BBC panel: Does Jewish success cancel minority status?

“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,” tweeted Benjamin Cohen.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A BBC discussion about whether or not Jews should be considered an ethnic minority in the UK sparked anger from a Jewish guest who briefly spoke to the panel.

The debate on BBC2’s Politics Live program focused on whether or not Jews should count as an ethnic minority, and if they should be given their own category in the upcoming UK census.

The panelists included Conservative MP Lee Rowley, Spectator columnist Kate Andrews, Labour life peer Lord Wood and Miatta Fahnbulleh from the New Economics Foundation, none of whom are Jewish.

Benjamin Cohen, CEO of Pink News, spoke on the program as a guest. He said he was flabbergasted by the choice of panelists and the idea that it was acceptable for people who are not Jewish to debate the issue.

“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,” he tweeted.

“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.

“I would have compared it to a debate about trans existence with no trans people participating but the BBC puts that sort of thing out all the time…”

The idea for the debate stemmed from a recent tweet from Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, who congratulated the new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar as “the first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK.”

Cohen replied, “I guess Jews don’t count Angela? You were first elected in a general election fought by a Jewish Labour leader,” referencing Ed Miliband.

During the program, host Angela Coburn asked Cohen if Rayner’s failure to recognize Miliband as an ethnic minority proves that Jews are no longer perceived as an ethnic minority in the UK.

“Benjamin, isn’t there a wider point that actually perhaps the fact that Angela Rayner didn’t immediately recognize previous Jewish political leaders in her tweet underlines the fact that many Jews have succeeded in reaching high political office, and therefore don’t need to be seen as a group needing recognition in the same way as others?” she asked.

Cohen responded, “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.

“Frankly the notion of this debate is ridiculous.”