Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl condemned BBC plans for a debate on last week’s Radio 4 Sunday programme about whether anti-Zionism should be “a protected characteristic”. Following a Board of Deputies statement on Friday, the BBC shelved plans for the discussion.
In the statement, Marie said: “Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland. The BBC’s intention to host a debate on whether vocal opposition to that belief should be a ‘protected characteristic’ is a grotesque insult to an overwhelming majority of British Jews.
“Those on the fringes of our community have every right to express their views; we are fortunate to live in a country which values freedom of speech. Yet for our national broadcaster to invite such people to give their view, and then ask a representative of one of our communal organisations to ‘debate’ this view, places these opinions on an equal footing and gives listeners an utterly inaccurate impression of the general view of British Jews. This was something done repeatedly during the Corbyn era, when representatives of key Jewish communal organisations were asked to ‘debate’ the existence of antisemitism in the Labour Party with people from a small far-left fringe group full of conspiracy theorists, as if for the entertainment of the general population.
“Our community is not here to dance for your amusement.” – Marie van der Zyl, President