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Near East Department Bbc (Mr Hillelson)

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 3 June 1942

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asked the Minister of Information whether, in view of the need to prevent further exacerbation of anti-Semitic feelings among the Arabs and in view of the complaints already received from Moslems both in the Near East and in this country, he will reconsider the advisability of the retention as the official in charge of the Near East Department of the British Broadcasting Corporation of Mr. Hillelson, a Jew of German origin?

No, Sir. I cannot accept my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion. Mr. Hillelson was born in Germany, and educated at the University of Oxford. He became a British subject in 1908. He was a distinguished member of the Sudan Civil Service from 1911 to 1933. High tributes have been paid to his work in Sudan by a succession of Governors General, and, indeed, by all who worked with him. Mr. Hillelson later served for some time in the Foreign Office, and became a member of the staff of the B.B.C. in 1937. I cannot believe that the House will accept for one moment my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion that a man who has been a faithful public servant for 31 years should be removed from his appointment on the ground that he is a Jew of German origin. I should regard myself as being a most unworthy servant of this House were I to approach the B.B.C. to suggest to the Governors that they should absorb Hitler's loathsome anti-Semitic prejudices.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he has totally mistaken the purpose of my Question and my objection? I have no objection in the slightest to the character or attainments of the distinguished public servant whom he is so unnecessarily leaping to defend on those grounds. The objection is solely—