Europe

BBC shame: Jewish broadcaster quits corporation over Oxford Street antisemitic attack row

Oxford Street: Jewish passengers are verbally abused by men

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Rabbi YY Rubinstein, a contributor to programmes such as Good Morning Sunday and Thought For The Day, resigned in a letter. He then posted the letter on Facebook late last night.

In his resignation letter, he said: “This is a very sad moment for me as I have been a BBC Broadcaster for some thirty years,” adding that he had been a contributor for the corporation for “over three decades”.

He continued: “The current crisis over antisemitism at the Corporation and its attempts to turn the victims of the recent antisemitic attack on Jewish children in London and claim that the victims were actually the perpetrators, was and is inexcusable.

“The obfuscation, denial that followed, was and is utterly damning.”

Rabbi Rubinstein concluded: “I simply don’t see how I or in fact any Jew who has any pride in that name can be associated with the Corporation anymore.”

In late November, Metropolitan Police launched an investigation after a group of men hurled antisemitic abuse at a Jewish group on a bus as they celebrated Chanukah.

Disturbing footage shared online shows the men spitting at the bus and punching windows while shouting slurs.

At the time, Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, condemned the attack, stating that antisemitism had “no place whatsoever in society”. Boris Johnson described the video as “disturbing”.

The BBC attracted criticism for a report on the incident in which it alleged that anti-Muslim insults could be heard from inside the bus.

It was reported in late December that Jewish leaders would confront Tim Davie, the director-general of the BBC, over the report.

Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, described the BBC’s “misreporting” as “a colossal error”, which “has added insult to injury in accusing victims of antisemitism of being guilty of bigotry themselves”.

She added: “But what takes this from an egregious failure to something far more sinister is the BBC’s behaviour when confronted with its mistake. Instead of admitting it was wrong, it has doubled and tripled down.”

Ms Van der Zyl demanded the corporation publicly apologise, and said the Board of Deputies would be holding a meeting with Mr Davie over the issue.

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The Board of Deputies commissioned an independent investigation into the video, in which audio experts and linguists found no evidence of anti-Muslim slurs.

Responding to Rabbi Rubinstein’s resignation, a BBC spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of Rabbi YY Rubinstein’s decision as he has always provided thoughtful and compassionate contributions to our programmes, which have been deeply appreciated by our listeners.

“Antisemitism is abhorrent and we strive to serve the Jewish community, and all communities across the UK, fairly.”

With regards to the news report, they said: “Our story was a factual report that overwhelmingly focused on the individuals the police want to identify; those who directed abuse at the bus.

“There was a brief reference to a slur, captured in a video recording, that appeared to come from the bus. We consulted a number of Hebrew speakers in determining that the slur was spoken in English.

“The brief reference to this was included so the fullest account of the incident was reported.”

Writing in the aftermath of his resignation in the JC, Rabbi Rubinstein reiterated that “the people I worked with in Beeb-Land were among some of the most talented and kind I ever met. They were extremely professional and almost always generous with their time and experience.”

However, he added: “Yet all through my years at BBC Manchester, Broadcasting House in London and Media City in Salford I was aware that despite my many friends there, I was never quite part of the club.”

Rabbi Rubinstein claimed he had “scores” of stories of incidents of antisemitism he had heard of concerning BBC members of staff.

He added: “I was supposed to write and broadcast six scripts for Radio 2 in February and then the attack on the Jewish kids on that bus in Oxford Street occurred and the BBC’s journalists blamed the victims and in so doing exonerated the perpetrators.”

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