Senior BBC news reporter Orla Guerin has found herself in hot water of an increasingly familiar kind. During a report on preparations for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, she made a brief reference to Israel and an even briefer reference to the Palestinians. Her reporting coincided with Israel hosting world leaders last week at Yad Vashem, its Holocaust remembrance centre in Jerusalem.
Here is what Guerin said over footage of Yad Vashem:
In Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names, images of the dead. Young [Israeli] soldiers troop in to share in the binding tragedy of the Jewish people. The state of Israel is now a regional power. For decades, it has occupied Palestinian territories. But some here will always see their nation through the prism of persecution and survival.
British Jewish community leaders and former BBC executives leapt on her “offensive” remarks, even accusing her of antisemitism. Guerin had dared, unlike any of her colleagues in the western media, to allude to the terrible price inflicted on the Palestinian people by the west’s decision to help the Zionist movement create a Jewish state shortly after the Holocaust. The Palestinians were dispossessed of their homeland as apparent compensation – at least for those Jews who became citizens of Israel – for Europe’s genocidal crimes.
Guerin’s was a very meek – bland even – reference to the predicament of the Palestinians after Europe’s sponsorship, from the 1917 Balfour Declaration onwards, of a Jewish state on their homeland. There was no mention of the Palestinians’ undoubted suffering over many decades or of Israel’s documented war crimes against the Palestinians. All that Guerin referred to was an indisputable occupation that followed, and one could argue was a legacy of, Israel’s creation.
Illustration of an article against Orla Guerin from the website