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Jewish TV industry figures send letter to BBC over cricket commentator

A group of almost a hundred Jewish directors, producers, screenwriters, suppliers and contractors from the television and film industries have sent an open letter to the BBC about cricket commentator Qasim Sheikh.

The letter to DG Tim Davie and Chief Content Officer, Charlotte Moore, accuses the BBC of double standards by not treating Qasim Sheikh’s social media posts as harshly as other BBC commentators who have posted controversial messages.

AN OPEN LETTER TO DIRECTOR GENERAL TIM DAVIE AND CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER CHARLOTTE MOORE AT THE BBC:

As BBC staff, contractors, suppliers and contributors who are Jewish, from across the television and film industries, we write to you today in disbelief.

Qasim Sheikh was a key part of the Test Match Special squad for the T20 match between Scotland and England on Tuesday, June 4, despite the BBC knowing he has been posting (and reposting) rhetoric on social media in recent months . both racist and completely undermining civility in public debate. One tweet on ‘X’ compares our Prime Minister, along with other prominent Western leaders, including Netanyahu, to Hitler, collectively denouncing them as the ‘Kids Killer Union’. Significantly, following the brutal massacre of infants, children, men, women and the elderly in Israel on October 7 by Hamas terrorists, another tweet from Mr Sheikh claims that the terrorists were justified in their indiscriminate mass rape and slaughter to “to defend oneself”. ”.

In stark contrast, we would like to point out a monumental double standard in relation to the actions of the BBC and the commentary box of the Test Match Special itself. When Michael Vaughan was accused of racist comments in 2021 (from 2009, which he categorically denied), he was promptly dropped from the BBC commentary team. A mere accusation was enough to get him suspended from all cricket commentary, with the BBC stating: “Although he is involved in a major cricket story, for editorial reasons we do not believe it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to play a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of the sport at the moment..” The BBC also did not hesitate to cancel the radio program that Vaughan presented with Phil Tufnell. Vaughan was banned from BBC sports commentary for the better part of two years until the ECB’s Cricket Disciplinary Committee cleared his name.

It is in the same spirit that we write to you today: What about the Jewish staff members who have been deeply affected by the undeniable increase in anti-Jewish racism since October 7? What trust can anyone from our community have in the BBC when these double standards are so explicitly demonstrated? Once again the BBC appears completely deaf to news of its contributors’ racism against Jews. Invoking images of Hitler (in particular) to portray Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, and its allies is by any definition an inversion of the Holocaust and anti-Semitic. Qasim Sheikh’s justification and legitimization of the mass murder of (mainly) Jews in Israel is apparently not a sufficiently “significant story in cricket” to merit any repercussions. Please explain to us why Qasim Sheikh was in the coffin today? If your answer is that the BBC’s social media guidelines allow his posts, they are clearly not fit for purpose. If his tweets predated his hiring, why did you hire him?

If your due diligence was inadequate and you only recently discovered his messages, are you claiming that his weak apology “for any offense caused” was sufficient for a first offense? Is applauding October 7, comparing Rishi Sunak and other world leaders to Hitler and calling them child murderers just a grotesque slur rather than a reason to cancel his BBC booking?

The authors of the BBC Sport BAME Advisory Group and 5 Live Diversity Group were despondent about the BBC’s perceived “lack of empathy (and) leadership” in 2021 regarding the Michael Vaughn incident. We too are in despair, in despair at the complete absence of courage, morality and understanding that the BBC leadership repeatedly displays in relation to Jews, time and time again. We can now add the case of Qasim Sheikh to the ever-expanding canon for which the BBC must be held accountable.