti-Semitism, including its relationship to anti-Zionism. What do these terms actually mean?

Anti-Semitism is “hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people” (OED).

Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, corresponding to the historic land of Israel – anti-Zionism opposes that.

But some say “Zionist” can be used as a coded attack on Jews, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism.” [emphasis added]

And:

“Some anti-Zionists say Zionism itself is a racist ideology, because of how, in their view, the Palestinian people have been treated by the Israeli state.”

Since publishing that unsatisfactory and unhelpful backgrounder, the BBC has continued to amplify those themes.

Given the BBC’s record on reporting the issue of anti-Zionism, its audiences obviously lack the background knowledge necessary for proper understanding of the French president’s statement reported in this article.

That state of affairs will continue as long as the BBC continues to ignore the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism which long since answered the question of whether anti-Zionism – i.e. the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination – is an expression of antisemitism.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio Ulster promotes ‘Zionism is racism’ and the ‘apartheid’ smear

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

More promotion of the Livingstone Formulation from BBC News

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