After Israel tries to ban Al Jazeera, critics say the country is ‘taking its cues from Arab dictators’

Israel/Palestine
on 10 Comments

On Sunday Israel’s minister of communication Ayoub Kara said he is banning Al Jazeera from broadcasting, shutting its Jerusalem bureau, and revoking press credentials for reporters with the Doha-based network. Kara charged the media outlet is a “tool for the Islamic State” and created biased content when covering recent demonstrations regarding the al-Aqsa mosque. But, commentators have raised the point that Israeli regulations prevent sweeping bans on media outlets and the network and its journalists will likely continue to work in the country.

News of the ban broke over the weekend when Kara told reporters in a press conference, “Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization,” Haaretz reported, adding Kara said, “And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al-Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State [group], Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that, then something delusional is happening here.”

Kara also noted Israeli channels had agreed to his request to stop airing Al Jazeera.

Hours later Al Jazeera responded in a statement condemning the move:

“Al Jazeera Media Network denounces this decision, which comes in the context of a campaign that was initiated by a statement made earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he accused Al Jazeera of inciting violence during its coverage of the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Other Israeli ministers and officials had previously made similar statements following a break into Al Jazeera bureau by a number of settlers.

Al Jazeera denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be ‘the only democratic state in the Middle East.”

The television network also made a point to specifically address Kara’s aligning with regional powers that have also taken Al Jazeera off air. From Al Jazeera’s statement:

“[Al Jazeera] also finds the justifications made by the minister of communications as odd and biased as they are in unison with the actions carried out by a number of Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan) that have closed the network’s bureaus, shut down its cable and satellite transmissions, and blocked its websites and applications.”

Al Jazeera political analyst Marwan Bishara mentioned this point on-air yesterday, stating “Israel is taking its cues from Arab dictators.”


Amnesty International today released a statement critical of the Israeli decision, dubbing it a “brazen attack on media freedom in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The move sends a chilling message that the Israeli authorities will not tolerate critical coverage.”

(Image: Carlos Latuff)

Netanyahu has backed Kara’s announcement over social media stating, “Following my instructions, he [Kara] took several practical steps today to stop the actions of incitement by Al Jazeera in Israel,” the Jerusalem Post reported. 

Yet, today op-ed columnists indicated the task to shut down Al Jazeera operations in Israel is cumbersome and could be held up by internal reviews.

“None of the steps mentioned by Kara have any practical implications: in practice, Al Jazeera will continue to broadcast as usual,” wrote Nati Tucker in Haaretz. Tucker went on to explain neither Kara nor Netanyahu are authorized to ban specific journalists or entire news networks. In order to revoke press credentials to work in Israel, the Government Press Office would need to conduct a hearing. And so, for the time being, all journalists working for Al Jazeera can continue to operate as normal

Tucker added a similar process is required for Israeli broadcasters to take Al Jazeera off-air, where the decision could only be made after a hearing is conducted.

Covering their own affair Al Jazeera reported today that the process to rid Israel of Al Jazeera is lengthy and bureaucratic:

“‘Revoking Al Jazeera’s journalists’ media credentials, shutting down its cable and satellite transmissions, and closing its local offices in the country are all measures that must overcome many legal barriers,’ Fady Khoury, a lawyer with legal centre Adalah, told Al Jazeera.”

In an opinion piece that appeared in Al Jazeera today, Mark Levine speculated Netanyahu could have thrown his support behind the ban as a smoke screen to deflect from the media frenzy in Israel about a looming indictment against the prime minister:

“Perhaps Al Jazeera is a convenient scapegoat for Netanyahu’s failures and his increasing lack of popularity at home.

Or perhaps Israel is jumping on the bandwagon of the campaign against Al Jazeera launched by Saudi Arabia and the UAE? “

Levine’s take included a personal anecdote that reveals the general relationship between Al Jazeera and Israel leading up to the ban was both amicable, and beneficial to Israel. He notes Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau is inside of the same office park as the Israeli government office that decides to credential or blacklist journalists. From Levine:

“Al Jazeera’s offices – like other media organisations – have been located for years in the same complex as the Government Press Office. Showing up for press credentials from the network has never caused any more trouble than I’ve experienced when I requested credentials for US news organisations, for example. In fact, it often felt like the relationship with Al Jazeera was a source of pride for Israeli media and press officials, one that reflected the unique set of circumstances that served each side well.

