Iran’s Press TV is using its UK channel to push conspiracy theories about antisemitism in the Labour Party.
The state-owned broadcaster has aired two interviews with alleged Labour antisemites Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker in the last month, as well as a third 25-minute programme featuring disgraced Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer.
In an interview with the channel following his resignation, Ken Livingstone claims to have been attacked for his claims that Hitler “supported Zionism” because “the establishment and the super-rich do not want a genuine socialist in Downing Street”. In a description of the clip on its Facebook page, Press TV reinterprets Livingstone’s reference to “the establishment and the super-rich” as “the Israel lobby”, reinforcing antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish control of government and business.
Jackie Walker was also given an interview by the channel in which she promotes the conspiracy theory that Labour’s antisemitism crisis has been caused by MPs, the media, Jewish community groups and supporters of Israel. She is currently suspended from Labour for her claim that Jews were the “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”.
Press TV also devoted an entire episode of its “The Sun Will Rise” discussion programme to the issue, featuring Stephen Sizer as one of its guests. Sizer resigned from the Church of England after sharingantisemitic material linking Jews with the 9/11 attacks. Jeremy Corbyn is known to have written to the Church of England in support of Sizer after details of the antisemitic post became public.
In an introductory clip, a voiceover states that Labour’s antisemitism crisis is “a media and politically manufactured scandal, and it’s not about antisemitism at all, but rather about undermining and eventually toppling the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn”.
The discussion that follows is led by Press TV presenter Roshan Muhammed Salih, who asks loaded questions including “is this all cooked up and manufactured by the Israeli lobby in the UK in collaboration with the Israeli embassy?” and “what do you make of Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to this so-called crisis … has he played it right?”.
Press regulator Ofcom came close to revoking Press TV’s license to operate in the UK in 2011 after it aired footage of journalist MaziarBahari “confessing” being “an MI6 contact person” that was later found to have been obtained by torture. The channel was instead fined £100,000 and allowed to continue broadcasting.
Jeremy Corbyn is reported to have accepted up to £20,000 for appearances on Press TV after it was temporarily banned for its part in the Maziar Bahari case.