The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg was too slow in deleting a tweet on Israel’s “corrupt relationship” with UK politicians. On 8 November, the BBC Political Editor posted a quote from a senior Conservative who claimed that the UK establishment has ignored the backdoor access Israel has within the UK. The tweet also said that the Conservative had called for Lord Polak, a key ally of Israel, to be ‘chucked out’ of the party:
The “corrupt relationship”
Then, Kuenssberg apparently deleted the tweet. But not before Middle East Monitor took a screenshot.
The tweet was part of Kuenssberg’s coverage of the events leading up to Priti Patel’s resignation. Patel, the now former International Development Secretary, was found to have taken part in 14 undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials, in serious breach of government protocol. Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), reportedly arranged 12 of the meetings and attended all except one of them.
The now deleted tweet included a senior Conservative’s call for Polak to be expelled from the party for such behaviour. But some have suggested that Polak was actually acting with the government’s approval. The Jewish Chronicle (JC) alleges that Theresa May knew about Patel’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “hours” after it happened. Meanwhile, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson argues that it’s “impossible to sustain the claim that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was not aware of Ms Patel’s presence in Israel”. 10 Downing Street denies that it knew about any of the meetings before they were revealed by the media.
The Israeli lobby “in action”
Commenting on the deleted tweet, former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook claimed it was the power of the Israeli lobby “in action – again”. Cook seems to be referring to the well-documented allegations about the influence of the Israeli lobby over the BBC.
These include allegations that the BBC has bowed under pressure to change headlines to make them less accusing of the state of Israel. In 2015, the BBC‘s complaints unit ruled that the broadcaster had breached its own guidelines in its reporting of Palestinian fatalities. And a BBC online editor once sent internal emails to staff urging them to write more favourably about Israel. In general, the BBC faces accusations of downplaying the reality of the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.
Responding to The Canary, the BBC declined to comment on Kuenssberg’s deleted tweet. The Canary also approached the Political Editor for comment, but had received none by the time of publication.
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Featured image via Policy Exchange