Vanessa Feltz has branded a BBC ban on staff attending the march against antisemitism as ‘immoral’ and revealed the ‘vile racist trolling’ she has received since yesterday’s rally.
The TV personality, 61, who was employed by the BBC Radio 2 for more than 20 years until she stepped down in August 2022, said she was ‘so glad I’m no longer there’, during an interview with Jeremy Kyle.
Ms Feltz joined Countdown’s Rachel Riley, actor Eddie Marsan and TV judge Rob Rinder at the march against antisemitism in central London on Sunday, which saw more than 100,000 people attend.
Speaking today on TalkTV, Feltz was asked if she felt the broadcaster’s decision to ‘ban’ staff from attending the rally showed a ‘fundamental, basic anti-Jewish feeling’, to which Ms Feltz replied: ‘I think so’.
She added that had she still been working for the BBC, she would have ‘had to go’ on the march, despite knowing that attending rally would mean that she would face disciplinary action
Ms Feltz was joined by other famous faces at the march, including Countdown’s Rachel Riley
In a passionate address, Ms Feltz said: ‘Racism is illegal, it’s immoral… how can you say to staff who are sentient beings, who must be able to decide what they want to do and where they feel they should be, you cannot go on a march against racism.’
This comes as Jewish workers at the corporation claimed they would be at Sunday’s rally in central London, in defiance of the BBC’s ‘ban’, as they vented their frustration at the BBC’s news coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Ms Feltz added: ‘I’d been very proud to work at the BBC for just shy of 30 years. How can you say you can’t go on a march against racism?’
Alarmingly, Ms Feltz also revealed the barrage of the ‘vile racist trolling’ abuse that she has received online, as a result of attending the rally alongside tens of thousands of others calling for an end to hatred against the Jewish community.
She continued: ‘I’m really horrified that this had to happen at all, that we had to go on a march. I’m absolutely shattered by some of the antisemitic, vile racist trolling that I’ve received since.
‘Yesterday I got home I looked at my phone, I shouldn’t have really, I should have just thrown it away really, thrown it in a pond or something, I really mean it because messages and pictures of me on the march with messages saying, ‘We see you’ and then ‘unfollow’ and then describing me as human excrement, as a curse.
‘Every vile slur, disgusting swear word, horrible thing that you could wish on the worst person on earth.’
Former prime minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie also took to the streets of London to show solidarity forJewish people amid a shocking rise in reports of antisemitic hate crimes in the last month.
Describing the atmosphere at the march yesterday, Ms Feltz said: ‘ It was everything. It was all different emotions. There are 225,000 Jews only in the United Kingdom of 66 million people so fewer than a quarter of a million Jewish people and there were 105,000 people marching.
Alarmingly, Ms Feltz also revealed the barrage of the ‘vile racist trolling’ abuse that she has received online, as a result of attending Sunday’s rally
Ms Feltz said she marched ‘shoulder to shoulder with people who just realised that antisemitism is only racism’
The TalkTV presenter, who was formerly employed by the BBC, said that she was ‘so glad I’m no longer there’, during an interview on Talk Today with Jeremy Kyle
‘So very many of us marching yesterday must have been non-Jews so it must have been that we were marching shoulder to shoulder with people who just realised that antisemitism is only racism.
‘There’s nothing special about it. It’s not a unique kind of racism – it’s racism. That’s all it is. It’s hating somebody because they’re Jewish… It’s exactly the same as any kind of racism against any other community.’
She added: ‘I felt so terribly sad to be marching in 2023 in the country I love; to say we’re all people because I have celebrated multiculturalism and believed in it and loved it, felt privileged to be here.
‘I love my country, I’ve always felt comfortable and happy and optimistic and in the last few weeks it’s a very, very different feeling.’
The gargantuan turnout meant it was the largest protest against anti-Semitism since the rise of the famous Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when Nazism and Fascism was on the rise across Europe.
The presenter said that since October 7th, ‘there’s been a tidal wave rise in antisemitism against Jewish people in this country’
Mr Johnson, 59, appeared bundled up against the biting temperatures in a woolly hat, while 35-year-old Carrie held their child together in a baby carrier
A rally-goer holds a sign that says ‘Not My BBC’ at Sunday’s march in central London
A protester at the March Against Anti-Semitism holds a placard that says ‘BBC Muzzles Journalists’ at Sunday’s demonstration
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: ‘Week after week, central London has become a no-go zone for Jews.
‘We have witnessed mass criminality, including glorification of terrorism, support for banned terrorist organisations such as Hamas, and incitement to racial or religious hatred against Jews.’
They added: ‘The sad truth is that Jews do not feel safe in our capital city’.
Speaking on the 1,300 per cent rise in antisemitic incidents in the UK since the horrific October 7th terrorist attack, Ms Feltz said: ‘Since that day, there’s been a tidal wave rise in antisemitism against Jewish people in this country.
‘The connection – I don’t understand, do you? – between an unprovoked massacre of innocent people in Israel and deciding to hate a kosher butcher in Manchester or Leeds or London? How would that possibly make any sense to anybody?
‘But Jewish people who’ve been comfortable and happy here all these years suddenly feel scrutinised and worried.’
A BBC spokesperson told the MailOnline: ‘The BBC is clear that antisemitism is abhorrent.
‘We have established guidance around marches, which explains that different considerations apply depending on what you do for the BBC.
‘Corporately, we have not issued any staff communication on any specific march this weekend, but this does not mean discussions which consider the guidance have not taken place between colleagues’.
The full coverage of Vanessa at the march against antisemitism will air on her Drivetime show from 5pm today on TalkTV.