For Israel, Al Jazeera, particularly the original Arab network, provided the government unprecedented opportunities to speak to Arab citizens across the region, beginning in the 1990s – at the height of the Olso peace process. The fact that Al Jazeera allowed Israeli officials and, through its reports, ordinary citizens to speak unfiltered was an unprecedented opening for Israel to the outside world, an opening worth what it perceived as negative coverage.”

In the past two days, Al Jazeera has posted numerous tweets on social media critical of the ban.

Social media users reacted to Israel’s announcement to shut down Al Jazeera’s operation in Jerusalem https://t.co/0v7z2pWrSQ pic.twitter.com/quzWYsfWbz

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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10 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth
    August 8, 2017, 10:10 am

    They’re basically trying every tactic to instigate the Palestinians to violence as a pretext for war, but they are short-circuiting. This will be another humiliating defeat just like installing metal detectors at the Temple Mount. Also Israel Hayom and Times of Israel are instigating violence at the Temple Mount. Expect other desperate attempts at incitement. Everyone must remain cool – we can get through this.

    “With Jerusalem Poised to Explode, Israeli Far-right – and Adelson – Pour on Fresh Fuel” – “urges rebuilding of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and relocation of the Muslim shrine”
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.803982

    “this is our land… the Temple Mount is ours, and only ours… the Land of Israel belongs entirely and solely to the People of Israel” http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/time-for-a-change/

    • frugtersly
      August 11, 2017, 5:49 pm

      Nonsense. Talk to me when other Arab countries allow the same commentary to happen in their country . If you actually believe that Al Jazeera is unbiased, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

  2. amigo
    August 8, 2017, 11:28 am

    In the so called light unto the nations and only democracy in the ME , incitement to violence is telling the truth about Israel.Airing real time video evidence of crimes committed by the brave heroes of the so called “Most moral army” .

    Airing programs where Israel,s contravention of the Laws of war are discussed in detail.

    Incitement to violence is any act that makes Israel look bad.

    Poor little Israel , so hard done by.Such a victim.What has Israel aver done to deserve this , they ask.

    Maybe adopting the actions of those Arab dictators whose behaviour mostly serves as meat for zionist whataboutery when convenient.

  3. JLewisDickerson
    August 8, 2017, 3:22 pm

    RE: On Sunday Israel’s minister of communication Ayoub Kara said he is banning Al Jazeera from broadcasting, shutting its Jerusalem bureau, and revoking press credentials for reporters with the Doha-based network. . . Netanyahu has backed Kara’s announcement over social media stating, “Following my instructions, he [Kara] took several practical steps today to stop the actions of incitement by Al Jazeera in Israel,” the Jerusalem Post reported. ~ Deger

    PLEASE EXCUSE ME WHILE I SNEEZE: “Ahhh . . . ahhh . . . Gleichschaltung!!!”*

    * SEE: “Who Will Save Israel” | by Uri Avnery | zope.gush-shalom.org | May 23, 2015

    [EXCERPTS] The battle is over. The dust has settled. A new government – partly ridiculous, partly terrifying – has been installed. . .

    . . . Now the situation inside Israel proper is about to change drastically.

    Two facts attest to this.

    First of all, Ayelet Shaked has been appointed Minister of Justice. . .

    . . . PERHAPS WORSE is Netanyahu’s decision to retain for himself the Ministry of Communication. [In May of 2017 Netanyahu finally appointed Ayoub Kara as Minister in the communications office. ~ J.L.D.]

    This ministry has always been disdained as a low-level office, reserved for political lightweights. Netanyahu’s dogged insistence on retaining it for himself is ominous.

    The communication Ministry controls all TV stations, and indirectly newspapers and other media. Since all Israeli media are in very bad shape financially, this control may become deadly.

    Netanyahu’s patron – some say owner – Sheldon Adelson, the would-be dictator of the US Republican party, already publishes a give-away newspaper in Israel, which has only one sole aim: to support Netanyahu personally against all enemies, including his competitors in his own Likud party. The paper – “Israel Hayom” (Israel Today) – is already Israel’s widest-circulation newspaper, with the American casino king pouring into it untold millions.

    Netanyahu is determined to break all opposition in the electronic and written media. Opposition commentators are well advised to look for jobs elsewhere . . .

