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Friday, August 8, 2008

Al Jazeera and Samir Quntar

Where is the truth?

After Israel freed Lebanese Samir Quntar (part of the Hezbollah/Israel prisoners and bodies swap), Al Jazeera's bureau in Lebanon organized a party to welcome Quntar (considered by Israel as a criminal, and by Hezbollah as a hero)

Israel responded to this by announcing that it will start imposing visa restrictions on Al Jazeera's staff, as well as it will not help the channel in getting interviews etc.. in Israel. Israel boycotting Al Jazeera!

Israeli daily Haaretz reproted today that Al Jazeera's General Manager Waddah Khanfar sent a letter to Israeli authorities, apologizing for the Quntar welcoming ceremony and pledging to take "administrative measures" against the Beirut bureau...While the Qatari channel's news director was announcing that the channel will never apologize for welcoming Quntar.

This event has to be taken in light of recent changes in the Board of Directors of Al Jazeera: the previous team, considered as anti-US was replaced by a more pro-US members; or at least more neutral directors. But the rank and file (or let's call them the officers) of Al Jazeera still stick to their percieved "pro Arab" stance, which calls for them to welcome Quntar as a hero.

This could explain why while the Board of Directors was apologizing, the rest of the team was still welcoming Quntar. That said, this dual opinion/messages should be to the liking of the Qatari Royal family; after all Qatar has managed a diplomatic expertise in being percieved as both anti and pro US!

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