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Revelations

"The Jewish people as a whole will be its own Messiah. It will attain world domination by the dissolution of other races...and by the establishment of a world republic in which everywhere the Jews will exercise the privilege of citizenship. In this New World Order the Children of Israel...will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition..." (Karl Marx in a letter to Baruch Levy, quoted in Review de Paris, June 1, 1928, p. 574)

Thursday, 5 April 2007

In the Zionist Camp

The Warning

al-jazeera english channel succumbing to zionist pressure even before it is launched

Monday September 18, 2006 00:19

by Khalid Amayreh, The Electronic Intifada. Aljazeera.net/English writer

When the Qatar-based pan-Arab Al-Jazeera Satellite Television announced two years ago plans to launch Al-Jazeera International (AJI), many people around the world hoped the new satellite channel would provide a genuine alternative to the notoriously biased western media, which often operates under Zionist influence.

pictureThe new channel, the launching of which has been postponed several times, will provide both regional and global perspective to a potential audience of hundreds of millions of English speakers.

AJI is the world's first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East, with news management rotating around broadcasting centers in Athens, Doha, London, Washington, D.C., and Kuala Lumpur.

AJI has already attracted a number of luminaries in the world of TV broadcasting, including such people as Sir David Frost and Riz Khan.

However, it seems that disappointment may lie in wait for many of those who expected to see an international TV channel that is fair and objective and — especially — free from the usual Anglo-American (and Israeli) worldview.

In fact, there are already ominous signs showing that pro-Israeli sympathizers, some of them with a background in the BBC, are exerting control on the editorial policies of the new channel, all under the rubric of professionalism and journalistic standards.

This writer, who has been working for Aljazeera.net/English (which has now been incorporated into AJI) has discovered, by chance, efforts by some senior western editors at AJI to minimize and avoid as much as possible the publication of articles, especially news and feature stories, portraying Israel in a bad light or otherwise exposing Israeli occupation practices against the Palestinian people.

This trend has become quite conspicuous lately. Aljazeera.net/English, for example, failed to report important newsworthy events from Israel, such as the admission by an Israeli military officer that the Israeli air force dropped over a million cluster bomblets on Lebanon during the recent war with Hizbullah.

Similarly, a story quoting Eifi Eitam, head of a right-wing Israeli party, calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied territories, was left unreported, even after AJI was notified of the subject.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of similar examples, all showing that AJI is knowingly and deliberately avoiding serious coverage of the Palestinian plight, especially in its feature section which abounds with all kinds of stories covering various — and outlandish — subjects and events.

Earlier this year, one of the pro-Israeli editors contemptuously rejected a human interest story on a Palestinian college student from al-Najah University in Nablus who lost her right eye to an Israeli rubber bullet while on her way home from campus.

The senior editor, Vince Ryan, argued that the subject was not a priority and that Aljazeera.net/English would prepare a more comprehensive coverage of similar cases later. Of course, the promised coverage never materialized.

Eventually, thanks to intensive pleading by this writer, the article was posted (see "Rubber Bullets menace West Bank", Aljazeera.net, 26 April 2006).

Ryan apparently never forgave me my "audacity", as was evident from his subsequent behavior. In the third week of June this year, I submitted an article on Palestinian children and minors killed by the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers. The article was based on statistical information released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

However, instead of thanking me for the article, Ryan, upon seeing it and without giving it a second thought, wrote to tell me that I was lying and that the information contained in the article was false. His vindictive and nervous tone was very telling and spoke volumes.

Unable to reason with the man, who never accepted even a single proposal — and I submitted many — from a series of feature articles he dismissed as "anti-Israeli," I turned to Russell Merryman, Editor-in-Chief for Web and News Media services at AJI, who is probably the most pro-Israeli employee in AJI today.

Instead of treating the matter professionally, Merryman launched a tirade against me, accusing me of lacking professionalism and violating al-Jazeera's professional ethics.

He argued that employing terms such as "martyrs" — even within a quote — was unprofessional (most Arab media employ the term in reference to Palestinians killed by the Israeli army). The same man readily approves quotes by Israeli army spokespersons and Jewish leaders vilifying Palestinians as "terrorists, murderers and thugs."

