Over 100 Jewish Creatives Sign Open Letter Accusing BBC of Double Standards

Over 100 Jewish creatives have signed an open letter accusing the BBC of double standards over the corporation’s response to a cricket commentator’s controversial comments

Published Time: 05.06.2024 - 23:31:31 Modified Time: 05.06.2024 - 23:31:31

Over 100 Jewish creatives have signed an open letter accusing the BBC of double standards over the corporation’s response to a cricket commentator’s controversial comments.

The letter, which was signed by 119 industry creatives, 55 of whom requested anonymity out of fear of reprisal, opens: “As BBC staff, contractors, suppliers and contributors who are Jewish, from across the television and film industry, we write to you today in disbelief.”

It goes on to compare the BBC’s response to former professional cricketer turned commentator Qasim Sheikh, who has been accused of posting racist tweets on X, with its response to Michael Vaughan, also a former professional cricketer turned commentator, who was suspended from commentating for the broadcaster in 2021 after being accused of making a racist comment before a 2009 match.

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Vaughan, who denied the allegations, was later cleared by the U.K.’s cricketing authority on a “balance of probabilities” and returned to his BBC duties in 2023.

In a statement to BBC News, published on June 4, Sheikh said: “If my messages have caused people to think I am supporting the attacks of 7 October, then that would not sit well with me, and I apologise for any offence this has caused. I would never seek to support any loss of innocent lives. That was not my intention.” On the same day the sports broadcaster appeared as part of the commentating team during a cricket match between Scotland and England.

Reps for the BBC did not respond by press time.

Read the full letter below:

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 industry, we write to you today in disbelief.

Qasim Sheikh was a key part of the Test Match Special team on Tuesday 4th June for the Scotland v England T20 game, despite the fact the BBC knew he has in the past few months on social media posted (and re-posted) rhetoric that is both racist and wholly undermines civility in public discourse. One tweet on “X” likens our Prime Minister alongside other prominent Western leaders including Netanyahu to Hitler, denouncing them collectively as the “Kids Killer Union”. Significantly, following the brutal massacre of infants, children, men, women and the elderly on October 7th in Israel by Hamas terrorists, another tweet by Mr Sheikh claims that the terrorists were justified in their indiscriminate mass rape and slaughter in order “to defend themselves”.

By stark contrast, we wish to point out a monumental double-standard in relation to the BBC’s actions and the Test Match Special’s own commentary box. When in 2021 Michael Vaughan was accused of racist comments (made in 2009, which he categorically denied) he was promptly dropped from the BBC commentary team. A mere accusation was enough for him to be suspended from all cricket commentary with the BBC statement: “While he is involved in a significant story in cricket, for editorial reasons we do not believe that it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of -

the sport at the moment..” The BBC also did not hesitate to drop the radio show Vaughan co-presented with Phil Tufnell. Indeed, Vaughan was axed from the BBC’s sporting commentary for the best part of two years until the ECB’s Cricket Disciplinary Committee cleared his name.

It is in this same vein we write to you today: What of the Jewish members of staff deeply affected by the indisputable rise in anti-Jewish racism since October 7th? What trust can any of our community have in the BBC when these double standards are so explicitly demonstrated? Yet again, the BBC appears entirely deaf to news of its contributors’ racism against Jews. Invoking images of Hitler (specifically) to portray Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, and its allies is Holocaust inversion and antisemitic by every definition. Qasim Sheikh’s justification and legitimization of the mass murder of (principally) Jews in Israel is ostensibly not a sufficiently “significant story in cricket” to merit any repercussions. So please explain to us why Qasim Sheikh was in the box today? If your answer is that the BBC’s social media guidelines do permit his posts they are clearly unfit for purpose. If it is that his tweets predate his hiring, why did you hire him?

If your due diligence was insufficient and you only discovered his posts recently, are you arguing his weak apology ‘for any offence caused’ was sufficient for a first offence? Is applauding October 7th and comparing Rishi Sunak and other world leaders to Hitler and calling them child killers merely a grotesque libel rather than grounds for cancelling his BBC booking?

The authors of the BBC Sport BAME Advisory Group and 5 Live Diversity Group were despondent at the perceived “lack of empathy and leadership” from the BBC in 2021 in relation to the Michael Vaughn incident. We too are despairing, despairing at the total absence of courage, morality and understanding that BBC leadership repeatedly demonstrate in relation to Jews time and again. We can now add the case of Qasim Sheikh to the ever growing canon that the BBC must answer for.


Anonymous (55)Adam HirschovitsAimee NathanAnita LandArchie BaronBen RosenbergCarly ShearCaro LevyClaudia RosencrantzDamian SamuelsDanny CohenDavid AlterDavid HermanDavid KesterDavid SalterDebby LeeEliana OstroEmma EngersEstee StimlerGary CohenGina PowellGloria AbramoffHayley KatzJamie ZwaigJane LushJeremy DrysdaleJoe PearlmanJohn WareJonathan LeviJonathan Shalit OBEKaren WagnerLaura FrancesLee PetarLee StoneLeo PearlmanMalcolm GreenMarc SimonssonMichele WoodsMichelle Kirschner-GrantMike LeighMira AroyoMiriam KendlerNatalie GoldbergNeil BlairNeil GrantNick CosgroveNick KentonNick MillerNicole LampertOlly GrantPaul CohenPhil CraigRichelle WilderRob KaplanRussell BalkindSamantha BlochSarah CamlettSheldon LazarusSimon ChinnSimon HalfonSteve LappinSue DavidsonTeddy LeiferWendy RobbinsWill DawsZoe Korsner

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