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January 28, 2014

Al Jazeera Poll Goes “The Opposite Direction” On The Holocaust

Al Jazeera Holocaust poll

A screenshot of the poll on Al Jazeera’s website

Update – January 31, 2014: According to the results provided on Al Jazeera’s website, 95.4% of those participating in the poll agreed that Bashar Al-Assad crimes in Syria are worse than Hitler’s crimes. 46,641 participants voted.

The pan-Arab satellite television network Al Jazeera is conducting a poll asking its viewers to vote on whether they believe Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s “crimes” are worse than Hitler’s “Nazi crimes.”

The poll, posted on Al Jazeera’s website on January 24, runs through January 30, when the results will be broadcast on one of Al Jazeera’s most popular live shows, El-Itidjah el-Mouakass [The Opposite Direction]. The show often features debates between guests about topics raised in its polls.

While the ongoing conflict in Syria has been one of the most heated issues discussed on the show in recent months, Al Jazeera’s poll question reflects the degree to which the Holocaust is misunderstood and misrepresented in the Arab world.

The premise of the poll is inappropriate because it compares the death of more than six million Jews who were not part of any armed conflict and were annihilated for no reason other than their faith and culture to the humanitarian crisis and violence in Syria.

The show’s host, Dr. Faisal Al-Qassem, posted a link to the poll on his personal Facebook page to encourage his more than three million followers to participate in the poll.

Ironically, most of the comments on Al-Qassem’s Facebook page express outrage against the premise, but for all the wrong reasons. “Unlike Bashar, Hitler killed the Jews and not his own people,” one comment reads, suggesting that Hitler’s crimes are somehow more justified.

Similarly, other comments state that there is no way to compare the two at all because, unlike Bashar, “Hitler was defending his people.”

These comments and others demonstrate how the lessons of the Holocaust are woefully misunderstood, or worse, are grotesquely distorted in the Arab World. The poll question adds to this problem and to the trivialization of the Holocaust, which continues to go unexamined in mainstream Arab media.

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August 21, 2013

Al Jazeera America Debut Featuring Stephen Walt Casts Doubt Over Network’s Objectivity

stephen-walt-al-jazeera-english-israel

Stephen Walt (right) appears on Al Jazeera America

August 20 marked the much anticipated premiere of Al Jazeera America, the Qatari government-backed 24-hour news broadcaster that has sought to make greater inroads in the American market in recent years. Although the network has striven to assure the public that it will present the news in an objective manner, Al Jazeera America’s debut news segment cast immediate doubt over its impartiality.

Their program on Tuesday featured an interview with anti-Israel professor and author Stephen Walt discussing the turmoil in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s choice of Walt as its first guest raises early questions regarding the network’s claimed intention to provide the American public stories that are “impartial, accurate and comprehensive.” 

Stephen Walt, an International Affairs Professor at the Kennedy School of Government, is best known for his anti-Israel position as described in his 2007 book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” co-authored with John Mearsheimer. Walt is a proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has several times accused the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. of exercising excessive power to stifle criticism of Israel.

Prior to the launch of Al Jazeera America, the network received considerable praise from journalists, such as Soledad O’Brien and John Seigenthaler, who were assured that the new station would focus more on American issues and less on opinions and international news. According to Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America’s acting chief executive, “Al Jazeera America will air fact-based, unbiased and in-depth news.” 

Since the Qatar-based network announced the creation of Al Jazeera America in early 2013, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed its ongoing concerns about the pan-Arab satellite network’s “troubling record” of providing a platform to all manner of virulent anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic extremists. Al Jazeera America’s decision to feature Walt on its inaugural broadcast was not an auspicious beginning.

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February 22, 2013

Coming Soon: “Khaiber” The Genocide Of Jews In Arabia

Image of “Khaiber” Movie Poster

Update: “Khaiber” writer, Yusri Al-Jindy, says now is the time to expose Jews.

A production company in Qatar will reportedly start filming a multi-million dollar television series next month commemorating the genocide of Jews in Arabia in the 7th century.

The series, called “Khaiber,” is based on a script written by Yusri Al-Jindy, an Egyptian writer who has previously depicted Israelis and Jews as bloodthirsty savages in his work. One of his plays about the 1967 war, titled “The Wandering Jew,” was banned in Egypt. 

The series, produced by the Doha-based Echo Media Qatar, is supposedly scheduled to be filmed in several Arab countries, including Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, and will apparently feature several well-known Arab actors. Echo Media Qatar has reportedly started building sets with structures similar to the ones inhabited by Jews 1,400 years ago.

A report on Al Jazeera in Arabic yesterday described “Khaiber” as “the most important feature of the Islamic-Jewish fight. Muslims always raise its name in their rallies against Israel because it constitutes a memory of a harsh defeat for the Jews who lived in the Arabian Peninsula during the time of prophet.”

The story of “Khaiber,” according to most Islamic sources, ends with the execution of thousands of Jews, including women and children. Protesters at anti-Israel rallies around the world, including the U.S., often evoke this battle in their chants to galvanize supporters.

According to Al Jazeera, Al-Jindy said he wrote the script because “the Zionist movement is currently passing through a turning point as a result of the changes in the Arab world.”

According to another report in the Qatari newspaper Al-Raya, the series will focus “on the social, economic and religious characteristics of the Jews including politics and conspiracies and how they dominate and control tribes.”

Past Echo Media Qatar productions have promoted conspiracies about Jews. In 2010, Echo Media Qatar produced a series called “The Collapse of the Caliphate” for Ramadan that blamed Jews for conspiring with the enemies of the Sultan to end the Islamic Caliphate.

When completed, the series will likely reinforce the dehumanization of Jews in the Arab world in the same way that previous programs have done, such as the 2003 Egyptian television series “Knight Without a Horse” which was based on the notorious forgery, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.” Series such as this, often aired during Ramadan, are gen­er­ally very pop­u­lar and receive broader view­er­ship than pro­grams aired through­out the rest of the year.

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