Al-Jazeera Disclosures Deserve a Closer Look…By the Feds

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

by IPT News  •  Jun 24, 2015

Al Jazeera’s run of bad publicity got a little worse this week, when the online Arabic newspaper New Khalij published an article citing part of a cable from the Saudi Embassy saying the network answers to the Qatar government and is stocked with reporters who are part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Arabic language cable was among a batch of internal records published by Wikileaks.

“[W]hatever has been said about the impact of the journalists working in Al-Jazeera, having their weight and their agenda, and most of them belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood or being sympathizers with it, the final say in the end is with Qatari decision makers, with them the ones who determine its objectives, and the ones who identify the direction of the channel to achieve their objectives,” the New Khalij report says, citing the Saudi cable.

The cable added that “the existence of a number of prominent journalists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood in the channel is a matter worthy of concern, as the rulers of Qatar and its Sunni people are of the Hanbali school, and believe in the movement of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and the Muslim Brotherhood does not have roots the Qatari society.”

Qatar wants to influence the political decision-making of neighboring countries through weaving good relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, the cable said. The reason the network turns to “religious leaders such as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and political ones such as Hamas derives from Qatar believing that in order to be effective in the region, it must have bargaining chips in many countries, and this is what is achieved for it by the Muslim Brotherhood in its global structural organization and its presence in most Arab and even Islamic countries such as Turkey.”

The Saudi assessments fit neatly with claims made in recent federal lawsuits filed against Al-Jazeera America (AJA) by former senior employees. The lawsuits claim the network’s U.S. branch discriminated against non-Muslim employees and deliberately pushed anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli biases.

Shannon High-Bassalik’s complaint claims that Al Jazeera is a place “where truth and objectivity are set aside to cater to the Company’s pro-Arabic prejudices.” Instead,employees were told that AJA was here to bring “the Arabic viewpoint to America,” which explained in part why it aired programs critical of the U.S., Egypt and Israel.

It’s a network owned and controlled by a foreign government that aims to influence U.S. opinion, and by extension, U.S. policy. The Foreign Agents Registration Act(FARA) provides an exemption to media organizations and journalists who act on behalf of foreign principals, but only within designated parameters. Among those parameters, the media organization must be one thatis not owned, directed, supervised, controlled, subsidized, or financed, and none of its policies are determined by any foreign principal defined in subsection (b) of this section, or by any agent of foreign principal required to register under this subchapter…

The recent allegations in separate federal lawsuits and now in leaked Saudi Arabian cables raises the potential for significant FARA violations by Al-Jazeera America, and appears to be ripe for investigation.

Videos! Media firestorm over Geller and Spencer’s tactics in the fight to protect free speech

freedom_of_speechI like Phyllis Chesler’s even handed assessment of this debate –

Many elitists and scholars favor  “nuance;” “sensitivity;” “anti-racism,” “inter-faith dialogue.” But they should favor freedom more and double standards less. Westerners have absolutely no trouble criticizing Christianity and Judaism. Why so much angst about criticizing one religion only: Islam?  If what Geller, Spencer, and Wilders have just done advances the cause of freedom of speech, we may not all have to follow their tactics, but we should at least acknowledge that we support their goals.

If not, what exactly are our alternatives?

There are so many videos coming out that I decided to post them all here. I’ll be adding more as they become available. If you see any good ones, please post them in a comment.

Update, May 6: 16 videos and counting! Some very good discussions going on. Say what you will about Geller – she has jump started the mainstream media into covering the threat to free speech! The people who attended the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest did so voluntarily with knowledge of the risk. And AFDI paid for their own security. I myself would not have used such a tactic but Freedom of Speech is an idea worth dying for. This is an opening to educate the public on just how close we are to losing it. It is interesting that Geller in the past has come out against Quran burning as being unnecessarily provocative and has said that book burning is not the answer…more speech is the answer. Going forward, I think it will be hard for her to pull off another event like this due to the cost and finding a willing venue. Spencer said it cost about 50 thousand dollars in all.

Update, May 10: Pamela has been pointing out something completely missing in the Garland jihad attack coverage –

If we had a responsible media, they would report more of the positive developments in light of the terror attack. The jihadists were the end of the line. By drawing them out, we exposed their network. We were able to expose the network without getting anyone killed. The FBI are now going after the sources. They are gleaning intel from their computers as we speak. We smoked out a terror structure.

