The BBC has taken seven Arab journalists off air and launched an investigation over allegations of pro-Hamas social media activity after last week’s terrorist attacks in Israel.
The group of reporters included a senior broadcast journalist and a freelancer.
“We are urgently investigating this matter,” a BBC spokesman said in a statement to media. “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 network’s investigation follows a report by the watchdog group Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, or Camera, that surfaced the alleged social-media activity, which included the liking of a tweeted video of bodies and kidnapped people being loaded onto an SUV with a caption reading “proud moment” and another saying Iraelis “will live as a thief and a usurper.”
Citing the Camera investigation, The Telegraph reported a message that described Hamas as “freedom fighters” was also liked by one of the reporters, while another retweeted video of Israelis crouching “inside a tin container in fear of the Palestinian resistance warriors.”
Tamar Sternthal, director of Camera’s Israel office and founder of Camera Arabic, said in a statement to TheWrap the BBC staffers now under investigation by the network “were clearly breaching the corporation’s own guidelines concerning social media activity, with some of the content amounting to hate speech – e.g. comments stating that by targeting the Jewish civilians who allegedly took their lands, Palestinians are exerting their ‘right to resist’ and are therefore performing a noble act.”
“The employees posted, reposted and liked this kind of content and ones similar to it, all while presenting themselves to their employers in London as paragons of impartiality and humanist values,” Sternthal said. “But these revelations are hardly surprising regarding an outlet which last month falsely claimed in a 9/11 anniversary piece that first century Jews were the first documented suicide attackers in history and which just over a week ago argued that observant Jews collectively consider spitting on Christians a holiday ritual.”
In a statement to The Telegraph, a Camera spokesman alleged “the BBC has repeatedly whitewashed the practice of targeting Jewish civilians in Israel even before the current escalation.”
“They constantly claim that they apply the same editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality to their services in all languages, including those with which BBC management is not familiar and can’t oversee properly, such as Arabic,” the spokesman said.
The seven journalists named in the Camera report are Mahmoud Sheleib, the senior broadcast journalist, freelancer broadcast journalist Aya Hossam, correspondent Sally Nabil, Cairo-based Salma Khattab, Beirut-based religious affairs correspondent Sanaa Khouri, Beirut-based editor Nada Abdelsamad, and Amr Fekry, a sports correspondent and pundit at BBC Arabic.
Hossam will not be hired for projects going forward, the BBC said.
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