Finding he had no case against me, Merryman resorted to a red-herring, accusing me of creating confusion and turmoil at Aljazeera.net from the West Bank — from which I am barred from leaving by the Israeli occupation authorities! And after a brief email exchange, he told me I was fired.

I have written more than 300 pieces for Al-Jazeera's English website, probably more than anybody else, and never encountered any problem with previous editors. Indeed, Merryman himself, after starting work with Al-Jazeera's English website in 2005, praised my professionalism and experience as a journalist.

I don't know for sure why Merryman behaved the way he did. It is quite possible that he had been urged or cajoled by some of his Zionist friends to make sure that "anti-Israeli" articles were rejected.

But I have my suspicions, which I am sure will be vindicated one day.

It may be that he wanted to make AJI coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict a carbon copy of that of the BBC where he had spent several years as producer, presenter and news editor.

That would be a real disaster. Indeed, it was due to the BBC's cumulative coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, at least in part, that a majority of British youths came to think that Palestinians were "the settlers" and Jews were the victims of the "Palestinian settler violence," as was revealed in a British opinion poll a few years ago.

Yes, of course, it is important to be neutral and impartial when covering international conflicts. But it is even more important to be honest when dealing with asymmetrical conflicts where one side is occupied and oppressed and the other is the occupier and oppressor.

Eventually, though somewhat belatedly, the Al-Jazeera administration became conscious, although I don't know to what extent, of the silent but real pro-Israeli lobby that was building-up quietly but steadily within AJI.

This build-up had two main manifestations: neutralizing Palestinian correspondents from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and the intensive reliance on reports by American news agency, the Associated Press, viewed by many as 'Israel's ultimate news agency.'

Needless to say, reports by this agency, whose Jerusalem offices are staffed by extremely pro-Israeli, Jewish-American zealots, never misses a chance to remind readers that Hamas was a terrorist organization and that Palestinian resistance fighters are actually terrorists. AP never ever remembers that timeless maxim that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Israel itself is also viewed by hundreds of millions of people around the world as a terrorist state par excellence.

Seeking to rectify the situation before it was too late, Al-Jazeera's top managers appointed, Ibrahim Hilal, an able Egyptian journalist, to make sure that AJI didn't drift too much away from the policies of the mother Arabic channel.

Hilal, under instructions from Al-Jazeera General Manager, Waddah Khanfar, asked Merryman to reinstate me as correspondent in Palestine. Merryman complied but only begrudgingly.

On 18 July, Merryman sent me a terse and condescending message, demanding that I apologize to him — I don't know for what — and warning that my performance would be closely monitored. He said he would commission me to write some pieces, but that he, and he alone, would decide when and how. He actually never asked me to write a single piece, despite the numerous newsworthy events taking place in Palestine.

I did propose to him that I undertake some feature stories on the situation in Gaza, the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah and how Israel was barring Palestinians from accessing food and work.

He wouldn't even reply to these messages.

Last week, Merryman decided to change the rules governing the editorial policies of Aljazeera.net/English. The new rules make sure that "undesirable stories," e.g. stories that expose Israeli brutality and racism against the Palestinians, or those portraying Israel as a Nazi-like entity, wouldn't find their way to Aljazeera.net.

Merryman has already put this policy into effect. For the past three or four months, not a single feature story about the Israeli persecution of Palestinians, which of late assumed nearly genocidal proportions, appeared on Al-Jazeera's English website. This is while the site abounds with all sorts of stories about outlandish subjects.

Merryman claims he has received a full authorization from Al-Jazeera General Director Waddah Khanfar granting him full authority to decide what is posted on Al-Jazeera's English website.

I have sought to communicate my concerns about this grave trend — now permeating through AJI — to Al-Jazeera's top officials, some of whom have openly voiced their frustration and exasperation in this regard.

One official intimated to me that "Merryman views with utter contempt the way the Arabic channel is run."

Another told me that "this man and his friends want to turn Al-Jazeera into another Fox News or even another Jerusalem Post." The latter is Israel's main right-wing English newspaper, and a mouthpiece for the Jewish settler movement.

