World View: Israel Announces that It Will Ban al-Jazeera

FILE -- In this Nov. 1, 2006 file photo, a Qatari employee of Al Jazeera Arabic language TV news channel walks past the logo of Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. Hackers allegedly broke into the website of Qatar's state-run news agency and published a fake story quoting the ruling emir, …
AP/Kamran Jebreili, File

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel announces that it will ban al-Jazeera in Israel
  • Al-Jazeera gives bitter, angry response to Israel’s move
  • BBC vs Al-Jazeera: Which is more biased?

Israel announces that it will ban al-Jazeera in Israel

Al-Jazeera's Marwan Bishara (L) comments during the news conference of Israel's communications minister Ayoub Kara
Al-Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara (L) comments during the news conference of Israel’s communications minister Ayoub Kara

Israel’s Communications Ministry announced Sunday that it will take action to ban Qatar-owned al-Jazeera from both operating and broadcasting in Israel.

In doing so, Israel has clearly and unequivocally taken sides against Qatar and in favor of the countries that are currently enforcing a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt.

Israel’s Communications Minister Ayoub Kara made the announcement in a televised news conference:

Freedom of expression is a basic value, and I will do everything I can to protect objective journalism and freedom of expression, which is very important to me. But the events on the Temple Mount have put me in a position where I need to think about how I can secure the safety of Israel’s citizens, and that is the most important.

“Recently, we’ve noticed that some outlets are not being used for free expression, but for incitement against Israeli citizens. One of these outlets, the Al Jazeera network, is responsible for the loss of some of our finest sons.

A media, which has been deemed to be a supporter of terror by almost all Arab countries, and we know this for certain, we will take a few steps against it, to express our fight against terrorism and radical Islam, and our empathy with the sane Arab world.

The freedom of speech is not the freedom of incitement. Democracy has boundaries as well. When it comes down to the question what precedes what, I have no doubt, I prefer citizens and soldiers alive in Israel. …

Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization.

And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that then something delusional is happening here.

Although Israeli officials have discussed banning al-Jazeera for years, the move gained impetus after the massive sometimes violent anti-Israeli protests at the Al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount in Jerusalem last month. At that time, Israel’s president Benjamin Netanyahu accused al-Jazeera of inciting violence by encouraging the protests, and wrote in a Facebook post:

The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount.

I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem. If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel.

There are two al-Jazeera channels, al-Jazeera English (AJE) and al-Jazeera Arabic (AJA). Israelis say that the media source tries to appear reasonable on AJE, but really incites violence on the AJA, since few Jews understand Arabic.

Kara announced that he first would work to revoke the journalist credentials for all reporters affiliated with al-Jazeera. In addition, he would push to have al-Jazeera dropped from cable and satellite services in Israel, and to close its Jerusalem offices.

The decision will not have any immediate effect since it would require a vote by Israel’s cabinet, and possibly the parliament (Knesset). Some analysts are saying that Kara will have difficulty getting approval for those measures since many ministers and MKs strongly support freedom of speech. Israel prides itself in claiming to be the only democracy in the Mideast.

During this generational Crisis era, censorship has been increasing around the world. Online blogs and discussion sites are being closely monitored or shut down in countries like China, Iran, and Russia. Egypt jailed four al-Jazeera reporters for years, and one is still in jail. Russia Today, which used to be a reasonably independent media site, now publishes only state-approved propaganda. In Turkey, the country’s largest opposition media operation, Zaman Media, was shut down and some of the reporters arrested – and this was several months before the aborted coup occurred.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, nationalism and xenophobia are rapidly increasing in countries around the world, as these countries go deeper into a generational Crisis era. This trend will continue, and will only be ended by war. Israel National News and Jerusalem Post

Al-Jazeera gives bitter, angry response to Israel’s move

In an official statement, al-Jazeera said that it had reported violence at the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount, but had not incited it, and they denounced Israel’s announcement:

Al Jazeera stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures towards it.

Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom).

However, what was more interesting were the 30-minute rants by chief analyst Marwan Bishara that I watched on al-Jazeera English.

Bishara’s biases are well-known: He hates Israel, he hates the Palestinian Authority even more, he hates Egypt, and he loves Hamas. So anything he says must be understood in that context. But I’ve listened to him many times over the years, and he provides a window into the thinking of Arab governments in general, though more recently just the Qatari government.

So it is not surprising that Bishara said that Israel performed this move on behalf of “Arab dictators,” referring the four countries that have implemented the blockade against Qatar, and that he praised the 2011 “Arab Spring” that brought down Egypt’ long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, and led to the election of Mohammed Morsi and a Muslim Brotherhood government allied with Hamas.

