Investigate it yourselfManartv News: no terrorism here [Archives:2005/812/Opinion]
By Alan Balboni, Ph.D
For The Yemen Times
After reading in early December that the French Interior Ministry, responding to complaints from the Council of Jewish Organizations in France, had charged that al-Manar, a television station affiliated with the Lebanese resistance organization Hizbullah, was both terrorist and anti-Semitic, I decided to take a look at what al-Manar was presenting so that I might better judge the accuracy of such serious charges.
Even before I found a website [www.manartv.com] that allowed me to receive Manartv news in English, the French Prime Minister had announced his fundamental agreement with allegations against al-Manar and within a few days the Conseil d'Etat, the supreme administrative tribunal of France, banned al-Manar from satellite channels which had attracted a significant audience of mostly French citizens of Arab ancestry.
I must confess that I did not enter this investigation totally neutral. I had long regarded the decision of American policy-makers to place Hizbullah on a list of terrorist organizations as a serious error.
Hizbullah is not a perfect organization, no human organization is. Yet, it is an organization that empowered the men and women of occupied south Lebanon to resist Israeli occupation of their land. Quite substantially because of the resistance efforts of Hizbullah, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, formerly chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, made the wise and moral decision to withdraw Israeli occupation forces from south Lebanon.
So, I began my research with a tentative view that while al-Manar producers may have made some errors in the content of what they aired, allegations of support for what legitimately might be described as terrorism and anti-Semitism)each a serious charge in itself–were probably exaggerated.
No sooner had I watched my first Manartv news program than did the United States State Department announce that al-Manar was a terrorist affiliated station and would not be allowed to broadcast its programs by satellite to American audiences. No great surprise in this regard as the Zionist lobby has long been quite powerful in the United States and indeed, President George W. Bush has spoken more than once in glowing terms about Ariel Sharon, referring to him at least once as “a man of peace.”
Immediately I wondered if now I would not be able to access the Manartv news programs at the website. I was, and still, as of this writing, am able to do so, though the news program that is available is sometimes dated by a few days.
While I cannot judge directly whether someone associated with an al-Manar production did or said something anti-Semitic [a term which has come to mean anti- Jewish in the western world] or supportive of terrorism at some time or another, I can state that Manartv news in English is far more fair and balanced than the FOX 5 News organization, whose owners have the temerity to describe their chauvinistic and emotional reporting and commentary as fair and balanced.
Indeed, it provides a much needed antidote to heavily biased reporting of the days' events by almost all western-based media organizations, and does so in much the same fashion as the Qatari-based al-Jazeera. Perhaps it is no idle speculation to suggest that had the Israeli Defense Forces occupied part of Qatar and then faced successful resistance by the local population which eventually forced its withdrawal, al-Jazeera might well have been banned from broadcasting to French and American audiences.
Yes, al-Manar newscasters refer to the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank as exactly that. Yes, the commentators refer to the Palestinian resistance forces and Israeli occupying forces.
Such references are in accord with international law; yet the American mainstream media rarely if ever uses such terms. Usually American commentators choose words and phrases to hide from listeners and viewers that the Israelis are occupying Gaza and the West Bank and that many Palestinians are resisting the occupation by a variety of methods ranging from holding signs at demonstrations to using military means.
Never, never do American mainstream media commentators suggest to their audiences that the Palestinians are doing what the Catholic Irish did time and time again during almost 700 years of British occupation or indeed what some French did during almost 5 years of Nazi German occupation.
At the same time, al-Manar commentators and producers often give viewers direct quotes from top Israeli officials, often provide viewers with direct quotes from what might be most kindly termed the interim government officials of Iraq, and indeed provide viewers with the arguments of French officials in favor of banning al-Manar on satellite networks serving France.
Also, al-Manar newscasters may quote articles in the New York Times)hardly a terrorist or anti-Semitic publication! Indeed, when I accessed the documents [with a click of the computer mouse] section of the al-Manar website on January 11, I found a report on the good wishes that Israeli, American , Russian, and European Union officials sent to Mahmoud Abbas upon his election. This is not the sort of document one would expect to find at the website of an entity that the U.S. State Department has condemned as supporting terrorism. The news reports of January 10 and 11 focused on the election and gave viewers a variety of perspectives on the election and what lay ahead for Abu Mazen.
Among the perspectives offered were not only those of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and what might be termed the Palestinian man or woman on the street but also statements by American, Iranian, and Israeli officials. Once again, not what one might expect from a news organization which is part of a media entity, al-Manar, that has been deemed anti- Semitic and pro-terrorist.
The more extreme among Israeli officials and among Zionists in France and the United States do not want al-Manar news available to thinking men and women precisely because many of such people would begin to rethink their views on not only the Israeli- Palestinian dispute but also on other issues of world affairs.
Their charges of supporting terrorism and disseminating anti-Semitism, at least in reference to al-Manar news service, are merely a smokescreen for trying to control what thinking men and women might hear and see. In closing, I must affirm that I was unable to review a representative sample of al-Manar programs, and focused entirely on the al-Manar news service available on www.manartv.com
I urge all readers with access to a computer to visit the website and draw their own conclusions.