We have previously indicated that the BBC does occasionally transplant a veneer of impartiality onto its programming by showing the ‘other side,' so this is going to be about the Jewish guy who “happens to be Jewish and British” and is also a BBC journalist. ”British, Jewish: Is Anti-Semitism on the Rise?
I see that title not so much as a genuine question, more a half-hearted, ‘going through the motions’ investigation into a done deal. Like what bears, of necessity, do in the woods.
I do understand that the BBC has noticed the recent hullabaloo about antisemitism, possibly in the aftermath of David Collier’s tenacious and meticulous exposé of antisemitism (particularly) in the Labour Party. Collier actually succeeded in getting left-wing antisemitism recognised by the unoriginal, world-weary media hacks whose blind eyes had been firmly turned away from it for yonks, arguably ever since they became infatuated with Islam, or Muslimness as the BBC will have it.
This is the BBC’s ”does it even exist?” inquiry into antisemitism. A token gesture and a representation, of not just any old balance, but of the BBC’s special, unique, own-brand of balance.
I don’t want to trash Tom Brada, the BBC journalist who ‘happens to be British and Jewish’ and sure, one might “happen” to be Jewish, but no one just happens to work for the BBC.
Cast your mind back to 2012, a programme from a whole long time ago. The War on Britain's Jews was an investigation into antisemitism by Richard Littlejohn, aired on Channel 4 in 2012 and still available on YouTube. Tom Brada’s eerily deja vu offering brings much of it back all over again.
Both journalists meant well, I’m sure, but both fell into a remarkably similar trap. In featuring extremely atypical, unrepresentative interviewees, the arrows fell short and most of the shots turned out to be own-goals.
At the time I complained to the TV editor of The Times about the header the paper had chosen to advertise Littlejohn’s then-upcoming programme: “Right Rant”. Much as I’d like to do so, it wouldn’t be practical to reproduce the entire correspondence here (with a cautious apology from him, actually.) The editor’s (negative) opinion of Littlejohn was a major factor in the choice of header and it clouded the decision to categorise it thus. He admitted it. Littlejohn is well aware that that “Nobody likes him, everybody hates him “ (and he don’t care.)
Anyhow, Richard Littlejohn wrote this:
“Back in 2007 I made a film for Channel 4 exposing the rise of anti-Semitism in this country. […]
The idea was originally pitched to the BBC after a producer approached me to present a documentary on a subject close to my heart. Ever since 9/11, I had become aware of a growing sense of disquiet among my Jewish friends and neighbours and wanted to investigate the root causes.
When the BBC learned of the direction I wanted to make the programme, they ran a mile. It was later picked up by Channel 4."
Nine years later, the BBC found itself unable to avoid acknowledging that antisemitism has become a thing, and I feel that the BBC, itself pressurised by accusations of bias pouring in from all directions, was hoping that a programme about antisemitism would make up for the awkward and increasingly obvious deficiency; or you could say it ‘caved’.
Sadly Brada’s film contained multiple idiosyncrasies and weaknesses, which bore several uncanny similarities to Littlejohn’s. With a few exceptions, he picked a particularly unrepresentative set of individuals to make his case.
For example, I don’t want to be rude, but why did Brada choose a ‘convert’ to represent “the Jew"? Was Ashley the only Jew in the village? (Well, maybe; after all it was Burnley)
The black Jewish lady was delightful but hardly representative of Anglo-Jewry. Instead, it seemed to highlight the BBC’s ‘bend-over-backwards’ policy of inclusivity, where people of colour pop up here, there and everywhere.
A Muslim chap with the comedic name Mohammed Hijab sat on a deckchair beside Tom, carefully Islam-splaining the difference between anti-Israelism and antisemitism, and of course, they had to include a ‘good’ pro-Palestinian Jew for balance, forgetting that their own fifty years’ worth of biased pro-Palestinian output would have provided that without any of the bother.
Footnote: once again Camera has supplied the parts that I couldn’t reach.
“Apparently Mohammed Hijab was so pleased with that interview that he uploaded it in its 44-minute entirety to YouTube and promoted it on Twitter. There, readers can see for themselves which parts the BBC chose to edit out, including the apartheid tropes, the admission of cooperation with the fringe anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta, Hijab’s claim to be “a Semite” and his assertion that it is “impossible for a Muslim to be antisemitic”.