The December 16th 2021 edition of the BBC Arabic programme “Trending” included an item in which Jewish prayer was referred to as “Talmudic rituals” and “Talmudic prayer” and Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound was portrayed as “al-Aqsa Mosque”.
That terminology repeatedly appeared in the video segment, presented by Rania al-Attar, as well as on the webpages introducing it on the BBC’s Arabic language website, YouTube channel and Twitter account.
Titled “Jews Disguise Themselves Among Muslims at Al-Aqsa Mosque!”, the item was based on an Israeli news report about Jews posing as Muslims in order to pray at Temple Mount, which in Hebrew is known as Har HaBayit. However, unlike the original Hebrew language report, BBC Arabic claimed that “Talmudic rituals” had been conducted inside “al-Aqsa Mosque”.
- At no point did the original Israeli piece imply that the intention of the Jews in question was to enter any building on the site, let alone al-Aqsa Mosque itself. Their sole successful documented attempt had taken place outdoors.
- The proper translation for the Hebrew term ‘Har HaBayit’ into Arabic is not المسجد الأقصى (al-Masjid al-Aqsa, “al-Aqsa Mosque”) but جبل الهيكل (Jabal al-Haykal, “Temple Mount”) – a literal translation which reflects the Jewish perspective inferred from the original Hebrew – or الحرم الشريف (al-Haram ash-Shareef, “the Noble Sanctuary”).
- That is also the terminology which BBC journalists are instructed to use according to BBC’s own style guide.
- At no point did the original piece use word “Talmud”.
- The Talmud bears extremely negative connotations in Arabic discourse, to the point that references to it can serve as an antisemitic trope.
- Jewish prayer is not a “Talmudic ritual” any more than Muslim prayer is a “Sunna ritual”.
CAMERA Arabic therefore submitted a complaint to the BBC, making the point that however controversial Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount compound may be, referring to it as a “Talmudic ritual” performed inside “al-Aqsa Mosque” is inflammatory and inaccurate.
BBC Arabic then removed the item from all platforms, with only the segment introducing it in the December 16th programme remaining on Twitter and Facebook. Screenshots of the programme and its presentation appear below:
Rania al-Attar refers to Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount compound as “Talmudic rituals” inside “al-Aqsa Mosque”, 16 December 2021
BBC Arabic’s YouTube channel presents: “Jews disguise among Muslims at al-Aqsa Mosque!”, 16 December 2021
This is not the first time that BBC Arabic has opted to perform a ‘clean-up’ operation rather than address a complaint. One past example is the Palestine map for children from October 2019, with our complaint having been officially resolved nearly six months after the item had been erased from all BBC platforms.