Tony Greenstein | 17 August 2017 | Post Views:

As Saudi Arabia
Prepares to Execute 14 demonstrators Israel Supports the Saudis in their war
against free expression

As Israel’s Government Press Office prepares to remove the press credentials of Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Jerusalem, Elias Karram, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, there is
something quite touching about Israel’s claim to be the ‘only democracy in the
Middle East’ as it consummates its relationship with Saudi Arabia.  Al Jazeera is quite unique in the Arab world
for being a relatively free and independent TV station.  It has produced some excellent documentaries,
not least The Lobby which exposed the efforts of the Israeli Embassy, the
Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel to destabilise Jeremy
Corbyn and create a bogus campaign of accusations of anti-Semitism in the
Labour Party.
Netanyahu has
claimed that Al Jazeera is just a front for ISIS, Iran, Hamas and the Muslim
Brotherhood.  It was a classic tactic of
Nazi propagandists to make the Jews seem responsible for all the ills of
society.  They were communists,
capitalists, predators etc.  A moments
thought would tell you that Isis and Hamas are enemies.  Iran being Shi’ite is likewise opposed to
ISIS.  The  Muslim Brotherhood also comes from a
different tradition to that of the Salafists. 
But combining your enemy into one is the oldest tactic of the demagogue.
Theresa May and her good friend, King Salman of Saudia Arabia – no mention has been made by the Government of this attack on press freedom
Ayoob Kara, the
Communications Minister is spearheading the attack on Al Jazeera which is
accused of inciting the violence at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.  Nothing to do with the security gates, or the
attempts of Jewish settlers to encroach on the area or the attacks of Israeli
soldiers on worshippers.
What this should
also do is open peoples’ eyes as to the nature of the Israeli state.  All wings of the Zionist movement from Labour
to Likud support the attacks on Al Jazeera. 
From the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel in this
country to supporters of Likud, Zionism is opposed to free speech for its
opponents.  In fact Israel has amongst
the most restrictive censorship laws in the world.  It is no surprise that the Israeli government
thinks it is quite legitimate to close down a recognised and established
Israeli Minister Ayoob Kara seeks to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Israel
Ironically Al
Jazeera pioneered in the Arab world the use of Israeli spokespersons.  Arab stations have ritually barred access to
Israelis as they purport to oppose the Zionist regime.  In practice, as we see with the attempted
closure of Al Jazeera, there is a very close alliance between Israel, Saudi
Arabia and the Gulf states.  Both have an
interest in closing down all avenues to freedom in the Middle East.  Qatar is no oasis of democracy, far from it,
but when sanctions are imposed upon it by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States,
with the intention of closing down one of the few relatively free broadcasters
in the Middle East we  should understand
why it is that Israel and the Saudi butchers are singing from the same hymn
Despite its claims to be the Middle East’s ‘only democracy’ Israel constantly allies itself with the most entrenched and bitter opponents of freedom in the region.  From Egypt under Sisi to King Salmon’s Saudi Arabia, not forgetting Bahrain of course.
Below is, as
always, an excellent article from the Independent’s Robert Fisk and two other
articles, one from Al Jazeera and the other from the Jerusalem Post.
 Tony Greenstein
Al Jazeera offices in  Dhofar

you’re wondering why Saudi Arabia and Israel have united against Al-Jazeera,
here’s the answer

