Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Complaining to the BBC Trust

I have finally got my emailed complaint to the BBC Trust re Jeremy Bowen's discriminatory choice of day to hold a Twitter Q&A on, namely Rosh Hashonah.

Here's the text of my email:

I have been referred to you by Stephanie Harris, Head of Editorial Compliance & Accountability, BBC News, as I was not satisfied with her explanation re this matter.

The bare facts are these:
The BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, held a Twitter Q&A on Monday 17 September. This day was the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashonah, one of the 'high holy days' when all religious, and most even only slightly religious, Jews spend the day in prayer at synagogue and thus are not available to participate in such social media exercises.

How could your BBC Middle East Editor hold a Q&A on a day when a very interested set of British licence fee payers, Jews in Britain, would be unable to participate?

I queried Jeremy Bowen about this and found his response quite offensive - 'yes I did know it was Jewish New Year. And I also know it doesn't stop quite a few Jews using social media!'. I presume that was aimed at me, since I am Jewish but not at all observant. That comment I found unacceptable, the vast majority of Jews could not participate on a Q&A held on RoshHashonah and Jeremy Bowen admitted that he knew it was RoshHashonah. This was discrimination, plain and simple.

Jeremy Bowen's anti-Israel bias is well known and indeed confirmed by the Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust who published a report into three complaints about him in April 2009. The Editorial Standards Committee upheld three complaints against Jeremy Bowen on grounds of accuracy and impartiality.

Surely an unbiased BBC Middle East Editor would take care to ensure that no interested parties would be unable to take part in the Q&A. Would Jeremy Bowen have held such a Q&A on a Friday during Ramadan thus disenfranchising British Muslims?

On YomKippur (the holiest day in the Jewish calendar) in 1973 the armies of Egypt & Syria, with support from elsewhere, attacked Israel, deliberately choosing the day when they hoped Israel's defences would be at their weakest. Was Jeremy Bowen simply following anti-Israel tradition?

I found Stephanie Harris's explanation also to be weak and unconvincing, but I am not sure that I can refer that to you or whether it is just the original offence that I can.

I look forward to your prompt response.


NotaSheep MaybeaGoat

I await a response with little hope bearing in mind the institutional anti-Israel sentiment at the BBC and the well documented anti-Israel attitude of the BBC Trust's Chairman, Lord Patten.

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