Conflicting Responses on Arab Social Media to Israel’s Announced Closure of 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

TEL AVIV — Arab social media users are divided regarding Israel’s announcement that it intends to close the offices of Qatari television station Al Jazeera while accusing the network of incitement to violence.

Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara announced at a special press conference that the government intends to close the offices of the station in Israel and will prevent Al Jazeera reporters from working in the country, an announcement that won the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the wake of the announcement, Arab social media users were quick to respond. Those opposed to Qatar and Al Jazeera – the largest Arabic television station in the world – were quick to claim that the whole thing was a show, that Israeli-Qatar relations are strong and the station won’t actually be closed in the end.

Those in support of Qatar, Hamas and Al Jazeera claimed that the closure of the station’s offices in Israel indicates that Israel is aligning itself with Egypt and the Gulf states who want to impose a blockade on Qatar.

Saudi journalist Saleh al-Fahid wasn’t impressed by Israel’s move and claimed, “After the Al Jazeera station lost most of its good name and professionalism, Israel comes and announces that it’s closing the offices of the station with intent to cleanse and improve the image of the station in the Arab world.”

Another Saudi journalist, Muhammad al-Shahrani, wrote, “This is a familiar game. We haven’t forgotten how Hamad bin Jassim (the former Qatari foreign minister) said that every time Saudi Arabia puts pressure on Qatar, Israel will come and ease that tension.”

Algerian author and journalist Jamal Bouziane was opposed to the closing of the station, and wrote, “Only those who fail with their policies are the ones who close a television station or any other journalistic platform.”

Palestinian academic Ahmad Mosalam wrote, “There’s no greater embarrassment for the countries instituting the boycott (on Qatar) than the fact that Israel shares their demands.”

Saudi academic Nawaf al-Uteibi wrote sarcastically, “Israel is closing Al Jazeera? This isn’t our issue, this is a relationship problem.”

Jaber bin Saber, editor-in-chief of the Qatari outlet Al Arab, wrote, “Thank Allah that Al Jazeera became the focus of the Zionist occupation’s anger. This is the most modest thing that free media can offer to the people of Palestine.”

Television presenter Osama Jawish wrote, “Netanyahu praises the decision of the Communications Ministry to close Al Jazeera and we praise Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt, that have become Israel’s sisters.”

Abbas al-Dhaleai, a Yemenite journalist, wrote, “Even if Israel closes its offices, the voice of Al Jazeera will continue to cry out. What hurts is that the Zionists were helped in their decision by similar actions by Arab states. They all have the same goal.”


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