CAMERA issued the following press advisory on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CAMERA Arabic Prompts Rare BBC Apology For ‘Unacceptable’ Complaints Handling Regarding Arabic Anti-Israel Bias
JERUSALEM – The BBC has issued a rare apology acknowledging its years-long failure to properly address complaints concerning its Arabic coverage of Israel following CAMERA Arabic’s submission of dozens of corrections requests.
“We apologise for the unacceptable delay and will ensure formal responses are issued as soon as possible,” a BBC spokesperson told the London-based Jewish Chronicle, which has circulated a petition calling for an inquiry into the corporation’s troubled coverage of Jews and Israel.
Since the May 2021 fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, CAMERA Arabic submitted 26 complaints to BBC concerning regarding factual errors and other failures to adhere to the corporation’s own standards at the taxpayer-funded Arabic service.
“Only seven received a proper, timely response and resolution,” a spokesperson for CAMERA Arabic told The Jewish Chronicle. “The BBC’s complaints system is unable to meet its own standards when it comes to content in Arabic about Israel and Jews.”
The BBC Charter calls “transparent, accessible, effective, timely and proportionate methods” to evaluate the 250,000 complaints it receives annually and to address reporting errors or other shortfalls.
At the time that The Jewish Chronicle reached out to the BBC last week for comment, the corporation upheld 14 of CAMERA Arabic’s 26 complaints, with some corrections delayed for many weeks. While BBC did not reject any of the watchdog’s complaints, it neither answered nor corrected most of the rest.
After initially standing by several BBC Arabic articles, the BBC eventually backtracked, amending, for example, coverage about a gruesome murder of a Palestinian gay man at the hands of Palestinian homophobes which included irrelevant and inaccurate criticism of Israel; the Arabic term demonizing Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount as “foreigners”; and references to Jewish prayer as “Talmudic ritual,” an additional Arabic dog whistle inciting against Jews.
“Even when the Arabic-speaking BBC audience is trying to step in and do the management’s work for it, we still face impassable obstacles,” CAMERA Arabic said of the BBC’s Arabic service, which enjoys a global audience of more than 36 million. “That the BBC’s foreign language content is inadequately overseen by its management is a well-documented fact.”
The BBC issued its apology days before a highly anticipated ruling by independent broadcast regular Ofcom concerning a December 2021 BBC broadcast which claimed teenaged Jewish victims of antisemitic violence had shouted “dirty Muslims” before the attack. While the targeted teenagers vehemently deny the accusation, and forensic experts engaged by the Jewish community’s Board of Deputies concluded that a teenager called for help in Hebrew, and did not utter a racist slur in English, BBC dismissed complaints from the Jewish community and issued only a partial apology.
Founded in 2018, CAMERA Arabic seeks to ensure that Western media outlets’ Arabic-language coverage of Israel is factually accurate and adheres to professional codes of journalistic conduct. CAMERA staff regularly correspond in both Arabic and English with editors to prompt corrections and to ensure sound journalistic coverage.