BBC: Apologise now for suggesting Jews might not “count” as an ethnic minority

BBC: Apologise now for suggesting Jews might not “count” as an ethnic minority

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Campaign Against Antisemitism started this petition to BBC

On 1st March 2021, the BBC aired a debate that asked: “Should Jews count as an ethnic minority?”

This is a question that the BBC would never presume to ask about any other British minority community.

The segment, which featured on the BBC’s Politics Live show, invited four non-Jewish panellists to debate a Jewish guest, Ben Cohen, the Editor of Pink News, who rightly observed that “the notion of this debate is ridiculous”.

When host Jo Coburn suggested that “many Jews have succeeded in reaching high political office and therefore don’t need to be seen as a group needing recognition in the same way as others”, Mr Cohen replied that Jews “face antisemitism and racism very clearly” and referenced the Labour Party’s institutional antisemitism.

It is outrageous that the BBC has aired a segment on whether Jews count as an ethnic minority. The show’s own guest rightly considered the debate to be ‘ridiculous’. It is a question that the Corporation would never presume to ask of any other minority community in Britain, and it is telling that it does so in relation to the Jews. These segments show why, according to our research, two thirds of British Jews view the BBC’s coverage of Jewish matters unfavourably.

The debate was stirred by the social media backlash against Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, who tweeted that Scottish Labour’s newly-elected leader is “the first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK”.

As Campaign Against Antisemitism pointed out, historically at least four party leaders have been Jewish, namely Benjamin Disraeli (Conservatives), Herbert Samuel (Liberals), Michael Howard (Conservatives) and Ed Miliband (Labour). There have been minority leaders in minor parties as well, for example the controversial Salma Yaqoob of the Respect Party (she has since joined the Labour Party).

Our most recent Antisemitism Barometer showed that two thirds of British Jews view unfavourably the BBC’s coverage of matters of Jewish interest (including antisemitism). Given broadcasts like this one, this breathtaking finding is wholly understandable.

There are around 250,000 Jews in Britain. We suffer almost four times as much hate crime per capita as any other religious group. To hold a debate on whether or not we “count” as an ethnic minority is appalling.

The BBC must apologise.

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