21:46 GMT17 April 2021
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    Comments by Labour lawmaker Angela Rayner’s about the appointment of Anas Sarwar as “the first ever ethnic minority” party leader in the UK have raised eyebrows on social media, with many asking if the politician simply ignored the role Jews have played in the country's politics.

    The BBC’s debate on whether Jews should be considered an ethnic minority, discussed by a panel of four non-Jewish speakers, is causing outrage on Twitter as people slam the channel for bias.

    The broadcaster raised the question during the Politics Live! programme when the panel talked about the backlash over the tweet by Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner hailing Pakistani Anas Sarwar – head of Scottish Labour – as “the first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK.”

    ​Reyner’s remark was criticised for ignoring similar statuses among prominent Jews, namely Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband.

    Jewishness is not only linked to religion but also ethnicity – something that has implications for anti-discrimination laws – critics pointed out, including Jewish publisher and PinkNews Chief Executive Benjamin Cohen.

    Cohen, who sent an angry “Jews don’t count Angela?” tweet to Reyner, was invited by the BBC to take part in the debate as a guest, which he branded “frankly ridiculous” during the broadcast. He then rushed to share his thoughts about the show on social media:

    “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,” Cohen raged.

    “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,” he continued.

    Cohen, who pointed out during the programme that Jews “face anti-Semitism and racism very clearly” as an ethnic group, despite their high status in the UK political establishment, actually praised the panelists for giving “fine answers to the ridiculous question."

    “Yep all panel members were good on this it’s the presenter I question,” he wrote on Twitter.  

    Following the discussion, a British pro-Jews advocacy accused the public broadcaster of “the lack of sensitivity.”

    But the BBC stood by its take on the issue:

    “According to the Government — not Politics Live! — Jews aren’t an ethnic group in the UK. So, if you believe they should be, please tell Government as it’s their policy,” Rob Burley, BBC’s editor of live political programmes, said in a tweet, citing a government document outlining ethnic groups in the UK.

    The UK government doesn’t view Jews as a separate ethnic group but designates “any other ethnic group” as falling within the category upon their self-identification.

    “It is recognised that these ethnic groups do not represent how all people identify. People are encouraged to write in their ethnicity using their own words if they don’t identify with any groups in the list,” the government states.

    Tags:
    Jews, BBC News, BBC, United Kingdom
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