    . . . One cannot avoid an odious analogy. One of the key terms in the Nazi lexicon was the atrocious German word Gleichschaltung – meaning connecting all media to the same energy source [SEE: Gleichschaltung @ Wikipedia – J.L.D. ]. All newspapers and radio stations (TV did not yet exist) were staffed with Nazis. Every morning, a Propaganda Ministry official by the name of Dr. Dietrich convened the editors and told them what tomorrow’s headlines, editorials etc. were to be.

    Netanyahu has already dismissed the chief of the TV department. We don’t yet know the name of our own Dr. Dietrich. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1432296815/

    • JLewisDickerson
      August 10, 2017, 5:14 am

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “How Israel prevented journalists from covering al-Aqsa” | by Ibrahim Husseini | aljazeera.com | August 9, 2017

      [EXCERPTS] . . . On July 23, the Israeli police blocked journalists from entering Bab al-Asbat [Lions Gate (at the entrance to al-Aqsa) ~ JLD] . The police then ordered journalists to stay a distance of several hundred metres away from the gate, effectively restricting journalists from covering the story which was taking place just outside the compound.

      In response, the Foreign Press Association, an NGO representing journalists based in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, tweeted: “FPA protests deplorable situation in Old City Jerusalem where tourists given access while accredited journalists and photojournalists not”.

      The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a human rights NGO, criticised the Israeli police’s conduct towards the press during the crisis. On July 30, ACRI filed a petition at Israel’s High Court demanding that the Israeli police “stop restricting press coverage in the Old City of Jerusalem and harming journalists’ ability to perform their public duties”.

      The petition stated that the Israeli police conduct “raises concern that the police’s intention was to prevent the free flow of information through the media on the events taking place and on the police’s handling of those events”.

      “The conduct of the police is worrisome and contrary to all the basic principles of democracy,” ACRI’s petition stated.

      In a recent brazen attack on the media, on Monday, Israel moved to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Jerusalem. . .

      . . . Amnesty International described the closure of Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem as “chilling message that Israeli authorities will not tolerate critical coverage”.

      ACRI also condemned the Israeli government’s move to ban Al Jazeera. ACRI issued a statement describing the decision as “a declaration of war by the Israeli prime minister and the minister of communication against the offices of Al Jazeera in Israel”.

      Two months ago, the Israeli Knesset cancelled the Press Ordinance of the British Mandate, which authorised the Minister of Interior to close newspapers, thanks to a petition submitted by ACRI to the High Court of Justice, according to the statement.

      “Now, the new minister of communications [Netanyahu cleverly having found a far-right Druze MK (a supporter of Moshe Feiglin’s fascistic Manhigut Yehudit faction, within Likud) willing to do Bibi’s dirty work ~ JLD] wants to close a media outlet [Al Jazeera]. This joins a series of steps taken by the government against freedom of expression and against anybody that criticizes [Israeli] government policy.”

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/israel-prevented-journalists-covering-al-aqsa-170808104512884.html

  4. mcohen..
    August 8, 2017, 5:46 pm

    a deger says……….all jazz

    a few buildings have caught on fire in Doha in qatar lately.and Arab gulf countries have broken off ties with qatar.
    some say qatar is a state sponsor of “fighters” in Syria and Iraq.a spreader of incitement

    qatar is also headquarters of al Jazeera

    and mondoweiss is attacking Israel for banning al jazeera.

    • Talkback
      August 9, 2017, 4:32 am

      mccohen.. “and mondoweiss is attacking Israel for banning al jazeera.”

      Yes, don’t mention Amnesty International or Reporters without borders, just focus on your hate object Mondoweiss and distract from Israel’s fake democracy.

    • CigarGod
      August 10, 2017, 11:20 am

      Really…”…some say…”?
      That’s one of the favorite phrases used on NPR they think their listeners will believe bolsters reporter and story credibility.
      Ain’t likely to work here, pilgrim.

  5. Kathleen
    August 12, 2017, 1:16 pm

    I know Al Jazeera had to fight to get onto US TV. They were doing documentaries on poverty in the U.S. etc other critical issues, One of the most educational outlets along with Democracy Now, PBS, BBC, Cspan. Really went after the hidden issues in the states. Gone now

  6. NickJOCW
    August 13, 2017, 6:55 am

    It may be less a question of taking cues from Arab dictators, more an opportunistic attempt to reduce fallout when Netanyahu’s impending legal problems come to court.

    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.805521

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