Saturday, September 16, 2006
Khalid Amayreh, The Electronic Intifada
"In fact, there are already ominous signs showing that pro-Israeli sympathizers, some of them with a background in the BBC, are exerting control on the editorial policies of the new channel, all under the rubric of professionalism and journalistic standards.
This writer, who has been working for Aljazeera.net/English (which has now been incorporated into AJI) has discovered, by chance, efforts by some senior western editors at AJI to minimize and avoid as much as possible the publication of articles, especially news and feature stories, portraying Israel in a bad light or otherwise exposing Israeli occupation practices against the Palestinian people.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of similar examples, all showing that AJI is knowingly and deliberately avoiding serious coverage of the Palestinian plight, especially in its feature section which abounds with all kinds of stories covering various — and outlandish — subjects and events.
Ryan apparently never forgave me my "audacity", as was evident from his subsequent behavior. In the third week of June this year, I submitted an article on Palestinian children and minors killed by the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers. The article was based on statistical information released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
However, instead of thanking me for the article, Ryan, upon seeing it and without giving it a second thought, wrote to tell me that I was lying and that the information contained in the article was false. His vindictive and nervous tone was very telling and spoke volumes.
Finding he had no case against me, Merryman resorted to a red-herring, accusing me of creating confusion and turmoil at Aljazeera.net from the West Bank — from which I am barred from leaving by the Israeli occupation authorities! And after a brief email exchange, he told me I was fired.
I don't know for sure why Merryman behaved the way he did. It is quite possible that he had been urged or cajoled by some of his Zionist friends to make sure that "anti-Israeli" articles were rejected.
This build-up had two main manifestations: neutralizing Palestinian correspondents from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and the intensive reliance on reports by American news agency, the Associated Press, viewed by many as 'Israel's ultimate news agency.'
Last week, Merryman decided to change the rules governing the editorial policies of Aljazeera.net/English. The new rules make sure that "undesirable stories," e.g. stories that expose Israeli brutality and racism against the Palestinians, or those portraying Israel as a Nazi-like entity, wouldn't find their way to Aljazeera.net.
Another told me that "this man and his friends want to turn Al-Jazeera into another Fox News or even another Jerusalem Post." The latter is Israel's main right-wing English newspaper, and a mouthpiece for the Jewish settler movement.
I am sure that this article will sign me off from Al-Jazeera. However, I am willing to sacrifice my own personal interest and lose the bulk of my income in the hope that al-Jazeera officials, particularly Chairman Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani and Managing Director Waddah Khanfar, will open their eyes and make sure that al-Jazeera International doesn't become a new weapon in the hands of the enemies of Arabs and Muslims.
For God's sake, don't let them hijack Al-Jazeera under the disguise of journalistic ethics."
For quite sometime, I have noticed the difference in coverage between Aljazeera.net/English and the Arabic counterpart. I fully support the observations of Khalid Amayreh in this article.