While interviewing a Jewish woman at the Paris rally on Sunday, a BBC reporter linked rising anti-Semitism and Palestinian suffering “at Jewish hands,” and urged the woman to see the “different perspectives” on Jew hatred in Europe.
The woman, identified as Chava — originally from Israel, and the daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors — compared the situation in Europe in the 1930s to the present, saying she felt “not secure” in France, and later clarifying that unlike the period leading up to the Holocaust, the current situation can still be improved before it is too late.
“We have to not to be afraid to say that the Jews, they are the target now,” she said.
The interviewer, Tom Willcox, interjected: “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffered hugely at Jewish hands as well.”
The flustered Chava proceeded to say that the two should not be conflated, when Willcox continued: “But you understand, everything is seen from different perspectives?”
Willcox later apologized in a Twitter post for the “poorly phrased question.”
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
“Tim Willcox has apologized for what he accepts was a poorly phrased question during an in-depth live interview with two friends, one Jewish and of Israeli birth, the other of Algerian Muslim heritage, where they discussed a wide range of issues affecting both the Muslim and Jewish communities in France. He had no intention of causing offense,” a statement from a BBC spokesperson said.
The comments came against the backdrop of the mass rally in Paris, which saw a turnout of over 1.5 million, the largest protest in French history. The marchers, and several dozen world leaders — including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — showed up in solidarity with the 17 victims of the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, a kosher supermarket, and a policewoman.
Four Jewish men were killed on Friday when Islamist gunman Amedy Coulibaly stormed the Paris market where they were shopping. Coulibaly told a TV station that he had deliberately targeted Jews. He had also planned to target a Jewish school, according to media reports, and had the addresses of several Jewish institutions in Paris saved in his phone.