Al-Jazeera in Canada?


Some groups are pushing to get Al-Jazeera broadcast in Canada. The CJC and B’nai Brith Canada are incensed – rightly so. Far from being “just another viewpoint”, Al-Jazeera broadcasts blatantly antisemitic content on a daily basis under the guise of news:

CJC President Keith Landy, whose group closely monitors Al-Jazeera programming, said that some of the channel’s material might violate Canada’s hate-crimes legislation and federal broadcasting statutes, since it regularly engages in “blatant anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and the glorification of suicide bombers.”

“We certainly don’t want this to appear as a political attempt to prevent another view from being aired,” he said. “But by granting them a license, the kind of stories that they carry could contravene the Criminal Code.”

Arab groups in Canada have vowed to push for the channel’s inclusion on Canadian cable service, saying that “it would broaden the horizon of the Canadian public” with regards to the Middle East.

What, the CBC isn’t enough for them?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hanthala 04.10.03 at 10:59 PM

I’d like to see a “translation” by someone other than Keith Landy. No offense, but the Zionist movement is more famous for its “interpretations” than “translations.”


2 Ikram Saeed 04.11.03 at 12:08 AM

There are nasty people on ALJ sometimes. And the host of the hit shiow “the opposite direction” has some dubious views of the holocaust.

But is this enough to ban the channel from being shown in Canada? Worse things about other ethnicities are sometimes said on Sunday morning ethnic radio. Punjabi radio can be especially biting — no-one (Keith Landy or otherwise) seems to care.

If the Canadian government has a problem with anything said on ALJ, we can always indict the people who run ALJ (or any particlar show) for hate-propaganda. There is no need for prior-restraint.


3 segacs 04.10.03 at 11:59 PM

That’s always the case, isn’t it? Every time you see something you disagree with, blame the Zionist translators. Suuuuure.


4 tali 04.11.03 at 12:00 AM

I say let ‘um try…and just make sure that there are volunteers monitoring the network every minute of every day. Every time the law is broken, file a complaint. Drown the cable companies with complaints, and follow up with demonstrations when the complaints aren’t acted on promptly.

This will serve two purposes:

a) It will draw attention to the fact that a-J’s news is actually propaganda for neonazism.

b) the volume of breaches of the law (several per hour, I’d estimate) will make it clear that the people sponsoring this knew ahead of time what they were importing into Canada.


5 Jonny 04.11.03 at 12:15 AM

Ikram has a valid point.


6 DavidH 04.11.03 at 3:12 AM

I think it is dangerous to try and ban people that express views we don’t believe in. SPHR tried to do it at Concordia, and was appropriately condemned. If we try and ban AJ here, then we are simply stooping to their level.

If we don’t like what is being said, counter the message, not the messenger.


7 James 04.11.03 at 6:00 AM

I’ve watched Al Jazeera from time to time, especially in restaurants. (Of course, I don’t subscribe myself because, of course, Dish satellite is illegal. Perish the thought!)

I’d be very surprised if some of the programming weren’t in direct contravention of various hate crimes, ie incitement to hatred. That is not unusual for Arabic-language broadcasting when it comes to the Zionist occupier (etc). For a time I subscribed to ART America, which is the only Arabic-language channel licensed in Canada — that’s an artefact of CRTC rules designed when foreign channels basically meant U.S. channels, and which badly need rewriting — and some of the stuff on there was just as bad, though as a variety-and-entertainment station (see why we need more than just ART?) there wasn’t much news. I’m thinking in particular of an often-run dramatized music video of faceless Israeli soldiers (Lebanese actors; helmets on) slaughtering a baby boy in his father’s arms, while his father buries him, gets ever-more radical as the gosh-what-else result, joins the Islamic Resistance, and in the final scene marches triumphantly with the People against the Zionist Enemy.

But, anyhow, Al Jazeera was among the first to really sensationalize and try and stir up emotion as a ratings device. It’s basically a bleeds-it-leads network that has led the way for others, and I’d compare its coverage to local TV news in the U.S.: ambulance-chasing. (La Presse last Sunday had an article I thought very good on the station called La guerre des ondes [couldn’t find it online]; see also Abdel-Moneim Said in a very good piece, “The perverse logic of slogans”, which I think speaks a lot of truth, in Ahram Weekly at

I guess it’s a good debate to have in public, so I welcome CJC’s putting it on the table. But the Jazeera-is-the-devil idea is just dumb: the kind of anti-Zionism (no Jewish self-determination) that’s basically antisemitism is pretty common in the Arab world, Al Jazeera is by no means unusual, it’s a mistake to try and keep it off our screens rather than address it publicly, and it’s already on our screens anyway.

