David Baddiel: Anti-Semitism needs to be taken as seriously as other racisms

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Comedian and novelist David Baddiel has told an anti-Semitism event in Parliament that he receives up to 300 social media messages a day which he could go to the police with.

Mr Baddiel used the Westminster discussion to say that anti-Semitism needed to be treated the same as racism.

The TV personality told the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism gathering the extent of the abuse he is subjected to, saying: “When I get into any kind of a spat, which seems to be happening quite a lot, I probably get about 200 or 300 a day that could be, theoretically, reported to the police.”

MP John Mann was called a
MP John Mann said he was called a ‘Zionist’ and received online threats to his life and family after appearing on TV (Nick Ansell/PA)

He said: “Anti-Semitism is racism. Can we be very clear about that. It needs to be seen as as important and as offensive a racism as all other racisms.

“It is something, certainly amongst progressive circles, of a ‘not as important racism’. That needs to stop if we are going to combat it online.”

Mr Baddiel called on platforms such as Facebook to come down harder on Holocaust denial and treat it as seriously as other racisms.

Karim Palant, public policy manager at Facebook, who told the meeting he is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, said society generally had to make a decision on hate speech.

He said: “There are lots and lots of people that believe that actually banning something like Holocaust denial is counter-productive.

“Lots and lots of people take a view that banning it is not the right way.

“The UK parliament has taken that view. The vast majority of parliaments around the world have taken that view. Facebook shares that view.

“If you believe that Holocaust denial is something that should be banned it isn’t just a question for Facebook, it’s a question for society as a whole.”

Mr Palant said Facebook was in “regular discussions” about the issue.

Mr Mann said he had been referred to as a Zionist on social media and received a death threat, a threat to rape his wife, and one to attack his daughter.

Referring to Mr Mann, Culture Minister Margot James said: “What he described, the attack he suffered online, is unacceptable.

“It should be illegal. If it were offline it would be. And we have got to get to a point where what’s illegal and enforceful offline is the same online.”

Ms James said the Government was developing a Digital Charter which aimed to “agree some norms and rules” for the online world.

Head of prosecution policy and inclusion at the Crown Prosecution Service Baljit Ubhey said more action was being taken on hate crime.

She said that prosecutions under the Malicious Communications Act had increased 68% over the past three years.

Ms Ubhey said that in 2016/17 there had been 386 “hate crime” prosecutions under the Malicious Communications Act and the Communications Act.

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