The FBI has put more American terror suspects under constant surveillance following the deadly attack. Every city across US had “subjects of concern.” The military is taking the threat seriously enough to raise the threat level to one of the highest levels it has reached since 911.

Lawsuit Alleges Sexism, Anti-Semitism by Al Jazeera America Official

A man works at a desk in the Al Jazeera America broadcast center in New York on Aug. 20, 2013. Reuters

A man works at a desk in the Al Jazeera America broadcast center in New York on Aug. 20, 2013. Reuters

by IPT News  •  Apr 29, 2015

A senior Al Jazeera America manager is facing serious allegations of sexist and anti-Semitic discrimination after an employee filed suit Tuesday for wrongful termination.

Matthew Luke is seeking $15 million in damages from the Qatar-owned network. The complaint filed in New York state court accuses Osman Mahmud of sexist discrimination, such as removing female employees from projects and excluding women from emails and meetings related to their assignments. Mahmud also allegedly made anti-American and anti-Semitic comments, such as “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.”

According to the lawsuit, Luke was fired 10 days after filing a report regarding Mahmud’s behavior to Al Jazeera’s HR department.

Mahmud denied the allegations in an interview with the Washington Post.

Among the other claims, Mahmud ordered a senior news official to replace a photographer, an Israeli national, with a Palestinian who was less qualified.

When the official complained, she was reassigned to a less prestigious position and replaced by a male colleague. The lawsuit describes Al Jazeera America’s chief executive as believing a correspondent’s reporting was too pro-Israel, even though Al Jazeera is notorious for its highly critical stance against the Jewish state.

The network’s Arabic and English outlets have been plagued by reports that its biases trump its stated objective of providing objective journalism. Nearly two dozen staffers resigned in protest of the network’s sympathetic coverage toward the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president.

In January, in the immediate aftermath of the massacre of cartoonists, other staffers and police at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, internal Al Jazeerah emails obtained by the National Review show executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr urging staff members to emphasize the magazine’s “racist caricatures” in their coverage.

He suggested they question if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,'” and whether the spontaneous “I Am Charlie” signs held posted and displayed by outraged French citizens was an “alienating slogan.”

“Was this really an attack on ‘Free speech’?” one Khadr email said. “Who is attacking free speech here exactly? Does an attack by 2-3 guys on a controversial magazine equate to a civilizational attack on European values..? Really?”

The “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) signs were counter-productive, he claimed. “You don’t actually stick it to the terrorists by insulting the majority of Muslims by reproducing more cartoons – you actually entrench the very animosity and divisions these guys seek to sow.”

That sentiment was echoed by Qatar-based reporter Mohamed Vall Salem, who wrote, “what Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech in my opinion, go back to the cartoons and have a look at them!

“It’ snot [sic] about what the drawing said, it was about how they said it. I condemn those heinous killings, but I’M NOT CHARLIE.”

The Significance of Sisi’s Speech

Raymond Ibrahim, Jan. 7, 2015:

On New Year’s Day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi—the hero of Egypt’s 2013 anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution—made some remarkable comments concerning the need for a “religious revolution.”

Watch the video below or click here to read the excerpt:

 

Sisi made his remarks during a speech celebrating the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad—which was ironically held on January 1, 2015 (a day not acknowledged or celebrated in the Muslim world as it is based on a Christian calendar)—and he was addressing the nation’s top Islamic authorities from among the Awqaf Ministry (religious endowments) and Al Azhar University.

Although Sisi’s words were directed to Islam’s guardians and articulators, they indirectly lead to several important lessons for Western observers.

First, in just a few words, Sisi delivered a dose of truth and hard-hitting reality concerning the Islamic world’s relationship to the rest of the world—a dose of reality very few Western leaders dare think let alone proclaim.

“It’s inconceivable,” he said, “that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!”

What a refreshingly honest statement to come from not only a political leader but a Muslim political leader who has much to lose, not least his life!  Contrast his very true words with the habitual reassurances of the Western establishment that Islamic world violence and intolerance is a product of anything and everything but Islam.

