The BBC has stood by its international correspondent Orla Guerin after she faced criticism for referencing the occupied Palestinian territories in a special report filmed inside Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.
Guerin’s emotional interview with Holocaust survivor Rena Quint in her Jerusalem apartment and at Yad Vashem was broadcast on BBC News at Ten on Wednesday.
“In Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names, images of the dead. Young soldiers troop in to share in the binding tragedy of the Jewish people. The state of Israel is now a regional power. For decades, it has occupied Palestinian territories,” Guerin concludes after interviewing Quint.
“But some here will always see their nation through the prism of persecution and survival,” she adds.
The segment attracted fierce criticism online, with some suggesting Guerin’s comments sought to draw parallels between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Holocaust.
But a spokesperson for the BBC denied the accusation in a statement.
“The brief reference in our Holocaust report to Israel’s position today did not imply any comparison between the two and nor would we want one to be drawn from our coverage,” the spokesperson said.
The statement came after Board of Deputies vice president Amanda Bowman demanded an apology. “In an otherwise moving report on the experiences of a Holocaust survivor, Orla Guerin’s attempt to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the horrors of the Holocaust was crass and offensive ,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
“As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day, the Jewish community is within its rights to expect an apology,” Bowman added.
Gideon Falter, chief executive of the group Campaign Against Antisemitism, plans to make an official complaint.
“Few could imagine perverting what is supposed to be an educational piece about the Holocaust to instead fuel the very antisemitism that such education is supposed to prevent, but that is what the BBC has done,” he said.
A spokesperson for Ofcom said the broadcasting regulator has not received any complaints about comments made by Guerin on BBC News at Ten on Wednesday.