BBC reporter Tim Willcox left campaigners against anti-Semitism unmoved with an apology for causing “unintentional” offense after he made an anti-Semitic comment on live television yesterday.
Willcox told a Jewish interviewee, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, attending Sunday’s unity march in Paris that “many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.”
Willcox’s comment came in the middle of an interview with a woman in the crowd who expressed concern that Jews in Europe were now facing a situation similar to that which prevailed in the 1930s. “We have to not be afraid to say that that the Jews, they are the target now,” she said, before Willcox interrupted her with his remark about Palestinians suffering at “Jewish hands.” When the woman objected to the comparison, Willcox informed her, “But you understand, everything is seen from different perspectives.”
The reporter later took to social media platform Twitter to offer an apology of sorts. “Really sorry for any offense caused by a poorly phrased question in a live interview in Paris yesterday – it was entirely unintentional,” Willcox wrote.
Campaigners against anti-Semitism were unimpressed, however. “Tim Willcox is right to have apologized for the question, but the thinking behind it was just as problematic as the way he phrased it.”
Dave Rich, Deputy Director of Communications for the Community Security Trust (CST) in London, the official communal security body of British Jews, declared :”There are simply no grounds on which to suggest that random Jewish shoppers in a Paris kosher grocery might be responsible for the fate of the Palestinians.”
Michael Salberg of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) accused Willcox of engaging in “anti-Semitism, plain and simple,” describing the reporter as “a proponent of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and stereotypes.”
In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: “Tim Willcox has apologised for what he accepts was a poorly phrased question during an in-depth live interview with two friends, one Jewish and of
Israeli birth, the other of Algerian Muslim heritage, where they discussed a wide range of issues affecting both the Muslim and Jewish communities in France.”