The absolute last institution that should encourage collective blame is a news outlet like the BBC, whose responsibility is to objectively report facts and ask relevant questions; not incite further hate.
But following the terrorist attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, BBC reporter Tim Willcox did exactly that. In a cringe-worthy report from the French capital’s Unity March, Willcox bullied an unsuspecting Jewish French woman about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, applying collective blame on Jews for rising anti-Semitism in France.
During her interview with Willcox, the woman says,
We have to not be afraid to say that Jews, they are the target now. It’s not only the…
Before she can finish her thought, Willcox seizes the opportunity to link France’s anti-Semitism to Israel’s affairs:
Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer at Jewish hands as well.”
(Note he says “Jewish,” not “Israeli.”)
What follows is painful to watch. The innocent French woman—already fraught from the horrific terror attacks and unprecedented anti-Semitism in France—is completely taken off guard by Willcox’s irrelevant attack. After a visible pause, she tries to collect her response:
We cannot do a…‘amalgame’ (confusion)…between…
Her language barrier aside, the woman gracefully tells Willcox not to confuse (‘amalgame’) the situation in Paris for anything related to Israel and the Palestinians.
But determined to push his narrative of collective blame, Willcox again interrupts and bullies her.
“But you understand everything is seen from different perspectives,” he insists.
“Of course,” the woman says with dignity. “But this is not my…uh…”
Before she has a chance to continue, Willcox ends the interview and gives her a patronizing tap on the shoulder.
He can also pat himself on the back for promoting the idea that anti-Semitism (in France and globally) is provoked by the suffering of Palestinians “at Jewish hands.”
Just so we’re clear, the definition of anti-Semitism by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUCM) includes, “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”
Congratulations, Tim Willcox. You are an anti-Semite. In your unethical reporting, you push a narrative that holds all diaspora Jews accountable for Israel’s policies, and, in turn, anti-Semitism. We also call that “victim blaming.”
Ironically, Mr. Willcox, you are also very similar to Rupert Murdoch. While your politics are at opposite ends of the spectrum, your methodology is exactly the same. In a grand show of collective blame, Murdoch recently tweeted that all Muslims “must be held responsible” for “their growing jihadist cancer.”
Although I do not condone Murdoch’s reprehensible statement in any way, I do acknowledge him for declaring it by his own accord. Had he taken your insidious approach, Mr. Willcox, he would have cornered an innocent French Muslim woman for an on-camera interview under the false pretense of discussing Islamophobia.
UPDATE: Tim Willcox issues an indirect and weak excuse for an apology over twitter.
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