'Moderate' Qatar leader defends anti-Semitic al Jazeera TV

Why does Qatar stubbornly insist on sponsoring Al Jazeera?

Att'y Stephen M. Flatow

OpEds Al Jazeera Network building in Doha, Qatar
Al Jazeera Network building in Doha, Qatar
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

The openly anti-Semitic Al Jazeera television network “follows professional standards” and its content should not be changed in any way, according to the foreign minister of Qatar, Al Jazeera’s sponsor.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani issued his full-throated defense of Al Jazeera in response to questions from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week.

Al-Thani’s remarks may seem surprising, coming in the wake of the parade of American Jewish officials to Qatar in recent months. After all, the Jewish visitors to Qatar have been justifying their journeys to the Emir’s palace by claiming that they were going to convince Qatar to stop all the anti-Semitic vitriol that pours forth from Al Jazeera.

The meetings and visits with the Qataris began last September. After five months of being wined and dined in the luxurious Gulf kingdom, how successful were the Jewish leaders in their alleged mission of trying to influence Qatar? Not very, to judge by what Foreign Minister Al-Thani told Haaretz:

“In response to a question from Haaretz whether Qatar gave any assurances to U.S. Jewish leaders regarding Al Jazeera's coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, Al-Thani stated that Qatar’s constitution forbids the government from interfering in the media.”

And he didn’t stop there. Al-Thani explicitly defended Al Jazeera, by recalling the criticism in Great Britain about Al Jazeera’s viciously anti-Israel series “The Lobby” last year. “There were some complaints filed against Al Jazeera in the United Kingdom,” Al-Thani said, “and it's [been] proven that Al Jazeera follows the professional standards. We are not questioning the content of Al Jazeera.”

Professional standards? Perhaps if we’re talking about the profession of propaganda. Consider these small examples of “professional behavior” at Al Jazeera, as exposed by CAMERA:

Al Jazeera employees threw an on-air party honoring Samir Kuntar, a Palestinian terrorist who murdered an Israeli child.

Al Jazeera correspondent Elias Karam has boasted that his work “as a Palestinian journalist in an occupied territory” is “an integral part of the resistance” against Israel.

Al Jazeera producer Dena Takruri tweeted that the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teenagers was “resistance, not terrorism.”

CAMERA sums up Al Jazeera’s coverage of Israel and Jewish affairs as a veritable “junkyard of inaccurate statements [as well as] bias and misinformation.”

Other recent outrages from Al Jazeera, according the Anti-Defamation League, have included openly anti-Semitic cartoons of hook-nosed Jews in black hats, murdering innocent Arabs and boasting that they control America’s elections…An episode of the ironically-named “Arab Reality Show,” claiming an “Israeli settler” set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 (the arsonist actually was a mentally ill Australian Christian)…. and an article accusing the ADL and the American Jewish Committee of “demonizing Muslims” and “helping create the climate of Islamophobia they claim to abhor.”

Why does Qatar stubbornly insist on sponsoring Al Jazeera? A Qatari government official once remarked, "Al-Jazeera’s ability to influence public opinion is a substantial source of leverage for Qatar, one which it is unlikely to relinquish.” CAMERA notes:  “Indeed, Al Jazeera’s various properties are ultimately a project of the Qatari royal family…Qataris might believe anti-Israel rhetoric is in the country’s national interest. It does, after, all, shelter Hamas leaders and funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to the Gaza-based terrorist group…”

The danger of Al Jazeera’s broadcasts to the English-speaking world should be obvious. CAMERA points out that just as the Russian channel RT “seeks to cultivate ties to American cranks and conspiracy theorists to expand Putin’s propaganda infrastructure, Qatar is doing what it takes [via Al Jazeera] to reach a bigger, younger, and more influential audience: young Americans with liberal values.”

It’s obvious that Al Jazeera is not changing. And Qatari support for Hamas has not ended. And fugitive Hamas leaders are still being sheltered in Qatar.

It’s time for Jewish leaders who allowed themselves to be used by Qatar to come clean and publicly admit that they made a grievous error. A genuine Jewish leader is one who owns up to his mistakes.