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Even after the appearance of the head-chopping, infidel-crucifying Islamic State, politicians like U.S. President Obama and U.K. Prime Minister Cameron insisted that the “caliphate” is not Islamic, despite all the evidence otherwise. Yet here is Sisi, the pious Muslim, saying that the majority of the terrorism plaguing the world today is related to the holy texts of Islam themselves:

That thinking [that is responsible for producing “anxiety, danger, killing and destruction” around the world]—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

As a Muslim, Sisi will not say that Islam, the “religion,” is responsible for “antagonizing the entire world,” but he certainly goes much further than his Western counterparts when he says that this “thinking” is rooted in an Islamic “corpus of texts and ideas” which have become so “sacralized.”

Recall that here in the West, Islamic terrorists are seen as mere “criminals” and their terrorism as “crimes” without mention of any Islamic text or ideology driving them.

The Egyptian president further invoked the classical Islamic teaching—the “thinking”—that divides the world into two warring halves: the Muslim world (or in Islamic/Arabic parlance, Dar al-Islam) which must forever be in a struggle with the rest of the world (or Dar al-Harb, the “abode of war”) till, in the Koran’s words, “all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39).

“Is it possible,” asked Sisi, “that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live?”

Sisi made another important point that Western leaders and media habitually lie about: after affirming that Islamic “thinking” is “antagonizing the entire world,” he said that “this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

In other words, Islamic terrorism and chaos is not a product of grievance, territorial disputes, colonialism, Israel, offensive cartoons, or anything else the West points to.  It’s a product of their “own hands.”

Again, one must appreciate how refreshing it is for a top political leader in the heart of the Islamic world to make such candid admissions that his Western counterparts dare not even think let alone speak. And bear in mind, Sisi has much to lose as opposed to Western politicians.  Calls by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists that he is an apostate are sure to grow more aggressive now.

The critic may ask, “All well and good, but words aside, what has Sisi actually done to help bring about this “religious revolution”?  In fact, one popular journalist, Ibrahim Eissa, recently said just this on live television in Egypt:

Five months have passed since he [Sisi] became president, after his amazing showing at elections.  Okay: the president has, more than once, indicated the need for a renewal of religious discourse….  But he has not done a single thing, President Sisi, to renew religious discourse.  Nothing at all.

Yet it seems that Sisi has an answer for this, too: it is not his job as president of Egypt to reform the thinking of the Islamic world; rather, that role belongs to the ulema—which is precisely why he addressed them with such candid words.  Indeed, he repeatedly stressed that it is the ulema’s job to lead this “religious revolution.”

Thus, “I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move…. I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.”

Meanwhile, while Sisi was making these groundbreaking if not historic statements, the Western mainstream media, true to form, ignored them and instead offered puerile and redundant headlines, most critical of Sisi, like:

  • “Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC, Jan 1; to which I respond, “Why, so Al Jazeera can continue lying and misleading the West about Sisi and Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution?”)
  •  “Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2; to which I respond, “Homosexuals live in fear in all Islamic nations, regardless of Sisi.”)
  •  “George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3; to which I respond, “Who cares?  Only her innocence or guilt matter, not her husband’s fame”—which is the only reason Fox News chose the story in the first place.)

Whether concerning the true nature of Islam or the true nature of Sisi, here is the latest example of how unfathomably ignorant all those millions of people who exclusively follow the so-called “mainstream media” must surely be.

Also see:

In light of President Sisi’s comments, we ask for public clarification on the following points:

  • Is it the position of ISNA that the imams of Al Azhar have a responsibility to renounce the “mindset” of jihad, conquest, and, as suggested by President Sisi, genocide of the world’s non-Muslims?
  • Is it the position of ISNA that the time is right for a “religious revolution,” as President Sisi stated?
  • Is it the position of ISNA that jihad is a holy obligation for all Muslims?

Ex-AP Reporter – Media Imbalance Toward Israel Becomes Rooted

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

by IPT News  •  Dec 1, 2014

Life as a foreign correspondent often is portrayed as dangerous, sexy work for a journalist.

But it also can be insular – you’re a stranger in a strange land, often dropping in with little knowledge about history, culture and context. That can inhibit the breadth of reporting presented to the world, a glaring flaw when it comes to reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Associated Press Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman writes in an article for The Atlantic.

