BBC reporter Orla Guerin, long accused of anti-Israel bias, was slammed over her Holocaust commemoration report.
By Benjamin Kerstein, The Algemeiner
Outrage erupted on Thursday after a BBC report on the Holocaust commemoration events currently underway in Israel used the opportunity to slam the Jewish state.
The Thursday ceremony in Jerusalem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was attended by dozens of world leaders, including Britain’s Prince Charles, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and US Vice President Mike Pence.
The segment in question ended with a narration by Orla Guerin, a veteran international correspondent for the BBC, who has long been accused of bias against Israel.
Over images of the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, in which photographs and names of victims of the Nazi genocide are displayed, Guerin said, “In Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names, images of the dead. Young soldiers troop in to share the binding tragedy of the Jewish people.”
“The State of Israel is now a regional power,” she added. “For decades it has occupied Palestinian territories. But some here will always see their nation through the prism of persecution and survival.”
Reaction to Guerin’s statement was immediate and angry. Gideon Falter, chief executive of the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism, said, “The BBC is supposed to inform the British public, not feed them propaganda. Few could imagine perverting what is supposed to be an educational piece about the Holocaust to instead fuel the very anti-Semitism that such education is supposed to prevent, but that is what the BBC has done.”
“It was utterly appalling to watch Orla Guerin hijack a segment dedicated to remembering six million murdered Jews, and instead use it as a vehicle to desecrate the memory of the Holocaust with her hatred of the Jewish state,” he continued.
Referring to the British television regulator Ofcom, Falter declared, “Ms. Guerin and the BBC editors who allowed this to be aired must be made to face the consequences of this sick act, which is why we are now making an official complaint and will take the matter to Ofcom if necessary.”
Amanda Bowman — vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — also condemned the BBC report, saying, “Orla Guerin’s attempt to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the horrors of the Holocaust was crass and offensive.”
Noting longstanding criticism of Guerin’s reporting on Israel, Bowman stated, “Her lack of partiality on the Israel-Palestine conflict has long been a matter of concern and it is questionable why the BBC would even use her for this sensitive assignment. As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day, the Jewish community is within its rights to expect an apology.”
Voices on Twitter also condemned Guerin’s statement. Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore wrote, “This @bbcnews commentary on Yad Vashem by Orla Guerin linking the Holocaust to the Israel’s … occupation is truly foul — managing to be both shamefully amoral + historically inaccurate, utterly cynical and complacently self-righteous all [at] the same time.”
Gerald Steinberg, head of the monitoring group NGO Watch said, “@OrlaGuerin clearly violated journalistic ethics — she has a long history of #antiSemitism and Israel derangement going back at least 20 years.”
The organization Students Supporting Israel (SSI) asserted, “This @BBCNews report exposes the inherent problem and hate towards Jews & Israel in the British #Media.”
Guerin’s distaste for Israel and biased reporting have been a focus of concern and derision for decades. In 2015, The Independent quoted former BBC Chairman Lord Grade criticizing one of her reports for “equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli security forces in the act of carrying out terror attacks.”
“This directly misleads viewers,” he said.
The Guardian reported in 2004 that Natan Sharansky, then Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs, had called a Guerin report on a Palestinian child soldier “cynical manipulation of a Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes.”
It showed, he said, “a deep-seated bias against Israel.”
Sharansky said the report applied “such a gross double standard to the Jewish state” that “it is difficult to see Ms. Guerin’s report as anything but anti-Semitic.”