Alhurra: Voice of America or Voice of Terrorism?

JINSA National Chairman Mark Broxmeyer wrote this JINSA Report.

JINSA National Chairman Mark Broxmeyer wrote this JINSA Report.

U.S.-funded Arab TV network Alhurra is being converted into a platform for Islamic terrorists and U.S. taxpayer dollars are helping promote the very propaganda used by Islamic terrorists to recruit young Muslims. It is an outrage, and Congress must stop it. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Joel Mowbray on 12 March, “In the past few months, Alhurra has aired live speeches from [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, and it broadcast an interview with an alleged al Qaeda operative who expressed joy that 9/11 rubbed ‘America’s nose in the dust.'”

In the example given the most detailed coverage in the WSJ article, Palestinian imam Ikrami Sabri, a well-known radical, announced without refutation that Israel was “firing guns and throwing bombs into the mosque, then refusing to allow medical care for the wounded.” Of course Israel did no such thing. But the fact that it was on a network funded by the U.S. government gave tragic credibility to a malicious libel against Israel – a key ally in the region.

Alhurra carried more coverage of Arab protests over Israeli construction near Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque than did Al Jazeera. Guests on Alhurra vilified Israel and falsely charged it with “plans” to destroy the mosque, despite a UN finding that Israel’s construction poses no threat to the building.

Broadcasting is essential to promoting American interests; Radio Free Europe played a vital role in winning the Cold War. Alhurra claims as its mission, ” presenting accurate, balanced and comprehensive news. (It) endeavors to broaden its viewers’ perspectives, enabling them to make more informed decisions.” Its website homepage notes that it is run by “the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent and autonomous federal agency. The BBG serves as a firewall to protect the professional independence and integrity of the broadcasters.”

But there is no journalistic requirement to broadcast the threats, lies and rants of terrorists in the name of “balance.” Alhurra is itself supposed to provide balance to the broad range of censored, controlled and hostile media of the Middle East. And the BBG should not be permitted to be a firewall to protect those who use American taxpayer funds to help the enemies of the U.S., Israel, democracy and liberty.

Interestingly, neither Alhurra – nor the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees it – has challenged the accuracy of any specific claim – in fact, BBG Chairman Ken Tomlinson disassociated himself from an exculpatory letter written to WSJ by other governors, saying he would agree to more airing of the issue.

The “new” Alhurra is affront to all Americans and to those people in the Middle East who rely on the U.S. government to provide them with information they cannot get on Al Jazeera or CNN. Congress, which controls the purse, must act immediately.