Journalists monitor each other’s work and tend to view human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well meaning do-gooders immune from scrutiny. “Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know,” Friedman writes, “because these groups are to be quoted, not covered.”

Over time, that arrangement helped entrench a narrative among foreign correspondents in Israel, writes Friedman, who reported out of the AP’s Jerusalem office from 2006-11. It is the second essay from the veteran journalist on how the media covers Israel. In August, Friedman provided first-hand examples of stories which were spiked if they made the Palestinians look intransigent, or made Israelis look good.

A “distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry,” he writes in the Atlantic piece. “The Israel story” is “a simple narrative in which there is a bad guy who doesn’t want peace and a good guy who does.”

A New York Times editor unintentionally reinforced Friedman’s point last month when he took to Twitter to admit his willingness to ignore Palestinian incitement and bigotry until “they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”

When events conflict with that narrative, Friedman writes, they are under-reported or not reported at all. So a 2013 rally at the West Bank’s Al-Quds University supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and invoking Nazi imagery was widely known among Western journalists but generated little coverage until Brandeis University suspended a partnership program with Al-Quds.

Or, more recently: “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.)”

Hamas understands this reality and manipulates journalists to further advance it. So some stories hint that Hamas no longer is wed to its founding, anti-Semitic charter and its calls for Israel’s destruction. Others falsely cast Hamas as open to peace and moderation.

Friedman’s essay is important because he writes from experience, not anger. It is packed with too much insight to fully capture here. To read the full essay, click here.

Also see:

Hamas Intimidates Western Journalists, Kills 30 “Collaborators”

Media representative broadcasting from Israel's border with Gaza, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, July 9, 2014. (illustrative photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Media representative broadcasting from Israel’s border with Gaza, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, July 9, 2014. (illustrative photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

by IPT News:

Western journalists operating in Gaza have been threatened and harassed by Hamas for reporting instances of the terrorist groups’ use of human shields, according to a Times of Israel report. Israeli officials have noted that some reporters are intimidated by Hamas’ threats and have ceased documenting Hamas’ exploitation of civilians throughout the conflict.

The newspaper says it confirmed instances in which Hamas officials confiscated equipment and pictures from photographers exposing terrorists who were preparing to launch rockets from civilian structures and fighting in civilian garb.

Hamas continues to limit access to its terrorist operations. For example, Hamas converted Gaza’s Shifa hospital into a base of operations but reporters are prevented from showing that.

“We know that downstairs there is a Hamas command and control center and that Hamas leaders are hiding there,” an unnamed Israeli official told the newspaper. “No reporter is allowed to go anywhere downstairs. They’re only allowed to work upstairs to take pictures of casualties, the pictures that Hamas wants them to take.”

Last week, a French journalist told Liberation, a French daily newspaper, the circumstances of his interrogation in a Hamas office in Shifa.

“A few meters from the emergency room, where the injured from the bombings kept on coming in, in the outpatient ward, [the reporter] was received in ‘a small section of the hospital used as an office’ by a group of young combatants,'” according to the article.

The reporter said a Hamas interrogator confronted him, asking, “Who are you? What’s your name? What are you doing?” He also was asked whether he spoke Hebrew or had any relationship with the Palestinian Authority. “The young Hamas supporters insistently ask the question: ‘Are you a correspondent for Israel?'” he wrote. The reporter insisted that he contributes to French and Algerian media only and was eventually ordered to leave Gaza.

His account matches a report out of Australia. It cites television reporter Peter Stefanovic, who issued a Twitter post describing seeing rockets being fired from a civilian area near his hotel. Hamas supporters accused him of lying, asking “Are you working for the IDF” and issuing a not-so-subtle threat that “in WWII spies got shot.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has executed more than 30 suspected collaborators in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel reporting on Palestinian security officials’ statements to Palestine Press News Agency. The alleged spies were summarily executed after a brief investigation. Moreover, Fatah appealed to Hamas to cease harassing its members and placing them under house arrest.

Also see:

Scurrilous NYT Informant Story Ignores Successes

 

NYPD Surveillance Upheld Despite AP Campaign

NY Times Avoids Linking Morsi’s Anti-Semitism to Muslim Brotherhood Ideology

by IPT: