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August 21, 2013 2

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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July 16, 2013 0

Latest Khaiber Episodes Establish Anti-Jewish Narrative

The first five episodes of Khaiber, the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar tele­vi­sion series that dra­ma­tizes the geno­cide of Jews in Ara­bia in the 7th cen­tury, have aired across the Arab world.khaiber-episodes-3-4-5

The first two episodes revealed the degree to which clas­si­cal anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives are being pro­moted in the pro­gram. The lat­est three episodes, described below, are a con­tin­u­a­tion of those themes.

ADL first raised con­cern about Khaiber and its anti-Jewish con­tent in Feb­ru­ary 2013. In addi­tion, ADL has exposed the program’s Egypt­ian writer, Yusri Al-Jindy, who has had pre­vi­ously depicted Israelis and Jews as blood­thirsty sav­ages, and the expres­sions of anti-Semitism by var­i­ous peo­ple asso­ci­ated with the production.

Episode 3

In this episode, sev­eral Rab­bis are shown respond­ing with anger to the news that a new prophet appeared in Mecca. One of the Rab­bis, Al-Harith says, “We will reject him as we rejected Christ.”

The Rab­bis then dis­cuss test­ing Mohammed with a series of ques­tions in order to ver­ify his sta­tus as a prophet. How­ever, most agree that even if Mohammed answers the ques­tions cor­rectly, they will not rec­og­nize him. “If we declare him a prophet, it would be against the inter­est of the Jews… can you guar­an­tee that he will be of ben­e­fit to us, where is our inter­est in this?” Ben Akhtab, the Grand Rabbi asks. He then explains that it is in the inter­est of the Jews to cre­ate an alliance with the Mec­cans because the Jews require their power and money.

In addi­tion, a blind Rabbi named Shas, who wears a large Star of David neck­lace, is depicted as a vicious per­son who is more con­cerned about money than reli­gion. He reveals his hatred to Mohammed by say­ing that he is an “imposter and a liar.”

Episode 4

In this episode, Ben Akhtab con­spires to kill the one “good” Rabbi in the show, who believes that Muham­mad is a real Prophet (the Rabbi sur­vives the assas­si­na­tion attempt). Ben Akhtab, also decides to make a deal with one of his Arab pris­on­ers — in return for killing Mohammed, the pris­oner will be granted his free­dom (the pris­oner escapes and avoids hav­ing to take part in the plot).

Episode 5

In this episode, the Jews cre­ate an alliance with Ibn Aubay, a promi­nent Arab leader whose ambi­tion is to be the king of Yathrib and con­trol the two rival Arab tribes who live there; the Al-Aws and Al-Khazra tribes.

When fight­ing erupts between the Arab tribes, Rabbi Shas tells Rabbi Ben Akhtab, “Let them kill each other until ter­mi­na­tion.” Ben Akhtab responds, “This is against our inter­ests…. No for let­ting them ter­mi­nate each other; Yes to cre­at­ing an alliance with Ibn Aubay in order to become their masters.”

Ben Akhtab also claims, “The solu­tion is in the papers of Jew­ish schol­ars; with any king or tyrant we must appease him, con­tain him, and con­nect our inter­ests with his interests.”

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June 18, 2013 6

Leaked “Khaiber” Episodes Confirm ADL Concern Over Anti-Semitic Themes

The first two episodes of “Khaiber,” a multi-million dol­lar tele­vi­sion series com­mem­o­rat­ing the geno­cide of Jews in Ara­bia in the 7th cen­tury, have been posted on Youtube. The episodes, which series pro­duc­ers report­edly claim have been leaked, reveal the degree to which clas­si­cal anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives are being pro­moted in the program.

Sched­uled to air dur­ing Ramadan next month, the episodes depict life prior to the rise of Islam in the Ara­bian city of Yathrib, where the Jew­ish tribe of Khaiber lived between the two Arab tribes of Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj.

Khaiber Rab­bis are por­trayed as secretly con­spir­ing to fuel war between the Arabs in order to weaken them. The main char­ac­ter, the Grand Rabbi in Yathrib, Hayi Ben Akhtab, seeks to sow con­flict between Arabs to pro­mote the weapon indus­try, which Jews con­trol, accord­ing to the episodes. Another char­ac­ter, a Rabbi by the name of Shas, is depicted as a sym­bol of Jew­ish hatred to the Prophet Muhammad.

Other Jews who live in the city are depicted as fru­gal, greedy and immoral mer­chants who profit from the Arabs. The one Jew­ish char­ac­ter that is depicted as a good man awaits the appear­ance of Muham­mad to con­vert to Islam.

Last Feb­ru­ary, ADL first reported on the Echo Media Qatar pro­duc­tion and on Egypt­ian author, Yusri al-Jindy, who wrote the script for the mini-series. ADL exposed the trou­bling his­tory of al-Jindy’s pre­vi­ous work, which prop­a­gated anti-Semitism and extreme anti-Israel themes.

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