As some of you already know, I now have a fortnightly column in Jewish News. Here is the latest…
I see that acid attack survivor Katie Piper is delivering this year’s ‘alternative’ Christmas message on Channel 4, but I wonder who else was on the network’s shortlist? I will always remember my horror when I learned of last year’s choice: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4′s head of news and current affairs, spent months convincing him to do it. I wonder if she entertained any doubts during those months of courting.
Did she consider the millions of people brutalised and murdered during the Nazi holocaust, which Ahmadinejad denies even happened? Did she think about the women and children killed by Hamas rockets and suicide bombings, which are bankrolled by his regime? What of the women, gay people or peaceful protestors that have been slaughtered on the orders of Ahmadinejad?
Did she chase the Iranian bad boy despite his views and track record…or because of them? It’s a fair question because as we keep seeing, for every nasty Middle Eastern tyrant there are plenty of Western softies who get a thrill from being associated with them.
Channel 4 is a strange network when it comes to Israel. Its news anchor Jon Snow suggested a disdain for Israeli lives when he claimed “nobody gets injured” by the rockets that have murdered, maimed and terrorised the people of southern Israel. I discussed this with Mr Snow over email recently. Fair play to him for answering emails, but it was a revealing exchange. At first he was polite and chatty, explaining that unfortunately he couldn’t comment as he was unable to check what he had said on the broadcast.
So I sent him a link to a video of what he had said and provided references to the Israeli civilians who have been injured and killed by the rockets. He dropped the friendliness and told me: “Stop wasting my time”. Has there ever been a crime against the Jewish people that someone, somewhere will not deny happened? I shouldn’t have been surprised: anyone who has seen Snow’s ‘interviews’ with Israel’s Mark Regev can see where he stands. ‘Twas ever thus with Israel: comment is free, facts are sacrificed.
The same is true of Peter Oborne, whose Dispatches programme Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby was astonishing. If a journalism student had presented that show as an assignment they would have been thrown out of campus. He failed to find anything remotely controversial or improper but was still given an hour on primetime: a bit of innuendo here, a conspiratorially-whispered piece to camera there, and clever conflations of the blood of Palestinians with Jews eating dinner in London. Disgraceful. Just days later Channel 4 was sneering at the Haredim of Israel in Unreported World.
The is the sort of obsession we have come to expect of the Iranian-regime-sponsored Press TV. George Galloway’s shows there are strangely compelling, in part because – hateful as his views often are – he oozes charisma. Which is more than you can say about those who call his Comment show on the network. One, for instance, rang Galloway to tell him that Coronation Street is a Zionist plot. The Rovers Return will never seem the same again. Welcome to your fan-base, George. You deserve each other.
The concept of a season of goodwill seems to be lost on Israel-bashers. Last year we had Annie Lennox whining to the press that Operation Cast Lead ruined her festivities. Yes, because it’s all about you isn’t it Annie? This year we’ve had two Israel-bashing Christmas carol services in recent weeks in London. I attended a counter demonstration outside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s service at Bloomsbury Baptist Church. I was surprised by some of the things the PSC supporters shouted at us. “I wish Hitler had killed you,” screamed one lady. “Jews are cannibals,” shouted another. Channel 4 is probably on the phone to them as we speak…
If you are not in the newspaper’s catchment area you can read it in full online here.