Al-Jazeera TV, located in and financed by Qatar, which just bought Current TV from former presidential candidate Al Gore for a reported $500 million, "is providing an alternative viewpoint on domestic news," according to Cathy Rasenberger, "a cable consultant who has worked with Al-Jazeera on distribution," as stated by the New York Times of January 3, 2013.
What sort of alternative viewpoint?
Anyone regularly watching Al-Jazeera TV in Arabic cannot help being aware of its Islamist agenda, inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood's Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, wo is currently a resident of Qatar.
Regular viewers are familiar with the network's biases -- also apparent in its otherwise different English-language programming -- in covering events in the Middle East. Its reports are stunning in their lopsided descriptions of the cruelty and oppression of Arab leaders who, because they became weak and thus vulnerable, were called by Qatar's opportunistic rulers, "oppressive dictators whose time had come."
Here and there are points of light, when we become aware of regional events about which we might otherwise never have known. For example, the recent exposure of Iranian terrorist cells in Yemen and the Gulf States, the accelerated progress of Iran's nuclear agenda in the Persian Gulf, and Iran's naval exercises designed to challenge the United States.
Al-Jazeera is not, however, a communications medium in the Western sense; it is a psychological warfare medium. Its cameras are always turned outward; they never criticize Qatar's tyrannical, dictatorial, corrupt, plutocratic leaders or their exploitation of foreign workers, who have neither the status nor rights of Qatari nationals. Al-Jazeera's ongoing propaganda campaign against the Arab states in the Middle East is a move chosen by the rulers of Qatar to deflect Arab, Western and effervescent local attention from what is happening in the corrupt Al-Thani family's dark, closed emirate of wealth.
Although it promises aid to financially needy Islamic countries, it sends just the occasional pittance when t feels a need to bolster its popularity. Meanwhile huge unreported sums go to support Islamist terrorist organizations such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Jabhat Alnusra Al Islamiya in Syria. The rest of country's enormous oil revenues are channeled into the coffers of the rulers and their close associates, and are used to pay for their entertainment or for building enormous towers. The rest of the population -- most of which are foreign workers whose labor they exploit and who have no civil or social rights -- is not invited to join the party.
Although Al-Jazeera incites Muslim masses around the world to revolt against "repressive regimes," while calling for "democracy," "pluralism," and the ousting of totalitarian rulers, Qatar itself does not hold elections, has no political parties, has no democratic institutions, and its citizens have no political or social rights. What Qatar does have, with the help of Sharia [Islamic religious law], is a strong, family-run system of enforcing internal security and suppressing opposition. Al-Jazeera is the well-oiled and well-funded machine of a family employing armed mercenaries who call themselves "media personnel": Propaganda warriors who use cameras and microphones as weapons. Qatar therefore has every reason to hide what happens within its borders and look for defects in other places.
Al-Jazeera takes two editorial routes: its English-language programs present a moderate, cultured version of its propaganda, different from what is broadcast by its Arabic-language programs. Nonetheless, its purpose seems to be to spread Islam and undermine secularism.
Al-Jazeera's reporting is unbalanced in that it gives favorable coverage to Islamic regimes and movements it wants to strengthen, and slanders those it wants to weaken. Its sights are set on changing regimes. Al-Jazeera effectively created the Arab Spring by endlessly rebroadcasting footage of the fruit-seller in Tunisia who set himself on fire to protest his government. Every time there was a small demonstration, Al-Jazeera would cover it and air it time and again until the people of Tunisia were sufficiently whipped up.
Al-Jazeera's reporting is also unbalanced when it is turns to the religiously-motivated activities of Islamist groups in other countries, where the Arab Spring was turned into an Islamist Winter, and where the good intentions of democratically-minded young Muslims were exploited and perverted as, after the revolutions, Islamists seized power. Al-Jazeera's bias is also evident in its support for the dictatorship of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the expense of the country's moderate, secular, democracy-seeking opposition, on whose back the Islamization of the country is taking place.
