Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Regulatory Enforcement Unit has filed a complaint with Ofcom, the media regulator, over Al Jazeera English’s so-called investigation entitled “The Lobby”.
The four-part programme broadcast earlier this month is premised on an arrogant remark by a junior Israeli Embassy employee and an MP’s former adviser. From one brief conversation between two junior employees, the programme attempts to extrapolate the existence of a full-bodied conspiracy. It suggests that swathes of the British Jewish community are in league with the Israeli government to subvert British democracy, and that any action by Israel to promote its interests is not simply normal diplomacy but a nefarious conspiracy.
All broadcasters in the UK are obliged to abide by Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, however we have alleged that the programme breached several core Principles of the Broadcasting Code, including accuracy, impartiality, fair treatment of individuals, harmful material and incitement. Amongst other breaches of the Principles, the programme:
- Argues that the accusation of antisemitism is simply a means by which the Israeli government slurs its enemies, and that by extension Jewish complaints about antisemitic prejudice are disingenuous;
- Proposes that the Labour Party’s antisemitism crisis is manufactured;
- Belittles genuine and legitimate Jewish concerns;
- Portrays a particular Jewish individual as a thug cynically pretending to be a victim of antisemitism;
- Spins routine internal political discussion and external organising in relation to Israel as conspiratorial and malign;
- Portrays the Israeli Embassy as controlling a wide network of Jewish and non-Jewish organisations; and
- Places Shai Masot, a junior Israeli Embassy employee, at the centre of a network, reminiscent of the well-known, historic antisemitic “Jewish Spider” claim with no evidence other than an arrogant offhand remark made by Mr Masot.
Under the terms of the International Definition of Antisemitism, “The Lobby” crosses the line from legitimate discourse about Israel and becomes antisemitic by:
- “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions”;
- “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”; and
- “Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
We await Ofcom’s response.