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BBC Removes Description of Alfred Dreyfus As “Notorious Jewish Spy”

The BBC removed its description of the late Alfred Dreyfus as a “notorious Jewish spy” from their website following criticism of the matter.

Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

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Aaron Bandler
Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

The BBC removed its description of the late Alfred Dreyfus as a “notorious Jewish spy” from their website following criticism of the matter.

On October 10, the pro-Israel media watchdog HonestReporting tweeted out a screenshot of the BBC’s description of the show “Police Paris 1900.” The description of the show read at the time, “The French Republic is in turmoil as rumors spread about the release from Devil’s Island of Dreyfus, the notorious Jewish spy.”

“Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French army who was baselessly accused of treason by a deeply antisemitic establishment,” HonestReporting tweeted. “After initially being convicted and humiliated, he was later exonerated of all charges.”

Joel M. Petlin, Superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District, tweeted that “a simple Google search” would have informed the BBC about Dreyfus being wrongly convicted as a spy. “European Antisemitism is just as rabid today as it was in France in 1894.”

Writer David Hazony tweeted, “In case you have no idea why this is a big deal: The entire Zionist movement was inspired, at least in part, in response to the awful story of the slander of Dreyfus. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.”

The BBC’s description of Dreyfus was later changed to say that he was “previously arrested for spying.” A spokesperson for the BBC told The Jerusalem Post, “The sentence was not intended as an [sic] historical statement, but to reflect the rumors towards the Dreyfus case that we see in the drama — which also depicts the rise of antisemitism.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that Dreyfus “was famously a victim of an antisemitic conspiracy theory in 1894. Glad that the @BBC corrected this false narrative.”

HonestReporting’s Emanuel Miller was less forgiving, telling the Post, “The BBC evidently feels it doesn’t owe Jews an apology, much less take serious steps to familiarize its staff with the basics of antisemitism in order to prevent such easily avoidable mishaps. Unfortunately, judging by past experience, the BBC is unlikely to apologize for the insulting mischaracterization.” Miller added in a piece for HonestReporting: “For whatever unacceptable reason, the BBC has again failed to uphold basic journalistic standards and instead nearly helped fuel the dissemination of a century-old smear. It’s time that the BBC takes antisemitism more seriously.”

Sussex Friends of Israel similarly tweeted, “They [the BBC] don’t half spell ‘sorry for our mistake’ in funny way.”

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis’ (CAMERA) UK affiliate noted that the Radio Times description of Dreyfus as a “notorious spy” is still on their website, although the Radio Times is not affiliated with the BBC.

 

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