By Stuart Littlewood – London
Israel’s supporters in the UK wasted no time orchestrating a tidal wave of protest against Channel 4 TV’s showing of a Christmas message by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad.
The MP Philip Davies, a Friend of Israel, said that the address was "completely unacceptable on every level" but didn’t explain why. "His previous comments don’t strike me as being in tune with what most people feel at Christmas time. He is an offensive man and the last person you would want to use for a Christmas message." Speak for yourself, Mr Davies.
Israel’s Ambassador Ron Prosor complained that Ahmadinjad’s government "leads Christ’s followers to the gallows." Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the message was a “sick and twisted irony” and a "scandal and a national embarrassment" because the Iranian President "denies the Holocaust, advocates the destruction of the sovereign State of Israel, funds and encourages terrorism, executes children and hangs gay people."
Mr Prosor himself represents a thuggish regime that is forcing children to eat grass and rummage through waste tips for food this Christmas in order to survive. I’m talking about Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza of course. His government’s crimes against humanity, violations of human rights and all-round racist vileness are recorded elsewhere so there’s no need to amplify. Let’s just say that Mr Prosor is in no position to criticize others or indeed to lecture us on what constitutes a national embarrassment. He has plenty of his own.
Even the TaxPayers’ Alliance had to stick its oar in. They were upset because Channel 4 receives a bit of state funding and taxpayers’ money was being used "to give a platform to a regime that despises democracy, oppresses women and gay people and has made clear its dislike for everything Britain stands for."
The Foreign Office, which many feel is infected with pro-Israel bias, also issued a ticking off. "President Ahmadinejad has during his time in office made a series of appalling anti-Semitic statements," announced a spokeswoman, presumably referring to the famous remark where he quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeini as saying that "this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time", a proposition that many people agree with. Israeli propaganda twisted it to read “Israel must be wiped off the map”.
The Foreign Office went on to say that the broadcast would "cause offence and bemusement not just at home but amongst friendly countries abroad".
Well, I listened carefully and also read the text of Mr Ahmadinajad’s message and could find nothing offensive or objectionable. On the contrary, Mr Davies, it was quite acceptable on all levels. I found myself applauding when Mr Ahmadinajad told us that the world is suffering because "some leaders are estranged from God". How very true of the dross that leads the West.
I was nodding approval again when he talked of “the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ".
And I liked his upbeat view that a wave of hope is gathering momentum… "hope for a brighter future and hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them".
Whether he actually meant what he said is a matter for discussion. But the words and the message were OK.
Well done Channel 4 for resisting pressure from those who are desperate to shut down discourse that might stray from the pro-Israel propaganda line. And thank you Mr Ahmadinajad for addressing us on Christmas Day.
-Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.