The BBC has been engulfed in another anti-Semitism row after BBC journalists were allegedly banned by senior managers from attending a march planned on Sunday.
According to sources, staff have been told that if they work in news, current affairs or factual journalism or are senior leaders they should not attend the march against anti-Semitism in central London.
They now fear they will face disciplinary action if they defy orders.
Insiders said staff were told that the march would not fall under the description of allowed events that are ‘commemorative or celebratory’. They added that BBC bosses made it clear that the attendance of staff on the march would be considered ‘controversial’.
Jewish journalists are understood to have written to bosses to clarify what the corporation’s stance was on the event. David Jordan, the broadcaster’s director of editorial policy, is said to have replied with an explanation of the corporation’s position.
Critics of the decision claim that many BBC staff have attended pro-Palestinian marches in recent weeks. One of the corporation’s biggest stars, Gary Lineker, backed pro-Palestinian protesters marching through London on Armistice Day.
Those concerned about the corporation’s stance also point out that its own guidelines say that ‘Opposition to racism is a fundamental democratic principle’.
They accused the BBC of a double standard, assuming ‘Jews don’t count’ when it comes to standing up to racism.
One source told Mail Online: ‘On the one hand they are saying that they’re not impartial on racism and staff don’t need to be but for some reason that we do need to be impartial on anti-Semitism. We can only assume that where this racism is concerned, Jews don’t count.
‘I moved from feeling like its not a safe place for Jews to work to feeling like I owe it to my community to stay and do whatever little I can to insert some humanity into the organisation.
‘Many people here have been to the pro-Palestine marches and are happy to talk about it at work. People here seem to think Zionists are evil. One colleague said I was OK because I wasn’t ‘a proper Zionist’. They don’t have a clue.
The march has been organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism charity group as a show of solidarity towards Jewish communities.
It is due to start the Royal Courts of Justice on Sunday afternoon.
People have compared the current stance on the march with the way BBC director-general Tim Davie said in 2020 that there was no ban on staff attending Pride parades.
Leo Pearlman, co-founder of the TV production company Fulwell 73, told The Times that the corporation’s approach showed a ‘worrying distortion of reality and underlying bias’.
He said: ‘Just when one thinks the BBC cannot find a new depth of incompetence to sink to in their reporting and handling of these tragic last six weeks, they seem to have decided to draw a clear distinction between anti-Semitism and every other -ism with this directive to their staff.’
Another source told the paper: ‘If the BBC believes that racism is racism and not acceptable in any shape or form then going on a rally against anti-Semitism shouldn’t be an issue.’
Critics point out that anti-Semitism is not the same as overtly politically supporting either side in the Gaza conflict.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC is clear that anti-Semitism is abhorrent. We have established guidance around marches, which explains that different considerations apply depending on what you do for the BBC.
‘Corporately, we have not issued any staff communication on any specific march this weekend, but this does not mean discussions which consider the guidance have not taken place between colleagues.’
The BBC pointed to its editorial guidelines around marches.
These say: ‘The Editorial Guidelines sections on Impartiality and Conflicts of Interest make it clear that different considerations apply depending on what you do for the BBC.
‘Members of staff outside News and Current Affairs and some Factual output may attend marches, demonstrations and protests as private individuals.
‘Staff are also able to participate in some parades, marches or gatherings, including events such as trade union rallies, under the banner of the BBC group to which they belong, but not representing the organisation as a whole.
‘BBC News and Current Affairs staff and some Factual staff, as set out in the Guidelines, should not participate in public demonstrations or gatherings about controversial issues.
‘As with social media, judgement is required as to what constitutes a controversial march or demonstration. If in doubt, advice should be sought before attending.’