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Arabic-language satellite channels are the latest rage!

The BBC has one, France 24 has one, the Germans have one, (Russia) has Rusya al-Yawm (TV channel) and even (Turkey) joined in recently with Al-Turkiye. Also, the US State Department has Al-Hurra and the Chinese are preparing to launch an Arabic-language channel. There are fresh talks that CNN and Bloomberg, which specializes in covering financial and economic news, are planning to launch Arabic-language channels following the success of the BBC Arabic channel.

The most important development must, however, be the Israeli Knesset’s “approval” of a new satellite channel broadcasting to Arabic-speaking Israeli residents and other people in “surrounding” countries. The channel was given significant concessions, i.e. only 7.5 percent of its broadcasting material for the first two years has to be locally produced (in contrast to a minimum of 20 percent which all satellite channels in Israel must adhere to). The ratio should rise to 12 percent by the third year and only to 20 percent in the fourth year. According to its directors, the channel will provide a “real” picture of the situation in Israel that is free from the “exaggerations” reported by other media outlets.

This is the second attempt by the Israeli Government to launch this channel. In June 2002, the Israeli Government launched an Arabic-language channel which provided news, talk shows, and entertainments programs. The channel failed, however, when many of its seriously professional Israeli Arab staff decided to quit in protest over the direct editorial intervention in the channel’s news content by manipulating them politically to suit the extremist Zionist vision which actually believes one way or another in the superiority of the Israeli Jew over the Israeli Arab when it comes to broadcasting, production and management. This fact has been confirmed by various examples cited by a large number of staff and guests who have resigned, sacked, or protested against what was happening.

Surely, the channel will broadcast Koranic recitations by Sheikh Abdul-Basit Abdul-Samad and Sheikh Mahmud Khalil al-Husari. It will also air songs by (Egyptian) Abdul-Halim Hafiz, (Lebanese) Fayruz, and (Egyptian) Umm Kalthum. Moreover, the channel will show films starring (Iraqi) Najib al-Rayhani, (Egyptians) Fatin Hamamah, Mahmud Yasin, and Adil Imam. It will also feature plays starring by (Egyptian) Fuad al-Muhandis, (Egyptian) Abdul-Munim Madbuli, and the (Egyptian) Theatre Lights Trio (Samir Ghanim, George Sidhum, and Al-Dayf Ahmad). Of course, all these productions will be pirated without paying copyright fees to their owners (This is not unusual for Israel, which already attacked and occupied Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian territories; and claimed that Al-Tabulah, Humus and Falafil are all Israeli food, to claim that everything is part of the Jewish heritage!). Of course, Israel will not be punished for copyright infringement, in the same way it has never been punished for stealing land.

However, the most dangerous program will be the one planned by a group of Israeli Druze Arabs which will publicize “information,” “data,” and “studies” to confirm the Israeli character of a number of Islamic and Christian sites and alter the geopolitical scene not by settlements but by cultural and intellectual projects which Israel is trying to propagate. The project will continue but its weapons may be changed and developed.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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