As many of you know by now, the powerful pan-Arab media broadcaster Al Jazeera has just bought a US cable TV channel, Current TV. Based in and owned by the Arab monarchy of Qatar, Al Jazeera paid half a billion dollars for a failed TV channel in order to get the unfettered US base it has been seeking for years, “a pathway into American living rooms,” as the New York Times put it.
Qatar is supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah, but maintains secretive contacts with Israel, which used to have a trade office there. It straddles the fence, with regard to relations with Israel and other Arab countries and tribes, from a purely opportunistic basis. (I’ll leave it to the reader to ponder the irony and meaning of Al Gore owning 20% of Current TV when it was sold to Al Jazeera.)
The representatives of the two parties to the deal have been flacking Al Jazeera as not the terrorist TV outlet that people used to think of, but as a legitimate worldwide news organization. This it may be ― as all such organizations now are biased political forces, as well as information purveyors. But a fair presenter of Israel’s struggle against the genocidal Islamist, Arabic, and other purely anti-Semitic enemies that surround it ― this seems still highly unlikely.
So here we have yet another huge media octopus straddling the worldwide communications networks and it is going to tell lies about Israel. Of course, a network need not be Arab-based to do this. There is the BBC. There is CNN. These have been spreading anti-Israel propaganda for years, seeding their trusting listeners with quasi-anti Semitic ideas unchallenged. And they are believed because these networks have the reputation as the best in the business, the standard, the professionals.
What has Israel and what have the Jews done about this? A lot of small worthwhile efforts that have nowhere near the effect that these big networks have. Why isn’t there a Jewish Al Jazeera? An Israel-friendly CNN or BBC? Certainly there is enough media know-how and money among Israel’s friends to pull this off.
What is needed is not just another screaming partisan blog. Nor another sophisticated little magazine. Nor even another great new news website. Nor only the too little, too late hasbara attempted by the government of Israel itself ― helpful though all these are. All these little “good works” are not enough. What is needed is a powerful network that serves the world in the same broad way that the most dominating channels do, the ones the world accepts, the ones the world goes to, as the truth, the standard. It must seem, and be, as widely interesting and highly professional, and slick, and “trustworthy”, as the BBC, CNN; it must have the reputed intellectual heft and balance of a NY Times or Le Monde. But it also must tell the truth about Israel and Jews, rather than the opposite.
I am not the first person to think of this, though the absence of such a thing has been a pet peeve of mine for years. There was, at least, the Kazakhstani/Israeli billionaire, Alexander Mashkevich, who was reputed to be trying to do something like this a year or two ago. What happened to him? One can only guess. Maybe it was a passing fancy for him. Maybe he didn’t have the sophisticated friends and savoir faire necessary to pull this off. Maybe he will speak up.
Certainly there are many Israel-friendly Jews and friends of Jews with the professional standing and the wealth and influence to make this happen. Hello Mort Zuckerman! Hello Rupert Murdoch and family! Hello wealthy Jews who understand the importance and the vulnerability of Israel! What is keeping you from doing this? (What indeed?) It’s time to step up. You don’t have to hide in your Park Avenue bunkers any more. If the hate, bias, and misinformation engendered by the BBC and CNN and the NY Times hasn’t been enough, will the freedom of expression offered to al Jazeera get your attention? Hello Sheldon Adelson! What are you waiting for? The peace process? An end to anti-Semitism? Mitt Romney?
Jews have reached the top in so many fields of endeavor. What is holding them back here, in this one that will be able to defend Jews worldwide? It’s pitiful that the Arabs can pull this off, that Ted Turner can do this, but not the Jews. A global media force is the modern response. And it will speak to not only the Europeans slipping back into their polluted anti-Semitic swamp; it will speak to Americans so they stay with us; it will speak to the Indians and the Chinese, so they can know us. To the Muslims, so they don’t see only the lies and the poison. It could counteract anti-Semitism in so many ways and in every nook and cranny of the world.