New low for British media: Ahmadinejad invited to address UK on Christmas

December 24, 2008

Below, I attach one relatively short additional dispatch for today. Today’s earlier dispatch can be found here: ‘Tis the season for anti-Israel tunes (& “Jews for Christmas”).


 

CONTENTS

1. This is like CNN asking Saddam Hussein to give a Fourth of July address to Americans
2. The Spectator: Privatize Channel 4 now
3. Ahmadinejad to address UK on Christmas (The Jerusalem Post)
4. Channel 4 takes leave of its senses (The Spectator)


THIS IS LIKE CNN ASKING SADDAM HUSSEIN TO GIVE A FOURTH OF JULY ADDRESS TO AMERICANS

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach two pieces below which went on line in the last few minutes.

The first is a cover story from tomorrow’s Jerusalem Post about the announcement this afternoon by Britain’s Channel 4 television that alongside the English Queen’s traditional Christmas message tomorrow they will broadcast a seven-minute “Christmas message” by Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Jerusalem Post quotes me as saying:

This is a dramatic setting, according to media analyst and former Sunday Telegraph reporter Tom Gross.

“The Queen’s Christmas message is one of the most significant symbols in British society, and Channel 4 News is one of Britain’s most prestigious broadcasters. It is equivalent to CNN in America broadcasting an alternative Fourth of July address by Saddam Hussein,” said Gross.

“It is disgraceful. Ahmadinejad is a bigoted dictator. The regime’s human rights record includes the killing of homosexuals, the persecution of minorities such as Kurds, Bahai’i and Zoroastrians, and the recent sentencing of a woman to be stoned to death for adultery. Even by the standards of the British media, this marks a new low.”

(Other journalists subscribing to this list who wish to use this quote, attributed to myself, may do so if they wish.)

 

THE SPECTATOR: PRIVATIZE CHANNEL 4 NOW

The second item below is a piece which went online this evening on the website of Britain’s Spectator magazine, written by its media correspondent. The Spectator, a leading center-right magazine, asks why Channel 4 has invited an anti-Semite on air to celebrate Christmas and writes “No doubt if Hitler was still around they’d have him broadcast a Happy Hanukah message.”

It adds: “The metropolitan, secular, left-wing tossers who run it probably think it’s all a jolly jape -- one in the eye for the Christians and the Jews on an important religious holiday.”

It calls on Channel 4, which (like the BBC) is ultimately owned by the British government, to be privatized.

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

AHMADINEJAD TO ADDRESS UK ON CHRISTMAS

Ahmadinejad to address UK on Christmas
By Haviv Rettig Gur
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition
Dec. 24, 2008

A leading British television channel’s plan to broadcast a seven-minute “Christmas message” by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has generated angry protest from Israel and critics of the Iranian regime.

According to transcripts of the speech to be delivered Thursday, the recorded message will be more political than religious: “If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers. If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.”

The transcript continues: “If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as he did in his lifetime. The solution to today’s problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets.”

“It is an unprecedented scandal for a prestigious British channel to give the president of Iran such a respectable platform at prime time on Christmas Day,” said Israel’s ambassador to London Ron Prosor on Wednesday.

“Everyone knows Ahmadinejad is an existential threat to Israel and world peace, but absurdly, Channel 4 is permitting him to bamboozle public opinion with unsubstantiated talk of Iran’s efforts for peace and reconciliation,” said Prosor.

The ambassador wondered “if by the same philosophy, where competition for ratings trumps all other considerations, Channel 4 would have hosted Hitler as well.”

In past years, Channel 4’s “alternative Christmas message,” delivered each year alongside the traditional message of Queen Elizabeth II, went relatively unnoticed, with speeches by the likes of Rev. Jesse Jackson, a wounded Afghanistan veteran and a cartoon Marge Simpson.

