BBC apologises to Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks for surprise Middle East question on live radio


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The Independent Culture

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks was caught off-guard this morning during a BBC Radio 4 broadcast when he made comments regarding the Gaza and Israel conflict without appearing to know he was on air.

The deadly exchange of rockets and airstrikes between Gaza and Israel has seen lives lost on both sides and the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the Hamas military chief, in a drone strike on his car on Wednesday has intensified the situation.

Lord Sachs was was asked for his assessment of the situation by Evan Davis immediately after delivering the daily Thought for the Day on Radio 4's Today Programme without it being made clear that he was live on radio.

The BBC has since issued a statement apologising to Lord Sacks and accepting that the manner of the presenter's questioning in this case was "inappropriate".

Davis informally requested Lord Sacks' input following a news broadcast, in response to which Lord Sacks paused, sighed audibly, and responded "I think it's got to do with Iran, actually".

Davis' co-presenter Sarah Montague was heard to whisper "We're live" after which Lord Sacks adopted a more formal manner and said the situation required "a continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but for the whole region."

“No-one gains from violence. Not the Palestinians, not the Israelis. This is an issue here where we must all pray for peace and work for it,” he said.

A BBC spokesman said: "The Chief Rabbi hadn't realised he was still on-air and as soon as this became apparent, we interjected. Evan likes to be spontaneous with guests but he accepts that in this case it was inappropriate and he has apologised to Lord Sacks. The BBC would reiterate that apology."