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The BBC’s director of television, Danny Cohen, said that he has “never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew,” following what he felt was a rise in anti-Semitism in the country and the rest of Europe in the last year, reports The Independent.
Speaking to an audience at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a conference addressing the ability of comedy to drive forward social change, Cohen said “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the U.K. as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. 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.”
Cohen outlined how anti-Semitism was on the rise again across Europe. “You’ve seen the number of attacks rise, you’ve seen murders in France, you’ve seen murders in Belgium. It’s been pretty grim actually,” he said.
The Independent reports that following the Gaza conflict there was a sharp rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.K., including attacks on rabbis and synagogues. The conflict also led to public protests in the U.K. and much criticism of Cohen’s employer, the BBC, for failing to represent fully the plight of Palestinians caught up in the fighting.
As the BBC director of television, Cohen recently announced the corporation’s wide ranging plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27. The centerpiece of the schedule is The Eichmann Show, starring Martin Freeman and Anthony LaPaglia, a 90-minute dramatization of the global broadcast of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief Nazi architects of the Holocaust.
The BBC also plans a screening of the 1985 film Shoah, the 10-hour documentary that featured harrowing first-hand interviews with survivors of the concentration camps.
Regarding the programming, Cohen told the Radio Times, “The liberation of the camps is a very significant anniversary, which the BBC will mark with a range of thought-provoking programs.”
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