Jewish activist whose channel hosted Starkey’s ‘damn blacks’ interview defends himself

EXCLUSIVE: J-TV founder Oliver Anisfeld says 'a broadcaster can’t be held responsible for all words expressed by its guests.'


The founder of the Jewish online television station J-TV has defended himself after his YouTube channel broadcast the controversial interview with David Starkey in which the historian was forced to apologise for speaking of "so many damn blacks”.

Oliver Anisfeld is the sole director of the Borehamwood-based company Media and Activism which owns  Reasoned UK – a channel launched in May by outspoken young Conservative activists Darren Grimes.

Last week, a Reasoned UK episode entitled ‘Dr David Starkey: Black Lives Matter Aims To Delegitimate British History’ sparked outrage after it emerged that the historian had claimed that slavery could not be considered genocide because there were “so many damn blacks” in Africa and Britain.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) was among those to condemn Mr Starkey’s comments.

But in a statement sent to the JC, Mr Anisfeld said: “As has been made clear, Reasoned stated they don’t condone Dr Starkey’s comments. Obviously, a broadcaster can’t be held responsible for all words expressed by its guests.

“I personally believe all human beings are created in God's image and have equal and infinite value.

“I believe there are legitimate ideas on both the moderate right and left, and the political work I’m involved in seeks to create a home for moderate, conservative students who feel bullied by a far-left culture which often targets Jews.

“They need a home if we want to avoid the rise of political extremes on the far-right and far-left.”

With his J-TV channel, Mr Anisfeld has landed some high-profile interviews for the channel including one with former London mayor Ken Livingstone and another with Baroness Shami Chakrabarti.

But more recently, the channel has concentrated on more religiously-orientated output and debates around Zionism.

He told the JC: “I launched J-TV with the objective of innovating Jewish education and fighting assimilation.

“Millions of people - both the Jewish community and non-Jews - around the world have been inspired by its content.

“I find it tragic that since J-TV’s launch over four years ago, only now does the JC want to run a story about me personally - not about all those efforts, but instead to associate me tenuously with a story, when tensions are high, and which has already been dealt with.’’

But Mr Anisfeld – who is the son of former Brexit Party MEP Lance Foreman - has also maintained a close relationship with Mr Grimes, 26, who is viewed by some on the political right as an inspirational figure who was heavily involved in the Vote Leave campaign.

The pair worked together on Turning Point UK in 2018 – an attempt by supporters of Nigel Farage to mirror the grassroots success enjoyed by Labour with Momentum.

In America, Turning Point USA had enjoyed success as a non-profit organisation that endorsed President Donald Trump and aimed to counter what it conceived to be left-wing propaganda in the classroom.

The JC understands that Mr Anisfeld views Mr Grimes as a political moderate, who has also visited Israel and is outspoken against antisemitism.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr Starkey said he had "paid a heavy price for one offensive word with the loss of every distinction and honour acquired in a long career."

Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam College, Canterbury Christ Church University and The Mary Rose Trust were among the organisations to cut ties with him.

Speaking about his use of the phrase "so many damn blacks", he said: "It was intended to emphasise, in hindsight with awful clumsiness, the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade. Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse.

"This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory. It was a bad mistake."

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the HMDT later said his remarks were “dangerous, damaging and completely reprehensible."

Mr Grimes also distanced himself from his guest's remarks, saying he rejected what had been said "in the strongest possible terms."

It is understood that Mr Anisfeld has accepted Mr Grimes’ explanation that he failed to challenge Mr Starkey over his remarks due to his inexperience as an interviewer.



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