That said, if CJC really wants to pursue this more as a legal issue than as a public debate issue, the least media coverage of it can do is to recall the Canadian Islamic Congress’s having done exactly the same thing in their CRTC filing against Jerry Falwell’s infamous comments on 60 Minutes.

On which CIC president Mohamed Elmasry said (I kid you not): “We consider this an unholy alliance between extreme right-wing Christians and extreme right-wing Zionists.” (See Toronto Star story at Yup, the Zionists were *controlling* Falwell’s show: could have come straight from, uh, Al Jazeera.

Oh, for an Israeli slant on Arabic-language media — which is an interesting slant, these days — check out, if you haven’t already. He’s got his own perspective, of course,


8 James 04.11.03 at 6:00 AM

… of course, but that’s how it works.

(Wow — cut off by five words. My first time! Sorry.)


9 James 04.11.03 at 6:02 AM

… and the Abdel-Monem Said article in Ahram Weekly should have been — no smiley face — clearly not my day for leaving comments. Um, more sorries.


10 Ikram Saeed 04.11.03 at 4:00 PM

“We consider this an unholy alliance between extreme right-wing Christians and extreme right-wing Zionists.”

No mention on “controlling” there, James. The suggestion that born-again evangelical Christians and Likudniks are working together is pretty public (even in Canada, see Stockwell Day).

What part of that statement did you find unacceptable? The excerpted quote sound accurate to me. (Except fro the ‘unholy’ bit — I’m sure both parties think it is holy)


11 segacs 04.11.03 at 4:05 PM

All these people yipping about denial of freedoms by keeping Al-Jazeera off the air: how long would it take you to protest a perceived anti-Muslim television show or station?

Actually I already know the answer to that. Judging by the way people rioted to stop Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia, we know exactly how the anti-Zionists feel about freedom of speech. It applies to them, but not to anyone they disagree with.


12 Hanthala 04.11.03 at 5:21 PM

James, Ikram, that’s kind of funny and I’m wondering if El-Masri wasn’t saying this tongue-in-cheek since the original “unholy alliance” accusation came from B’nai Brith in 2001 (and is still being pursued in court) and refers to what it calls “Arabists,” “Anarchists,” and “Islamists” (translation: Arab students, leftist students, and Muslim students ­čśë


13 Ikram Saeed 04.11.03 at 7:02 PM

I think you’re seeing things that aren’t there. There’s no ‘control’ implied by the excerpted statement, only that the two parties are working in concert.

Frex, Arab and Jewish groups were allied (unholy or not) against Lucas’ Star Wars portrayal of semites. There was an alliance (unstated, this isn’t international politics), but there was certainly no ‘control’ by one party or another.

I don’t see why you read ‘alliance’ as ‘control. Evengelical christians (extreme right-wing, or otherwise) _are_ allied with Zionists (extreme right-wing or otherwise).

I think Elmasry used rhetorically overheated language, but the substance of the excerpted quote seems fine. What do you see that is unreasonable?

(And 8opus– what’s with the “sigh”. An Al Gore impersonation? Unecessary, I think)


14 8opus 04.11.03 at 6:35 PM


Elmasri identified two distinct groups — “extreme right-wing Christians”, and “extreme right-wing Zionists”. (Of the latter, Likud party members are collectively a minority, of course; I’m not sure how it is you arrive at this equation.)

The idea that non-Christian Zionists are responsible for what Jerry Falwell says on Sunday mornings to a Christian flock is laughable. As Arabic-language media fare, on the other hand, it would certainly not be out of place in the context of much else blamed on “Zionists”.

But clearly you disagree. Tell me, do you really think that non-Christian Zionists are the author of Jerry Falwell’s remarks about the prophet Muhamad?

For that matter, are there any remarks which evangelical Christians make which you think *can’t* be blamed on non-Christian Zionists?


15 James 04.11.03 at 6:36 PM

Sorry — 8opus/James — more of my ineptitude.