I am sure that this article will sign me off from Al-Jazeera. However, I am willing to sacrifice my own personal interest and lose the bulk of my income in the hope that al-Jazeera officials, particularly Chairman Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani and Managing Director Waddah Khanfar, will open their eyes and make sure that al-Jazeera International doesn't become a new weapon in the hands of the enemies of Arabs and Muslims.

For God's sake, don't let them hijack Al-Jazeera under the disguise of journalistic ethics.


Khalid Amayreh is a professional journalist and political analyst from Dura, 10 km. south west of Hebron in the West Bank. His writings appear frequently in Al-Ahram Weekly and Al-Jazeera.


Al Jazeera: Think Again

It is vilified as a propaganda machine and Osama bin Laden’s mouthpiece. In truth, though, Al Jazeera is as hated in the palaces of Riyadh as it is in the White House. But, as millions of loyal viewers already know, Al Jazeera promotes a level of free speech and dissent rarely seen in the Arab world. With plans to go global, it might just become your network of choice.

“Al Jazeera Supports Terrorism”

False, though the network makes little attempt to disassociate itself from those who do. This claim is one of the loudest arguments that Western critics have levied against the Arabic-language news channel since its inception 10 years ago, when the Doha, Qatar-based network pledged to present all viewpoints. Just as it describes in its motto, “The opinion and the other opinion,” Al Jazeera has lent airtime even to hated political figures and extremists, including prominent members of al Qaeda. It’s this willingness to present terrorists as legitimate political commentators that has prompted outspoken critics such as U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to refer to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as “inaccurate and inexcusable.”

After all, when Al Jazeera offers its estimated 50 million viewers exclusive interviews of Osama bin Laden, it’s easy to confuse access with endorsement. And when a journalist who conducts those interviews is jailed for collaboration with al Qaeda, as Tayssir Alouni was in a Spanish court last year, the line between impartial observer and impassioned supporter is certainly blurred. In addition, al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group that reaches out to Al Jazeera. Besides the infamous bin Laden tapes—at least six of which the network has still never aired—Al Jazeera has also received tapes from insurgent groups in Iraq, renegade Afghan warlords, and the London suicide bombers.

But the network has never supported violence against the United States. Not once have its correspondents praised attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. The network has never captured an attack on the coalition “live,” and there’s no evidence Al Jazeera has known about any attack beforehand. Despite claims to the contrary, the network has never aired footage of a beheading. As for Alouni’s case, conclusive evidence has yet to be presented to the public. And there is nothing to suggest that the network’s funding is illegitimate. Allegations of supporting terrorism remain just that—allegations.

“Al Jazeera Is Anti-Semitic”

Wrong. Just as Al Jazeera has proven willing to present al Qaeda’s “perspective,” it has also devoted airtime to and welcomed another regional pariah—Israel. The network was the first Arab channel to allow Israelis to present their case in their own words, in Hebrew, English, or Arabic. This move was a major departure from past practices and truly shocked the Arab public. Until Al Jazeera arrived, most Arabs had never even heard an Israeli’s voice. Al Jazeera regularly airs clips of Israeli officials within news bulletins and conducts live interviews with six to 10 Israelis each month. The network covers Israeli affairs extensively and is widely watched in Israel. In fact, Al Jazeera gives more airtime to Israeli issues than any other channel outside Israel itself.

Although Israel has accused Al Jazeera of bias and anti-Semitism (and some of the network’s guests have certainly fit that bill), the network’s coverage has occasionally been of concrete benefit to the Israelis. When Israel invaded Jenin in the spring of 2002, Al Jazeera’s exclusive television reports from within the besieged city thoroughly dispelled rumors of a “massacre,” leading to a U.N. special investigating committee appointed by the secretary-general being unceremoniously disbanded.

