Australia has reversed two previous decisions and is allowing Hizbullah’s Al Manar satellite television network to broadcast in the continent. Jewish groups expressed outrage at the decision.
The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) ruled that the Lebanese-based network does not violate Australia’s anti-terrorism standards, although the network is banned in the United States, France, Spain and Germany. Australia’s ban on the armed wing of Hizbullah remains in effect.
The ACMA previously stopped Al Manar from broadcasting and conducted an investigation last year after the Australian news outlet The Age alerted it that Al Manar was reaching Australia from Indonesia. Al Manar previously has endorsed suicide bombings and has occasionally referred to Jews as being descendants of apes and pigs.
The broadcast authority explained that it monitored Al Manar for one week last year. It only found references to the Hizbullah terrorist organization but that there were no attempts to recruit terrorists or campaign for money.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said he will appeal the decision to the Communications Ministry, adding that Al Manar is ‘‘viciously anti-Semitic, and interlaced anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rhetoric with medieval anti-Semitic stereotypes.”
Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council director Colin Rubenstein said he was not surprised by the ACMA decision because its regulations have been watered down. ‘‘The hatred, incitement to violence and racism broadcast on Al-Manar, and its attempts to raise funds for a terrorist organization, have not changed in recent years,’’ he said.
Australian Arabic Council chairman Roland Jabbour has defended Al Manar as being unrelated to terrorism or anti-Semitism.