BBC News portrays Dagestan pogrom mob as ‘anti-Israel protesters’

This is a Tweet sent by the BBC’s long-time Russia editor the day after an incident at an airport in Dagestan.

Steve Rosenberg’s description of the incident is entirely accurate.

“Footage reportedly from the scene shared on local Telegram channels showed a hoard of people, Muslim pro-Palestinians, chanting “Allahu Akbar” and stopping cars to check the documents of passengers, ensuring they were not Israeli or Jewish, carrying Palestinian flags. In one of the videos that circulated social media, a rioter can be heard saying: “We are here for the Jews, we came to kill them with knives and shoot at them.”” 

The BBC News website, however, preferred to portray that mob as “anti-Israel” in the first ten versions of its report on the story.

Anti-Israel mob storms Dagestan airport in Russia’, initially published late on October 29th , by Oliver Slow and Laurence Peter:

The sole mentions of the words Jews and antisemitism in the first six versions that report come in quotes from Israeli officials, with statements from US officials later added.

“The Israeli prime minister’s office said Russia must act decisively against incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis.

A US presidential spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, said in a tweet “the United States vigorously condemns the antisemitic protests in Dagestan”.

“The US unequivocally stands with the entire Jewish community as we witness a worldwide surge in antisemitism. There is never any excuse or justification for antisemitism,” the White House National Security Council Spokesperson said. […]

Israel’s foreign ministry said the Israeli ambassador in Moscow was working with Russian authorities, adding that Israel “views gravely attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere”.

“Israel expects the Russian law enforcement authorities to safeguard all Israeli citizens and Jews, whoever they may be, and to take robust action against the rioters and against the unbridled incitement being directed at Jews and Israelis,” the ministry statement said.”

Only more than fifteen hours after that report’s initial appearance – and following at least one complaint from members of the public seen by CAMERA UK – was its headline was changed to read ‘Dagestan: Mob storms Russian airport in search of Jews‘.

The BBC News website also published a filmed report on the story, the headline of which has not been amended:

Anti-Israel protesters storm airport in Russia, forcing it to close’ October 30th.

In the synopsis to that filmed report – which does not include commentary – the sole reference to Jews again comes in a paraphrased quote:

“Footage shows an anti-Israel mob storming an airport in Russia, reportedly trying to find people arriving from Tel Aviv. […]

Some protesters shouted antisemitic slogans and waved Palestinian flags. […]

Israel said Russia must act decisively against incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis.”

The CST’s Dave Rich observed that:

“One reason people don’t take antisemitism seriously is that parts of the media repeatedly sanitise it. This was an angry mob looking for Israeli Jews to attack, not an ‘anti-Israel protest’.”

Six days previously, the BBC had issued a clarification in which it claimed that:

“Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets across the UK and although there were some arrests there was little evidence of any significant support for Hamas during these demonstrations.” [emphasis added]

Apparently the BBC believes that the British public is so under-informed that it can pass off demonstrations organised by groups including the Hamas-linkedPalestinian Forum in Britain’, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ and ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ at which participants chantedintifada’, ‘from the river to the sea’ and ‘Khaybar ya Yahud’ and brutal terrorism was glorified, along with others at which pro-Hamas booklets were sold, as not showing “significant support for Hamas”. Notably, BBC audiences have not seen any reporting on Hamas’ praise for such demonstrations.

Just days ago the BBC’s head of news and current affairs stated that “the trust of our audiences must always be our priority”. 

“Maintaining that trust requires constant care, thoughtfulness and an open mind as we navigate the unique set of challenges reporting on this war places in our path.”

Downplaying antisemitism – be it in Dagestan, the Gaza Strip, on the streets of British cities or elsewhere – obviously does not convince audiences that the BBC is applying “care” or “thoughtfulness” to its reporting.



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