Many Israelis even regard Al Jazeera as an important new force for change in the Arab world. Gideon Ezra, former deputy head of the Israeli General Security Service, once remarked that he wished “all Arab media were like Al-Jazeera.” Not all Arabs would agree. Although many Westerners think Al Jazeera has a pro-Arab bias, many Arabs believe exactly the opposite. It is widely held in the Arab world that Al Jazeera is financed and run by Mossad, MI5, or the CIA, so as to undermine Arab unity. Just as Bahrain banned Al Jazeera from reporting from inside the country because of a perceived Zionist bias in 2002, Al Jazeera’s bureaus in Arab countries have often been closed down, accused of besmirching the Palestinians or disseminating other kinds of imperialistic anti-Arab propaganda.

“Al Jazeera Is Spreading Political Freedom”

Wishful thinking. It’s true that Al Jazeera established the tradition of investigative reporting in the Arab world and rolled back the boundaries of debate within Arab families, breaking all kinds of taboos about what could be discussed on television. Improving upon the sycophantic Arab news channels that existed prior to 1996, Al Jazeera better informs the Arab public about their leadership and provides Arabs with a forum through which they can more easily ask of their rulers, “Why are we in this mess?”

In fact, Al Jazeera’s programs about Western politics have done more to inform Arabs about democracy than any nation or station. After 9/11, Al Jazeera’s Washington bureau started two weekly talk shows to illuminate American democracy for a foreign audience: From Washington, in which the bureau chief interviewed U.S. politicians, including members of the Bush administration; and U.S. Presidential Race, which covered the U.S. elections in great depth, including most of the major primaries.

However, to assume satellite television will transform Arab societies into transparent, just, and equal democracies is to presume that the current state of affairs in the Arab world results from an information deficit, which is not true. Except in the most authoritarian Arab countries, news has long been available to determined citizens via the BBC or Voice of America radio, and neither one of those remade the region.

Al Jazeera encourages free speech in the Middle East, but that is no substitute for real political reform. Just because a woman in Saudi Arabia can now see a debate on TV, and can even contribute in real time, doesn’t mean she can go out and vote in an election or join a political party. Arab autocrats have come to realize that even if information on satellite TV cannot be packaged and manipulated the way it was with state-run media, Al Jazeera may not be as deadly a threat to their regimes as they first feared. They can still ban Al Jazeera from opening a bureau, as has happened in Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, or evoke emergency laws to confiscate equipment or arrest journalists, as happens in Egypt. Arab press unions, like Arab opposition political parties, are still prevented from growing strong.

“Al Jazeera Is Biased”

True, but no more so than Fox News or CNN. Al Jazeera employs the same stringent editorial processes as the Western media, but it ends up with a different product. During the war in Iraq, Al Jazeera’s tone was notably sympathetic to the Iraqis and hostile toward the Americans. Similarly in Afghanistan, the Taliban was often presented as the noble underdog and America as the vengeful, colonial aggressor. A general cynicism about Arab regimes allied to America is detectable, and though Al Jazeera has employees from many religions, including Jews, the network is clearly sympathetic toward the Palestinians.

This bias in no way invalidates the network’s news. Knowing it is scrutinized more rigorously than any other news channel in the world, Al Jazeera is fastidious in presenting all sides of a story. Certainly compared to most other Arab news stations, Al Jazeera remains a model of professionalism and objectivity. Journalists around the world treat Al Jazeera with the same respect they treat news from any other major international news network. Al Jazeera has sharing agreements with CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, BBC, Japan’s NHK, and Germany’s ZDF, all of which regularly use Al Jazeera’s footage and reports.

If Al Jazeera has a bias, it is a commercial one. Despite the fact that it enjoys an estimated annual budget of around $100 million, subsidized largely by the gas-rich Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar, Al Jazeera wants to win audience share and it wants to sell advertising. The network has consistently lost money since its launch, which is unsurprising, as no Arab channel makes a profit. The network targets a particular demographic (namely Arab men over the age of 25), and, like the mainstream cable networks or FM radios stations in the United States, it tries hard to pitch itself to viewers by luring them with dramatic trailers and lead-in segments. They often feature montages of violence from the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, or Iraq, accompanied by pounding music. Critics argue that such montages are deliberately inflammatory. The network counters that it is not its job to sanitize images of war. What is indisputable is that Al Jazeera has different standards of taste from Western networks when it comes to showing casualties.

