Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, said this week that he was deeply troubled by the anti-Semitism in Europe in general, and in Britain in particular, the Jewish Voice said.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, where he was interviewed by anchor Yonit Levi of Israel’s Channel 2 News, Cohen said, “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the U.K. as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually.”
“You’ve seen the number of attacks rise. You’ve seen murders in France. You’ve seen murders in Belgium. It’s been pretty grim actually. And having lived all my life in the U.K., I’ve never felt as I do now about anti-Semitism in Europe, ” the report quoted him as saying.
Cohen said that anti-Semitism was at its worst during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, and added that it has calmed down recently but “I do think there have been times where being a Jew in the U.K. in the last year has been an uncomfortable thing.” There are about 260, 000 Jews in Britain.
Indeed, anti-Semitism has been on a steep rise in the U.K., with thousands taking part in anti-Israel protests during Operation Protective Edge. Those demonstrations have included pro-Palestinian Arab rioters vandalizing a Birmingham Tesco store out of rage over a refusal to boycott Israeli products, the Voice said.
In a similar incident, hundreds of demonstrators rioted outside the Kedem store in Manchester, in a series of clashes which culminated in dozens of death threats being hurled at the store’s owners, the report said.
Following a pro-Palestinian rally in July, a group of young men drove in convoy through a Jewish part of Greater Manchester shouting “Heil Hitler” and throwing eggs and drinks cans at pedestrians. Four teenagers were charged with a physical attack on a rabbi in Gateshead. A sign saying “Child Murderers” was placed outside London’s Kingston Synagogue in August, The Independent said.
Vivian Wineman, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told The Independent that the number of recorded antisemitic incidents for 2014 was “the highest since records began”, although there has been a fall-off in recent months.
“Whilst we have much to celebrate about being Jewish in the UK, a summer filled with hostile, anti-Zionist demonstrations has clearly left its mark, ” he said.
Recent statistics show that hate crimes against Jews have risen 383% worldwide since 2013, including a 436% hate crime hike in Europe.
Responding to Cohen’s remarks, Jonathan Sacerdoti, spokesman for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, told Arutz Sheva that Cohen “is echoing the views of many Jews, who have felt increasingly uncomfortable in the UK over recent months” the Voice said.
“Of course, many suggest that the BBC has contributed to the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK and beyond, through its slanted news coverage. We will have to see if Mr. Cohen is able to contribute towards turning that tide, despite his putative separation from BBC News, ” he added.