1,000 demand BBC apology over ‘Should Jews count as ethnic minority?’ debate
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1,000 demand BBC apology over ‘Should Jews count as ethnic minority?’ debate

The BBC's Politics Live held a discussion on whether Jewish people qualify as an ethnic minority, sparking a backlash

The debate asked whether Jewish people should be counted as an ethnic minority
The debate asked whether Jewish people should be counted as an ethnic minority

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.”

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.

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