Now on TV in the UK: Ira­nian Shoah-de­nial

Try as it might, PressTV — a sta­tion spon­sored by the Tehran regime — can­not dis­guise its racism

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis - DAVID TOUBE

YOU MIGHT not know it, but the Bri­tish Na­tional Party has a television sta­tion. Ac­tu­ally, that’s a rather grand way of de­scrib­ing what amounts to lit­tle more than a YouTube chan­nel and a web­site sell­ing DVDs. You’re un­likely to have seen its pro­grammes, and to be hon­est, you’re not miss­ing much. If only Nick Grif­fin had man­aged to se­cure fund­ing for the Na­tional Front from Colonel Gaddafi, whom he vis­ited cap-in-hand in 1988, BNPTv might to­day be a prop­erly re­sourced, pro­fes­sional af­fair, ca­pa­ble of hir­ing celebrity jour­nal­ists, main­tain­ing for­eign bureaux, at­tract­ing high-profile guests, and broad­cast­ing their out­put via satel­lite, in the fash­ion of a real television sta­tion.

But where BNPTv has failed, through lack of funds, the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment’s pro­pa­ganda television sta­tion, PressTV, has suc­ceeded.

PressTV is head­quar­tered in Tehran and is broad­cast in­ter­na­tion­ally by satel­lite. It has an im­pres­sive and gener- ously re­sourced op­er­a­tion in Lon­don. The sta­tion’s flag­ship pro­gramme is a panel dis­cus­sion fronted by the Evening Stan­dard re­porter Andrew Gilligan, who is some­times able to per­suade po­lit­i­cally main­stream guests to ap­pear on his show.

There are cer­tainly some who might ar­gue that Gilligan’s in­volve­ment does lit­tle to en­hance the sta­tus of the sta­tion. How­ever, Gilligan’s Fo­rum is an oa­sis in a sea of mar­ginal, ex­treme and nasty pol­i­tics.

As you’d ex­pect, the sta­tion broad­casts slots with the usual sus­pects, Ge­orge Gal­loway and Yvonne Ri­d­ley. It has also de­vel­oped a fond­ness for putting neo-Nazis on the air, and pub­lish­ing Holo­caust-de­nial ma­te­rial.

Last week, the JC re­ported that PressTV had pub­lished a pa­per writ­ten by the 7/7 con­spir­acy the­o­rist, crop-cir­cle en­thu­si­ast and for­mer hon­orary fel­low of Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, Ni­cholas Koller­strom. Koller­strom is a man who claims that Jews were not mur­dered in Auschwitz, but in­stead hap­pily played wa­ter­polo to­gether in its “el­e­gant swim­ming pool”. The ar­ti­cle pub­lished by PressTV is a pseudo-sci­en­tific ver­sion of the same ar­gu­ment, in the form of a sum­mary of var­i­ous “stud­ies” beloved by those on the ex­treme right, which pur­ports to demon­strate that Jews could not have been gassed in the death camp.

PressTV’s edi­to­rial team is anx­ious to let its au­di­ence know that it stands full square be­hind the man they call a “dis­tin­guished aca­demic”. Their in­tro­duc­tion to the ar­ti­cle notes that “The West pun­ishes peo­ple for their sci­en­tific re­search on Holo­caust but the same West­ern coun­tries al­low in­sults to prophets and re­li­gious be­liefs”.

How PressTV ended up pro­mot­ing Holo­caust-de­nial is an­other story. It starts with a for­mer “Miss New­cas­tle” and friend of David Irv­ing, Lady Re­nouf. Re­nouf has ap­peared as a pun­dit on PressTV on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions. In re­cent years, she has been ac­tive in forg­ing links be­tween the Bri­tish far right and the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran, and spoke at the in­fa­mous Holo­caust­de­nial con­fer­ence in Tehran, where she met with Pres­i­dent Ah­madine­jad.

Re­nouf is also as­so­ci­ated with the “New Right”, a group which brings to­gether an as­sort­ment of neo-Nazis (in­clud­ing a BNP of­fi­cer) and the Is­lamic Party of Bri­tain, which is linked to Ge­orge Gal­loway’s Re­spect party through Mo­hammed Naseem, a prom­i­nent fig­ure in both par­ties.

Re­nouf urged PressTV to cham­pion Koller­strom. They cheer­fully obliged. In other words, the pub­lish­ing of Koller­strom’s Holo­caust-de­nial pa­per wasn’t a one-off mis­judg­ment, re­sult­ing from edi­to­rial de­ci­sions made in Tehran. Rather, it is the prod­uct of the Lon­don bureau’s as­so­ci­a­tion with an­other prom­i­nent neo-Nazi.

PressTV is des­per­ate to shake its im­age as a source of pro­pa­ganda for a vi­cious au­thor­i­tar­ian regime; so des­per­ate that it once tried to hire the son of the Sec­re­tary of State of the En­vi­ron­ment, Hi­lary Benn, to front a “youth” show.

The un­sur­pris­ing dis­cov­ery that the sta­tion has an en­thu­si­asm for the Bri­tish ex­treme right will have made that task rather more dif­fi­cult. How­ever much time and ef­fort they ex­pend on cre­at­ing a false façade of re­spectabil­ity, racists and big­ots just can­not cam­ou­flage their true na­ture. David Toube blogs at hur­ Alex Brum­mer re­turns next week

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