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The Project accused of 'antisemitism' after airing segment blaming Israel for Beirut explosion

The Project has been slammed for airing a controversial segment in which Israel was blamed for the deadly Beirut explosion. 

Host Waleed Aly interviewed photographer João Sousa, who is based a kilometre from where the explosion detonated in Lebanon’s capital, on Wednesday.

Aly asked Mr Sousa whether locals were accepting of the blast being blamed on ‘poorly stored ammonium nitrate’ in the area.

‘No. I would say 99 per cent of the people I’ve spoken with … they all feel that that’s not necessarily the correct explanation,’ Mr Sousa responded.

‘People are more likely to believe that this was an attack, a military attack, possibly by Israel than an accident.’

A photojournalist on The Project blamed Israel for the deadly Beirut blast (pictured) on Wednesday

A photojournalist on The Project blamed Israel for the deadly Beirut blast (pictured) on Wednesday








When Aly asked if that was due to a general culture of suspicion of government or the geopolitics of the region Mr Sousa said there was a ‘historical aspect here that cannot be ignored’.

‘Lebanon and Israel are never on good terms, so there’s always this tension going on, and people are always expecting something like this to happen,’ he said. 

The Project has been criticised on social media after the segment aired, with the program deleting the segment from their social media channels after backlash.

Several tweets accused the program of allowing ‘anti-semitism’ in the report. 

‘So you ask an uninformed photographer for his verdict and he spouts an anti-semitic response with absolutely no evidence and you accept it – is that good journalism Waleed?’ one post reads. 

‘Wow! Waleed Aly just let their guest blame Israel for the Beirut blast without rejecting, questioning or denouncing his Jew-hating narrative,’ another tweet reads.

Photographer João Sousa (pictured right) told Walled Aly (pictured left) people are 'likely to believe' the explosion was a 'military attack' by Israel

Photographer João Sousa (pictured right) told Walled Aly (pictured left) people are ‘likely to believe’ the explosion was a ‘military attack’ by Israel

A collection of tweets after the segment aired on Wednesday, with viewers accusing the program of allowing 'anti-semitism' in the report

A collection of tweets after the segment aired on Wednesday, with viewers accusing the program of allowing ‘anti-semitism’ in the report

‘Showing your true colours, habibi.’ 

‘I’m a big admirer of Waleed Aly and it’s beyond disappointing that he failed to use his formidable skills to question why Israel is being blamed for this,’ another comment reads.

‘This is yet another example of baseless anti-semitic conspiracy theories that have very real consequences.’

‘Really Waleed? You bring someone on the show that then blames Israel for the blast and carnage and suffering and lose of life today? You knew this is what he would say…that is facilitating anti-semitism Waleed,’ another response reads. 

However not everyone agreed with the claims the comments made on the show were anti-semetic.

One social media user said: ‘Still not anti-semitic. He was explaining what people that lived there thought. 

‘If you lived there you would think exactly the same if there was an explosion like that. Maybe you just want to believe it is anti-semitic because it fits in with you narrative.’

Another said: ‘Here’s a tip: Saying something bad about Israel isn’t anti-semitic.’

The Project deleted the segment from their social media channels on Thursday morning.

Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission Dr Dvir Abramovich told Daily Mail Australia he spoke with co-executive producer of The Project Chris Bendall with concerns about the segment. 

The death toll from the Beirut blast (pictured) has reached 135 people, with as many as 5,000 people injured in the explosion

The death toll from the Beirut blast (pictured) has reached 135 people, with as many as 5,000 people injured in the explosion

‘In my conversation with Mr Bendall this morning I communicated my profound concerns and disappointment that the photojournalist interviewed yesterday was given a free ride by Waleed Aly to claim, without a shred of evidence, sources, facts or confirmation that Israel might have been responsible for the explosion and the heartbreaking loss of life,’ he said.

‘Allowing such wild and unfounded accusations that defame Israel to go unchallenged by the interviewer, and then to post it online was highly irresponsible.

‘That is how malicious conspiracy theories are born, given life and then spread, and such vicious accusation as levelled by Joao Sousa, will surely be seized on by those looking for every opportunity to bash and defame Israel.

‘Such false charges should have never been given a platform on a mainstream current affairs show and should have been rejected and refuted immediately.’ 

‘And I while I welcome the removal of the video, I urge the senior management at The Project to apologise for this lapse in judgement.’

An aerial view of the damaged port area after the devastating explosion in Beirut on Wednesday

An aerial view of the damaged port area after the devastating explosion in Beirut on Wednesday

Dr Abramovich’s sentiment was followed by Victorian Liberal MP David Southwick. 

‘This story is irresponsible as it casts unsubstantiated blame on Israel for the tragedy in Lebanon,’ he told Australian Jewish News.

‘Instead of running stories like this maybe show how Israel was one of the first to respond with medical assistance.’

A spokesperson for The Project rejected claims the Beirut explosion was a military attack.

‘As our report last night clearly stated, this is a tragic accident resulting from the mishandling of dangerous chemicals,’ the spokesperson said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Aly and Channel Ten for further comment. 

The death toll from the Beirut blast has reached 135 people, with as many as 5,000 people injured in the explosion.

The explosion caused widespread destruction through the port area, with buildings flattened from the devastating blast

The explosion caused widespread destruction through the port area, with buildings flattened from the devastating blast  

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