A journalist who tweeted “Hitler was right” and other antisemitic comments and images “no longer works for the BBC”.
Tala Halawa, until recently a Palestine Affairs Specialist at the BBC Monitoring Service, posted a series of antisemitic tweets in 2014, including one that read: “#Israel Is more #Nazi than #Hitler! Oh, #HitlerWasRight #IDF go to hell. #PrayForGaza”. She also asserted that “ur media is controlled by ur zionist government in order 2 produce ignorant people [sic]”, shared the graphic that caused Naz Shah MP to be suspended from the Labour Party several years ago as well as an image of a child being burned on a menorah, and posted on Facebook: “They [Zionists] are crying the holocaust every single moment but they’re practicing it every single moment as well.”
The social media posts dated from prior to Ms Halawa’s employment at the BBC.
Campaign Against Antisemitism and others submitted complaints to the BBC, which has now responded saying:“Whilst these tweets predate the individual’s employment with the BBC, the BBC took this extremely seriously and investigated the matter with urgency. The journalist in question no longer works for the BBC.
“We are clear there is no place for views like this to exist within the BBC and we deplore racism and antisemitism.”
BBC anchors and leading journalists have not been immune either. A few weeks ago, a BBC Arabic anchor was given a mere slap on the wrist after sharing an antisemitic social media post while employed by the Corporation, and last month Campaign Against Antisemitism launched a petition calling for the veteran journalist Jeremy Bowen to be fired after he posted a tweet instructing “every Jew” to read an “exploration of Judaism” that claimed that “Racism, hate and violence are Jewish values too”.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “While we are pleased to hear that Tala Halawa no longer works at the BBC, and that the Corporation deplores antisemitism, several questions remain answered.
“Why was she hired in the first place, given that these tweets pre-dated her employment at The BBC, and what changes are being introduced to the Corporation’s vetting process for new employees? Why was so little due diligence conducted prior to hiring Ms Halawa even though her role focused on the sensitive issue of Israel and the Middle East? Finally, was Ms Halawa’s employment terminated, demonstrating the BBC’s opposition to antisemitism, or was she simply permitted quietly to resign? We will continue to take up these questions with the BBC.
“The BBC must understand that its reputation in the Jewish community is extremely poor, and it needs desperately to demonstrate that it believes in zero tolerance of antisemitism. Transparency would be the first step.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2020 revealed that two thirds of British Jews are deeply concerned by the BBC’s coverage of matters of Jewish concern, and 55% by its handling of antisemitism complaints.
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors traditional media and regularly holds outlets to account. If members of the public are concerned about reportage in the media, they should contact us at [email protected].