Below is the text of a letter of complaint which I have today sent to Ofcom. It concerns the edition of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, Inside Britain's Israel Lobby, which was screened last month.
I am writing in complaint regarding the journalistic and editorial standards of the recently screened Channel 4 documentary regarding the ‘Israel lobby’ in the UK.
This programme was clearly presented as an exposé to some sort of illicit, underhand or immoral influence by the ‘Israel lobby’ over the UK and international political leadership, but failed to demonstrate any evidence or facts of substance, relying instead on implication, association and prejudice.
Had the programme revealed inappropriate behaviour or activity, or information about activities contrary to the public good, it should have been applauded. But in completely failing to do this, it was a disgraceful piece of supposed investigative reporting, out of place in an open democratic society and unworthy of the high standards we expect of British journalism.
The programme essentially argued that individuals and communities who are concerned for the welfare of the state of Israel, and specifically Jews, were using money to subvert and wield inappropriate influence over our political leaders to steer British and international policy.
As with all ‘reporting’ of this type, the media has a responsibility to be clear, unbiased and to act in ways that do not feed hatred. Unfortunately, in failing to meet these obligations, the programme appears not to have been made with good intentions.
It closer resembled a ‘witch-hunt’ than a responsible current-affairs exposé. Crucially, the core arguments were grounded in anti-Semitic ‘The Jews control the world’ myths, and used Orwellian doublespeak to present these views in a more subversively ‘acceptable’ way. In focusing on this group, without comparative reference to other similar organisations and political lobby groups it was at best anti-Israel, at worst directly anti-Semitic. It was not unbiased reporting. This bias was exemplified by the references to Jewish community members writing ‘aggressive’ letters to the media to express their views.
Our society is rightly grounded on the freedoms of the use of peaceful persuasive argument to influence decisions and opinions. To in effect imply that this community has no right to express strong opinions in a non-violent and completely lawful way, is a disgraceful misuse of the platform and trust the programme makers were given. The world would be a considerably safer and peaceful place if more people engaged in political thought and debate via the pen than the sword.
I request that a full investigation is conducted into the editorial and journalistic standards of the programme and where appropriate, sufficiently public apologies made to the appropriate parties.
Daniel Kawczynski MP
Parliamentary Chairman, Conservative Arab Network
Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury and Atcham