BBC “Balancing” Refugee Claims

This guest post was written exclusively for HonestReporting by Lyn Julius, the co-founder of Harif, a UK group representing Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.

There is good news and bad news from the BBC : on the one hand, they have actually reported (click on the player below to listen) on the campaign for Jewish refugee rights being driven by Israeli Deputy Foreign minister Danny Ayalon.

On the other hand, it is a pity that the BBC has waited until the Ayalon initiative before even mentioning Jewish refugees. Do a search for “Palestinian refugees” on the influential BBC website and you get 1,197 results. Do a search for “Jewish refugees” and you get only 187 results, and almost all concern Holocaust survivors.


 Click here to listen

This BBC Radio 4 report takes great pains to ‘balance’ the accounts of two Jewish refugees with those of two Palestinian refugees. But slightly more time is devoted to the latter, and the reporter does not attempt to question any of the assertions made by the Arab side. By contrast, the implication is that the Israeli side has suddenly come up with this issue – a new excuse to avoid peace talks.

The Jewish refugees are now ‘ordinary citizens’ of Israel, but it never occurs to the reporter to ask why two refugees in a camp outside Ramallah, under Palestinian control, are still refugees. Why has the Jewish refugee question been solved while the Palestinian question has not?

The reporter also states that 850,000 Jews were refugees, an equal number to those on the Palestinian side. In fact there were more Jewish refugees than Palestinians. Those Jews who resettled in Israel constituted a rough exchange of populations with the Palestinians of around 650,000.

Still, I suppose we should be grateful that the BBC is beginning to discuss the Jewish refugee issue at all.

Image: CC BY-SA,

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