By B. Cohen
BBC reporter Tim Willcox left campaigners against anti-Semitism unmoved with an apology for causing “unintentional” offense after he made an anti-Semitic comment on live television yesterday. Willcox told a Jewish interviewee attending Sunday’s unity march in Paris that “many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.”
Willcox’s disturbing comment came in the middle of an interview with a woman in the crowd who expressed concern that Jews in Europe were now facing a situation similar to that which prevailed in the 1930s. “We have to not be afraid to say that that the Jews, they are the target now,” she said, before Willcox interrupted her with his remark about Palestinians suffering at “Jewish hands.” When the woman objected to the comparison, Willcox informed her, “But you understand, everything is seen from different perspectives.”
The reporter later took to social media platform Twitter to offer an apology of sorts. “Really sorry for any offense caused by a poorly phrased question in a live interview in Paris yesterday – it was entirely unintentional,” Willcox wrote.
Campaigners against anti-Semitism were unimpressed, however. “Tim Willcox is right to have apologized for the question, but the thinking behind it was just as problematic as the way he phrased it,” Dave Rich, Deputy Director of Communications for the Community Security Trust, the official communal security body of British Jews, told The Algemeiner. “There are simply no grounds on which to suggest that random Jewish shoppers in a Paris kosher grocery might be responsible for the fate of the Palestinians.”
Michael Salberg of the Anti-Defamation League accused Willcox of engaging in “anti-Semitism, plain and simple,” describing the reporter as “a proponent of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and stereotypes.” As The Algemeiner reported last November, Willcox caused a separate furore during a BBC television panel discussion when he suggested that Jewish voters uncomfortable with British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s stance on Israel were motivated by financial concerns. “A lot of these prominent Jewish faces will be very much against the mansion tax,” Willcox said, referring to a Labour proposal for an additional tax on properties worth $3.5 million or more.
Several Twitter users responded to Willcox’s apology by highlighting the November incident. “It wasn’t at all poorly phrased, you have a proven track record of antisemitic statements,” said Shmuli Brown, a Chabad rabbi who serves Jewish students in Liverpool. Other users highlighted the fact that Willcox made his remark less than a month after Danny Cohen, the head of television at the BBC, admitted at a conference in Jerusalem that he had “never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months.”
Other critics of Willcox included the historian Simon Schama, whose recent BBC/PBS series “The Story of the Jews” won critical acclaim around the world.
“Appalling of @BBCTimWillcox to imply any and all JEWS (not Israelis) responsible for treatment of Palestinians by hectoring lady in Paris,” Schama said on Twitter. “Then he had gall to patronize her at the end – ‘you see people see it from all sides.’ That Palestinian plight justifies anti-Semitic murder?”
Watch BBC reporter Tim Willcox ambush a woman at the Paris unity rally with an anti-Semitic question HERE.