A Threat to Whom?
By Hassan A.
had the new US-funded Arabic-language satellite television channel
Alhurra started broadcasting than Arab writers and columnists
lashed out at Alhurra in an attempt to discredit the new "threat."
arguments against this channel as another arm of the American
foreign policy in the region are not new. I am neither defending
the new TV station nor advocating the reckless American foreign
policy under the current administration. However, many of those
who started the excoriating attack on Alhurra are themselves
involved in the media industry in the Arab world and they have
neither managed to be highly professional media nor have they
offered at least constructive criticism. Their criticism of
Alhurra rings hollow because it means backing the current Arab
this campaign is ridiculous when we know that many of those
writing against it do not really trust our media and, instead,
derive their information and analysis from Western sources,
such as the CNN, the BBC, The New York Times, and The Guardian.
Some of them "boast" that they do not watch local
TV stations. If this is true, why then launch this campaign?
Do they think that they are protecting the masses against this
new penetration? Do they really think that singling out this
new station will help them survive in the globalized media world,
let alone compete?
the message of democracy and human rights that Alhurra claims
to promote is what threatens those who have a vested interest
not to democratize. This TV channel is not going to penetrate
the market because people are probably more immune and more
progressive than the critical "elite." When Israel
decided to broadcast in Arabic to penetrate the Arab collective
mind, it failed badly. I cannot recall a campaign against Israeli
media sources because the Israeli media were only interested
in broadcasting what they thought would help their foreign policy
and public relations. For this reason, it never managed to chalk
up success in our region.
we be afraid of Alhurra? No matter what the Americans are going
to do, they will never manage to convince us that the United
States is not favoring Israel or that it is not occupying an
Arab country. Opinion polls conducted in different parts of
the Arab world show that an overwhelming majority perceives
the United States interests as being control of oil and the
security of Israel. Nothing short of solving the Arab-Israeli
conflict and transferring power to the Iraqis would alter the
image of the United States or ameliorate the anti-American sentiments
prevailing in our region.
claims that it will preach democracy and human rights, I hope
that this is really what it will do, and if so, I cannot see
any threat to the people watching it.
of just incriminating Alhurra, there should be efforts to create
professional and innovative media. Nothing else could convince
the people not to watch Alhurra or other TV channels. If they
fail to become professional, the time will come when Alhurra
will outdo all Arab TV stations.
hoped that Alhurra will force modernity and professionalism
on this part of the world. TBS
A. Barari is a researcher at the Center for Strategic Studies
at the University of Jordan. This piece first appeared in a slightly
different version in The Jordan Times of February 24, 2004.