(March 2, 2021 / JNS) Nearly 1,500 people have signed a petition demanding that the BBC apologize for airing a panel discussion on Monday about whether or not Jews are an “ethnic minority.”
The Campaign Against Antisemitism launched the 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 BBC2 show “Politics Live” held the talk in response to a Twitter post on Saturday by Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner, who said that the new head of the party’s Scottish branch, Anas Sarwar, is “the first-ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the U.K.”
While Sarwar is the first major party leader of Asian descent, other leaders have had ethnic roots, including those of Jewish statesmen Benjamin Disraeli, Ed Miliband and Michael Howard.
The panel’s Jewish host, Jo Coburn, started the debate by asking, “Should Jews count as an ethnic minority?” The panel consisted of four non-Jews and Benjamin Cohen, the Jewish CEO of the LGBT publication Pink News.
“Many Jews have succeeded in reaching high political office, therefore don’t need to be seen as a group needing recognition in the same way as others,” said Coburn.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews released a statement responding to her comments, noting “we were disappointed by the lack of sensitivity shown by the BBC as regards this discussion.”
“Jews, regardless of whether they are at all religious or not, are subjected to antisemitism every day—and have been subjected to mass murder, in living memory, on the basis of their ethnicity,” said the statement. “Our community should expect solidarity and support, not questions about whether we deserve any.”
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