Opinion |

Even a Treacherous Channel Like Al Jazeera Should Not Be Shut

As bad as it is, there are some that are no less bad, such as Al Arabiya. Let the audience decide what they do or don’t want to watch

Abed L. Azab
Abed L. Azab
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Al Jazeera staff work at their TV station in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017
Al Jazeera staff work at their TV station in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017Credit: Malak Harb/AP
Abed L. Azab
Abed L. Azab

The article by Walid Omari, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief (“Netanyahu’s Colluding With Arab Autocrats to Silence Us,” August 1), can be described in two words: a lie. Other words also work: hypocrisy, chutzpah, deception. But let the reader decide.

Omari praises his channel as the pinnacle of the free and pioneering press, which changed the face of the Arab world and in fact, the whole globe. Someone who hasn’t seen its broadcasts and doesn’t know who finances it and whose opinions it expresses might think that it represents a breakthrough tantamount to the invention of the computer.

It’s worth recalling that Al Jazeera was established by Qatar, which still bankrolls it. Even before we get into the content of Omari’s article, that fact alone is enough to disqualify it as the mouthpiece of free journalism. It is inconceivable for a network run by a tyrannical, treacherous ruler to be open to a variety of opinions and to broadcast objectively or even in the neighborhood of objectivity.

The first achievement Omari proudly proclaims is that until the wonder known as Al Jazeera came into the world, "most Arabs had never seen the face of an Israeli.” Well, Mr. Omari, that is a very dubious achievement at best. Omari attacks broadcasts "constructed by autocratic Arab regimes.” Is Qatar a paradise of democracy and human rights? Even its allies until a few weeks ago – the Gulf states, headed by the axis of Arab treachery, Saudi Arabia – are not exactly a democratic dream.

I never harbored a suspicion that Al Jazeera was established by Israel. It was established by Qatar, which is perhaps even worse in terms of damage to the Arab world. If at Al Jazeera you think “an informed citizenry is the key to reform, democracy and progress,” why didn’t you report the uprising in Qatar itself in the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011? Why did you sweep your patron’s brutal oppression of the countrymen who rose up against him under the rug your?

Why didn’t Al Jazeera report the riots in Saudi Arabia, murderously put down by its rulers? Why does it never cover the huge demonstrations in Bahrain, where participants were suppressed, tortured and murdered? The reason is simple: Al Jazeera is the propaganda mouthpiece of the moderate “Sunni axis” – that is, the axis of treachery led by Saudi Arabia – and the blood of Shi’ite protesters in Bahrain is therefore fair game.

Thus, Al Jazeera gives a platform to “controversial individuals and issues” only when it involves a regime that it doesn't object to. Take note, Mr. Omari, that many of the network’s senior anchors and journalists were fired or quit when they realized it is an integral part of the army fighting against the Syrian people and serves as the most active propaganda mouthpiece of the terrorists who are called “rebels.” Even when the Islamic State perpetrated its horrific murders, Al Jazeera either did not report them or covered them briefly and sometimes sympathetically. The reason is simple: The ruler of Qatar, who runs the network, is also one of the people running ISIS.

The accusations that Al Jazeera is an instigator are justified. Moreover, some of its senior journalists, such as Faisal Al-Qassem, used disgusting, crude language when speaking of Syrian President Bashar Assad or other senior members of the Syrian regime. His statements and the words he chose do not conform to any code of journalistic ethics or modicum of self-respect. As long as it involves someone not to the liking of Qatar’s ruler, like Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah, the lowest language may be used – even to describe his faith. The network’s attitude toward anyone who doesn’t toe the line of the treacherous axis is despicable.

The current siege against Al Jazeera by Saudi Arabia and its satellites is not motivated by any principle except the desire to strike out at the ruler of Qatar. Any argument that appears to be a conflict between neighboring countries is actually a matter of ego and competition over Gulf hegemony between two rulers, each of whom wants to prove greater loyalty to the evil superpower, the United States.

If you think, Mr. Omari, that closing Al Jazeera will extract a “heavy price,” allow me to calm you: Other than the Israeli army spokesman, whom the station interviews with great delight, there is no non-treacherous Arab who will regret it. You yourself confirm that when you write: “Since its inception, Al Jazeera has provided Israel with a rare conduit for airing its viewpoints to Arab and Muslim audiences.”

Despite all this, and although Al Jazeera is clearly no more than a useful tool in the hands of the tyrant from Qatar, by which he fans the flames of violence in the Arab world, its offices in Jerusalem should not be closed down and its broadcasts in Israel should not be stopped. As bad as it is, there are some that are no less bad, such as Al Arabiya. Let the audience decide what they do or don’t want to watch.



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