I have to be frank, when people ask me if I miss writing scripts and broadcasting for the largest broadcaster in the world, the BBC, the answer is quite simply, yes.
I miss writing and broadcasting scripts that were sometimes enjoyed by over twenty-six million people in the UK. If I was broadcasting on BBC World Service the minimum audience was one hundred fifty-six million!
Then there was the sheer talent and professionalism of the people I worked with. There was also the excitement and satisfaction of taking an idea and crafting and developing it until it became a successful TV or radio show.
My central purpose though, throughout my media career was and still is presenting authentic Jewish ideas in a way that informed and dispelled myths and stereotypes about our people. To put it simply, I wanted people to hear and understand the Jewish people and our story.
Just over a year ago, the BBC crossed the line (or perceived line) separating anti-Zionism from antisemitism more egregiously than they had ever done before. It was when their reporting on an antisemitic attack on Jewish kids on a busy London street actually portrayed the victims as the perpetrators.
I resigned. If being a spokesperson for my people meant being associated with the revealed enemies of my people, all the “nice bits” about being a BBC broadcaster were irrelevant. As the BBC’s guilt became more and more clear I now saw my resignation and broadcasting silence as being the most eloquent response I could make.
The BBC’s Director General, Tim Davie wrote me a letter thanking me for my contribution over many years.
Much to my astonishment, my resignation and protest became a large part of the story. I was interviewed by major newspapers all over the world, including Newsweek magazine and the London Times and countless TV channels.
One of those was GB News. This is a new British TV Channel which advertises itself as being right of center. They are trying to be a news channel which offers an alternative voice to what they and millions of others allege is the BBC’s left wing and woke bias.
To my mind, that is not an “allegation” but a well established fact. Over my quarter of a century there, I noticed that carrying a copy of the “Guardian” newspaper (think New York Times on steroids) was an essential fashion accessory for all BBC employees. That was a point I repeatedly emphasized during all those TV and newspaper interviews last year.
Unsurprisingly, my interviewer on GB News was more than sympathetic to my analysis and conclusion that the BBC is irretrievably antisemitic and biased towards the Left.
About three weeks ago, another BBC scandal engulfed the country’s media and it even made it into the Wall Street Journal.
If you know anything about the current state of Great Britain you will know that the “Great” part is in serious question. The economy is an abysmal mess. The country is riven with strikes including doctors (a recent three-day strike where they refused to provide even emergency cover), nurses, ambulance staff, teachers. The list goes on and on.
But this BBC scandal has its origins in something more important to the British public than any of those things. It was about football.
Now before I elaborate, I hope that I don’t have to tell American readers that when I and almost every other human being on the planet say “football,” we mean what American’s call soccer. What Americans call “football” is the game that resembles rugby. The main difference between those two is that rugby is played by men who do not insist on more protective gear than a medieval knight before stepping out onto the field.
Anyway, back to the biggest crisis to hit the BBC since World War II.
What the BBC calls, “The world’s most famous football show” is presented by Garry Lineker, a former England team captain. He appears on Saturday nights with other well known footballing personalities to discuss and show parts of the day’s matches.
The problem erupted when Lineker tweeted about illegal immigrants crossing the English Channel from France.
For most people in the UK, migrants coming to the UK illegally is a big deal. They want it to stop. Lineker doesn’t and he tweeted about the government’s migrant policy being “immeasurably cruel” and compared the language around it to, “1930’s Germany.”
The government and many people were furious at this accusation. The BBC suspended him for alleged breach of their requirements for staff to “appear” impartial. Next came a huge media backlash over Lineker’s right to free speech and a glossing over his invoking the Nazi era. (Obviously there was no suggestion that the UK’s Jews might be offended at Lineker’s crass comparison.)
The media support Lineker received then escalated to a “strike” by his fellow presenters. Many of the BBC’s “Guardian” carrying staff naturally supported Lineker’s views. The Director General, Tim Davie faced a growing revolt from his own employees and quickly capitulated. Lineker was back on BBC TV.
And this takes me back to the GB News. Days ago they invited me to appear on live National TV to offer my analysis of the farce of Mr. Lineker and the cowardly Tim Davie.
I declined the offer. My mission was and is to allow people to hear and understand the Jewish people and their story. That ambition has to be tempered by knowing when the Jewish people’s story will be diluted, compromised and muddied when it becomes involved in other people’s stories.
As Shlomo HaMelech says, “There is a time for everything under the heaven.” That certainly includes choosing to speak whenever speaking will have the most impact. It also means remaining silent when silence is the better strategy. In the fight to protect the Jewish people, we have to choose wisely and exactly when to pick our battles.