Friday, 6 March 2015

BBC The Report - Anti-Semitism in the UK: Is It Growing?

Last night's The Report programme was entitled 'Anti-Semitism in the UK: Is It Growing?'

The Report's description of the programme is 'Anti-Semitism in the UK: Simon Cox investigates the changing face of prejudice against Jewish people after recent lethal attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels. With the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calling for European Jews to move to Israel, we look at whether there is more dangerous anti-Semitism online and on the streets of the UK.'

Let's have a listen and see if the BBC actually focus on the perpetrators of anti-Semitism.

One minute in and the BBC have found a right-wing former member of an a far right anti-Semitic group, although they also promise to look at anti-Semitism within the British Muslim community. We will see which threat the BBC are more comfortable discussing.

The first incident mentioned was perpetrated by a white right-wing gang.

The first interview is with 'Michael' a former member with the far-right group Combat 18. Some minutes again the BBC are still interviewing 'Michael' about a new far-right group's anti-Semitism - National Action.

Now we've moved on to some more coverage of National Action. Half way into the programme and it's far-right groups all the way.

Now we've moved onto a British politician, Lee Scott, victim of anti-Semitism who describes the perpetrators as calling him an 'enemy of Islam' and that he should be 'stoned to death'. The programme seems to skip over those comments. 

Almost two thirds into the programme and the programme plays some National Action comments, just to give us a flavour?

Now we're discussing 'a controversial group', ISCAR  , who are an Israeli student group who fight anti-Semitism on social media. This part of the programme discussed Joshua Bonehill's proposed march through Stamford Hill and ISCAR fight against it. They also played Joshua Bonehill's phone call to BBC 5Live. 

Over two-thirds of the way through the programme and we're back in Stamford Hill looking at the way the Hassidic community has 'spread' since the programme's presenter, Simon Cox, worked in the area.

Twenty three minutes into a half hour programme and nothing about the threat from Muslims to the Jewish community. Instead we've moved onto how some non-orthodox Jews want to confront the anti-Semitic gangs. They refer back to the groups that marched against the fascists in London's East End in the 1930s. Another link to the far-right and ant-Semitism.

Finally twenty five minutes into the programme the BBC manage to bring up Islamist extremism as the new threat, let's see how they cover it. The opening comment is '... Islamist extremists... and their violent, distorted view of Islam that is of course shunned by the vast majority of Muslims'. Is that true? We will return to that later.

Then there is an interview with a Muslim expert, Memed Natchbandi (?), who visits Mosques around the UK and is an advisor to the police and government, who admits that anti-Semitism is endemic amongst Muslims, the phrases 'casual racist views' and 'nasty stereotypes' are used. But the BBC presenter, Simon Cox, is keen to counter that narrative by pointing out that 'Jewish communities are not the only victims of hate crime, Muslims suffer from it every day too. In fact there are more reported Islamophobic attacks in the UK than anti-Semitic ones. And there have been Islamophobic murders,   murders such as the murder of an 82 year old grandfather in Birmingham in 2013. And surely any Muslims listening to (the Muslim expert) would say that his was a misleading and inaccurate portrayal of his views.' Why did the BBC deem this comment necessary or indeed accurate? I'll come back to that point later. 

Three minutes later and the programme has moved onto Jews, including Jewish MPS, who are hiding their Jewish heritage.

The sum-up links Israel to Jews and mentions the far-right and Islamist extremists

So were Simon Cox's claims that 'their violent, distorted view of Islam that is of course shunned by the vast majority of Muslims' true?
'A YouGov survey for the Daily Telegraph,[6] published two weeks after the July 2005 bombings in the London Underground, showed that 88% of British Muslims were opposed to the bombings, while 6% (about 100,000 individuals) fully supported them, and one British Muslim in four expressed some sympathy with the motives of the bombers.[7] A 2007 poll found that one Muslim in four thought the Government had staged the bombings and framed the Muslims convicted.[8]'
 How about Simon Cox's claims about the relative numbers of anti-Semitic versus Islamophobic attacks in the UK? Before I look at the figures, I'm not sure why this is even relevant. However according to the 2011 census the Muslim population of the United Kingdom was 2,786,635, some 4.4% of the population whilst the Jewish community amounted to some 269,568 or 0.4% of the population. The Muslim community in the UK is around ten times larger than the Jewish community, were there ten times the number of Islamophobic attacks as anti-Semitic ones?  I doubt it.

Now we turn to Simon Cox's casting doubt on the Muslim experts description of anti-Jewish casual racism as being endemic amongst British Muslims. On what grounds does Simon Cox feel able to say '.. surely any Muslims listening to (the Muslim expert) would say that his was a misleading and inaccurate portrayal of his views.' How does Simon Cox know this? What research has he done to arrive at this conclusion? Or is this just another example of the usual BBC knee jerk defence of Muslims when they are being criticised?

So there we have it, a half hour BBC programme on the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK that manages just three minutes on the problem of anti-Semitism in the UK's Muslim community and counters that with the BBC presenter casting doubt on the veracity of those claims. Just another typical piece of BBC programming that protects Muslims from criticism even when that criticism is from a British Muslim expert. 

Also missing from this programme was any mention of the rise of anti-Semitism amongst the British left, especially at Universities and amongst the 'intelligensia'. But maybe investigating that source of anti-Semitism would be hitting too close to the BBC for their own comfort?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's the fuller version of the Muslim contribution: