NYT's Hypocritical Horror Over Al-Jazeera Ban: Tried to Kick Murdoch Out of AUS, UK

May 7th, 2024 5:29 PM

The New York Times came out stridently in defense of pan-Arab news network Al-Jazeera after the Israeli government temporarily shut down its local operations, claiming it was threatening Israel’s security by serving as a “mouthpiece” for Hamas.

The paper was highly aggrieved over the “anti-democratic” move while ignoring Al-Jazeera’s history as a virulently anti-Israel outlet Arab news network.

Of course, wartime censorship is not unheard of even in democracies (including Ukraine) or the Arab world in general, and Israel is existentially vulnerable surrounded by enemies and with elite opinion firmly on the side of the pro-Hamas demonstrators on college campuses throughout America.

Five reporters in all contributed to The Times' report, “Israeli Cabinet Votes to Shut Down Al Jazeera’s Operations in the Country,” in Monday’s edition.

Israel moved on Sunday to shut down local operations of Al Jazeera, the influential Qatari-based news network, in an unusual step that critics denounced as anti-democratic and part of a broader crackdown on dissent over Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Al Jazeera, a major source of news in the Arab world that has often highlighted civilian suffering in Gaza, of harming Israel’s security and inciting violence against its soldiers. Israeli officials did not immediately provide examples of Al Jazeera content it claimed posed a threat.

In a statement, Al Jazeera called the decision a “criminal act” and said that “Israel’s suppression of the free press to cover up its crimes has not deterred us from performing our duty.”


Pointing to the government’s diminishing tolerance for freedom of expression, Ms. Touma-Sliman noted that in November, she was suspended from all parliamentary activities for two months after publicizing press reports about Israeli forces attacking Gaza’s main hospital. The military had denied the accounts.

Meanwhile, reporter Steve Lohr found “media experts” to condemn the only democracy in the region as a censor: “Media experts condemn Israel’s move against Al Jazeera.”

The Israeli government’s decision to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in that country and block its reports there was condemned by American media and free speech experts as a troubling precedent and further evidence that Israel was engaging in a harsh wartime crackdown on democratic freedoms.

There was no criticism of Al-Jazeera from the Times itself, which merely relayed accurate Israeli criticism in a dismissive tone, even though Al-Jazeera has shown terrorist sympathies like throwing a “birthday party” with cake and fireworks in 2008, to celebrate the release of Lebanese terrorist, who killed four in Israel, including a four-year-old girl (see MEMRI’s clip).

The Times also failed to mention that Al Jazeera reporters Ismail Abu Omar and Mohamed Washah were caught moonlighting as Hamas commanders. In February, The Times of Israel reported that "the IDF revealed a trove of images" that showed Washah in a Hamas uniform training fighters how to shoot rocket-propelled grenades, build warheads, and operate drones armed with an RPG. "Abu Omar infiltrated into Israel and filmed from inside Kibbutz Nir Oz during Hamas’s onslaught," they noted.



By contrast, the Times has eagerly highlighted moves to squash outlets run by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s supposedly dangerously right-wing news outlets. Censorship fever (from another media outlet!) ran particularly high in late 2020 and 2021, with the Times attacking Murdoch on bogus issues like climate change or spreading extremism.

In February 2021, London bureau chief Mark Landler’s obsessive hostility toward Murdoch’s media empire was on display in his coverage of two fledgling right-of-center news outlets, in “Murdoch to Challenge U.K.’s Fairness Statute With Fox News Playbook.” He began with a tiresome attack against the “poisonous political culture” of Fox News, then suggested Murdoch could be banned in Britain, “where television news is regulated to avoid political bias.”

In October 2020, Times reporter Isabella Kwai filed on an online petition in Australia targeting Murdoch, posted by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, asking “the government to establish a Royal Commission, the country’s highest form of inquiry, into the dominance of Australian media by Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp.” Rudd called “Murdoch “an arrogant cancer on our democracy.” An impartial voice for sure!

In January 2021, columnist Nicholas Kristof launched a quest to ban Fox News from basic cable packages (just for a start) in order to “stop supporting networks that spread lies and hatred, and cable companies should drop channels that persist in doing so….

But now that a left-wing anti-Israel outlet is being temporarily suspended during wartime, the Times conveniently morphs back into free-speech absolutists.