Bishara did not mention that Qatar, which is the wealthiest country in the world in terms of per-capita income for its citizens, treats its foreign workers brutally.

Bishara said that the move by Israel shows a “synergy” of “dictatorships” in the Arab world and “dictatorship of military occupation in Palestine”:

It is as if closing down a network will diminish violence, when everyone knows that repression and military occupation, and aggression is the reason for violence in the region. Not reporting it.

But by far, the most interesting of Bishara’s remarks was his ten-minute vitriolic rant attacking Israel’s Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, the man who gave the televised news conference that made the announcement.

Bishara began by pointing out that Kara is not a Jew. “He is an Arab – an Arab Druze,” said Bishara angrily and bitterly. He attacked Kara’s intelligence by calling his performance at the news conference “incoherent” and “irrational.”

He said that Kara had risen in Israel’s government to become a minister by betraying Arabs and the Palestinians. He repeatedly called Kara a “traitor” to Palestinians.

It was a very peculiar rant, and it makes one wonder whether Bishara would have been happier if the announcement had been made by a Jew.

However, there is another angle to this. During his news conference, Kara said the following:

I am the only one [in Israel’s government] who is an Arabic speaker, who understands Arabic and my native language is Arabic. You cannot fool me with Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic. I know how to identify how disturbing reporting becomes incitement instead of being free speech.

This is perhaps the part of Kara’s statement that infuriated Bishara most of all. Other Israeli officials have been “fooled” by al-Jazeera’s trick of broadcasting its worst incitement on al-Jazeera Arabic (AJA), but Kara used his knowledge of Arabic to avoid being “fooled,” and see through the ploy. Al-Jazeera and Middle East Eye

Related Articles

BBC vs Al-Jazeera: Which is more biased?

I’ve watched both the BBC and al-Jazeera for years. The BBC is an invaluable source of information because it has correspondents in countries around the world. Al-Jazeera is an invaluable source of information because it has the best coverage of the Mideast. However, it is very hard to be worse than the BBC in terms of bias.

During the George W. Bush administration, I was on a mailing list of the BBC reporter Gavin Esler. Esler’s mailings included the news of the day, and also the “BBC News Joke of the Day.” The jokes were almost always designed to make Bush look like an idiot or a fascist. Actually, much of the news had the same objective.

By contrast, the BBC were lapdogs for President Barack Obama. He could start a war, get Americans killed, commit any crime, and the BBC would excuse him and blame it on the Republicans.

Now, with President Trump in office, it is the same as during the Bush administration or even worse.

Now, as I’ve said before, al-Jazeera hates Israel. Al-Jazeera loves the Muslim Brotherhood, and loved Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, but now hates Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Al-Jazeera loves Hamas.

Al-Jazeera hates Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, and after today’s rant against Ayoub Kara, I can finally see why.

Marwan Bishara was vitriolically critical of Kara, even more so than of the new Israeli policy. To Bishara, the great crime was not shutting down al-Jazeera. The great crime was being a traitor to the Palestinians.

And that explains why Bishara and al-Jazeera hate the Palestinian Authority so much. Mahmoud Abbas has followed a policy of cooperating with the Israelis to maintain peace on the West Bank, saving the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. To Bishara, that is a betrayal at the level of the biblical Judas.

Hamas, on the other hand, wages war against Israel and gets both Israelis and Palestinians killed although, in the 2014 Gaza war, far more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. To Bishara, that is a GOOD thing, because Hamas is not a traitor the Palestinians.

Egypt is just as bad to Bishara because Egypt and Israel are coordinating efforts to control ISIS-linked terrorist killings in Egypt’s northern Sinai, along the border with Israel. Once again, that level of cooperation is, to Bishara, a traitorous betrayal of the Palestinians.

When looked at in this light, we can see why Saudi Arabia is demanding that Qatar end its support of terrorists. If Bishara’s thinking represents the policies of Qatar’s government, then the Saudis might well believe that Qatar supports terrorism.

So is the BBC better or worse than al-Jazeera? I report, you decide.

However, if things have gotten to the point where the Qataris believe that it is better to let Palestinians be killed than to betray them by cooperating with Israel, then things have really gotten very bad.

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, al-Jazeera, Marwan Bishara, Ayoub Kara, Benjamin Netanyahu, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, al-Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Hamas, Gaza, Turkey, Zaman Media, Russia, Iran, China, Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, West Bank, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Mohammed Morsi, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, BBC, Gavin Esler
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail

.