The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD), described by Jewish activist Tony Greenstein as a âpro-Israeli advocacy groupâ, has expressed outrage over aÂ BBCÂ correspondentâs remarks made during a report on the Holocaust memorial at the Yad Vashemâs Hall of the Dead, marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet soldiers.
Orla Guerin, who has previously worked asÂ BBCâs Jerusalem correspondent, was in Jerusalem to cover the solemn event, and began with interviewing a Holocaust survivor, before describing the Hall of the Dead in her report, according to Days of Palestine.
However, the 33 seconds which caused controversy, was her narration over footage of Israeli soldiers entering the hall: âYoung soldiers troop in to share the binding tragedy of the Jewish people. The state of Israel is now a regional power. For decades it has occupied Palestinian territories. But, some here will always see their nation through the prism of persecution and survival,â Guerin added.
This prompted the BoDâs vice president, Amanda Bowman, to respond: âIn an otherwise moving report on the experiences of a Holocaust survivor, Guerinâs attempt to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the horrors of the Holocaust was crass and offensive.â
Other groups have joined the condemnation, the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has made a formal complaint to theÂ BBC, and threatened to refer the matter to regulatory body, Ofcom. The CAA cited the international definition of anti-Semitism in âdrawing comparisons between Israeli policy and the Nazis.â
However, theÂ BBCÂ denied the accusations, stating: âThe brief reference in our Holocaust report to Israelâs position today, did not imply any comparison between the two, and nor would we want one to be drawn from our coverage.â Nevertheless, the coverage did draw criticism from former BBC executives.
TheÂ Jewish ChronicleâsÂ Stephen Pollard lamented: âI cannot recall a more foul â sickening, indeed â report by any journalist, either in print or broadcast.â In his opinion, the BBC has brought itself âeternal shameâ for allowing the material to be broadcast.
Gary Sinyor, also inÂ The Jewish Chronicle,Â writing in defence of Guerinâs comments, argues that the real âoffensiveâ language was not allegedly drawing comparisons with Nazis, but the continued illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, when she stated: âFor decades, it has occupied Palestinian territories.â Although he believes the remark was not necessary, Sinyor explains: âSheâs not comparing the Holocaust with the Palestinians.â
The BoDâs website made it clear that they were against the politicising of the report on the memorial: âLinking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a report on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.â However, it appears that Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahuâs inflammatory reference to Iran, a country with the second-largest Jewish population in the region, as the âmost anti-Semitic regime on the planetâ, during an address marking the same event, along with fear-mongering accusations of nuclear weapons development, went unnoticed by the very same critics.