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March 31, 2023 11:04 am

Al Jazeera Violated DOJ Directive Over Disturbing ‘Anti-American, Anti-West, Anti-Israel’ Propaganda

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Popular Al Jazeera talk show host Faisal al-Kasim. Photo: Facebook.

A bombshell report published this month by the Zachor Legal Institute investigating Al Jazeera’s American-based social media arm Al Jazeera Plus (AJ+) has uncovered many disturbing, albeit unsurprising revelations, including:

  • The Qatari-owned media network operates in a manner resembling a propaganda outlet, focused on spreading anti-American, anti-West, anti-Israel, and divisive content curated in ways that intensify divisions within American society.
  • It serves as a platform for Islamic terror groups to spread their twisted ideologies, including Al Qaeda and Hamas.
  • Al Jazeera had no problem giving a weekly program to a Muslim Brotherhood leader who called for terror attacks on US soldiers, praised the Holocaust as “divine punishment” upon Jews, and encouraged the murder of Israeli civilians.

According to Zachor, AJ+ has flouted a directive that was issued by the United States Department of Justice in September 2020 for it to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) within 30 days.

The DOJ probe began in March 2018 when several members of Congress contacted then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to urge him to enforce FARA guidelines on the grounds that Qatar was using Al Jazeera to “incite violence, glorify terrorists as ‘martyrs,’ and broadcast hateful, extreme content.”

Responding to the order, Al Jazeera accused the DOJ of being politically motivated, and conspiratorially claimed that it was being targeted as a result of lobbying by the United Arab Emirates, which insisted on the FARA registration as a precondition for the normalization of UAE-Israel relations.

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In January 2022, the anti-corruption NGO Empower Oversight submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to see all records relating to the Al Jazeera probe demanding to know why the DOJ had “failed to enforce FARA in this instance and failed to be responsive to congressional oversight on this topic.” As of this month, no response has been received, and Empower Oversight has filed a lawsuit against the DOJ for failing to comply with the FOIA.

According to Zachor’s report, AJ+ has focused its malicious propaganda efforts on influencing young Americans, particularly via its social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, and much of its content is about Israeli-Palestinian issues:

AJ+ devotes a disproportionate amount of its videos to coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not one of the videos portrays Israel in a positive, or indeed even a neutral light. Instead, AJ+ content regularly shows Israel as a ruthless and murderous occupier, ignores Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians, and omits crucial context such as Israel’s own security concerns […]

Most notably, AJ+ has recently begun to imply that Israel is guilty of the crime of genocide, in contrast to international consensus … AJ+ content also frequently uses tenuous analogies between American racial strife and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that its message will better resonate with a young American audience.

Even more disturbingly, Zachor has noted that while AJ+ is careful to avoid using language or phrasing that could be perceived as antisemitic and therefore breach the terms of services of social media platforms, the network’s Arabic social media profiles have not been so cautious:

In 2019, AJ+ Arabic was embroiled in controversy when a caption in Arabic for one of its videos appeared to engage in Holocaust denial, reading ‘Gas ovens killed millions of Jews … So the story says. How true is the #Holocaust and how did the Zionists benefit from it?’ According to the newspaper The Forward, the video, which has since been deleted, alleged that Israel and the Jews were the Holocaust’s “greatest beneficiary,” exploiting the genocide and inflating victim statistics to extract money from Germany.

The latest report on Al Jazeera’s pernicious and extensive efforts to manipulate American news consumers should be taken seriously, particularly because of the influence the media network has over other mainstream US news outlets.

An analysis by HonestReporting of news stories published in 2022 by 16 top-tier news outlets about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict revealed that media, including The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the Associated Press (AP), cited Al Jazeera in their online content dozens of times, often without noting its Qatari connection.

Zachor noted that AJ+’s reach into American society is tantamount to giving Qatar influence over millions of Americans to intentionally “inflame social tensions, and weaken confidence in democratic institutions.”

In addition to calling on DOJ to compel AJ+ to comply with the FARA order, Zachor has pressed social media platforms to correctly mark its content in a way that alerts users to its ideological bent.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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