16 James 04.11.03 at 10:09 PM

I think we’re talking about different things.

Jerry Falwell made anti-Muslim comments as part of his preaching on a Sunday evangelist show. Mohammed Elmasry decided to announce — in the context of a CRTC filing — that non-Christian Zionists were partly guilty for Falwell’s comments. That’s what I’m talking about.

You’re talking about something else. Specifically, a political alignment between (presumably some) evangelical Christians and (some) Zionist Jews. (Which all of us presumably think is a dumb one, but that’s beside the point, of course.)

Anyhow. Unless you’re suggesting that all members of the latter political alignment are responsible for Jerry Falwell’s television show, I am really missing your point. You talk of a “political alliance”, whose existence is certainly not being disputed. But do you mean that all evangelical Christian preaching is somehow under the responsibility of said alliance?

In other words, as above: are there any remarks which evangelical Christians make which you think *can’t* be imputed to non-Christian Zionists?


17 Peter Lehrer 04.11.03 at 11:21 PM

Why not have a-j in English all over North America? Then everyone will clearly see what idiotic barbarians the arabs really are.


18 Sam 04.12.03 at 2:54 AM

First of all, Peter, its tragic that you feel the need to use racism to express your point.

Secondly, Ikram, this “alliance” you speak of is largely fabricated in the minds of Arabs who like to group Israel and all their enemies into one big united Zionist/Crusader force that’s been out to get them since the beginning of time. While there are Christians who support Zionism, I don’t know of any Jews who would support evangelical Christianity, which is detested by most Jews (see Jews for Jesus). Maybe you have heard neo-Nazis expressing their satisfaction with the Palestinian intifada. Does that mean there is an unholy alliance between Naziism and Islam?


19 DavidH 04.12.03 at 7:11 AM


I support the right of people to speak everywhere. The actions of SPHR on Sept. 9th sickened me, as does censorship whenever it rears its ugly head.

I just worry that trying to censor AJ is not a step we should be taken, assuming that we want to maintain our own rights to free speech.

You don’t need free speech rights to talk about saving the whales, you need them when what you are saying is unpopular.



20 segacs 04.12.03 at 3:10 PM

There’s a world of difference between unpopular and outright hate speech. And while a small segment of people may watch Al-Jazeera as an example of just how hateful the speech really is, a far larger portion of people will invariably come to believe its lies. That’s the persuasive power of television.

I’m not saying that the current stations we have are perfect. Far from it. They have their biases and in some cases (e.g. CNN’s recent revelation that they withheld stories) they have downright shoddy journalistic ethics.

But as of now in Canada, if someone says something on the air that contravenes laws on hate speech, that’s illegal. And since a large portion of what is said on Al Jazeera at any given time is hate speech, allowing it to broadcast would mean having to take it to court on a daily basis.

We can avoid the whole problem by simply not allowing hate networks or shows to air. Would you be in favour of a neo-Nazi network airing Holocaust denial programming regularly to get a CRTC license? Someone explain to me how this is any different.


21 Peter Lehrer 04.12.03 at 9:19 PM

al-jazeera: truth = the most bitter feelings of hatred.


22 Ikram Saeed 04.15.03 at 2:05 PM

Sam, James/8opus,

By odd coincidence, I ran into an article in the leftist Canadian Dimension magazine entitled : Unholy alliance Chrisitan Zionists.

Here is the link

(look up Micheal Welton)

A few points in the article:

-Falwell went to Israel in 1967, and became convinced the Israel’s victory as the hand of God. It fed into that Rapture/pre-millenial stuff so popular in the USA.

-In 1981, Begin awarded Falwell the “Jabotinsky award for Zionist excellence”.

-Netanyahu used to work the Prayer breakfasts for Israel (I knew that one before).

-Netanhayu convenece the Israel Christian Advocacy Council and flew 17 American evangeleical leaders to Israel.

-The Umbrella group for all this is the US Chrisitan Coalition for Israel.

The article overreaches in its commentary, but on the facts alone, the alliance is self-evident.

And I think the word “extreme zionist” is fair. The heirs of Jabotinsky, the “revisionist zionists”, have long been called extreme.

So, again apart fromt he ‘unholy” bit, El Masry comments are on target. And Sam, the links between neo-Nazis and Muslims are not even close to Extreme Zionist/Extreme Christian alliance.


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