BBC Radio 4 again purports to explain antisemitism

The purpose of the Livingstone Formulation was described by the person who named it, David Hirsch, as follows:

“the use of the Livingstone Formulation is intended to make sure that the raising of the issue of anti-Semitism, when related to ‘criticism of Israel,’ remains or becomes a commonsense indicator of ‘Zionist’ bad faith and a faux pas in polite antiracist company.”

Lesley Klaff describes it as:

“…the practice of responding to claims of contemporary antisemitism by alleging that those making the claim are only doing so to prevent Israel from being criticised; in other words, they are ‘playing the antisemitism card.’”

As has been noted here before, the BBC has been promoting that device for over three years – for example: 

Mainstreaming the Livingstone Formulation on BBC Radio 4

BBC promotes the Livingstone formulation – again

More promotion of the Livingstone Formulation from BBC News

BBC News ‘explanation’ of antisemitism promotes the Livingstone Formulation

Reviewing BBC Radio 4 coverage of Corbyn wreath laying story – part two

BBC R4 report on antisemitism in the US uses the Livingstone Formulation

Another BBC antisemitism backgrounder promotes Livingstone Formulation

Concurrently, the BBC continues to ignore the fact that anti-Zionism in the form of denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination has been defined as antisemitism under the IHRA working definition which has been adopted by numerous countries, more than 130 UK local councils, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary – but not the BBC.

On July 24th the BBC’s domestic radio station – Radio 4 – aired yet another discussion of antisemitism (which it still does not spell properly) on its ‘Moral Maze’ programme presented by Michael Buerk.

The synopsis to that programme begins by mentioning “the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the Labour party” (obviously a topic which might be of interest to domestic BBC audiences) and goes on to cite statements and polls concerning antisemitism in Europe before promoting the Livingstone Formulation:

“Less clear cut is the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. There is an argument about where the line is, and who has the right to draw it. Since Zionism has at its heart a belief in the Jewish right to self-determination, many Jews believe that those who oppose the state of Israel are anti-Semites. Others – many Jews included – don’t think that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic, and argue that saying so is merely a way of ignoring Palestinian grievances. Anti-Semitism may be the oldest ethnic hatred, but is it just another form of racism? Or is it a distinct and uniquely pernicious prejudice which must be understood in the context of centuries of violent oppression, dehumanisation and genocide? Anti-Semitism: what is it? what isn’t it? and how can it be defeated?” [emphasis added]

In his introduction Michael Buerk described the first of the two questions to be discussed as:

“…where do you draw the line between criticism of Israel and prejudice against Jews? Between antisemitism and anti-Zionism?”

The programme’s panel included Melanie PhillipsMona SiddiquiTim Stanley and Matthew Taylor. The ‘witnesses’ were Julia Neuberger, Adam Sutcliffe, John Inge and ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ member Robert Cohen who has previously appeared in similar Radio 4 content in which the BBC fruitlessly ‘discussed’ issues already addressed by expert bodies, while failing to inform its audiences of the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism that have already answered the question of whether anti-Zionism is an expression of antisemitism.

This programme was no better and did little to contribute to audience understanding of the issue of antisemitism in British society in general or in the Labour party – not least because falsehoods such as the portrayal of Israel as a “settler colonialist project” and the claim that Israel is “besieging Gaza” were inadequately challenged.

Despite its own dismal record and the plethora of evidence illustrating that the BBC does not have the authority or the expertise – let alone the remit – to define antisemitism, it continues to insist on producing content purporting to inform its audiences on that issue.

Related Articles:

In which the BBC asks ‘is Zionism wrong?’




7 comments on “BBC Radio 4 again purports to explain antisemitism

  1. The BBC brings up these topics only to deflect accusations of their being anti-Semitic whilst, in reality, it introduces discussions that attract even more anti-Semitism. If it wanted to be impartial, it would commission discussions such as “Why have Jews all left Arab countries whilst Israel has two million Muslims as citizens ?”

  2. Grimey hit the nail on the head once again, what did happen to all the Jews living peacefully in Arab lands? The answer is that post 1947 they were targeted and ethnically cleansed by racist Arab countries. Everyone including the BBC and the UN tries to bury such facts. The truth is that Islam instructs it’s followers to oppress and kill Jews, then puts Israel the only true safe haven for Jews under the spotlight, targeting their homes with rockets and their borders with protests and shouting loud to the world when Israel defends those borders or retaliates to stop the rockets, they target Israeli businesses with their racist BDS campaigns, which do nothing to enhance the lives of ‘Palestinians’ apart from lost them jobs. The BBC are complicit in all these endeavours with their biased reporting

  3. I listened to the Moral Maze episode too. I wasted an hour of my life. Naturally, the two “experts” invited to explain away antisemitism were both professional “As-A-Jews”. No mention made, naturally, of the influence of Islmaic antisemtism on UK political life

  4. Telling that the most recent BBC Annual Report states that our national broadcaster, publicly funded via our licence fees & HMRC taxes, that broadcasts to 376million worldwide via the World Service, has not signed up to the UK Govt. recognised and internationally recognised IHRC definition of antisemitism.

  5. Pingback: 07/30 Links Pt2: Israel Is in the Middle East, Israelis Are Middle Easterners, and Don’t You Forget It; I’m an Israeli settler. This is why I spoke with J Street’s first ‘alternative Birthright’ group. – 24/6 Magazine

  6. I am not familiar with the voices but the argument that the statistics of antisemitism are confused (meaning exaggerated) and that those who wear the burkahs and suffer anti for that reason was clearly an attempt to dismiss the seriousness of the suffering of Jews feeling hatred in a country that used to be among the most tolerant

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