“Al Jazeera Is Censored”

Not yet. Al Jazeera occupies a peculiar space in the Arab media. It presents itself as a beacon of free speech and editorial independence in the region. Yet, the chairman of the network’s board of directors is Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al-Thani, the former Qatari deputy minister of information. There’s no question that Al Jazeera remains heavily dependent on the emir. And he has proved to be an unflinching sponsor. When he came to power in 1995, the emir calculated that hosting a popular television network would help Qatar shore up Western support in the event that Iran, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia should decide to invade. The gamble paid off, both for Al Jazeera and for the emir.

Despite its dependence on the state, Al Jazeera regularly criticizes Arab regimes, including Qatar’s. For example, when a coup to depose the emir was foiled in February 1996 and the plotters put on trial, proceedings were televised live on Al Jazeera—a first in the Arab world. Al Jazeera’s viewers had a front-row seat when the defense counsel claimed that the defendants had been subjected to torture, and when a spokesman from Amnesty International who had been invited to attend the trial attacked the Qatari criminal justice system. Talk shows on Al Jazeera have discussed whether it was right or wrong for Qatar to host an American air base. At the height of the intifada and in the run-up to the war in Iraq, when America’s allies were being hounded in the Arab world, politicians, guests, and callers frequently attacked Qatar on Al Jazeera.

Yet there remains a deeply held belief from government ministries right down to the Arab street that the Qatari ruling family is the real power behind Al Jazeera. The exact nature of the relationship remains opaque, but it is a testament to the vision of the emir that, so far at least, he has been tolerant. Whether he will continue to keep his fingers off the channel remains to be seen.

“Al Jazeera Wants to Compete with CNN and the BBC”

Yes, and it plans to. Although it wasn’t part of the original launch plan back in November 1996, the network’s incredible success during the past decade has prompted the emir to expand his goals for Al Jazeera. This fall, a sister English-language station, called Al Jazeera International, or AJI, will launch around the world. It expects to reach 30 to 40 million households on its first day. AJI is directly competing with BBC World and CNN International for the world’s English-speaking audience of 1 billion people.

Although it has hired a large number of Western journalists, it won’t look much like CNN. The network’s coverage will “follow the sun” throughout the day, airing from Kuala Lumpur for 4 hours, Doha for 11 hours, London for 5, and Washington for the remaining 4. Reporters and editors in each locale will present news from their region’s perspective, and the entire world will watch the same satellite feed at the same time. “We’re the first news channel based in the Mideast to bring news back to the West,” says Nigel Parsons, managing director of AJI. “We want to set a different news agenda.” And CNN and the BBC are taking the new global competition seriously. The BBC has unveiled plans for an Arabic-language television news service, slated for launch in early 2007, and both networks are busy reassessing how they cover news in the developing world.

“Only Arabs Will Watch Al Jazeera International”

Not so fast. This venture is the biggest challenge yet for the network. Whereas the launch of the Arabic Al Jazeera network meant competing with the likes of Egyptian, Lebanese, and Saudi television, Western networks are much meatier competition, and Al Jazeera will face them on their home turf. In English.

For its part, AJI has said it will focus on developing-world issues and use more indigenous reporters and freelancers than other channels. It is widely expected to win large market share in Asia, where the Al Jazeera brand already enjoys a favorable reputation and where many more people speak English than Arabic. Pakistan has 160 million Muslims, and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, has 215 million Muslims, many of whom will be interested in following events in the Arab world closely.

Of course, it won’t be so easy to break into America. Even securing distribution for AJI has been tough: As of press time, not one U.S. cable company had offered to carry the channel as part of a general news package. Ironically, it is the world’s freest media market that poses the biggest challenge to Al Jazeera.

None of which changes the fact that Al Jazeera has permanently reshaped the landscape of world news to and, soon, from the Arab world. In a region where the United States is engaged in a protracted war in one country and the West as a whole faces a nuclear impasse in another, it hardly makes sense to simply turn the dial—and remain confined to an echo chamber of recycled opinion. If Al Jazeera International hits the airwaves this fall, America would do well to tune in.


