New 24-Hour Israeli Channel Aims for Alternate Perspective on Middle East

Broadcasts in Three Languages — But Not Hebrew

Fresh Look: Lucy Aharish, Israel’s first Arab prime-time news anchor on a Hebrew channel, has jumped to i24.
COURTESY OF I24
Fresh Look: Lucy Aharish, Israel’s first Arab prime-time news anchor on a Hebrew channel, has jumped to i24.

By Anne Cohen

Published September 05, 2013, issue of September 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Melloul is also quick to stress that unlike Al Jazeera, which is funded by the Qatari monarchy, i24 is an independent entity, privately backed by Jewish Franco-Israeli businessman and telecommunications mogul Patrick Drahi. The two met roughly eight months ago, he said, when Drahi asked Melloul to spearhead a project similar to what he had accomplished with France 24 — creating a space for the Israeli perspective in international news. The difference, he noted, was that it would not be state-backed.

“It’s a private channel first,” Melloul explained. “Most of the international news channel[s], the owner is the government. I don’t receive any money from the Israeli government [or] any political party.”

Still, though Al Jazeera carries little, if any, criticism of the Qatari monarchy that sponsors it, its Arabic language channel is known for scathing, uncensored coverage of other governments throughout the Arab world — coverage that is widely credited with having broken the information monopoly many of those governments exercised over their domestic airwaves. Among other things, Al Jazeera’s continuous live coverage of the 2011 Tahrir Square protests in Egypt, and the efforts of the government of President Hosni Mubarak to squelch them, is credited with having rallied many Egyptians to support the protestors.

On September 3, Egypt’s new military government, which ousted Egypt’s democratically elected Islamist government in a July coup, banned Al Jazeera’s local affiliate from broadcasting in Egypt.

In the 2004 documentary about Al Jazeera, “Control Room,” Samir Khader, the channel’s senior producer and later chief editor, claimed explicitly that one of the network’s purposes was to shake up the rigid infrastructure of Arab society, which he believed had fallen behind because of social intolerance to other cultures and perspectives.

Will i24 countenance comparably critical coverage of Israel?

“There’s no question of censorship of any kind,” said Primor. “Arabs and Jews and foreigners write for the same site what they think of [a given] situation. This is important and that’s what was promised to me from the start.”

A look at the channel’s website shows a fairly wide range of opinion, though nothing outright anti-Zionist or in favor of moves such as boycotting Israel or Israeli products from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank: op-eds by Colette Avital, a dovish politician of the opposition Labor Party, and by Lily Galili stand alongside one by vocal West Bank settler Karni Eldad and a piece criticizing government policy concerning the Bedouin and Palestinian presence in the Negev by Anas AbuDaabes.

But perhaps the best example of i24’s effort to emphasize Israel’s diversity is 32-year-old Lucy Aharish, a fluent Hebrew speaker and Israel’s first prime-time Arab-Israeli news anchor, who hosts the English-language news program. Originally considered for the Arab-language broadcast, Aharish insisted on auditioning in English, reluctant to be pigeonholed within the organization because of her origins.

It’s still early to talk about any hard numbers in terms of satellite audience. But according to Melloul, critics skeptical of whether citizens of Arab countries will tune in to an Israeli channel may be disappointed. “Through the website, I can tell you that we are watched in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Algeria,” he said.

One month in, he added, roughly 20% of the channel’s web-based live stream audience is from the U.S.


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!
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • 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.