PARIS — BBC reporter Tim Willcox told a seemingly baffled woman he was interviewing at Sunday's huge unity rally here in Paris that Palestinians are suffering at "Jewish hands" after she expressed her concerns about the recent attacks on French Jews.
Willcox was interviewing two friends whom he introduced as Hava and Aziz; Hava said she was from Israel and had lived in France for 20 years, while Aziz was a Frenchman of Algerian descent. The pair said they had met in an association where people learn Arabic and Hebrew.
Asked by Willcox whether she feels "threatened or frightened by the Muslim community here," she said, "I didn't feel that fear till until the last days, I have to say." She said she no longer feels "secure," and compared the current situation in France to 1930s Europe.
"We have to not be afraid to say that the Jews are the target now," she said. "It's not only the —"
"But many critics of Israel's policy would say that the Palestinians have suffered hugely at Jewish hands as well," Willcox said.
"We cannot do an amalgam between —" the woman began.
"But, you understand, everything is seen from different perspectives," Willcox said.
A BBC spokesperson said Willcox has apologized "for what he accepts was a poorly phrased question during an in-depth live interview with two friends, one Jewish and of Israeli birth, the other of Algerian Muslim heritage, where they discussed a wide range of issues affecting both the Muslim and Jewish communities in France. He had no intention of causing offense."
Four hostages were killed in an attack on a kosher grocery store in Paris on Friday, two days after 12 were killed in a terrorist attack on the office of the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The wave of violence has put Paris' Jewish community, which faced a string of anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, on edge.
Willcox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
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