One of the most controversial claims we have made in opposition to U.S. carriage of Al-Jazeera International is that this English-language version of terror television would incite and inflame Arab Muslims in the United States, thus producing more terrorism. This is not to say, however, that fertile ground for Muslim extremist groups and anti-Americanism does not already exist. I am frequently amazed by the statements made by Arab-Americans who claim to be opposed to terrorism. One is Neal AbuNab, a Palestinian-American who recently told Fox News that the al-Qaeda organization should be regarded as a mere “nuisance” that serves the interests of Israel. He made this comment in the course of accusing the U.S. media of being too pro-Israel.
I was on the show as well, challenging him to take on Al-Jazeera and declaring that his comment about the significance of al Qaeda suggested he was living on a different planet. During his introduction, AbuNab’s book, The War on Terrorism and Democracy, was flashed on the screen. The book proclaims that “The road to stability and peace in the Middle East starts with ending the occupation of Iraq and Palestine.” He contributes to the Arab American News, based in the Detroit area. Later, I took the time to go to his blog, where I discovered that he:
Provides advice and assistance to news reporters & media that deal with Middle East stories
Provides advice and assistance to motion picture producers that incorporate Arab & Muslim content in their productions.
I don’t know if he works with CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, but he seems to mimic its work. CAIR scored a spectacular victory when it pressured the popular Fox series “24” to run public service announcements on behalf of Islam after an anti-terrorist plot line in the show was deemed offensive to Arab Muslims.
As I prepared to go on Fox News with AbuNab, I read his article, “The war of words and images,” about coverage of the war in Lebanon. Fox News, he declared, was “the champion” of Israel in the U.S. media.
This is, of course, nonsense. As we have noted, Fox News was criticized for Jonathan Hunt’s coverage of the war which took an anti-Israel slant and was labeled “Al-Jazeera West.” The notion that Fox News is a mouthpiece for Israel is also contradicted by the fact that Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal is a significant investor in the news channel’s parent company News Corporation and brags that he influenced its coverage of the Muslim riots in France.
What’s more, News Corporation published Alaweed’s biography through its HarperCollins subsidiary. The book was written by Riz Khan, formerly of CNN and now with Al-Jazeera International, who claimed in a Wall Street Journal column that the U.S. media had offered a “sanitized” version of the conflict in Lebanon. Like AbuNab, he regarded most of the coverage as pro-Israel.
These phony claims are designed, in my opinion, to lay the groundwork for the introduction of Al-Jazeera International into the U.S. media market, on the pretext that we deserve to see and hear the Arab side of the story. Buying into this propaganda would be a fatal mistake.