There are still
honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are
well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahabism upon which their kingdom
is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do
not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the
problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends
Theresa May has
already suppressed a report so it wouldn’t upset the Saudis. And we wonder why
we go to war with the Middle East AFP
When Qatar’s Al
Jazeera satellite channel has both the Saudis and the Israelis demanding its
closure, it must be doing something right. To bring Saudi head-choppers and
Israeli occupiers into alliance is, after all, something of an achievement.
But don’t get too
romantic about this. When the wealthiest Saudis fall ill, they have been known
to fly into Tel Aviv on their private jets for treatment in Israel’s finest
hospitals. And when Saudi and Israeli fighter-bombers take to the air, you can
be sure they’re going to bomb Shiites – in Yemen or Syria respectively – rather
than Sunnis.
And when King
Salman – or rather Saudi Arabia’s whizz-kid Crown Prince Mohammad – points the
finger at Iran as the greatest threat to Gulf security, you can be sure that
Bibi Netanyahu will be doing exactly and precisely the same thing, replacing
“Gulf security”, of course, with “Israeli security”. But it’s an odd business
when the Saudis set the pace of media suppression only to be supported by that
beacon of freedom, democracy, human rights and liberty known in song and legend
as Israel, or the State of Israel or, as Bibi and his cabinet chums would have
it, the Jewish State of Israel.
So let’s run
briefly through the latest demonstration of Israeli tolerance towards the
freedom of expression that all of us support, nurture, love, adore, regard as a
cornerstone of our democracy, and so on, and so on, and so on. For this week,
Ayoob Kara, the Israeli communications minister, revealed plans to take away
the credentials of Al Jazeera’s Israeli-based journalists, close its Jerusalem
bureau and take the station’s broadcasts from local cable and satellite
This, announced
Ayoob Kara – an Israeli Druze (and thus an Arab Likud minister) who is a
lifelong supporter of the colonisation by Jews of Israeli-occupied Arab land in
the West Bank – would “bring a situation that channels based in Israel will
report objectively”. In other words, threaten them. Bring them into line.
Bibi Netanyahu
long ago accused Al Jazeera of inciting violence in Jerusalem, especially in
its reporting of the recent Jerusalem killings – but since just about every
foreign journalist in and outside Israel who has dared to be critical of the
state has at one time or another been accused of incitement as well as
anti-Semitism and other lies, this is just par for the course.
Personally, I
have found Al Jazeera’s reporting from Israel pretty pathetic, its fawning
reverence for the state all too painfully illustrated when its Qatar
anchorwoman expressed to an Israeli government spokesman live on air her
channel’s condolences on the death of Ariel Sharon, the monstrous Israeli
ex-defence minister who was held responsible for the massacre of up to 1,700
Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres of 1982.
Ayoob Kara,
however, has actually taken his cue from his fellow Arabs. And he admits it.
Israel had to take steps, he said, against “media, which has been determined by
almost all Arab countries to actually be a supporter of terror, and we know
this for certain”. So the Israelis, it appears, now receive lessons on media
freedoms from “Arab countries”. Not just the Saudis, of course, but from
“almost all Arab countries” whose unfettered media – one thinks at once of the
untrammelled liberal press of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria and yes, “almost”
the entire media of the Gulf – are bastions of truth-telling, hard-hitting
opponents of authoritarian regimes, constitutionally protected from dictatorial
abuse. Forgive the hollow laughter. But is this really how Israel wants to define
Well, yes it is,
I suppose. For if an unwritten alliance really exists between Saudi Arabia and
Israel, then all options – as US presidents and secretary Hillary Clinton used
to say – are “on the table”.
without trial, extrajudicial executions, human rights abuses, corruption,
military rule – let’s say this at once: all these characteristics belong to
“almost all” Sunni Muslim Arab nations – and to Israel in the lands it
occupies. And as for being a “supporter of terror” (I quote Israeli minister
Kara again), one must first ask why Sunni Gulf Arabs have exported their
fighters – and their money – to the most vicious Sunni Islamists in the Middle
East. And then ask why Israel has never bombed these same vile creatures –
indeed, ask why Israel has given hospital treatment to wounded fighters from
the Sunni al-Nusra – in other words, al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11 – while
attacking Shiite Hezbollah and Alawite (Shiite) led-Syria, and threatened to
bombard Shiite Iran itself which is a project, I should add, of which Kara
himself is all in favour.
Nor must we
forget that America’s insane President and his weird regime is also part of the
Saudi-Israeli anti-Shiite confederation. Trump’s obscene $350bn arms sales to
the Saudis, his fingering of Iran and his hatred of the world’s press and
television channels makes him an intimate part of the same alliance. Indeed,
when you look at one of Trump’s saner predecessors – George W Bush, who also
hated Iran, kowtowed to the Saudis and actually talked to Tony Blair of bombing
Al Jazeera’s own headquarters in Qatar, he who made sure the wealthy bin Laden
family were flown out of the States after 9/11 – this American-Saudi-Israeli
covenant has a comparatively long history.
Being an
irrational optimist, there’s an innocent side of my scratched journalistic hide
that still believes in education and wisdom and compassion. There are still
honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are
well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahhabism upon which their
kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea,
who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But
the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our
friends. They are our oppressors or masters, suppressors of the truth and
allies of the unjust.
Netanyahu wants
to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem. Crown Prince Mohammad wants to
close down Al Jazeera’s office in Qatar. Bush actually did bomb Al Jazeera’s
offices in Kabul and Baghdad. Theresa May decided to hide a government report
on funding “terrorism”, lest it upset the Saudis – which is precisely the same
reason Blair closed down a UK police enquiry into alleged BAE-Saudi bribery 10 years
And we wonder why
we go to war in the Middle East. And we wonder why Sunni Isis exists, un-bombed
by Israel, funded by Sunni Gulf Arabs, its fellow Sunni Salafists cosseted by
our wretched presidents and prime ministers. I guess we better keep an eye on
Al Jazeera – while it’s still around.
Israel moves to
close Al Jazeera, ban its journalists
network denounces the decision to revoke credentials of its journalists and
close its offices in Jerusalem.
It was unclear
when Israeli government will act on the request [File: Reuters]
Israel plans
to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the
network’s office in Jerusalem, the country’s communication minister
has announced.
Ayoub Kara made
the announcement on Sunday during a press conference in Jerusalem, where Al
Jazeera was barred from attending. 
have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al
Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,”
Kara said, adding that the
channel is being used by groups to “incite” violence – an accusation
the network has denied.
Kara said he
expects Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to consider his request in the next
“I will go
through the [legislatorial] mechanism to create the authority in which I can
act freely. We will try to end it as quickly as possible.”
Kara accused Al
Jazeera of inciting violence – an accusation the network has
denied [Dusan Vranic/AP]
Al Jazeera
denounces measures
In a statement,
the Doha-based media network denounced the measures from a country it says
claims to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”.
Al Jazeera
stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the
Israeli decision and will take the necessary legal measures towards it,”
the statement
Al Jazeera also
denied the charges its coverage of al-Aqsa Mosque unrest was
Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian
territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by
international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom).”
The pan-Arab
network’s offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the
occupied West Bank city of Ramallah would not be affected by the
current Israeli move.
The Legal Center
for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, also known as Adalah, challenged the plan,
saying it would be subject to scrutiny before the Supreme Court, adding that
it would fail the test of legality”.
Al Jazeera’s
Scott Heidler, reporting from Jerusalem on Sunday, said that the request to
revoke the credentials cover all the network’s journalists in both the Arabic
and English channels. 
It was unclear
when the government will act on the request.
Our correspondent
reported that Israel is also seeking to shut down Al Jazeera’s cable and
satellite transmissions in the country.
During the press
conference, Kara also said that the interior ministry will also be involved in
shutting down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to shut Al
Jazeera’s operations in the country, accusing the network of inciting violence
against Israel. His most recent attack on July 27 accused the
network of “inciting violence”.
Marwan Bishara,
Al Jazeera senior political analyst, said the latest move by Israel shows a
synergy” of “dictatorships” in the Arab world and
“dictatorship of military occupation in Palestine”.
“It is as if
closing down a network will diminish violence, when everyone knows that
repression and military occupation and aggression is the reason for violence in
the region. Not reporting it,
” he said.
Attack on press
In an interview
with Al Jazeera, Rami Khouri of the American University in Beirut, denounced
the plan saying it is “very typical of regimes” in the region. 
that want to control power will almost always go after two targets – the media
and the foreigners. Everybody goes after the media.” 
Aidan White,
director of the London-based Ethical Journalism Network, called Israel’s
decision “a full frontal attack” on press freedom.
“It is a
shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel’s claims to be the only
democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most
important institutions of democracy.
“This attack
on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism.”
The Committee to
Protect Journalists has also criticised the Israeli move.
Al Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but
it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region’s worst enemies of
press freedom,”
CPJ Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator
Sherif Mansour said in a statement.
should abandon these undemocratic plans and allow Al Jazeera and all
journalists to report freely from the country and areas it occupies,”
In recent
months, Saudi Arabia and Jordan both shut down Al Jazeera bureaus as
part of a coordinated diplomatic and economic campaign against Qatar,
where the headquarters of Al Jazeera Media Network is
Al Jazeera’s
signal has also been blocked in the United Arab Emirates. 
Egypt, which is
also part of the blocking group, banned Al Jazeera several years ago. 


