BBC Exec Says He's 'Never Been So Uncomfortable as a Jew in the U.K.'

Danny Cohen questions Jews' future in Britain amid increasing anti-Semitism; Jewish leader says BBC is part of the problem.

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BBC TV chief Danny Cohen
BBC TV chief Danny CohenCredit: Peter Searle

Amid news of record-high anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, the BBC's Jewish director of television, Danny Cohen, has said he has "never felt so uncomfortable as a Jew in the U.K."

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem earlier this week, Cohen expressed concern about increasing anti-Semitism at home and in other parts of Europe.

“I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the U.K. as I’ve felt in the last 12 months," he said, according to the Independent. "And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually? Because you feel it. I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before,” he added.

Cohen, a native of London, said he has never felt about anti-Semitism the way he feels now.

“You’ve seen the number of attacks rise, you’ve seen murders in France, you’ve seen murders in Belgium," he said. "It’s been pretty grim actually."

Following the summer war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, more than 300 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Britain in July alone. Four synagogues were vandalized, Jews were attacked on the street, and a Jewish graveyard and Holocaust memorials were defaced.

However, at least one British Jewish community leader accused the BBC of contributing to the discomfort Cohen describes as a Jew in the U.K.

“During the Gaza conflict last summer, sections of the media and society reacted to events in a manner that was so unbalanced that it left many British Jews feeling the same way as Danny Cohen," said Jonathan Arkush, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies, according to the Jewish News. "Ironically the BBC was part of the problem.”

The BBC has often been accused of bias by both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists, especially during flare-ups in the Middle East.