BBC backlash: Corporation sparks fury over offensive anti-Semitic debate

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The row started after CEO of Pink News, Benjamin Cohen, accused the BBC of debating “offensive” content during a dispute on whether Jews can be viewed as an ethnic minority. Mr Cohen appeared on the Politics Live show with a panel comprising of four others.

The other Panelists included Tory MP Lee Rowley, Miatta Fahnbulleh from the New Economics Foundation, Labour life peer Lord Wood, and a Spectator columnist, Kate Andrews.

After the show, Mr Cohen tweeted about the row saying: “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.”

Mr Cohen went on to question a “bizarre suggestion”, made by host Jo Coburn, that Jews don’t need “recognition in the same way as others” due to their political success.

“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.”

The remarks were made after the panel were asked if Jews should be included as a separate category in the forthcoming Census.

Cohen was invited to the show after he called out a tweet by Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, in which she claimed Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, was the “first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK.”

Cohen responded to the message saying “I guess Jews don’t count Angela? You were first elected in a general election fought by a Jewish Labour leader.”

His remarks were made in reference to former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

A BBC spokesman said: “We invited Benjamin Cohen on to the programme to discuss his tweet which objected to Angela Rayner’s assertion that Anas Sarwar was the first ethnic minority leader of a political party in the UK.

“The discussion reflected the fact that many official ethnic minority monitoring forms do not include a category for Jews.”

The spokesman continued: “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.

“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.”

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During the interview, Cohen said: “We face anti-Semitism and racism very clearly. We’ve just seen that with the many years of racism and anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

“So to suggest that Jews don’t face racism, and therefore we’ve reached such a high office that we’re not an ethnic minority is frankly ridiculous.”

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