Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sauce for the goose but not for the Gander

Sauce for the goose but not for the Gander
By Saeed Naqvi
Dated: 25.02.2010

The burgeoning global media, the very beacon of the free world, has not been very forthcoming on a bill before the US congress threatening action against media in the Middle East critical of US policies.

As in all such measures, the language is couched in caution.

For instance, section 1 of the Anti-American Incitement to Violence in the Middle East, Bill reads:
“Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression are the foundations of free and prosperous societies worldwide, and with the freedom of expression comes the responsibility to repudiate purveyors of incitement to violence.” (Freedoms are only for prosperous societies?)
“Television channels that broadcast incitement to violence against Americans, the United States, and others, have demonstrated the ability to shift their operations to different countries and their transmissions to different satellite providers in order to continue broadcasting and to evade accountability.” Goodbye to off-shore telecasting?

The bill names some channels which give the game away.

“Television channels such as Al-Manar, Al-Aqsa, Al-Zawra and others that broadcast incitement to violence against the United Sates and Americans, aid Foreign Terrorist Organizations in the key functions of recruitment, fundraising and propaganda”, are all liable to be punished.

Therefore, “it shall be a policy of the United States” to:
“Designate as Specially Designated Global Terrorists those satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as specially Designated Global Terrorists”.

The Bill threatens other, unspecified “punitive measures” against satellite providers that transmit Al-Aqsa, Al-Manar and Al-Zawra channels………….”

This bill “requires the President to transmit a report to Congress that must include a country-by-country list and description of media outlets that engage in anti-American incitement”.

Also, American level of assistance to a country will be determined by the extent to which the country in question shuns anti American propaganda.

By this criteria, Pakistan should be stone broke because there is hardly a country in the world which has a more hysterical, anti American media!

Ah! There’s the catch. The bill names countries only of the Middle East. These are: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza strip, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The Bill specifies these as the most worrisome area as far as anti Americanism (and hatred for its allies) is concerned. This lengthy Arab list is actually a camouflage for the real culprits, the ones who are a thorn on Israel’s side.

Let us consider the list of TV stations the Bill names. Al-Manar, for instance. The entire Middle East knows that it is the official channel of Hezbollah.

According to Wikipedia “The Israeli Air Force bombed Al-Manar building on July 13”, during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. “Despite the attack, the station remained on air, broadcasting from other undisclosed stations”.

The other TV station named in the Bill is Al-Aqsa TV. Wikipedia says it is a Hamas run television. Among other programmes, the station airs TV shows for children, some of which have been accused of promoting “anti Semitic views”.

The station began broadcasting in the Gaza strip in January 2006 after Hamas won a sweeping victory in Palestinian Parliamentary elections.

Celebrations in Gaza were galling for the Palestinian authority in Ramallah as well as for Jerusalem. In this instance Ramallah acted as the cat’s paw.

On January 22, 2006, The Palestinian Public Prosecutor, Ahmad Maghni, decided to close down the TV station because “it did not have the necessary broadcast license.” Hamas refused to enforce the decision.

On December 29, 2008, during the 2008-09 Israel-Gaza conflict, Israeli aircraft bombed the offices of Al-Aqsa TV. The building has been completely destroyed. But, says Wikipedia, the station continued to broadcast from a mobile TV unit.

Wikipedia, better watch out for recording subversive truths!

Likewise, Al-Zawra TV is Iraqi satellite channel which was known for airing insurgent attacks on US-led coalition Forces.

There is no point arguing against the wise US congressmen who have drafted this piece of legislation. One is speechless. Showing images of attacks on US soldiers in Iraq is a crime? In what category do we then place, the complete destruction of what was once Mesopotamia, one of the world’s earliest civilizations; organized looting of its museum; killing of a million innocent Iraqis; the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Are the wise Congressmen sunk, in the deepest levels of thought on legislation that will banish such inhumanity in some distant future?

“Mister Obama, on the morning of November 4, 2008, some of our friends assembled at the crack of dawn (for that is when US presidential election results were to be announced in India) to celebrate not so much your victory as the capacity of the American people to renew themselves and their nation, the nation we all salute. How do you think does this kind of illiberal legislation register with those who celebrated that morning?

Ofcourse, there are organizations you and your allies would consider recalcitrant. Well, handle them politically, or in any other way that does not embarrass the vision of freedom your founding fathers outlined for all humanity. Mark my word, implicit in the Bill is the spirit which leads to banning of books!

Even in this instance, it is the American people who will thwart this deletion of other people’s freedoms. After all it was one of your own journalistic stars who alerted us to the mischief afoot. Like him, a hundred voices will rise in your land and elsewhere. Let us hope, the standard bearers of press freedom in India will not shame us with their silence.”

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