Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel basks in applause during Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

BBC Reporter Defends Tweet Claiming Benjamin Netanyahu Played 'Holocaust Card'

A BBC journalist defended his claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exploited the Holocaust to further his agenda.

Jeremy Bowen, the Middle East editor for the British Broadcasting Corporation, made the claim on Twitter on Tuesday, during Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress decrying nuclear talks with Iran.

Netanyahu pointed to Holocaust memoirist and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who was in the gallery, as a living reminder that the Jewish people can never be passive again. “I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned,” Netanyahu said. Bowen wrote: “He acknowledges Elie Wiesel in audience. Once again Netanyahu plays the Holocaust card. Don’t repeat mistakes of the past.”

Fending off criticism, Bowen wrote on Wednesday: “Suggestions I’m an anti-Semite, or a denier of the Holocaust, are untrue and offensive.”

In an op-ed published Wednesday by The Jewish Chronicle, Alan Johnson, a senior research fellow at the pro-Israel Bicom lobby group, accused Bowen of promoting an “idea of the Bad Faith Jew, [that] is unmistakably dripping in the assumptions and myths of classic antisemitism.”

In 2009, a BBC complaints panel determined Bowen breached the corporation’s guideline on accuracy and impartiality in referring to Zionism’s “innate instinct to push out the frontier” and saying Israel’s settlements were “in defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own.”

Bowen was not the only journalist to say Netanyahu was exploiting Wiesel. Ravit Hecht, a columnist for Haaretz, wrote that Netanyahu was using “Wiesel as a rag doll from the Holocaust” in an op-ed published after the speech.

Netanyahu’s controversial speech, delivered despite opposition from the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and a number of Jewish groups, exposed a rift in the leadership of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Chronicle reported.

On Thursday, the paper reported that the board’s vice president, Jonathan Arkush, rebuked the organization’s treasurer Laurence Brass for writing on Twitter: “Netanyahu boards plane for Washington: ‘I go as an emissary of the entire Jewish people’… you are not my emissary.”

Brass’ term is expected to end in May. Arkush said Brass should have waited until he is no longer an official representative of the organization.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

BBC Reporter Defends Tweet Claiming Benjamin Netanyahu Played 'Holocaust Card'

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close