Opinion Editorials, January 2005, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info
Al-Jazeerah Enters its 4th Year: Challenges, Hope and Peace
By Hassan Ali El-Najjar
Al-Jazeerah, January 24, 2005.
On January 24, 2002, I created and founded Al-Jazeerah to be a herald for hope and peace in this troubled world, an island of truth in a sea of media lies, and a forum for intellectuals from all over the world who believe that there is a way out of the insane imperialist adventures that have rendered the world to become a dangerous place to live in.
I was devastated to see the degree of hate, wickedness, propaganda, and manipulation in the US corporate media after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Everything was written and said to instigate the average American against Arabs and Muslims. I thought that Arab and Muslim Americans were very close to be exterminated if another September 11 attack would have happened.
Until this moment, the US corporate media have never explained to the American people that these attacks were a reaction to the US presence in the Arabian Peninsula, since 1990. Arabs and Muslims perceive the US presence as a military occupation that should be resisted.
Instead of explaining the serious consequences of US imperialist foreign policy, the US media started beating the drums of war, non-stop, encouraging the Bush administration in everyway possible to go to war even by propagating the two big lies of the administration about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and about its links with Al-Qaeda.
The US corporate media, including major TV network and major newspapers and magazines, functioned as a propaganda machine in service of the administration. There was no scrutiny of the government or its policies, as the corporate media propaganda claimed for decades. There was no difference whatsoever between the US corporate media and the government-controlled media in Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, or Third World dictatorships.
Only when the presidential campaign started, supporters of John Kerry started criticizing the Bush administration, but that was too late. It was after the unjust and illegal war and invasion of Iraq that destroyed that country. Iraq never threatened the US. It had no weapons of mass destruction and had no links with Al-Qaeda, as the September 11 bipartisan Committee concluded.
I looked east to the Arab and Muslim media to see if there was any attempts to counterbalance the US pro-war media campaign. I found that there were only few journalists trying to do the job in mainly one English language newspaper in few Arab states but within the restrictions imposed on them by governments. The most striking is that until today there not even one English-speaking Arab or Muslim Satellite or Cable news channel aired in the US or the world over. It's a disgrace to the Arab League states generally but to the Arab oil-exporting wealthy states in particular.
Thus, the American people in particular and the world in general were subjected to a tightly controlled US corporate media campaign that utilized the September 11 attack to beat the drums of a global war that ultimately aims at controlling the world oil reserves. Government-controlled media in the Arab and Muslim countries could not counter-balance that campaign, or to be more accurate did not dare to do the job. Corporate media in other Western countries participated wholeheartedly in the pro-war campaign. Few newspapers were the exception.
This was the context within which I decided to do something to counter-balance the mean-spirited anti-Arab and anti-Islamic pro-war campaign. I was not alone. Several wonderful other internet publications emerged to do the job together with Al-Jazeerah and I believe that we together have done a great job. However, I realize the limitations of the internet alternative media. We have reached the intellectuals in America and the world, but we haven't reached the average person. We need alternative TV stations.
Now, three years have passed since Al-Jazeerah was founded. It has been an exciting experience. It has been a cornerstone in the history of the media.
On the pleasant side, I feel that Al-Jazeerah has conveyed the message that the corporate media did not want people to know about though the access to this message is still limited to the intellectuals.
On a daily basis, Al-Jazeerah readers can see photos of the devastation of war in Iraq and Palestine, particularly the human cost, that most US corporate media do not publish or show. Al-Jazeerah readers can see, also on a daily basis, Arab cartoons from the main Arab newspapers expressing how Arabs and Muslims feel towards the US and Israeli policies. In this way, political cartoons have been telling readers about the consequences of these policies, as perceived at the receiving end.
The focus of the news reports published daily at Al-Jazeerah has been on the practices of the Israeli occupation forces in Palestine and the continuous war in Iraq between the US occupation forces and the Iraqi resistance. The main objective is giving readers the news which are usually ignored or manipulated by the corporate media. War is ugly and there is a devastating human cost for the occupation of Palestine and Iraq.
Last, but not least, is the daily opinion editorials published at Al-Jazeerah since its inception. Al-Jazeerah has demonstrated itself as a forum for intellectuals and people of opinions from all over the world, who are brave enough to say that the emperor has no clothes.
From day one, Al-Jazeerah contributors, authors, columnists, and average readers sending letters to the Editor have demonstrated courage in their opposition of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They revealed the real imperialist agenda of the neocons and the brutality of the Israeli occupiers. They have not allowed themselves to be intimidated by the pro-war and pro occupation intimidators. Almost all of the Al-Jazeerah opinion editorial writers have been subjected to threats by phone calls or through hate and threat email.
I cannot write a list of these courageous men and women who identified themselves with Al-Jazeerah. I will mention some of them and I'm certain that I'll forget to mention many others. I apologize in advance. But I feel that I have to say something about them. I thank everyone of them, everyone who wrote a letter, an article, sent a cartoon, a photo, or a suggestion to improve this great collective, international, progressive publication called Al-Jazeerah. The following list is by no means representing a specific order.
Four ladies deserve to be mentioned on top of the list: Anne Gwynn, Linda Heard, Genevieve Cora Frazer, and Jane Stillwater. The current active contributors are Mike Whitney, Ali Al-Hail, Sam Hamod, Yamin Zakaria, Abid Ullah Jan, Habib Siddiqui, Jim Kirwan, Ghulam Muhammed and Ben Tanosborn. Uri Avnery and James Zogby are international celebrities. Yet, they submit their weekly articles to Al-Jazeerah. Some authors write less often, but their contributions have enriched Al-Jazeerah, like John Anast, Ron Wilkinson, Gajendra Singh, Jack Dalton, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, and Bill Henderson. Tens of other writers who write quarterly or few times a year also deserve to be mentioned.
I cannot miss the contributions of Arab columnists and cartoonists, whose articles and cartoons were reprinted at Al-Jazeerah, particularly during the first year or so, from Middle Eastern English newspapers, particularly Arab News, Jordan Times, Daily Star, Al-Ahram Weekly, Gulf News, and Khaleej Times. I cannot also miss mentioning the contributions of some writers from the two British publications of the Guardian and the Independent, whose writings fit with the Al-Jazeerah mission of peace in the world. Special thanks to Al-Jazeerah daily sources of news, particularly Arab News, Reuters, Islam Memo, Palestine Media Center, and International Press Center.
Now, after writing what I have written above, I have also to say that the path was anything but rosy. Founding, editing, and running Al-Jazeerah with its position of promoting world peace and opposing imperialist wars and occupations has not proven to be an easy job, particularly because it's published in the US. It's time for Al-Jazeerah readers to know about the challenges and the problems that Al-Jazeerah and its founder-editor have gone through during the past three years. But this will be the subject of another article about Al-Jazeerah.
Dr. Hassan Ali El-Najjar is the Founder and the Editor of Al-Jazeerah.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent those of Al-Jazeerah Peace Information Center.