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BBC caves in to BoD and cancels discussion with Jewish woman in her 80s hounded by Labour

‘Board of Deputies bullies BBC, smears and silences Diana Neslen’, says Jewish Voice for Labour

Diana Neslen

Jewish Voice for Labour has accused the BBC of a cowardly climbdown in the face of ‘bullying and smears’ by the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) after the broadcaster pulled an invitation for Diana Neslen to appear in a debate on anti-Zionism.

Ms Neslen, a Jewish long-time Labour member in her eighties who has been hounded by the Labour party for her left-wing views and support for Palestinians, is suing the party for its attacks on her ‘protected belief’ in anti-Zionism and the BBC had invited her to appear tomorrow in a programme discussing anti-Zionism and whether her views constitute a protected belief under equalities laws.

But now the BBC has cancelled the discussion – and has shown further cowardice in implying it was never really taking place, after pressure from the BoD via the Jewish News publication. In a Facebook post in response to the decision, JVL has stated:


THE Sunday programme segment, due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at this Sunday, dealing with antisemitism, JVL and the large number of Jews being investigated by the Labour Party, including something on Diana Neslen’s case has been pulled…


So now it’s out in the open. BoD president Marie van der Zyl is quoted in the Jewish News demanding that the BBC deny a platform to Jewish Voice for Labour and Diana Neslen, the Jewish Labour Party member who is taking legal action against the party for repeated harassment on account of her anti-Zionist views.

The Board found out that Radio 4 was planning to broadcast a discussion in its early morning Sunday programme about whether anti-Zionism can be considered a protected belief under the Equalities Act. The programme was due to feature an interview with Diana, a brief explanation about JVL and a discussion between Rabbi Jonathan Romain and leading pro-Palestinian Jewish writer Robert Cohen.

But now Jewish News has trumpeted the Board of Deputies’ condemnation of the planned programme and it seems unlikely to go ahead. Ms vd Zyl alleges that JVL is “a fringe group full of conspiracy theorists”. She says, “Those on the fringes of our community have every right to express their views” but the BBC must deny Diana and JVL that right because to allow them to speak would be “a grotesque insult to an overwhelming majority of British Jews”!

The Board of Deputies of British Jews thereby attempts to censor legitimate views which challenge its partisan political opinions, accepting only Jewish voices that meet their test of conflating Judaism with Zionism. It has no mandate to shut down debate in the BBC or wider British society.

JVL has written to Jewish News calling for retraction of Ms vd Zyl’s slurs against us and withdrawal of unsubstantiated allegations against Diana. Our letter says:

Ms Neslen denies having made the alleged statements, which your reporter did not attempt to verify with her. Your article provides no sources for the alleged quotes. Unless you are able to provide fully attributable references, including the context in which the statements were made, you are obliged to withdraw them and issue a correction and an apology to Ms Neslen.

Jewish News must correct the errors in the article and withdraw Marie vd Zyl ‘s baseless allegations.

The Jewish News article was written by Lee Harpin, who moved from the Jewish Chronicle after a number of his articles led to ‘substantial’ defamation payouts to wronged left-wingers. Jewish News and the BoD have been contacted for comment.

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