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Will Al Jazeera face a reckoning over Hamas ties?

Former Al Jazeera journalist Abdallah Aljamal

June 10, 2024 - 11:45am

In a dramatic and unsettling revelation, three of the four Israeli hostages rescued over the weekend were found in the Gaza home of Abdallah Aljamal, a journalist who previously contributed to Al Jazeera. Aljamal, who was also a spokesman for the Hamas-run labour ministry, was killed during a rescue operation by Israeli commandos.

Al Jazeera’s PR team yesterday issued a statement on X denying Aljamal was ever an employee. But an image of Aljamal’s profile on Al Jazeera’s website (since removed) raises serious questions about a news network funded by a Qatari autocracy that hosts the leadership of Hamas, which is recognised as a terror organisation by the UK, US and EU.

The hostages, Almog Meir Jan (aged 21), Andri Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (41), were discovered in Aljamal’s residence in central Gaza. They were rescued in an operation by Israeli special forces, who stormed the home and engaged in a confrontation that resulted in the deaths of Aljamal and several members of his family. The operation’s details were initially reported by Rami Abdu, head of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

Funded by the Qatari government, Al Jazeera has long been at the centre of controversy regarding its coverage of Middle Eastern conflicts. The chairman of the outlet’s parent company, Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, is a member of the Qatari royal family and the network has been described as “a mouthpiece for the Qatari monarchy, [that’s been] a purveyor of Islamist extremism, jihadism, and Salafism”.

In May, Tel Aviv voted to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel, with the country’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi saying the move was intended to “stop the well-oiled incitement machine of Al Jazeera, which harms national security”.

On Sunday, a day after the hostage rescue mission Israel extended the ban for another 45 days, which was upheld by a Tel Aviv court. An Israeli judge said he had been “provided evidence” showing longstanding ties between Hamas and Al Jazeera.

In the past, Middle East observers have found numerous instances of journalists at the network praising Hamas for its 7 October attack. “Israel’s fragility became evident this morning,” Al Jazeeras Sufiane Tabet posted on X on the day of the rampage. “The liberation of the homeland is a matter of time, which requires more men and more determination.” Another Al Jazeera presenter, Palmer Almisshal, posted that same day: ”Gaza manufactures victory and honor for its homeland and nation.”

Yet another presenter, Ahmed Mansour, posted a photo of Hamas fighters dragging wounded or dead Israeli soldiers across the ground with the text: “This historic picture is worth as much as the hundreds of billions of dollars that the world’s Zionists have invested in Israel in the last decades.”

The scrutiny comes as more focus is placed on highly influential foreign-owned or funded media companies, such as Russia’s RT and China-owned TikTok. In February, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) called for an investigation into why the Department of Justice has failed to compel Al Jazeera and TikTok to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Calls like this by Comer and others in the House will continue to intensify with the recent news. The question for Al Jazeera is whether it will be able to separate itself from the country that founded and funded it, and whose policy prerogatives it likely finds difficult to ignore.

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Bored Writer
Bored Writer
7 days ago

The BBC this morning described the hostage rescue as “a military raid on a densely populated civilian area.” Yesterday a BBC interviewer asked the IDF spokesman why Gazans weren’t pre-warned that the rescue was going to happen. I know it’s a cliche but you really couldn’t make it up.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 days ago

In the States, we have people mourning the deaths of hostage takers and the people who enable them, so you’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical about a ‘reckoning’ of any sort for this channel. The downside is that Al-Jazeera is capable of interesting work.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You can’t make an objective judgement about Al Jazeera’s output if you don’t speak Arabic. The Arabic content is utterly different from the English language material, which is purely there to mislead regulators in the West into believing that it’s safe to allow the station to broadcast on their soil. It isn’t.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Mark Lilla has an interesting turn of phrase in the current NYRB: “radical Islamists who speak of peace in English but of war in Arabic . . . “

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
7 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I’m not familiar with the difference, could you clarify?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 days ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

I think MC above just summed it up.

Ted Glen
Ted Glen
7 days ago

You’re not a serious totalitarian ideology if you don’t have your own international media arm…

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
7 days ago
Reply to  Ted Glen

BBC World Service?

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
7 days ago

“In May, Tel Aviv voted to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel”.

in the name of all that is good, true, and holy, “Tel Aviv” is not and has never been Israel’s capital. That title goes to Jerusalem.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
8 days ago

Pity. On non-middle east topics its coverage is much wider and more intelligent than the execrable BBC with its parochial obsessions.

George K
George K
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

True , same with RT Russia. Home reporting is pure propaganda but world coverage is way more nuanced than western mass media

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
7 days ago
Reply to  George K

That’s a use of the word “nuanced” that I haven’t seen before.

Martin M
Martin M
7 days ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

I concur. Before the Ukraine War, RT was available on satellite in Australia, and I occasionally watched it (it has now been taken off). I would describe a quarter of what it broadcasted as “thinly veiled Russian propaganda”, and another quarter as “not so thinly veiled Russian propaganda”. CGTN does things far better.