Minister Ayoub Kara starts working on Al-Jazeera shutdown
2017 17:53
Following in the
footsteps of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Israel aims to revoke press credentials of
Qatari-based news organization.
An employee walks
inside an office of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network in Jerusalem June 13, 2017.
. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Security comes
before freedom of expression, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said at a
press conference on Sunday, as he laid out a fivepoint plan backed by Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down Qatari cable network Al Jazeera.
congratulated Kara on Twitter, writing: “Following my instructions, he took
several practical steps today to stop the actions of incitement by Al Jazeera
in Israel.”
Kara said Al
Jazeera should be banned from broadcasting from Israel on grounds of
 “I want to make clear: Our citizens’ security
and welfare overcomes freedom of expression in times of terror, period. Freedom
of expression is not freedom to incite,”
Kara said. “Democracy has limits. When
we ask what overcomes what, I have no doubt at all. I prefer our citizens and
soldiers alive.”

Kara asked the
Government Press Office to revoke Al Jazeera reporters’ press cards. He also
spoke to the cable and satellite television companies in Israel, which he said
expressed willingness to stop broadcasting Al Jazeera.
In addition, Kara
asked Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to use his authority to close the
network’s Israeli offices and asked for the channel’s broadcasts on open
satellites – used by many Israeli Arabs – to be blocked.
Finally, Kara
announced plans to promote legislation that would give the government the
ability, in exceptional cases, to put security before freedom of expression.
Last week, Kara
put his plan to shutter Al Jazeera in a broader Middle Eastern context, saying
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries have called to shut down Al Jazeera
entirely as part of their pressure on the Qatari regime. The countries
campaigning against Qatar are not democracies that purport to have a free
 “We identify with the moderates in the Arab world
who are fighting terrorism and religious extremism,”
Kara said. “Here in
Israel, there is no place for a channel that backs terrorism either.”

The Foreign Press
Association, of which Al Jazeera journalists in Israel are members, said most
of them have identification cards issued by the Government Press Office, which
means they are government- vetted. They called Kara’s actions a “slippery

When reports
first surfaced last month that the channel might be taken off the air, Al
Jazeera stressed it would take “all necessary legal measures [if Israel] acts
on its threat.”

See Israel moves to close Al Jazeera, ban its journalists

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Tony Greenstein

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