Al-Jazeera, perhaps as part of a program to replace secular dictators with Islamic ones, and perhaps partly to replace Shiite dictators with Sunni ones, has also fully supported the destruction wrought by the radical anti-Assad Islamists who have poured into Syria to turn it into a killing field under the banner of the so-called "Free Syrian Army."
Recently Al-Jazeera seems to have decided to topple the Palestinian Authority [PA], and transfer to Hamas -- Al-Qaeda's ideological and practical brother-in-arms -- the international recognition that the PA received from the UN in September, and to make Hamas sovereign in the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. To that end, it airs biased programs that are disproportionately favorable toward Hamas, and covers Hamas's "achievements," such as its "heroism" in firing rockets at Israeli civilians. The PA at least claims it wants to reach an agreement with Israel. Hamas, which uses its citizens, schools and hospitals as human shields during warfare it provokes, publicly proclaims day and night its intention to wipe Israel off the map.
Al-Jazeera is now embarked on a campaign glorifying Hamas at the expense of the PA, having sentenced it to death by lying about its mistakes. It recently cast suspicion on the PA as having collaborated with Israel in "poisoning Arafat," and broadcast a biased and exaggerated report of the alleged "tortures" inflicted on Hamas prisoners in PA jails, including claims of rape, threats toward female members of Hamas under interrogation and other horrors – all of which are meant to represent the "crimes" committed by the PA in collaboration with, and at the behest of, Israeli intelligence.
Other Al-Jazeera initiatives aimed at toppling the PA include spreading rumors of a third intifada, and encouraging Hamas in the West Bank to hold marches and carry cardboard models of Qassam rockets.
Al-Jazeera has also for years consistently demonized Israel and reiterated what it calls "Israel's horrible crimes" against the Palestinians. Every action taken by Israel, and especially the Israel Defense Force [IDF], is a "war crime." When IDF soldiers fire rubber bullets at the legs of Palestinian rioters, it is a "war crime" comparable to -- if not worse than -- Assad's systematic slaughter of tens of thousands of his own Syrian citizens.
The names Al-Jazeera gives its programs are also manipulative: "Our History in Their Archive: Zionist Terrorism," for example, is a 47-minute propaganda movie with a carefully-constructed title. In seven words, it manages to imply that the Palestinians were the victims of Israeli terrorists, who not only committed unspeakable acts, but then went on to rewrite history, leaving out what was inconvenient. There are, it suggests, two versions of events: the "true" one of the Palestinians, and the false one of the "Zionists."
Al-Jazeera often reports on visits paid by Arab and international political figures to the Gaza Strip as guests of Hamas, including the visit of the Emir of Qatar with his generous financial donations. There were also many broadcasts lately showing Hamas activists constructing bomb shelters as Gaza rebuilds after Israel eventually responded to attacks by Hamas, as well as Hamas activists engaging in activities for the public good, representing Israel as the aggressor and Hamas as the savior.
Al-Jazeera deliberately hides the underground civilian swell that is trying to make its voice heard against Hamas's theocratic and dictatorial rule. It does not broadcast the grumblings of the hungry, unemployed Gazan public against Hamas's sectorial economic policies, which discriminate in favor of its supporters and neglect the rest of the populace; which kill and oppress Gazan Fatah activists, and which use assault rifles to enforce the norms of Sharia law on civilians, some of whom Hamas has executed on the flimsiest of pretexts.
As a TV channel, Al-Jazeera does not operate under accepted Western norms. It is a fundamentalist terrorist communications base operating under Qatari political cover, with a pretense of pluralism. While in the other Arab countries, to reach the Islamic paradise, people need to kill Jews and be killed in wars, dying as shaheeds [martyrs] in the battles of Islam, according to Al-Jazeera only Qatar is already a genuine paradise on earth. Everything there is perfect, so there is no need to report the news.
Amin Farouk is a journalist based in the middle east.