Outrage has been growing online after Britain’s Sky News Middle East correspondent Mark Stone suggested Israeli policies and its “untenable occupation” were to blame for an increase in UK antisemitism, leading him to issue an apology that many rejected.
The ordeal began Tuesday after a father replied to a tweet of Stone’s by blasting the presenter’s Israel coverage while expressing concern about UK antisemitism, the media’s role in inciting it, and his Jewish children having to hide as a result.
“Not a threat purely an observation that we constantly see unbalanced reporting not just Sky but also BBC, ITV and Channel 4. This is resulting in such Jew hatred in the UK. My children have to hide who they are I’m not sure they have a future in this country it’s got that bad,” the father wrote.
Not a threat purely an observation that we constantly see unbalanced reporting not just Sky but also BBC, ITV and Channel 4. This is resulting in such Jew hatred in the UK. My children have to hide who they are I’m not sure they have a future in this country it’s got that bad.
— walter merrick (@merrick_walter) June 8, 2021
In a stunning response, Stone noted in a now-deleted tweet how he had been informed by many “Israelis” that the “Jew Hatred” was actually a consequence of Israeli policies.
“It’s interesting that so many *Israelis* tell me that the ‘Jew hatred’ you experience is actually the consequence of the current Israeli government’s policies; their prolongation of an untenable occupation,” he wrote.
— Matt Martin (@mjamartin) June 8, 2021
Despite issuing a later apology for the provocative tweet, it did little to quell the outrage over his casting the blame of UK antisemitism on Israel.
“It is entirely wrong to accept the premise that Jews or any minority group should be held responsible for the actions of a foreign government,” tweeted the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
It is entirely wrong to accept the premise that Jews or any minority group should be held responsible for the actions of a foreign government. @stone_skynews should delete this tweet and apologise. @SkyNews https://t.co/4XS5PnGibV
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) June 8, 2021
“Mark Stone is a Sky News Antisemite not a BBC Antisemite,” wrote one Twitter user.
“What a coward that SKY Mark Stone is,” wrote another Twitter user. “Buried a lukewarm apology in the comments below the disgusting antisemitic tweet he has deleted.”
“Mark Stone is an idiot and bigot. He needs to be sacked by Sky News,” wrote yet another.
“Truly disgusting comments on social media by Sky’s Mark Stone on where blame lies for the huge increase in antisemitic attacks on Jews in the UK,” wrote another Twitter user. “Can’t see how @SkyNews can see him fit to continue reporting on the Middle East with those views.”
“Is it sky policy for your reporters like Mark Stone to blame victims for the racism they receive @SkyNewsHead?” asked another.
Last month, Stone came under fire for misrepresenting an event and falsely accusing Jews of offensive behavior.
Sharing a clip of Jews celebrating as a fire rages in the background, Stone implied that the Jews were cheering the burning of the “Al Aqsa mosque courtyard,” without mentioning they were, in fact, celebrating the country’s “Jerusalem Day,” a national holiday celebrating Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem following the 1967 Six Day War.
“As a part of the Al Aqsa mosque courtyard burns (a tree was on fire), nationalist Israeli Jews dance & celebrate,” he wrote. “This is an image condemned by moderate Israelis & by Israeli Arab politicians.”
Stone was immediately called out.
“Not at all the situation. You again twisting the truth, omitting key facts & exposing your own bias,” wrote pro-Israel advocate Arsen Ostrovsky.
Not at all the situation. You again twisting the truth, omitting key facts & exposing your own bias.
The Israelis at bottom of Western Wall plaza, were celebrating Jerusalem Day. The fire on Temple Mt caused by fireworks from Palestinian rioters just happened at same time.
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) May 11, 2021
“The Israelis at bottom of Western Wall plaza, were celebrating Jerusalem Day. The fire on Temple Mt caused by fireworks from Palestinian rioters just happened at same time,” he added.
“Once again ‘tree on fire’ context missing: it was set on fire by fireworks fired by those on the Temple Mount towards Jews/the Kotel. Why leave out this context?” wrote one Twitter user.
“Are you serious?” asked another.
“The celebrations were ongoing before the Palestinians started the fire accidentally, while firing fireworks towards the Western Wall plaza, which was evacuated moments after that,” the user added.
The number of antisemitic incidents in the UK in recent weeks has “surpassed anything we have seen before,” according to the leading Jewish charity The Community Security Trust (CST).
The Campaign Against Antisemitism told the Press Association that the incidents recorded last month included physical attacks on Jews, antisemitic placards and chants witnessed at political protests, social media posts, and threats against Jewish schoolchildren.
A spokesman for the organization said, “None of these should be features of life in Britain in 2021, but they are for Jewish people.”
“Ultimately, the blame lies with the racist perpetrators of these cowardly incidents. But some politicians, the media, social media companies and others have done their part in tolerating or even stoking the hate,” he added. “It is vital that the police investigate incidents as they arise and bring offenders to justice.”
Last month, the British government’s communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said escalating antisemitism in the UK is likely a result of radical Islamist cells in the country.
The government minister noted a pro-Palestinian protest in May, which saw members of the motorcade scream out on the streets of London, “F*** the Jews”, “f*** their mothers”, “f*** their daughters,” and “rape their daughters.”
The Community Security Trust reported that in another case, a group of Jewish secondary schoolchildren were threatened by a man who said that he would assault them if they didn’t express support for Palestine.
“Tell your f****** mum and dad they are murderers and killing babies,” the man allegedly yelled at the children.
Last month also saw a resurgence in anti-Israel political rallies, with two major protests being staged in London.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.