Twenty-two episodes of al-Shatat, Arabic for The Diaspora, were broadcast by a new Jordan-based satellite station before the government pulled the plug on Friday.

 

"We welcome the cessation of such an anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli TV programme," said Israeli Embassy Press Attache Jacob Raber on Sunday.

 

"There shouldn't be any such programme on the airwaves, especially in a friendly country like Jordan," Raber told The Associated Press.

 

The Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM), one of several US-based groups that monitor the media in the Arab world, said it applauded the Jordanian government for banning the series broadcast on Mamnou' TV, Arabic for prohibited.

 

"CATM worked closely with its allies to successfully bring the issue before King Abdullah of Jordan," the group said in a statement obtained on Sunday. It did not elaborate.

 

Jordanian silence

 

Jordanian officials were tight-lipped on the ban, apparently to avoid agitating a public opinion frustrated with Israel's policies and which sees its pro-Western government often catering for Israel.

 

Many in Jordan, where at least half of the society is of Palestinian origin, are opposed to the kingdom's 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

 

Al-Manar TV backed production
of the al-Shatat series

Walid al-Hadidi, Mamnou's board chairman, said the series "was stopped for technical, not political reasons". He declined to elaborate or say if the Jordanian government had pressed him to stop broadcast.

 

But he maintained that the series, which his firm had bought for $1.25 million and aired as part of its experimental broadcast, is likely to be shown again after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when the station goes into regular broadcast.

 

The 29-part Ramadan special was produced by a Syrian firm upon the request of the Lebanese Hizb Allah al-Manar television last year. Israel and the United States formally protested against al-Manar channel's broadcast of the series.

 

The series was banned in France last year.

 

Conspiracy

 

Al-Shatat included characters portraying Jews speaking of a global Jewish government. In one scene, an actress playing a diseased prostitute in a European brothel run by a Jewish madam speaks of her desire to infect non-Jews.

 

The series was based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The protocols, which depict a plot by Jewish leaders to take over the world, have long been dismissed by historians as a forgery concocted by Russian Tsar Nicholas II's secret police to blame the country's problems on Jews.

 

It was labelled an anti-Semitic tract.