Since all Israeli children can grow up to be soldiers, it is OK to kill them, even if you don’t believe in killing civilians. That is the teaching provided by Dr. Kamal El-Helbawy on the BBC-owned Arabic TV Channel. El-Helbaway is a former spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in England, so his statement wasn’t exactly unexpected, but Jewish groups in the country wonder why a publicly-owned TV Company was allowing “outrageous” radical Islamic views to be aired on its Arabic television channel:
Jewish groups condemned a broadcast in which a British Muslim academic appeared to justify the targeting of Israeli children.
Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, the founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, told a discussion program that, while he condemned the killing of civilians, he believed all Israeli children were “future soldiers”.
He said: “A child born in Israel is raised on the belief that the Arabs are like contemptible sheep.
“In elementary school they pose the following math problem – ‘In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?’. This is taught in the Israeli curriculum.”
Dr El-Helbawy, 69, founded the MAB in 1997 when he was also a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2006 he was removed from an American Airlines flight at Heathrow when US Homeland Security officials decided to deny him entry to their country to speak at a conference.
He was born in Egypt but has a British passport and is now chairman of a group called the Centre for the Study of Terrorism in London.
He describes himself as a moderate who has denounced terrorism “thousands of times”.
But Barry Rubin, Director of Global Research in International Affairs, an Israeli-based research centre, said the BBC risked inciting violence by allowing the remarks to be broadcast last October.
Mr Rubin said: “Even under the broadest definition of free speech I would say this was inciteful. It’s hate speech. There is no balance in BBC programming. This is not the proud, great BBC.”
Itamar Marcus, Director of Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group which monitors the Arab language media, said: “This is a call to violence and bloodshed. To say that the Israeli school curriculum is teaching the murder of Arabs is totally outrageous and factually wrong.
“That goes in people’s ears and spreads like wildfire and the listeners think it’s OK to go and murder Israelis.”
BBC Arabic television was launched in March last year and is available free to viewers across the Middle East and North Africa.
It is funded by taxpayers’ money through a £19 million annual grant from the Foreign Office, rather than the television licence.
Despite being based in London it is only readily accessible to viewers in the UK through a website.
Last September staff at the station voted to take strike action, claiming the corporation was trying to run it “on the cheap”.
The BBC denied that it had allowed a contributor to the channel to condone, unchallenged, the killing of civilians.
It said Dr El-Helbawy had himself condemned the targeting of civilians and any impression that such acts might be acceptable was quickly challenged in the program.
However, it admitted that it had failed to correct an assertion that the Israeli curriculum included a maths problem about killing Arabs.
Jeremy Timmins, Head of Africa and Middle East for the BBC World Service, said: “When we make a mistake we will acknowledge it, but one error does not substantiate a claim that the BBC limits debate and incites violence.
“We want to get the story right and we work hard to achieve balance over time in our coverage.”