The London Daily News has learned there is an informal news blackout at BBC Radio over the mounting public outrage following the Gaza incursion by Israeli troops.
According to sources, radio station phone in’s have been screening out any callers wanting to talk about the Israeli air strikes and ground offensives in the Middle East.
The BBC’s Have Your Say comment sites are being heavily moderated – its main board ‘How can a truce be achieved in Gaza?’ has had half of its 4,500 comments rejected on the basis of defamation, incitement to crime and hate, harassment, abuse, threats, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, homophobic or racially offensive language.
On the board ‘Are the Israeli strikes on Gaza justified?’ Half of the 5,000 comments have also been removed for breaking the House Rules stated above.
Producers and presenters have been told to ‘stay away’ from the subject despite thousands taking to the streets the past few weeks in protest and support of the military action that has seen 600 killed and just recently 40 dead from an air strike at a school.
The self imposed ban has also been reflected in commercial radio with stations like Talksport rarely wanting to broach the subject and many others clearly steering away from on-air debates on the topic. LBC has attempted to tackle the subject with on air debates.
Radio bosses are keen not to enflame the situation and leave themselves open to accusations of bias toward one side or another – the Beeb, still reeling from the Jonathan Ross affair is in no mood for any controversy.
Also there is a responsible editorial reason behind the scaling back of listener comment.
Today we reported on the increase of anti-Semitism on London’s streets, the attempted torching of a Synagogue, 24 attacks in total and the appearance of sickening graffiti saying “Kill Jews” and “Jews are scumbags” across the city.
By taking the heat out of the debate it cools an already charged atmosphere, though that will have no effect on the most agitated and likely to let their feelings spill out on the street in direct action.
The denying of debate in a public forum such as the BBC could also leave organisations open to accusations of curtailing freedom of expression.
‘We’ll kill Jews abroad’
Tension is high in London between Jewish areas of Golders Green, North Finchely, Stanmore, Stanford Hill and St John’s Wood which are receiving extra “reassurance patrols” by police and Muslim areas of West Ham, Tower Hamlets, Southall, Hackney, Stoke Newington and Camden.
The heightened sensitivity on the airwaves and chat rooms comes in the wake of chilling comments by the Hamas leader that they will kill Jewish children anywhere in the world in revenge for the devastating attacks of the past few weeks. Mahmoud Zahar said:
“They have legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine. They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people.”
Speaking to the Times, Mark Gardner, of the Jewish charity Community Security Trust, warned Jews:
“When the Hamas leadership calls for revenge attacks on Jewish people, we have to be very, very concerned about what that means.”
Violent embassy protests
Meanwhile pro-Palestinian protesters continue to mass outside the Israeli embassy in a demo they vow will last all week despite the plunging temperatures.
A wave of anti-Israeli feeling spread over the city this weekend when large rallies were held across the city culminating in angry exchanges and clashes with the police as they fought to protect the Kensington embassy from attack.
Hundreds of demonstrators ripped up and hurled barriers threw sticks and missiles and attempted to rush the building.
Roads were closed and police in riot gear had to contain the 5,000 strong crowds on Kensington High Street. Protesters burned the Israeli flag and labeled the country a terrorist state.
Police say they are working with Muslims to insure protests pass off peacefully with non confrontational stewarding methods.
Jews under attack across Europe
Jews are on their guard across the continent as young disaffected Muslims bring the conflict in the Middle East to the capitals of Europe.
In Paris on Saturday riot police had to separate the 25,000 pro-Palestinian and 4,000 pro-Israeli demonstrators outside the Israeli embassy.
The National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism in France reported petrol bomb and hate attacks on synagogues, there have been similar reports in Belgium.