An award-winning BBC journalist has been told to apologise for saying “Israel hasn’t really worked out” on BBC London radio on Tuesday morning.
Chris Rogers, a stand-in presenter who has won acclaim for investigative reporting for Sky News, ITV and BBC’s Panorama programme, made the comments while taking a call from someone who said migrants to Britain should be shipped off to Africa.
The caller, called Ian, said: “Africa’s huge… Why can’t we put them there?” Rogers replied that many had fled Africa, before asking: “Is just dumping families from all over the world, lots of different cultures, and reasons for fleeing, is just dumping them in a new state, if we do Israel all over again, is that really the answer? I mean Israel arguably hasn’t really worked out, has it?”
At least one listener called to complain, and a spokesman for the Board of Deputies said: “This off-hand, politically-loaded comment about Israel was most unfortunate… Mr Rogers was way off the mark.”
He added: “Considering the challenges it has faced from hostile neighbours, Israel has been a huge success, economically, culturally and politically, and is the only liberal democracy in the region. Mr Rogers should clarify or apologise for his comments.”
A BBC spokesperson said, “Chris Rogers was trying to challenge the caller’s point by finding a historical comparison and in the heat of a live programme discussion he picked the example of Israel. He accepts that his words might have implied criticism of the creation of the state of Israel which was not his intention. BBC Radio London apologises if any listener was offended.”