Ian_S
Ian_S
7 days ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

That’s how a great propaganda news outlet works. Impeccable reporting on the issues that don’t matter for the core mission, with highly partisan stories on the key operational topics sprinkled through. It’s disciplined. The problem for the BCs (British, Canadian, Australian) is that *every* story becomes an opportunity for a progressive moral slant. It’s like propaganda by amateurs, but it seems they can’t help themselves.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Score. (Reminds me of a cartoon: a man with a sign reading “The End is Near” regards a man with a sign reading “The End is Thursday” and thinks: “amateur.”)

Martin M
Martin M
7 days ago

Fair call. Those “The World Will End a Week From Tuesday” types always get themselves into trouble when it doesn’t. Better to be a bit vague….

Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye
6 days ago

The discovery that an accredited journalist with Al Jazeera and with the Palestine Chronicle was also the jailer of Israeli hostages illustrates nicely the obvious fact that there are no journalists in Gaza. At least, not if you agree that to be called a journalist, one should be able to report independently from the authorities. That there isn’t a single independent journalist in Gaza can be concluded from the fact that none of these reporters ever reported anything that is remotely embarrassing or damaging to Hamas. Not once. All the people who call themselves journalists in Gaza – including those that work for international news organizations – are effectively Hamas mouthpieces. So the discovery that such “journalists” participated in the October 7th invasion, or in jailing of the Israeli hostages, should surprise absolutely no one. What is surprising is the handwringing about the IDF having killed such and such number of “journalists” in Gaza – the largest of any conflict, we hear. What is also surprising is that so many people are taken in by the images that these “journalists” broadcast from Gaza, to believe that the Gaza war is one where an army – IDF – is fighting women and children.
I guess this works because, in the end, people believe what they want to believe.

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 hours ago

“In May, Tel Aviv voted…” Why does Ashley Rindsberg use “Tel Aviv” as a shorthand for the Israeli government? Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital and seat of government. Tel Aviv is a commercial centre.
Would Rindsberg use “New York” as shorthand for the U.S. government?

A D Kent
A D Kent
7 days ago

Nothing wrong with the Israeli’s slaughtering hundreds of civilians whilst they went about this four sevenths successful ‘rescue’, or that they used the US installed pontoon to do it (I’m old enough to remember when people who said that was what the pontoon was to be used for were called conspiracy theorists). No, the reckoning is for Al Jazeera.

Re the journalists statement about the picture of the dragged wounded – what was incorrect about it? October 7th shattered the illusion of Israel as a place of safety – the image of which has been burnished by said billions of dollars.

Also I note the authors book on the lies of the NYT – wonder what s/he makes of the recent Times piece that blows away the foundations of their ‘mass rape’ piece?

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
7 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Nothing wrong with the Israeli’s slaughtering hundreds of civilians whilst they went about this four sevenths successful ‘rescue’, 
Well-you started off on the right track-never mind

Last edited 7 days ago by Pedro the Exile
A D Kent
A D Kent
6 days ago

If there was nothiing wrong in principle with Israel causing that many casualties in an hostage rescue attempt, can you explain why that’s not true of the deaths Hamas caused on October 7th in their attempt to release theirs?

Patrick Doyle
Patrick Doyle
5 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

There were hostages at a music festival and throughout neighbouring kibbutz homes? Wow.
Maybe you should be a journalist.
For Al Jazeera.
(I believe they have a vacancy that recently came up.)

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

“what was incorrect about it?” Oh, maybe the same thing that would be wrong about a triumphalist portrayal of corpses being hauled away in a death camp? Maybe a headline trumpeting the equivalent of: “Since 5.45 A.M. we have been firing back”?

Ian_S
Ian_S
7 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I don’t read NYT. But why would anyone think they have the credibility to make the claim that the October 7 r*pes never happened? It just looks like more antisemitic denial a-la David Irving, and we know their newsroom is now 100% overtaken by shrill keffir-wearing toddler activists.

A D Kent
A D Kent
6 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

The point is not that no rapes took place, but that the evidence of systematic sexual assaults – as rountinely asserted here and elsewhere – is weak to non-existent.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
6 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Yes, it’s unlikely that men who indiscriminately slaughter women and children would stoop to sexual assault.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
6 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Hamas is engaging in what is known as asymmetric warfare: a weaker power commits atrocities against a greater power goading them to retaliate so that they can then carry out grievance propaganda to a naive international community. It’s cry-bully tactics of the worst sort. Palestine are led by a group of murderous fanatics who have no qualms about sacrificing their own people. Unfortunately, you and many others have fallen into their trap. Your beef is with Hamas cowards, not the Israeli Defence Force who are guilty of nothing except carrying out their duty to protect civilian lives. I admire Israel’s resilience in the face of sanctimonious global criticism and hope it lasts as long as it acts as a force for good in the region.