Middle East Monitor / July 15, 2021
The Palestinian affairs specialist for BBC Monitoring, Tala Halawa, was fired last month over a tweet criticizing the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2014, three years before being hired by the British news outlet.
Halawa, who is a Palestinian journalist, issued a statement on Wednesday and posted it in Arabic and English on her Twitter account. She blamed the BBC for its: “Immediate dismissal at the whim of a pro-Israel mob.”
During the 51-day Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2014, Israel killed more than 2,160 Palestinians, including 55 civilians in 48 hours when the Israeli army attacked Shejaia, east of Gaza City.
The 55 civilians killed in the massacre included 19 children and 14 women. Commenting on this massacre, Halawa used a hashtag common among those campaigning against the Israeli offensive, #Hitlerwasright.
On her dismissal, Halawa asserted that she had been unfairly tried based on an: “Offensive and ignorant tweet published seven years ago.”
“However, it saddens me that the BBC, instead of looking for ways of apologies, reconciliation and dialogue, has unfortunately gone to trial with social media,” expressed Halawa.
She stated that the BBC: “Amplify troll voices and capitulate to pressure from external pro-Israel interest groups and right-wing media determined to eliminate Palestinians from public life.”
Halawa’s tweet was brought to the surface during the Israeli offensive on Gaza between 11 and 21 May, by a pro-Israel watchdog group called Honest Reporting. The campaign became fierce due to a report Halawa produced on the pressure put on celebrities who support Palestine.
“I recently published a video report for the company on celebrities criticized, trolled and cancelled for supporting Palestinian self-determination,” Halawa wrote in her statement.
“But I am not the only one,” she added, noting: “This pro-Israel censorship campaign is industrial in scale and international in its reach.”
On her work for the BBC, she stated: “I am proud of the fact that during my four years at the BBC I have always been known for my impartiality and professional journalism, even during the most difficult times.”
She concluded her statement: “I will continue to believe and fight for honest and courageous journalism, regardless of these menial attempts at character assassination.”