There are calls to sack BBC reporter Tim Willcox after he appeared to link Friday’s attack on a French kosher supermarket with “Palestinian suffering” during a TV interview during Sunday’s anti-terror rally in Paris.
It came in response to on-camera comments from an Israeli woman who said the situation was “going back to how it was in the 1930s” and that the “Jews are the targets now”.
Willcox replied that Israel’s critics “would say that the Palestinians have suffered hugely at Jewish hands as well”.
Taken aback, the woman said the two could not be conflated, at which point Wilcox argued that things had to be seen “from different perspectives”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Tim Willcox has apologised for what he accepts was a poorly phrased question during an in-depth live interview with two friends, one Jewish and of Israeli birth, the other of Algerian Muslim heritage, where they discussed a wide range of issues affecting both the Muslim and Jewish communities in France. He had no intention of causing offence.”
Really sorry for any offence caused by a poorly phrased question in a live interview in Paris yesterday – it was entirely unintentional
— Tim Willcox (@BBCTimWillcox) January 12, 2015
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), a grassroots initiative formed several months ago, lodged an official complaint with the BBC.
CAA director Jonathan Sacerdoti said: “Tim Willcox’s latest statement to offend Jewish viewers is… only weeks after he suggested that ‘prominent Jewish faces will be very much against the mansion tax’.”
Meanwhile another news organisation found itself criticised for its coverage of the Paris attacks this week, when CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Isa Soares implied that the attack on the kosher supermarket was not anti-Semitic because Muslims also shopped there.
Shortly after, the channel carried news that the terrorist gunman had spoken to another journalist, who called the store, explaining that he had carried out the attack “to defend oppressed Muslims, especially in Palestine, and he chose a kosher supermarket because it served Jews”.
Tim Wilcox’s words comes only weeks after a statement made in November 2014.
In that statement, Wilcox implied that “a lot of these prominent Jewish faces will be very much against the mansion tax”.