WE COULD HAVE HAD ‘IS­RAEL’S SIDE OF THE STORY’

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

With­out wish­ing to un­der­mine the very im­por­tant work be­ing done in the cause of Is­rael, I can­not help but smile rue­fully when I read the pleas of na­tional com­mu­nal bod­ies and high­pro­file in­di­vid­u­als for Jewish peo­ple to use the me­dia to pub­li­cise “Is­rael’s side of the story”.

When the BBC axed its only ra­dio pro­gramme of specif­i­cally Jewish in­ter­est (de­spite re­tain­ing its pro­grammes for other eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties), th­ese same or­gan­i­sa­tions and peo­ple were nowhere to be seen. I re­fer to BBC Ra­dio Manch­ester’s de­ci­sion in 2012 to can­cel Jewish Hour, which it had broad­cast for 21 years.

By the time the Board of Deputies con­tacted the BBC, some six months af­ter be­ing first asked to help, it was too late, and the bat­tle was al­ready lost. Sim­i­larly, one high-pro­file in­di­vid­ual (who has re­cently been very vo­cal in im­plor­ing the com­mu­nity to use the me­dia to pub­li­cise “the case for Is­rael”) wrote that he had “ab­so­lutely no time to be­come in­volved”.

It was left to pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als (along with the lo­cal Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil), who con­tacted the BBC in their scores, to fight the campaign and to sup­port the ef­forts of one brave in­di­vid­ual who took the BBC to court. Need­less to say, with­out the clout and the re­sources of the na­tional com­mu­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions, the campaign failed.

It is in­ter­est­ing now to re­call, af­ter six weeks of pro-Pales­tinian demon­stra­tors hurl­ing an­ti­semitic abuse out­side an Is­raeli-owned shop in Manch­ester city cen­tre (and a huge spike in re­ported an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents), that one of the main grounds ad­vanced for re­tain­ing Jewish Hour was that bring­ing a Jewish view­point to the wider public helped to com­bat an­ti­semitism.

It’s worth re­flect­ing that the real en­e­mies of Jewish peo­ple are of­ten our­selves. Jeff Lewis jeff.lewis@brab­n­ers.com

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