Leftists are pushing to make Al Jazeera’s English language channel widely available on college campuses and cable TV networks throughout America in order to undermine public support for Israel.
Radical activist Phyllis Bennis explained the importance of the TV channel at a recent “Campaign for Al Jazeera English” event in Washington, D.C., hosted by a group called Rethink Press.
“If there were Al Jazeera access in every city in this country, building a movement to challenge U.S. foreign policy, to make it something different than what it is, would be a whole hell of a lot easier than it is now,” according to Bennis.
And what aspect of U.S. foreign policy is Bennis most interested in? Israel.
She demands that U.S. aid to Israel be eliminated and accuses Israel of “crimes” and “apartheid.” Bennis condemned the Israeli navy’s interception of the pro-Palestinian flotilla last year that aimed to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as a “pirate-style assault” and a “massacre at sea.”
This Noam Chomsky wannabe is also co-founder of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and works closely with the Communist-dominated anti-war coalition known as United for Peace and Justice. She is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, probably the most virulently anti-American think tank of note in the nation.
And why is Bennis so enthused about Al Jazeera English in particular? Because its coverage is relentlessly critical of Israel.
The fact that the channel attacks America as well is an added bonus. Its website features commentary from a rogue’s gallery of subversives. Among them are Bennis, unhinged cartoonist Ted Rall, 1960s radical and media critic Danny Schechter, and Media Matters Action Network fellow M.J. Rosenberg.
In a recent Media Matters column Rosenberg deplores Americans’ “Islamophobia” and theorizes that there is “an orchestrated and well-financed effort to make Americans fear and hate Muslims and Arabs.”
The channel employs useful idiots such as Avi Lewis, a Jewish Canadian who hosts the show “Fault Lines.” Lewis is the son of Canadian socialist politician Stephen Lewis and husband of anti-American author Naomi Klein.
Al Jazeera is financed by the government of Qatar, which supports Israel’s enemies. On August 26, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor reaffirmed his government’s concerns about Qatar. After being asked if Israel was planning to cut remaining ties with the emirate over its “widespread and ongoing anti-Israeli activity,” Palmor said bluntly, “We are angry with Qatar because it supports Hamas.”
The feeling is mutual. Qatar previously suspended diplomatic relations with Israel in protest over Operation Cast Lead, the IDF’s operation in Gaza that began in late 2008.
The “Campaign for Al Jazeera English” is being led by the mysterious group Rethink Press, which formed earlier this year.
Little is known about the group. The rethinkpress.org domain name is registered to Meredith Larson, a recently minted linguistics Ph.D. who studied at Northwestern University. The group’s allies are anti-Israel.
On its website’s “Partners and Friends” page, the group lists Free Press, an organization co-founded by Marxist Robert W. McChesney. McChesney is an activist who wants to eliminate privately owned media outlets such as Fox News. Like many other American academics, McChesney is hostile to Israel.
Another “friend” of Rethink Press is the Center for Media & Democracy which produces TV programs in Burlington, Vermont. A video the group produced last year called “Vermonters Respond to Israel’s Attack on Gaza Flotilla” features Yonatan Shapira, a prominent Israeli “refusenik.”
The former Israeli Air Force pilot is shown saying, “I was a captain in this terrorist army.” Protests of Israel’s actions against the flotilla should serve to recruit people “to stop this criminal activity of the state of Israel,” Shapira says. “If you are just an American citizen that just continue [sic] his or her life as if nothing has happened you are part of the problem.”
Rethink Press bemoans the fact that Al Jazeera English is carried 24 hours a day on cable systems in only four places: Washington, D.C.; Toledo, Ohio; Burlington, Vermont; and Bristol County, Rhode Island.
The channel should be carried more widely in order to improve ignorant Americans’ well-roundedness, it says. “Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of international journalism, especially news that covers North Africa and the Middle East, two places that Al Jazeera English has been reporting in depth from for years.”
Adding insult to injury, Al Jazeera English is subsidized by American taxpayers.
As Cliff Kincaid has reported, in the Washington, D.C. region MHz Networks, a division of Virginia’s Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp., takes in more than $2 million a year from federal and state governments. Out of that total, $1.4 million comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is funded through congressional appropriations.
Kincaid calls the channel “Jihad TV” and “an enemy propaganda organ.”
Broadcaster Jerry Kenney, agrees with Kincaid. He’s livid that WDSC, a public TV station owned by Daytona State College, is airing Al-Jazeera English and Russia Today, a Kremlin-owned channel that never misses an opportunity to attack the U.S.
Kenney filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, arguing it is improper for a publicly subsidized TV station to air propaganda from a foreign power. He wants the college to drop both channels.
“It’s my responsibility as an American citizen,” he said. “I have a duty to be vigilant.”