Why I Take Ahmadinejad's Money

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.