BBC blasted for 'wilfully blind' to antisemitism after Gary Linker's latest anti-Israel row

BBC blasted for 'wilfully blind' to antisemitism after Gary Linker's latest anti-Israel row

WATCH: GB News debates Gary Lineker's latest controversy

GB NEWS
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop


Published: 17/01/2024

- 07:54

Updated: 17/01/2024

- 08:13

Former TV chief Danny Cohen said Lineker breached the broadcaster's impartiality guidelines

The BBC is “wilfully blind” to antisemitism after failing to reprimand Gary Lineker for his latest social media scandal, a former executive at the organisation has said.

The Match of the Day presenter shared a social media post by a pro-Palestinian account which called for Israel to be prohibited from entering sporting tournaments abroad.


Critics slammed Linker, 63, who later took down the tweet which suggested Israel be banned “until it ends its grave violations of international law”.

He claimed that he did not understand that the post was calling for Israel to be barred. He instead believed that the banning had already happened.

\u200bGary Lineker

Gary Lineker has not faced disciplinary action for sharing the post

Getty

Danny Cohen, the broadcaster’s former director of television, said: “It seems very clear that Gary Lineker has breached the BBC’s impartiality guidelines, this time in relation to the specific area on which he presents for the BBC.

“The message he reposted supports the racist boycott movement against Israel and the reference to genocide is deeply offensive to the Jewish community.

“Deleting the post after it has been shared with millions of people does not solve the problem. The BBC’s senior management should act immediately.

“If they chose not to do so, they are proving again to be wilfully blind to issues of bias and anti-Semitism within the corporation.”

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\u200bThe story the Hamas propaganda group shared on social media

The story the Hamas propaganda group shared on social media

Twitter

Remarking on the situation, the BBC said: “We’re not going to comment on individuals or individual social media posts, but we will always respond to issues if they are raised with us.”

Cohen lambasted the co-operation for believing Gary Lineker’s excuse that he posted the tweet by mistake. He said: “Few in the Jewish community are likely to believe this. They will feel gaslit by BBC management’s implausible explanation and trust between Jewish people and the BBC will erode even further.”

The ex-BBC chief has previously implored the broadcaster to cut ties with the Match of the Day host.

Using the analogy of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure as manager of Manchester United, Cohen said: “If there were any signs that a player believed he was bigger than the club, Ferguson would quickly show him the door, even when it came to players of the world-class quality of David Beckham and Roy Keane.

“At the moment, Mr Lineker is behaving as if he is much bigger than his club - the BBC - with the insolent inference that there is nothing that his manager - the director-general - can or will do to stop him.”

BBC

The ex-BBC chief has previously implored the broadcaster to cut ties with the Match of the Day host

PA

After sharing the controversial tweet, Lineker was praised by Hamas supporters, who ran a story on his endorsement of the ban.

The Quads News Network’s article had the headline: “Renowned English broadcaster calls for Israel to be banned from international [football].”

MPs have since demanded the BBC sanction its highest-paid presenter.

Tory MP Damian Green, who sits on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “Gary Lineker continues with ever more controversial views, in this case directly affecting football. I want to see the BBC enforce its own guidelines on this.”

Michael Fabricant, another Conservative MP, added: “Gary Lineker is out of control. Surely the BBC must take action now that he is, in effect, giving comfort to the terror organisation Hamas.'

Former Labour MP Lord Austin also waded in on the controversy: “Gary Lineker is... undermining confidence in the impartiality on which the BBC's public funding depends and is making the corporation's board and senior managers look utterly foolish.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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