BBC accused of ‘colossal error’ – Jewish groups slams corporation as anti-semitic

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In the video, Jewish students are seen being abused as they sat on the bus and were subject to anti-semitic chants. At the time, the BBC reported Jewish Charedi students had used an anti-Muslim slur. However, analysis from a world-renowned linguist, found no anti-Muslim phrase had been used, with the BBC’s report being described as a “colossal error”.

Instead, professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann, Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, discovered the alleged anti-Muslim slur had in fact been a Hebrew phrase, he told the Jewish Chronicle.

Professor Zuckermann, who advises the Oxford English Dictionary and is fluent in 13 languages, said the phrase was “Tikrah lemishu, ze dachuf”.

In Hebrew, this means: “Call someone, it is urgent.”

A report commissioned by the Jewish Board of Deputies, employed digital experts DigFind and D3 Forensics to clean up the recording.

Professor Zuckermann then studied the tape to establish if a Hebrew phrase or an anti-Muslim slur had been used.

When studying the footage, he claimed only the Hebrew phrase could be heard in the recording.

He said: “I was unable to detect any anti-Muslim slur in particular, at any point in the footage, either in English or in Hebrew.”

Professor Zuckermann added: “Given the above native pronunciation of ‘mishu’ and ‘dakhuf’ and given the cohesiveness of the complex sentence in Israeli (‘Call someone, it’s urgent’), it is clear to me what is heard around the three-second mark is a native Israeli sentence rather than an English expression.

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“I hypothesise that the BBC, misheard ‘mishu’ as ‘Muslim’ and perhaps even the preceding ‘tikrah’ as ‘dirty’.”

Commenting on the report, Marie Sarah van der Zyl, president of the Board of Jewish Deputies, said the BBC had made a “colossal error”.

She said: “A community charity shouldn’t have to use its precious funds to commission experts to disprove the BBC’s flawed journalism.

“At the very least, the BBC should apologise and give us our money back.

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“It has added insult to injury in accusing victims of antisemitism of being guilty of bigotry themselves.

“Others will have to judge whether the corporation has a legal case to answer here.

“But what takes this from an egregious failure to something far more sinister is the BBC’s behaviour when confronted with its mistake.

“Instead of admitting it was wrong, it has doubled and tripled down.

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“This raises serious questions about deep-seated biases within the BBC towards Israelis, and indeed towards Jews in general.”

A BBC spokesperson claimed their initial report was factual and had consulted Hebrew speakers in determining if any slur was used.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster told “Anti-Semitism is abhorrent. We strive to serve the Jewish community, and all communities across our country, fairly.

“As we have stated previously, our story was a factual report that overwhelmingly focused on the individuals the police want to identify; those who directed abuse at the bus.

“There was a brief reference to a slur, captured in a video recording, that appeared to come from the bus.

“We consulted a number of Hebrew speakers in determining that the slur was spoken in English. The brief reference to this was included so the fullest account of the incident was reported.”

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