The Ethnicity Awards has announced its nominees for its 2020 prizes. Many have done laudable work and set tremendous examples for the advancement of minorities and racial harmony in our society. However, a small proportion of the nominees are troubling in respect to their past comments or conduct in relation to the Jewish community.
In the Inspirational Personality category, the celebrity Jameela Jamil is applauded for launching and using her Instagram account “to create a safe and radically inclusive space on social media”. What goes unmentioned is her sharing over this summer of a video from 1990 featuring the antisemitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan, with the caption: “Someone please tell me the name of this extraordinary man who so perfectly sums up white fear in under a minute.” She deleted the video after an outcry, but not before it was seen and shared by many of her followers, including other celebrities.
In the same category, the radio and television personality, Reggie Yates, is praised for his work helping people “steer clear of crime or substance abuse”. Again, unmentioned is his 2017 comment that it is “great” that the young generation is not “managed by some random fat Jewish guy from north west London, they’re managed by their brethren”, adding that they were “idiots”, “dickheads” and not “your people”. He subsequently apologised.
A nominee in the Charity or Community Initiatives category, Black Lives Matter UK, appears to be the collective behind the @UKBLM Twitter account, which posted an antisemitic tweet claiming that “mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism” – redolent of the notion that the Jews or the Jewish state exercise outsized influence in British politics – and refused to apologise. The Black Lives Matter Movement is also recognised in the Media Moment 2020 category.
Another nominee in the Charity or Community Initiatives category is the activist group Show Racism the Red Card, lauded as “the UK’s largest anti-racism educational charity”. Show Racism the Red Card has, however, been embroiled in controversy over its blind eye to antisemitism, demonstrated, for example, in its appointment of the outspoken filmmaker Ken Loach to a judging panel. The debacle eventually led one of the charity’s trustees to resign in protest against this appointment and Show Racism the Red Card’s disregard for the views of the Jewish community.
Among the Political Figures are numerous MPs who defended Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism, including Dawn Butler, who sat on Mr Corbyn’s front bench and served as one of his most loyal colleagues, and Marsha De Cordova. It is concerning that these figures should be celebrated so soon after their involvement in an episode that terrified British Jews, almost half of which considered fleeing the country. That does not seem like a credential for an ‘ethnicity award’.
Given that there are so many worthy figures and organisations who have done so much to further the standing of minorities in the UK, it is disappointing that these controversial nominees, who have in recent years provoked controversy in relation to the Jewish minority – and indeed in almost every case they have done so specifically over the past twelve months – have been included.