FACT CHECK: ‘I Am Not Aware Of Any Animal That Is So Cruel As The Israelis’ — Did David Attenborough Say This?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook claims English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough made a disparaging comment about Israeli people.

Verdict: False

There is no record of Attenborough making this comment. It appears to originate from a comment made by a user with the same name on a 2014 news article.

Fact Check:

Attenborough is renowned for his work writing and presenting various natural history shows such as “Planet Earth” and “The Blue Planet.” Attenborough began working for BBC in 1953 and continues to work with the company to this day, according to The Conversation. In recent days, some social media users have shared a lengthy quote allegedly said by Attenborough disparaging Israeli people.

“I am not aware of any animal that is so cruel as the Israelis – not even crocodiles,” reads the alleged quote. “They bomb schools, hospitals, refugee camps, orphanages, UN feeding stations, water works, power plants, ambulances, kids playing on the beach.” The purported quote goes on to accuse the Israelis of a long list of heinous crimes including shooting kids going to school, kidnapping children and harvesting their organs and injecting prisoners with diseases before releasing them.

Since May 10, Israel has been engaged in a violent conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. At least 10 Israelis have been killed in Hamas rocket attacks while more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, according to The New York Times. A ceasefire between the two sides was announced Thursday and commenced at 2 a.m. on Friday, according to CNN.

There is no evidence, however, that Attenborough said the quote attributed to him in the post. A search of his website Attenborough Film turned up no results for the purported statement. Nor did a search of his verified Instagram account turn up the quote. Attenborough does not appear to have any other social media accounts where he could have posted the comment.

Had Attenborough actually said “I am not aware of any animal that is so cruel as the Israelis,” media outlets likely would have reported on it, yet none have done so.

“This quote is not from Sir David, and as such should not be attributed to him,” Tara Davies, a spokesperson for BBC Television, said in an email to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: Does This Video Show Palestinian Militants Staging A Funeral?)

The claim that Attenborough made the statement has been circulating online for years and appears to stem from a comment left by someone with the name “David Attenborough” on a since-deleted 2014 article published Iranian news outlet PressTV, bearing the headline: “Israel drops white phosphorus bombs on Gazans.” Other iterations of the fake quote found on social media allege Attenborough made the statement on July 21, 2014, the same day the comment was posted under the PressTV article.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
Follow Brad on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]