Censured: Galloway and Press TV

presstvlogoHonestReporting UK has consistently criticised Press TV, Iran’s propaganda channel and its presenter, Respect MP George Galloway. Press TV came under Ofcom’s spotlight following a complaint that it had breached its duty to be impartial and accurate in covering the Iranian regime’s attempts to crush dissent following the recent elections.

A number of its presenters and contributing guests decided that it was time to end their involvement with Press TV. George Galloway, needless to say, was not one of them. Galloway has already been censured by Ofcom over shows broadcast on Talksport during the Gaza conflict. Now, Galloway has been criticised by Ofcom for breaching impartiality rules on his Press TV shows during the same period.

gallowaythumbReferring to four programmes broadcast in January 2009, Ofcom’s complainants said that these failed to put both sides of the argument in relation to the situation in Gaza; constituted Iranian propaganda; and that George Galloway in particular did not conduct a balanced discussion on the issue of Gaza.

Regarding three editions of one programme, Ofcom said that “the viewpoint of the Israeli state was not adequately represented within any of the editions of Comment.” Furthermore:

contributions from what could be broadly labelled as being pro-Israeli, were extremely limited. The presenter, George Galloway, treated such contributions in a different way to the manner in which he treated contributions which could be labelled as being from a pro-Palestinian perspective. Alternative views in these programmes were not debated and/or discussed but dismissed and used as a further opportunity for the presenter to put forward his views.

On the fourth programme, Ofcom

considered that the viewpoint of the Israeli state was not adequately represented within the 18 January Real Deal. In this way, viewers were not adequately furnished with opinions as to how the situation in Gaza during January 2009, and its lead up, was perceived from the viewpoint of an official Israeli position.

Press TV said that the edition of The Real Deal that was criticised did involve a counter point of view through a telephone interview with the investigative reporter Jeff Steinberg.

Ofcom said that Steinberg’s role was as a commentator and would not be seen as putting forward the official Israeli position. Some of his comments were also anti-Israeli, such as describing Israel’s actions in Gaza as an “act of outright Nazi-type genocide”.

Interestingly, the Community Security Trust notes that Steinberg is the Counterintelligence Director of conspiracy theorist Lyndon Larouche’s Executive Intelligence Review. Perhaps indicative of the type of guest invited on to Press TV, Steinberg, when interviewed on the station last month, claimed:

Much of what you have been told about the events of 9/11 have been a hoax. The truth, which is clearly revealed in newly declassified documents, available through the National Archives, is that two leading presumed U.S. allies–Saudi Arabia and Great Britain–were up to their eyeballs in the attacks on New York City and Washington.

Certainly not the most obvious candidate to be presenting an official Israeli position.

In conclusion:

Ofcom considered that within the Programmes overall, there was not an appropriately wide range of significant views included and that the views that were included that were contrary to the opinion of the presenter, were not given due weight.

We congratulate Ofcom for thoroughly investigating complaints against George Galloway and Press TV, although we remain sceptical that a slap on the wrist will cause any change in the behaviour of the protagonists.

The full Ofcom report (PP 5-14) can be viewed here in PDF format.

[Ofcom is the independent organisation which regulates the UK’s broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications sectors.]


robinshepherdA debate has been taking place on the pages of The Jerusalem Post following an opinion piece by analyst Robin Shepherd, who argues that hostility towards Israel within Britain has come to a head:

There’s something in the air. The Israel-haters smell blood, and they’re going in for the kill. It could be that we are on the threshold of a new era. But why now?

The simplest explanation is that the relentless, unremitting stream of anti-Israeli invective that has been pumped into the public mind in Britain over the last decade or so was always going to reach critical mass at some point. There is nothing particularly significant about the timing. The clock has been ticking for years. Israel’s time has simply come….

Outside the governmental sphere, it is a racing certainty that unions will renew efforts for trade and academic boycotts. Media hysteria will grow as each new assault on Israel’s integrity helps legitimize and validate the next. For the Jews of Britain, the prospect of increasing anti-Semitism against this backdrop is all too real.

The darkness is closing in.

vivianwinemanIn response, Board of Deputies of British Jews president Vivian Wineman fired back that Shepherd’s analysis was “misguided and alarmist”:

But let’s be clear, the “relentless, unremitting stream of anti-Israel invective” that Shepherd refers to is still propagated, as it has been for years, by a relatively small number of people with loud voices.

The appropriate response is not to declare that the situation has reached “critical mass” and that an irreversible anti-Zionist malevolence has descended on Britain; that is simply not the case. The correct response is to be realistic about the degree of the problem and move forward with the huge amount of work that has already been undertaken to ensure that Israel is getting the fair hearing it deserves.

jonathanhoffmanThe debate continued as Zionist Federation co-chair Jonathan Hoffman’s response to Wineman, giving numerous examples of anti-Israel hostility from within the media, the political system, non-governmental organisations, academia and increasing incidents of anti-Semitism:

Maybe – just maybe – Shepherd has a point?

He has more than a point. He has understood, analyzed and explained an edifice of hostility to Israel in Britain which, though not unique, certainly places Britain among the more difficult places in the Western world to make a fair case for Israel.

Read the full articles above and decide for yourself.

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