But the setting is nevertheless a dramatic one, according to media analyst and former Sunday Telegraph reporter Tom Gross. “The Queen’s Christmas message is one of the most significant symbols in British society, and Channel 4 News is one of Britain’s most prestigious broadcasters. It is equivalent to CNN in America broadcasting an alternative Fourth of July address by Saddam Hussein,” he said.

A Channel 4 spokesman would not respond directly to the embassy’s complaint, but told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that the channel wished “to allow viewers to hear directly from people of worldwide importance, together with sufficient context to enable them to make up their own minds.”

He promised the Christmas message would be preceded by “a little film” which would discuss the Iranian president’s “record.”

“Viewers are intelligent enough to judge for themselves. We’re offering [Ahmadinejad] the chance to speak for himself, which people in the West don’t often get the chance to see,” the spokesman said.

An Israeli official, however, disagreed with the claim that Channel 4 was providing an objective platform. “It’s a seven-minute prepared speech without questions. Is that how you enable people to make up their own minds, with a seven-minute unchallenged speech?”

Unlike in previous years, the alternative Christmas message will not be aired at the same hour as the Queen’s - 3 p.m. - but at 7:15 p.m.

“We do not wish to imply an equivalence between the two,” the Channel 4 spokesman said. “The message is about providing viewers with an insight into an alternative worldview, not an alternative to the Queen,” he said.

But critics of the move said the connection between Ahmadinejad and the Christmas message was inappropriate.

“This is a very dubious decision on the part of Channel 4, particularly at a time when we join together to celebrate goodwill and unity,” said Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust. “This is a man who has openly and consistently denied the Holocaust and the murder of millions of innocent victims. This should be an opportunity to educate about respect and tolerance instead of offering a platform to someone who represents the antithesis of these principles.”

“It is disgraceful. Ahmadinejad is a bigoted dictator,” said Gross, noting the regime’s human rights record, which includes the killing of homosexuals, the persecution of minorities such as Kurds, Bahai’i and Zoroastrians, and the recent sentencing of a woman to be stoned to death for adultery. “Even by the standards of the British media, this marks a new low,” he said.

In the past, the alternative message “has tended to be innocuous,” added Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion in London. “All I can assume is that as its viewing figures plummet, Channel 4 has decided they would try to attract controversy. But this is the first time [the guest] is a Holocaust denier who would like to create another [Holocaust] and is destabilizing a region of the world,” he said.

 

TAKING LEAVE OF ITS SENSES

Editorial
Spectator website
By our media correspondent
December 24, 2008

Channel 4, the so-called public-service station that brings you Big Brother and other culturally uplifting events, has really scrapped the barrel. It has a record of bringing controversial alternatives to the screen to match the Queen’s annual Christmas message on the BBC and ITV but this year it has taken leave of its senses.

On the day Christians commemorate as the birth of their Saviour -- a Jew called Jesus -- Channel 4 has chosen to broadcast an “alternative” Christmas message from an anti-Semite who thinks Israel and the Jews should be swept into the sea and who sponsors conferences designed to “prove” the Holocaust is a Jewish myth.

Yes, though it beggars belief, Channel 4 asked Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to give this year’s alternative Christmas message. Sorry, this is not an early, bad taste April fool: a man who hates Jews, persecutes Christians in his own land and who denies the greatest crime against humanity ever happened has seven uninterrupted and unchallenged minutes on prime-time British network TV on Christmas Day to himself. Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad -- then put them in charge of Channel 4. No doubt if Hitler was still around they’d have him broadcast a Happy Hanukah message.

Channel 4 prides itself on being an upmarket public-service broadcaster. It is financed by advertising but is wholly owned by the British government and pays nothing for the valuable broadcasting spectrum it uses (or pollutes). The metropolitan, secular, left-wing tossers who run it probably think it’s all a jolly jape -- one in the eye for the Christians and the Jews on an important religious holiday.

Well here’s a way to take the smile off their faces: any advertiser worth his or her salt should immediately withdraw their advertising from Channel 4 and boycott the station -- and it should be privatised forthwith. Ordinary shareholders would never put up with such an outrage.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.