Hugh Miles is the author of Al Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that Is Challenging the West (New York: Grove Press, 2005).

For a look at Al Jazeera International’s prospects outside the Arab world, see “Al Jazeera’s (Global) Mission,” (Fast Company, April 2006), by Linda Tischler, and “Coming to America: Is Al Jazeera the Next PBS?” (The New Republic, May 1, 2006), by Spencer Ackerman.


Qatar’s Al-Jazeera is not pro-Zionist enough for Fouad Ajami’s taste

The media in the US and in Europe consider themselves free and impartial; whether this is really the case is disputable, to say the least. Numerous incidents in the recent past have indicated how easily its reporters have bowed to pressure from authorities in various countries, or even from their own bosses. This is particularly true with reference to events in the Middle East and lately in Afghanistan.
For instance, we recall how Reuters and the BBC, among others, responded readily to Israel’s demand that assassinations (of Palestinians only, of course) be referred to as targeted attacks. More recently, CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson cautioned his own reporters to regularly include reminders of Sept. 11, saying “it seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties of hardship in Afghanistan.”

Besides interfering with freedom of speech, theoretically so sacred, this is a clear infringement on the foundations of reporting. In any case, there are many journalists whose obvious bias can be seen not on the opinion pages where they belong, but in sections supposed to be carrying straight reporting.
At the other end of the spectrum, Arab news media have often been ridiculed (not least by the “impartial” Western media) for being nothing more than official government mouthpieces. A fair criticism in most cases. So when a new Arab station answering all the criteria required of independent media finally saw the light, one would have expected the Arab masses to rejoice (which they did) and Western Media to welcome it into its folds (which they didn’t).

That certain Arab governments were not too pleased (and tried to close its offices in their territories) surprises no one. That the United States also tried to stifle this new voice (not to mention that it blasted its Kabul office out of existence) barely even raised eyebrows.
Al-Jazeera’s age of innocence was short-lived. In its five years of existence, it has managed to incur the criticism of “free” media, the wrath of several Arab leaders, and the irritation of a few Western ones, for whom freedom of speech apparently only means freedom to emulate Western speech.

Al-Jazeera, the station everyone loves to hate, is getting more publicity from people who don’t know it than from people who do. The latest addition to the list of Al-Jazeera-bashers is Fouad Ajami, whose Nov. 18 article in The New York Times Magazine might as well have been written by the US State Department.
The misleading generalities begin with the title, “What the Muslim world is watching.” Ajami knows well that Al-Jazeera’s audience consists, logically, of Arabic speakers, and that although most Arabs are Muslim, they constitute only a small percentage of the world’s Muslim population. This deceptive title is just an introduction to his main argument that the station “deliberately fans the flames of Muslim outrage.”

While admitting that there is indeed Muslim outrage (but failing to explain its roots), he infers that it is Al-Jazeera, and not world events, which is the main contributor to this situation. That is not a valid contention.
By mentioning the by-now worn cliche that Osama bin Laden is the station’s star, Ajami starts off a long succession of ludicrous arguments, unashamed exaggerations and even stretches the truth (such as the claim that reporters in Kabul sign off saying “from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”), using the same kind of sensationalism of which he accuses Al-Jazeera. Most preposterous is his characterization of its reporters as a whole, who he describes as “a fiercely opinionated group, most are either pan-Arabists or Islamists who draw their inspiration from the primacy of the Muslim faith in political life.”

Making the two terms sound like slurs, Ajami does not elaborate on how he comes to this generalization, and does not refer to a single encounter he has had with a reporter from Al-Jazeera who might have given him personal positions.
However, he does shed some light on the underlying causes of his aversion for Al-Jazeera, when he claims that “like the dark side of the pan-Arab world view,” it is an aggressive mix of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism (strange how the two terms always go together). And there we find the real bone of contention. Actually, Al-Jazeera, an Arab news medium reporting on events in the Arab world, would be hard-pressed to find much pro-Zionist sentiment in the region, a fact which eludes ­ or distresses ­ Ajami.

