The BBC, using a hidden camera as part of a larger corruption investigation, caught a British Member of Parliament calling an Israeli soldier “a bloody Jew.”
Member of Parliament Patrick Mercer felt comfortable enough to share his unvarnished opinion of Jews while speaking to a reporter for the network’s investigative program Panorama who was posing as a lobbyist.
In the secretly-taped video, Mercer describes a recent trip to Israel where he visited an intelligence facility. On entrance, he was approached by a security guard.
This is how Mercer described the soldier to the British reporter: “An 18-year-old girl, wearing a uniform, with her sort of hair in plaits, and crazy jewelry and open-toed sandals, with a rifle up my nose,” he said.
And this was Mercer’s answer, in his own words: “Who the f**k are you, you know? ‘Well I’m a soldier.’ Are you? You don’t look like a soldier to me. You look like a bloody Jew.”
The BBC reports that Mercer later told the reporter that his remarks had been “misheard.”
Mercer was the Conservative Party whip but resigned that position following an investigation by the BBC and the Daily Telegraph which alleged that he accepted money from lobbyists in exchange for parliamentary favors.
In response to the BBC video, the Speaker of Israel’s Knesset Yuli Edelstein wrote a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow. According to the Jerusalem Post, Edelstein wrote: “I was shocked to hear about the crude, anti-Semitic words used by a Member of Parliament, Patrick Mercer, regarding an event during his recent visit to Israel.”
“This was a totally unacceptable comment, certainly as made by a public figure,” he wrote.
“This comment is merely one of a number of similarly unacceptable comments made by Members of the British Parliament regarding Jews and regarding Israel, comments that include sick, perverted and racist positions regarding the State of Israel,” Edelstein wrote.
“Only a strong and firm reaction on your part will provide the necessary public expression of the uncompromising commitment by you and by the British Parliament to fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism,” Edelstein added.
Bercow who was elected in 2009 is the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Commons.
Mercer’s remarks come on the heels of reports on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, including by the World Jewish Congress which last month held its annual meeting in Hungary to highlight its assessment that anti-Semitism is on the rise.
The IsraellyCool blog summarized the Mercer story this way: “The sad thing is, antisemitism is so rife in England, that it is the ‘bloody’ Jews attracting scorn, and not the ‘bloody’ Islamic fundamentalists.” IsraellyCool was referring to the gruesome killing of a British soldier in London by machete-wielding attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar” and to the suspect with blood-soaked hands who gave an on-camera interview shortly after the killing.
Here is the video in which Mercer speaks about his visit to Israel, courtesy of the pro-Israel website the Commentator:
Obviously, the BBC did use undercover video as part of its reporting. In the past, TheBlaze has explored the journalistic standards and ethics surrounding such tactics. The central question is: Is it ever permissible to lie to get the truth?
Experts have a variety of opinions, but the general consensus is that, unless deceit is the only option to retrieving information of monumental importance to the public, lying to obtain it is not an ethical journalistic practice. In this case, the BBC and the Telegraph were involved in a bigger story that involved posing as part of a lobbyist group seeking favors. Mercer, the outlets say, obliged.
Poynter has developed a list of standards for when it is — and is not — appropriate to use undercover tactics. You can read more about TheBlaze’s exploration of undercover journalistic standards here.
TheBlaze’s Billy Hallowell contributed to this report.