After the June 12 elections in Iran, the celebrated British broadcasters Martin Bright and Nick Ferrari walked out of Press TV, the twenty-four-hour Tehran-based channel transmitting in Britain and across much of the world.
Both were not supporters of the Ahmadinejad regime but had hosted major programs for the cable station; I had twice been on Nick’s excellent Forum in front of young and vociferous audiences. In fact, Nick, who is not Jewish, had appeared at an Israel festival rally in London.
Bright and Ferrari left Press TV because they objected to the behavior of the regime during and after the elections.
Those of us who have also been Press TV regulars and who continue to appear on its shows do this for the following reasons:
1. I am allowed to spout Zionist views without objection from the Muslim hosts and participants. Although the debate can become heated, the Press TV personalities do not silence my right-wing views. I feel Nick and Martin should not have left the station because they were much-needed beacons of Western values providing weekly doses of anti-regime views for consumption in the oppressed countries that watch the station.
2. After I was at the receiving end of a tirade from a young Anglo-Jewish academic for appearing on Ahmadinejad’s station, I happened upon a group of Iranian exiles who had attended an all-day conference he had chaired. They told me they were glad Press TV was available in the UK because they were able to watch 24/7 news and features from home and see things that kept them informed about events in their neighborhoods. I asked them if they thought OfCom, the British media watchdog, ought to have the station shut down and they were adamant that it should remain on the air.
What I found interesting about their views was the enthusiasm they held for regulars like Ferrari, Bright, Charlie Wolf, and me, all of whom are virulently pro-Western and, in the case of Charlie and me, pro-Zionist and American.
3. There is a school of thought in the Anglo-Jewish community (Melanie Phillips refers to the mandarins of Anglo-Jewry as “moribund”) that we should all stop appearing and then OfCom would have no choice but to remove the station’s license. OfCom has already had occasion to censure Press TV because of what it sees as partiality, most particularly in broadcasts by George Galloway. Anglo-Jewish leaders feel that if Charlie Wolf, Jonathan Hoffman (vice chair of the Zionist Federation), Zionist activist Richard Millett, and I abandon the station, it will go out of business.
I see no point in this. In every appearance I have made, I have voiced my passionate views on Israel’s rights, on the pride I feel as an Anglo-American, and on the disgraceful devaluing of the Holocaust by various pressure groups that have hijacked it as an allegory for Gaza and other “naqbas” (catastrophes). Yvonne Ridley of Galloway’s Respect Party allows me to hold forth with sentiments that are repugnant to the Iranian regime and in fact to most British Muslims, but my views are never edited out.
After the broadcasts I am often accosted by young Muslims from the studio audience and invariably they tell me they “learned a lot” from me. I have never encountered hostility in the many times I have ventured into the after-show receptions. If my views are changing the way they think, this is a good thing. When I tell these young Muslims that the Grand Mufti al-Husseini recruited crowds of Arabs for the SS, they are shocked. When I rant about the brilliance of Israeli technology and culture and its free press on air, they want to know more when they crowd around me after the recordings. The staff is gracious and one young Muslim producer told me his mother could not put my steamy book, Spitfire Girls, down and was fighting with his sister for a look at it.
On Alan Hart’s three-episode marathon about the rise of anti-Semitism recorded before a live audience on June 12, Jonathan Hoffman and I were subjected to a barrage of anger and ridicule from Jewish panelists Hajo Meyer and Ilan Pappe. Alan took umbrage every time Jonathan opened his mouth and threatened to have him removed for spouting Zionist propaganda. What was significant to me was the scary anger from Jewish and Christian members of the panel and audience whilst the Muslims remained dignified and, as usual, approached me afterwards with interest after hearing the strong views on the greatness of Israel promulgated by Jonathan and me. During a break, one of the producers asked me, as the only woman on the panel, to use my charms and intervene to stop Alan from attacking Jonathan. I suppose his agenda was to make sure OfCom did not shut them down for good, but in part two Alan refrained from fury. Perhaps someone from OfCom was there and had warned them of the consequences. In any event, the day was grueling, but when Jonathan and I watched the broadcasts we noted that our long defenses of Israel and America were not edited out.
On his website, Alan Hart, who suggested on the Press TV program that Israel’s very creation was never legitimized by the UN Security Council, has voiced his remorse over his outbursts against Hoffman.
What some who had attended the show found bizarre was that the final word from Hart, in which he made the assertion that there might not have been a Holocaust had a frank discussion of anti-Semitism been out in the open in the 1930s, was edited out. Inasmuch as Alan Hart has warned me he will sue if anyone so much as suggests he might be an anti-Semite, I will refrain from providing interpretations of his comment offered me by participants; one man who had been in the studio audience did assert in a blog that it meant Jews bring on their own catastrophes. It will be interesting to hear what Pajamas readers think.
Suffice it to say that Alan Hart, Yvonne Ridley, Lauren Booth, and others whose views are diametrically opposed to mine nevertheless give me unlimited airtime and allow me to broadcast to the Muslim world and educate an audience that would otherwise be in darkness. Press TV London is slick and consummately professional. Inasmuch as there are nine full-time Muslim channels in the UK but no Jewish ones, the irony is that I can voice my Zionist views on Iranian TV.
A Christian friend said any wages earned from Press TV should go straight to Jewish or Israeli charities. Last week I spent a few pounds in Bokobka, the kosher deli in Little Venice, on honey cake for the New Year.
Shana Tova, Mahmoud.