Thus, the real problem with Al-Jazeera seems to be its reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict which, for the likes of Ajami, is too pro-Arab and (shockingly) not pro-Zionist (the latter, one assumes, being what it takes to be considered “fair and responsible”). Should Al-Jazeera not have repeated footage of Mohammed al-Durra’s death, which Ajami describes as “careless” and signaling the arrival of a “new, sensational breed of Arab journalism?” Would limiting the exposure of Israeli excesses and Arab suffering make media fairer?

Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the intifada is hard to swallow for Ajami and his likes. With no real arguments to back his claims, he resorts to unsupported generalizations such as “broadcasters have perfected a sly game, namely mimicking Western norms of journalistic fairness while pandering to pan-Arab sentiments.” In fact, Ajami calls the whole coverage of the intifada “horribly slanted.” By that, he must mean that too many Palestinians were seen dead (or dying), and too many Israeli soldiers were seen shooting. Not the other way around. To Ajami’s displeasure, Al-Jazeera’s cameras show too much of the reality in the Occupied Territories, even if they also play images of Palestinian violence.

Ajami has no choice but to admit that Al-Jazeera has given a voice to Israeli officials, but he laments that it simultaneously pressed on with “anti-Zionist” reportage; and this, he claims, contributed to further alienation between Israelis and Palestinians. According to Ajami, therefore, the main reason behind the problems with the peace process is Al-Jazeera’s reporting, and certainly not the excessive brutality of Israeli occupation!

It takes Ajami more than 6,000 words to make a weak case against Al-Jazeera, using few valid points but many misleading statements and half-truths, hoping to convince the readers who will never watch the station that “Al-Jazeera’s virulent anti-American bias undercuts all its virtues. It is, in the final analysis, a dangerous force, and it should be treated as such by Washington.” How delightful to hear, at last, that an element of the Arab media is considered a force.

In effect, in its coverage of the intifada, and that of the war in Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera has actually given a voice to every side in the conflict, and done nothing more than televise the images its reporters are seeing. Al-Jazeera is not perfect, but neither are other television stations, newspapers or media networks anywhere in the world. It is fair to criticize any of them with valid arguments about professionalism and, naturally, bias. But Al-Jazeera seems to be paying a heavy price simply for emanating from an Arab Muslim country.

Israeli media is not criticized for being “anti-Palestinian.” American media has its over-proportionate share of bias, and has introduced us to the art of sensationalism. But Al-Jazeera is practically accused of extremism for only doing its job. In the end, is it just an Arabic CNN that the West really wants?

Rime Allaf is a writer and a specialist in Middle East affairs. She is a consultant in international communications and new economy business and wrote this commentary for The Daily Star


Al Jazeera Unmasked as a Zionist Plot (Tehran Times)

No one can deny that this is an unusual analysis, and it certainly challenges the conventional wisdom about Al Jazeera--a station that naive people generally regard as being hostile to Israel and the US. (However, it does conform to the larger conventional wisdom in the Middle East and the Muslim world, which is that every conceivable problem must be the result of a "Zionist" and/or Zionist-American plot.)
The Al-Jazeera network was founded in 1997, ostensibly to create a new movement in the static media of the Arab world, which are mostly government controlled, and was initially welcomed.

Many media experts believed that the new network would create a revolution in the field of information dissemination, particularly in the Arab states on the Persian Gulf.

However, at the same time, rumors arose suggesting that the network was established by U.S. and Israeli agents in order to present a bad image of Islam to the world.

Some regional experts expressed doubts about the allegations though, because the establishment of a media outlet with the aim of promptly informing Arab nations about the latest world news seemed to be a good idea.

But the actions of the network gradually revealed the fact that Al-Jazeera officials, on the orders of Zionist agents, are trying to divide Islamic countries and tarnish the image of Islam. [....]

At the beginning of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera became the tribune of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups in order to give the world the impression that those terrorists represented real Islam.

In addition, since the occupation of Iraq began, ethnic tension has risen and there have been clashes between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, partly due to the efforts of Al-Jazeera.

By broadcasting abhorrent scenes of the beheadings of foreign hostages by the criminal agents of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist group, the network succeeded in increasing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the world, particularly in the West.

