Irish channel must apologize for show calling Israel ‘cancer’
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Irish channel must apologize for show calling Israel ‘cancer’

National broadcasting regulator rejects claim that comments were anti-Semitic, but says host failed to meet standards of fairness

Irish TV host Vincent Browne has expressed regret for his word choice, but insists his comments on Israel weren't anti-Semitic. (YouTube screenshot)
Irish TV host Vincent Browne has expressed regret for his word choice, but insists his comments on Israel weren't anti-Semitic. (YouTube screenshot)

DUBLIN — The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland upheld a complaint against prominent broadcaster Vincent Browne on Thursday for referring to Israel as “the cancer in foreign affairs” on his late-night TV3 show.

The network now has 21 days to apologize on air.

During the program, a popular and often robust nightly panel discussion of current affairs, Browne, a veteran and frequently outspoken pundit, said that Israel “polarizes the Islamic community of the world against the rest of the world,” and also said that the creation of Israel “stole the land from the Arabs.”

The original complainant, Paul Rossiter, found the remarks “deeply offensive” and “anti-Semitic.”

In response, TV3, a commercial channel, protested that Browne had clarified the remark two nights after the broadcast by saying he was not anti-Semitic, and that he was referring to Israel’s policy.

In Thursday’s decision, the Irish Broadcasting Authority rejected the anti-Semitism complaint, ruling that the discussion of Israel’s relationship with its neighbors was a “legitimate subject” for discussion. However, the Authority’s complaints committee described Browne’s Israel remarks as made “without apparent context or relevance” to the main subject of the program, the US presidential election.

It also found that the broadcast had not met standards for handling news and current affairs in a “fair, objective and impartial manner.”

The Authority partially upheld two similar complaints about Browne’s remarks on Israel, but denied claims that the remarks could have incited acts of violence. “Unless you deal with the problem of Israel and the Palestinians in that part of the world, there’s going to be conflict and disharmony,” he had said.

Browne later expressed regret for using the word “cancer,” but not for the thrust of his remarks. “What I resent is the suggestion that because you’re critical of Israel, you’re automatically anti-Semitic,” he told the Irish Independent. “I don’t think that’s acceptable.”

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