Al-Jazeera May Not Be TV Bogeyman

Analysts See Little To Fear in Arab Channel's Arrival in U.S.

From Doha to D.C.: Al Jazeera may be coming to your living room soon. And some say that might not be such a bad thing.
getty images
From Doha to D.C.: Al Jazeera may be coming to your living room soon. And some say that might not be such a bad thing.

By M. Berger

Published January 09, 2013, issue of January 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

Al-Jazeera Arabic was founded in 1996 by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, and soon enough, its thorough reporting, use of technology and penchant for challenging those in power in the Middle East — all unprecedented for Arabic news channels then — made it one of the most watched news sites in the Arab world.

The emir launched Al-Jazeera English a decade later, as a separate channel with separate editorial content targeting a more global, English-speaking audience.

Arab media scholar Lawrence Pintak sees Al-Jazeera’s move to America as a logical and positive development for the award-winning network.

“There is a huge void of real news on American television,” Pintak said. “On the global stage, they seek out under-covered stories, particularly out of the global South,” he noted, referring to Al-Jazeera. “I think in the United States they will be seeking out under-covered domestic stories that are still important for the American viewer.”

But Andrea Levin, CAMERA’s national president and executive director, is less concerned with the breadth of Al-Jazeera’s coverage than with the balance and professionalism of its reporting on Israel and of Jewish issues.

“We would hope that if they are entering the American space that they… really do care about getting the story straight,” she said.

According to Arab media expert Courtney Radsch, formerly of Freedom House, a human rights monitoring group, the Qatari government’s political interests are widely known to shape its Arabic coverage.

Most recently those interests are on display in the channel’s sympathetic coverage of the Syrian revolution and relative silence on uprisings and brutal repression in Bahrain, a Gulf state monarchy, like Qatar.

At the same time, say Radsch and other analysts, it is widely known that the Qatari government does not interfere in the English-language broadcasts in the same way. Indeed, even the ADL’s Foxman acknowledged in his statement that in its English-language version, “lately Al-Jazeera has toned down its anti-Israel propaganda.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.