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Ex-Channel 4 boss attacks Stephen Fry message dealing with anti-Semitism

Stephen Fry delivering the Alternative Christmas Message for 2023 on Channel 4
Stephen Fry delivered the Alternative Christmas Message for 2023 on Channel 4 and focused on growing anti-Semitism - Channel 4/Adam Lawrence

A former Channel 4 executive has been criticised after attacking the broadcaster’s alternative Christmas Message by Stephen Fry, in which the entertainer expressed concern about a rise in anti-Semitism.

In a series of LinkedIn messages, Tamara Abood, a former Channel 4 commissioning editor in news and current affairs who is now a psychotherapist working with people in the entertainment industry, challenged the channel’s decision to screen the message.

She was also critical of Fulwell 73, the production company headed by James Corden, Ben Winston, Leo Pearlman and Ben and Gabe Turner, saying: “The asymmetry of the conflict was not remotely reflected in what Stephen Fry had to say. It was carefully worded lip service.”

Ms Abood added that Channel 4’s broadcast about anti-Semitism “demonstrates where the power lies”. Her LinkedIn post was ‘liked’ by Deborah Williams, the head of Creative Diversity Network (CDN), a diversity and inclusion charity for the entertainment industry.

‘Almost every trope is there’

Leo Pearlman of Fulwell 73 said: “It is like Tamara has been playing a game of anti-Semitism bingo – almost every trope is there from ‘Jews control the media’ to ‘anti-Semitism not operating in a vacuum’.

“The fact that someone who has genuine influence is using it in this way is troubling but perhaps most concerning of all is that the post was liked by the head of the CDN – that underlines the extent of the problem we are dealing with.

“If the person who is meant to be responsible for helping minorities in our industry is liking or retweeting this kind of stuff, I am not sure that the organisation she heads is fit for purpose.”

Abood, who charges £120 an hour for therapy, responded angrily to Jewish former colleagues who criticised her posts. She told one: “Historically the spectre of anti-Semitism has been used to silence debate and I see a lot of that on here.”

Complaints to watchdog

And she added she believed the rise in anti-Semitism could be blamed on the actions of Israel, saying: “The rise in anti-Semitism is not happening in a vacuum. You have to try to understand why it happens, not so as to discount it, but so as to address it.”

Another post featured a photograph of someone holding up a sign saying: “Israel’s killing children again.” She wrote: “If this post irks you, know that it’s not about me or the girl holding the placard. It suggests something difficult in you and I would encourage you to think about what that is.”

Ms Abood’s posts attracted criticism both from former broadcasting colleagues and fellow therapists who objected to her use of language. It is understood there have been several complaints to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Ms Abood and Ms Williams were approached for comment.

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