Wednesday, November 29, 2006

arab journalism

I've been spending a few days in London with a Palestinian-British friend of mine. It was the first time I was able to see Aljazeera English (see here why it is not called Aljazeera International as originally planned) and various other arabic tv stations.

Aljazeera English is rubbish. It is like a cross between Sky News and BBC World, but far far more repetitive. No subject gets more than a few minutes of airtime and the issues and presenters move on so quickly it is hard to concentrate on what they are talking about. Plus lots of stupid graphics, charts and other silly stuff.

Other interesting stations are the Arab News Network - 'like CNN only with arabs' as a friend told me - and Al Munar. Al Munar is the official station of the Lebanese resistance/terrorist movement Hezbollah. ANN is apparently very pro-Syrian and has links to the Syrian government (unfortunately I can't find a weblink that works).

I think getting alternative views of the world is of critical importance if we hope to understand other people. One thing I noticed in particular when watching ANN was the extended close-up shots of Israeli soldiers using guns and Palestinian children throwing stones, burning tires and so on. I couldn't help thinking that the stone throwing was counterproductive and pointless, but the actions of the soldiers was inexcusable. Children are arrested for throwing stones, adults picked up in the streets whilst waiting for work. Is there anyone who can tell me how this is proportionate?

If this is what the arab sees on news tv - and conversely what we do not see - is there any wonder that he is angry?

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