Following the advice of U.S. and Israeli experts in psychological operations (psyops), Al-Jazeera took actions which gave Westerners a negative image of Islam and Muslims.

In fact, the Al-Jazeera network was founded at exactly the same time when Iranian President Mohammad Khatami introduced his Dialogue Among Civilizations initiative as a logical strategy to bring the West and the Islamic world closer together.

Of course, the Zionists were not pleased at the idea because they believe that increased proximity between the Islamic world and the West is not in their interests. And that is why they founded the Al-Jazeera network to tarnish the image of true Islam.

Now, after seven years, it has become apparent that the real strategy of the network has been to create divisions between Islamic countries, to give the impression that Islam is a threat to the West, to present a negative image of the real Islam to the world, to isolate Muslims residing in the United States and other Western countries, and to create sectarian divisions between Shias and Sunnis in the Middle East.
Omnipotently yours,
Jeff Weintraub

P.S. No, this article is not a parody. (Though, on the other hand, it is well known that the Iranian regime and the Iranian media are Zionist-controlled.)
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Tehran Times (Iran)
December 2, 2004

By Hassan Hanizadeh


The Al-Jazeera network’s recent insult of the Iranian nation was totally unacceptable.

The Arabic network, which broadcasts its programs from the little Arab country Qatar, has recently posted an insulting cartoon about the Islamic Republic of Iran on its English site.

In the cartoon, a cleric, who is the symbol of the Islamic Republic of Iran, indifferently passes by various scenes of the current problems in the Islamic world, but reacts strongly when he sees that the name of the Persian Gulf has been changed to the unacceptable “Arab Gulf”.

Iranian officials made a prompt denunciation of this very amateurish and dishonorable measure, which has its roots in Al-Jazeera officials’ animosity toward Iranians.

The Al-Jazeera network was founded in 1997, ostensibly to create a new movement in the static media of the Arab world, which are mostly government controlled, and was initially welcomed.

Many media experts believed that the new network would create a revolution in the field of information dissemination, particularly in the Arab states on the Persian Gulf.

However, at the same time, rumors arose suggesting that the network was established by U.S. and Israeli agents in order to present a bad image of Islam to the world.

Some regional experts expressed doubts about the allegations though, because the establishment of a media outlet with the aim of promptly informing Arab nations about the latest world news seemed to be a good idea.

But the actions of the network gradually revealed the fact that Al-Jazeera officials, on the orders of Zionist agents, are trying to divide Islamic countries and tarnish the image of Islam.

After Al-Jazeera broadcasted some distorted news reports about Saudi Arabia, tension rose between that country and Qatar, and the two Arab states almost cut off diplomatic relations.

Yet, instead of adopting a defensive stance toward the negative propaganda of the network, Saudi Arabia took an innovative measure and established the Al-Arabiyya network to confront Al-Jazeera.

At the beginning of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera became the tribune of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups in order to give the world the impression that those terrorists represented real Islam.

In addition, since the occupation of Iraq began, ethnic tension has risen and there have been clashes between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, partly due to the efforts of Al-Jazeera.

By broadcasting abhorrent scenes of the beheadings of foreign hostages by the criminal agents of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist group, the network succeeded in increasing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the world, particularly in the West.

Following the advice of U.S. and Israeli experts in psychological operations (psyops), Al-Jazeera took actions which gave Westerners a negative image of Islam and Muslims.

In fact, the Al-Jazeera network was founded at exactly the same time when Iranian President Mohammad Khatami introduced his Dialogue Among Civilizations initiative as a logical strategy to bring the West and the Islamic world closer together.

Of course, the Zionists were not pleased at the idea because they believe that increased proximity between the Islamic world and the West is not in their interests. And that is why they founded the Al-Jazeera network to tarnish the image of true Islam.

Now, after seven years, it has become apparent that the real strategy of the network has been to create divisions between Islamic countries, to give the impression that Islam is a threat to the West, to present a negative image of the real Islam to the world, to isolate Muslims residing in the United States and other Western countries, and to create sectarian divisions between Shias and Sunnis in the Middle East.


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