Yet another BBC correspondent has come under fire for offending Jewish sensitivities after he accused Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of using the Nazi Holocaust to elicit sympathy during his address to Congress.
Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, tweeted, “#NetanyahuSpeech He acknowledges [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel in audience. Once again Netanyahu plays the holocaust card. don’t repeat mistakes of the past.”
In response, Alex Brummer, a well-known journalist himself and vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, condemned Bowen’s statement, saying it was “beneath contempt,” the United Kingdom’s Daily Express reported. The UK-based campaign group, North West Friends of Israel, also slammed Bowen, saying on Twitter, “err-‘Holocaust card’? The holocaust wasn’t a game, Jeremy. Maybe take a trip to Europe again to see how world treated Jews.”
Other critics labeled the veteran journalist a “slime bag” and calling his statement “deplorable,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
Defending himself, Bowen wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, “Suggestions I’m an anti-Semite, or a denier of the Holocaust, are untrue and offensive.”
Bowen’s articles have previously been criticized for running afoul of BBC guidelines, according to the Express. In 2009, an inquiry into one of his pieces for the BBC website found that a reference to “Zionism’s innate instinct to push out the frontier” breached guidelines. His coverage last year of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the coastal enclave also had some asking if he was trying to persuade audiences that Hamas does not use human shields. Bowen was additionally accused of “clear bias” in 2013 for mourning the death of Dr. Eyad Sarraj, a member of the anti-Israel Free Gaza Movement.
The controversy surrounding Bowen’s offending tweet comes just weeks after his BBC colleague, Tim Wilcox, was accused of antisemitism and faced calls for his resignation after he told a French woman that “Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.” His charge was made as he covered the mass rally in Paris following the deadly attacks on the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and at the kosher Hyper Cacher supermarket. The woman, who was the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, told Wilcox she feared the resurgence of anti-Jewish persecution as seen in 1930s Europe.