The BBC, Britain’s state-funded broadcaster, has initiated an investigation into six reporters and a freelance contributor working for its Arabic service. The probe is focused on allegations of anti-Israel bias and the endorsement of attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The investigation centers on the social media activities of the journalists, specifically their liking and sharing of pro-Palestinian content and criticism of Israel. Such online conduct is subject to the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ rules.
Media reports in the UK have highlighted offensive posts made by the journalists which have since been taken down. These posts included labeling Hamas as “freedom fighters” and describing the group’s surprise attack on Israel as a “morning of hope” for Palestine. While the staff reporters have not been formally suspended, they have been temporarily taken off-air. The freelance contributor has already been severed from the broadcaster, despite joining just recently in October.
Responding to the allegations, a BBC spokesperson stated on Sunday, “We are urgently investigating this matter. We take allegations of breaches of our editorial and social media guidelines with the utmost seriousness, and if and when we find breaches, we will act, including taking disciplinary action.”
The probe comes amidst domestic criticism of the BBC for what some perceive as a lack of support for Israel. The broadcaster has faced backlash for its refusal to label Hamas a “terrorist” group, instead opting to refer to them as “militants.” This decision has been criticized by various British media outlets, with several former culture secretaries penning a letter to the BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie. In the letter, they argue that the BBC’s approach blurs the distinction between terrorists and the Palestinian people, who suffer the consequences of Hamas’ actions. They call on the corporation to urgently reassess its approach and uphold its commitment to impartiality.
Additionally, the BBC has faced online backlash for its specific language in describing the victims of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The broadcaster referred to Israeli victims as “killed,” while describing Palestinian victims as those who “died” in retaliatory air strikes. SkyNews, another major British broadcaster, has also been criticized for using similar wording in its coverage of the escalation.
In conclusion, the BBC has launched an investigation into allegations of anti-Israel bias and support for Hamas among its Arabic service reporters. This internal probe comes in the wake of domestic criticism aimed at the broadcaster for its refusal to categorize Hamas as a terrorist group and its language in describing the conflict’s victims. The BBC has emphasized its commitment to impartiality and stated that it will take appropriate disciplinary action if any breaches of its guidelines are found.