‘Terror’ Channels Face Freedom Threat

By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria

The perception that many American policies are influenced by Israel has been given a further boost with the latest attempt by the US Congress to silence free speech.

The current move to ‘cleanse’ the airwaves involves pro-Israeli members of the congress who are in the process of submitting a bill that seeks to target satellite stations as “terrorist organizations”.

The proposed bill is viewed as Israel’s on-going efforts to stem the tide of widespread support Palestinians have received following the Gaza disaster spawned by the apartheid state’s inhumane war.

Graphic details and gruesome images of victims of Israeli brutality have also resulted in global outrage resulting in condemnation of these war crimes and demands for the prosecution of the perpetrators.

Having failed to eliminate Hamas and the spirit of resistance embodied within all sectors of Occupied Palestinian in spite of the most lethal weapons of mass destruction deployed over three weeks in an intense and highly disproportionate manner, Israel has once again turned to American legislators for help.

In keeping with its need to veil its own hidden agenda, Israeli lobbyists within the US Congress seek to promote the bill as part of US efforts to “stem the demonization of Americans in the Arab media”.

Satellite carriers ArabSat and NileSat that broadcast channels such as al-Manar and Hamas’ al-Aqsa are in the firing line.

Authors of the bill from both the Republican and Democratic parties have explained that these television broadcasters were helping “foreign terrorist organizations in their objectives, including recruiting fighters, collecting funds and disseminating propaganda”.

The language sounds as archaic as the Bush administration’s neocon warmongers. Yet it seems that despite the euphoria of “change” heralded with the election of Barack Obama, no fundamental changes in the American construct of the discredited “war on terror” are discernable.

The phenomena of “terror-related channels” are part of the Israeli political psychology that treats resistance to its illegitimate Occupation of Palestine as “terrorist”. This ploy is designed to demonize media activists, analysts, authors, commentators and broadcasters in one single sweep and thereby discredit their authenticity.

It’s not any different to the propaganda war unleashed against South Africa’s freedom struggle by the now defunct National Party. The essence of this is captured in a critical study by Terry Bell and Dumisa Ntsebeza titled “Unfinished Business: South Africa Apartheid & Truth”:

“The optimism stemming from the effective council of war in Simonstown was bolstered politically by elements within the United States security establishment. They were actively engaged in planning armed resistance to the new, Soviet-leaning governments in Nicaragua and Afghanistan. The fact that such governments has come to power in 1979 and that South Africa then faced the prospect of Rhodesia going the way of Angola and Mozambique, fed into the paranoia of the time. South Africa, it seemed, was back in the frontline of the ‘free world’ fight. Here was international communism on the march; the evil empire had gained some advantage, which the CIA and the Pentagon were trying to claw back, having been betrayed by their politicians and congress.

“Botha and his generals saw themselves very much part of this ‘international struggle’. South Africa would play its part in fighting the Red menace and so earn the eventual gratitude of the world at large. The enemy could be resisted and overcome by sponsoring opposition from within the very communities that may initially have supported the new governments. An iron fist could be created and wielded by those whose hearts and minds had been won over. Besides, as Botha was especially pleased to note, in Britain the woman he regarded as a friend, Margaret Thatcher, had swept to power. There was also the prospect of a Republican victory in the US presidential race, which would bring the rightwing Ronald Reagan to power. The CIA and the Pentagon might have less difficulty under such an administration. In Germany too, the conservative Helmut Kohl seemed on the way to eventual victory and Robert Muldoon, regarded as a friend of the apartheid state, was back in charge of New Zealand.”

Though Bell and Ntsebeza describe the rightwing mood prevalent during the eighties which was inclined to be supportive of the apartheid regime’s version of the war on terror, the current ideological battle waged by Israel in cahoots with its Western allies, including unelected Arab states euphemistically referred to as “moderate”, is a continuation of the same propaganda war.

It is a revolting thought that so-called liberal societies who value freedom of expression are being manipulated to implement punitive measures on the back of special legislation designating satellite providers as transmitters of “terror-related channels”.

In addition, the bill urges governments and private investors who own shares in satellite companies to oppose transmission of telecasts by al-Aqsa TV, al-Manar TV and other channels designated as “terrorist”.

Since al-Aqsa and al-Manar are transmitting on the satellite providers Nile-Sat, controlled by the Egyptian government, and ArabSat, controlled by the Arab League, it is entirely possible that the timing of this bill was calculated to coincide with Hosni Mubarak’s visit to the US following Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama.

This latest move to reverse Israel’s negative profile in the battle for hearts and minds is the worst form of mind control and should be resisted.

– Iqbal Jassat is chairperson of the Media Review Network (MRN), an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com.

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