A thousand people have signed a petition demanding the BBC apologise for airing a debate asking “Should Jews count as an ethnic minority?”
The national broadcaster sparked outrage yesterday when it aired the segment on its flagship Politics Live show in a discussion about Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, who claimed the new Scottish Labour leader was “the first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK.”
While Anas Sawar is the first person of Asian descent to lead a major political party, party leaders such as Benjamin Disraeli, Ed Miliband and Michael Howard have had Jewish roots.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism has now called on the BBC to apologise with its petition, saying: “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 Board of Deputies has also criticised the clip, saying: “Our community deserves solidarity and support, not questions about whether we deserve any.”
I've just been on the BBC's Politics Live where the BBC literally just asked four non-Jews if they agreed with me that Jews are an ethnic minority. Imagine if I was Black and four white people were asked to judge if I was a member of an ethnic minority. It would be as offensive. pic.twitter.com/2jPCJa1MJG
— Benjamin Cohen (@benjamincohen) March 1, 2021
The only Jewish contributor on the panel, Benjamin Cohen, CEO of LGBT publication PinkNews, said: “Frankly the notion of this debate is ridiculous … It’s just not the case that Jews have reached such high positions in society that they don’t face discrimination.”
A BBC spokesperson told Jewish News that presenter Jo Coburn – who is herself Jewish – was reflecting on the fact that many official forms do not include a category specifically for Jews.
“The programme covers a variety of topics so our panel is not constructed specifically to address one story, but we ensured that Mr Cohen’s contributions were given appropriate prominence during this discussion,” said the spokeswoman.
“Our presenter was not sharing her own view or saying whether this was the correct view, but her job is to explore why people see things the way they do.”
She added that the much-criticised on-screen graphic related to whether the Government should count Jews as an ethnic minority.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.