A rabbi who worked with the BBC for some 30 years has resigned due to a “crisis over antisemitism” at the publicly-funded British broadcaster.
Rabbi YY Rubinstein, who has appeared on many BBC programs, including a religious affairs show on BBC Radio Two, wrote in a resignation letter shared on Facebook on Monday, “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.”
Rubinstein said he was motivated by an incident that took place on Nov. 29 in London, when several men surrounded a bus carrying Jewish teenagers celebrating Hanukkah and spit at them, made Nazi salutes, screamed “Free Palestine,” and banged on the vehicle’s windows.
In its coverage of the incident, the BBC claimed that the Jewish youths inside the bus responded to their assailants with anti-Muslim slurs, an allegation that was forcefully rejected by community leaders.
Multiple sources later revealed that a phrase BBC producers had apparently heard as “dirty Muslim” was in fact a mishearing of a Hebrew phrase — “tikra lemishehu, ze dachuf” — which in English means, “call someone, it’s urgent.” This was confirmed by two expert reports commissioned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which represents the local Jewish community.
“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,” Rubinstein said. “The obfuscation, denial that followed, was and is utterly damning.”
In a statement to the Jewish Chronicle, a BBC spokesperson responded, “We are sorry to hear of Rabbi YY Rubinstein’s decision as he has always provided thoughtful and compassionate contributions to our programs, 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,” they said.
Last month, the broadcaster was ranked third on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s “Global Antisemitism” top ten list.