Why viewers can't trust Al Jazeera's coverage of the war in Gaza [Letter]

Veteran Sun television reviewer David Zurawik writes that "no one is doing a more thorough job of covering the death and destruction in Gaza than Al Jazeera" ("Gripping, heartrending Gaza images lead to shift in PR war," July 25).

"Social media are absolutely a driving force in the shift in coverage, but I also believe the heavy presence of Al Jazeera and the excellent work its correspondents and producers are doing have raised the games of all the news organizations on the ground," Mr. Zurawik wrote. He noted that Al-Jazeera Arabic, Al-Jazeera English and Al-Jazeera America were also covering the fighting in Gaza but that he had been primarily watching Al-Jazeera America.


Ten days after Mr. Zurawik's praise for Al-Jazeera, The Middle East Media Research Institute, which translates Arabic and other Middle Eastern language news media into English and analyzes their content, issued a report headlined "Al-Jazeera TV Journalists Use Their Facebook, Twitter Accounts as Propaganda Mouthpieces in Service of Hamas."

And not just Al-Jazeera's social media. "One of the blatant manifestations of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani's absolute support of Hamas was the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera's coverage of the latest conflict in Gaza," MEMRI reported. "During this confrontation, the channel became a prominent propaganda mouthpiece of Hamas.

The research institution went on to say Al-Jazeera's coverage of the conflict was slanted and one-sided to the point that any speakers on the channel's live programs who were even slightly critical of Hamas were met with censure and reproach. In fact, Hamas supporters launched a "One Million Thanks to Al-Jazeera" campaign on Twitter to express their gratitude for the channel's leaning in favor of the resistance.

But there's an even deeper reason to doubt Qatar's satellite network. Qatar is a tiny, natural gas-rich peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia. It took Iran's place as Hamas' primary financier after Hamas parted from Bashar Assad, Tehran's ally, as he battled Sunni Muslim radicals in Syria's civil war.

Hamas itself is a radical Sunni Muslim movement that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, Canada and other countries. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, its replacement with an Islamic theocracy and the complete elimination of the Jewish people.

Jeffrey Sokoloff


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