TCS Daily


Al-Manar: Beacon of Hate

By Asaf Romirowsky - August 18, 2006 12:00 AM

Hezbollah has long used the satellite broadcaster Al-Manar as a medium for winning the hearts and minds of their supporters inside Lebanon and throughout the Muslim world. Al-Manar, literally "the beacon" in Arabic, is the official mouthpiece for Hezbollah -- the "party of God". This beacon is best known for airing propaganda against Israel, not least of which include reports of "heroic" and "successful" operations by Hezbollah fighters against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

More significantly, Al-Manar programming consists of children's shows that glorify homicide bombers. Anti-American and anti-Semitic material -- including the infamous "blood libel" which fallaciously accuses Jews of slaughtering Christian children to make Matza for the Passover holiday -- is the normal fare. Post 9/11, the station worked tirelessly to promote the perception that the Israeli Mossad was the one responsible for the attacks. Many Arabic speakers in London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Berlin absorb Hezbollah's messages of hate and incitement via al Manar.

Al-Manar has become an integral part of the Party of God's psychological warfare toolkit. It was the first channel to announce the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border. Currently, the station currently enjoys top ratings around the Arab world. These ratings result in no small part from Hassan Nasrallah's skills as an orator, whereby he manages to woo crowds using superb Arabic woven together with colloquial Lebanese expressions. Nasrallah also plays on the fears of the Israeli public to drive messages of fear, and rebroadcasts Israeli news reports about public uncertainty in Israel regarding the war. All of this is possible due to the relatively sophisticated technology al-Manar uses, which does not fall far behind the standards of other high-tech TV stations.

Over the past three years the governments of France, Spain, and Holland have determined that al-Manar violated European law due to its anti-Semitic/Western and racist programming. This has led to a domino effect among other countries such as Hong Kong, Australia, Barbados, and Brazil who have also decided to remove al-Manar from local airwaves.

This is a good start but it is not enough. The basic problem is that al-Manar is not a news network serving freedom of speech, but the propaganda and incitement arm of a terrorist organization. We should therefore applaud the IDF attacks on military targets and as well as Hezbollah's media organs. Islamism is not just an epidemic that spreads in the ranks of jihadists but also through the airwaves.

Asaf Romirowsky is a Campus Watch Associate Fellow for the Middle East Forum and the Manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

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16 Comments

beacon of the IRA
Do people remember when the brits had the 'troubles' in n. ireland? When IRA spokesmen tried to comment on things, the british wouldn't even let their voices be heard on any media, they would get actors to relay the messages. It would be good if all countries also disallow the media of the terrorists to operate in their countries. ITMT, Israeli should steadily and quietly eliminate all people can they find associated with it. If they could find the terrorists quilty of the Munich massacre I guess they can also find these propagandists, and all associated with the hizbollah.

airwaves
Is the FCC working on jamming the airwaves of hez and probably al-qaeda islamist towel headed wife-beating gooks here in the United States?I sure hope so. I hope both CIA and Mossad are getting the ICE to send them back home to work on their problems instead of bringing them here.

The defensiveness of censorship
Re: The IRA and Sinn Fein - the Brits were exposed as being opposed to free speech as a consequence of their muzzling. Their methods were laughed at. Factors other than just information sustained the republican movement. There is no reason to suggest that wouldn't happen with Hezbollah etc.
Are you so fearful of the opinions of your opponents that you seek to ban them from the airwaves, not only of your own country but that of others? It smacks of a lack of self-confidence in your own ideas.
There are plenty of genocidal maniacs (advocating the murder of all Muslims - men, women and children) on these posts. I wouldn't seek to muzzle them. Their fantasies expose their weaknesses.

Too late....
Israel handed Hezbollah a laurel wreath. Nasralla is the king of the mountain and only knocking him off the mount ---and his followers when they try to ascend---has any chance of reversing last week's debacle. Having said that I fear it is too late---Israel tried to 'win on the cheap' and it has now cost them (and us) dearly.

From the Mullah village
Life wouldn't be the same without our resident IRA terrorist telling us to embrace terrorism. Its good to see the moral dyslexia that enables one to justify the IRA and other terrorist's tactics. Just more empirical proof of the limited candle power of terrorists.

confidence tricks
Not right for the following. I believe in free speech, and have no problem if Nasralah, or OSL, say they want to kill jews and destroy Israel. But since they cannot beat them by force, as they would like to do, they use propaganda as a tool to influence the public. So since prop. is one of the tools of war, we don't have to actually HELP them in it. So they have freedom of speech, but we don't have the obligation to re-broadcast it, or diseminate it. A news show can simply state that nasrala made made a speech were he stated that he won the war, and that he still hates jews. BTW, who was it who laughed at the brits for that policy, just the IRA? In fact, they hated it that they couldn't get free, subsidized advertisement.

rsvp
...

Cultural subversion - counter speech with speech, propaganda with propaganda
Does Israel, or even the the United States, have ANY effective public relations, propaganda or psychological warfare tools to speak of, aside from a few pitiful Voice of America stations?



The Israeli hawks and the people worldwide most keen on fighting the so-called "war on Islamic terror" have the LEAST understanding of the conflict. They think of it as a conflict like WWII, when in reality, it is more like the Cold War -- much more intensely psychological and ideological, and often unconventional.



The anti-terrorism warriors and Israeli hawks, each of which tends to be conservative, tend not to understand the power of western culture. And when they do, they tend to disparage it as being decadence. Yet it is that seductive decadence that gives it its power. People choose rock 'n roll and the decadent joys of pre-marital sex over martyrdom and a promise of 72 virgins in paradise virtually every time.



All that has to be done is to commission arists to adapt subversive rock 'n roll, steamy Western movies, TV shows and telenovellas, and western propaganda into Arabic and Farsi. The ratings of the western subversive station will dwarf the ratings of al-Manar and al-Jazeera, and the cultural war will be won.



If in the heat of military conflict it is necessary to take out the enemy's media outlets, so be it. But in the long term, it best serves western and Israeli interests to set a good example by respecting freedom of speech, and using it to subvert the enemy culture.

We own the technology, lets use it
Did a group terrorists from a primative culture develop geosynchronus satillite? No, we did. We can easily stop the broadcast of this propaganda. And no, inciting riot isn't covered by free speech even in this country, and nothing like that is even close to existing in that part of the world so those rules don't even apply. Sounds like IDF went after the uplink, forget that, go after the transponder electronically, they could do that from Israel without firing a shot.

We should be broadcasting (DBS) the equivalent of the Direct TV premium package to that whole area, gratis. What else offers so much and asks so little, but TV. By undermining their religious culture, starting with the children, we can win this. When their daughters are walking around dressed like Brittany Spears, and their sons are acting like little inner city punks with their pants hanging down, we'll know we've won the culture war of east vs west.

Dietmar
You may believe in free speech, Dietmar, but it's of a qualified nature. In that sense I can't see how that can be free speech at all. Surely it allows any old crap to be heard, along with insight?
While I can understand why you wouldn't want to see or hear Nasrallah, OBL etc on your TV screens, the fact is that Islamic terrorism is somewhat of a big issue so any video or audio tape is going to make it to the top of the bulletin. Given that the fate of Osama is an issue of interest an image of him IS news. That is the real news. His speeches very rarely say anything of interest.
If I understand you correctly, you don't want to give Islamists, in Thatcher's words about the IRA, the 'oxygen of publicity'. My position would differ slightly in that by broadcasting (or even reporting) a tape of predictable hyperbole by OBL, or one of his cronies, the media gives unnecessary coverage to someone whose 'power' is really only drawn from the fear he generates in the West. It's probable that the hyping of the War on Terror has made a media thirsty for any piece of propaganda and the broadcasts are therefore inevitable.
If you believe that OBL, and whoever else he hangs with these days, is a great and constant danger then there's going to be considerably more TV sightings of him in the future. And he knows it! He sends these tapes to remind people he's still out there. He doesn't necessarily have to do anything. His image and 'hellfire and brimstone' speeches are enough.

As far as your final question goes, it's true that republicans weren't too keen on not having their voices heard. They used it as an excuse for their support stalling. (Incidentally, a complete broadcasting ban on subversives e.g. Sinn Fein and the IRA was in operation in Southern Ireland since the early 1970s where their support also stagnated). Far more important factors contributed to this state of affairs then a few interviews on TV and radio.
The British broadcasting ban didn't prevent interviews, merely SF/IRA representatives voices being heard. This made it more difficult for journalists to ask the difficult questions, particularly on a live broadcast. One farcical incident involved a documentary about the H-Blocks (POW camps). The IRA representative responsible for prison food could have his voice heard if he was talking to his comrades about trivial things but when he made a complaint to prison officers about the size of the sausages prisoners were being given his words had to be spoken by an actor because he was acting in an official capacity.
Ok, so it's a crazy example but there were plenty of those. Journalists held strikes on the grounds that the state was preventing them from carrying out their responsibilities. Even newspapers who initially supported the ban later came to see it as being counter-productive.

Where I think this has relevance to your original point is that a media hostile to the republican cause had virtually no effect on the level of support it sustained. Their bedrock of support could see, hear or read anything that the British and Southern Irish media could throw at them but they would reject it as flying in the face of their day-to-day experiences. Thus, assassinating journalists or destroying media outlets will not, by itself, undermine support for Hezbollah, Fatah, Hamas etc It is the populations' everyday experiences that give them a critical understanding of the news they receive. Surely, having only a Voice of America type outlet will only be productive if it can relate to people's experiences. And flattening Al-Arabia or Al-Jazeera stations isn't going to contribute to a sympathetic outlook from the locals.

Your comparison of The Irish public to the islamic Umma is wrong
They are not even closely related in culture or in their response to suggestions of violence.
The Irish are a western civilization, with western Christian morals and goals. They are very unlikely to do violence because they were prompted by the telly.

Muslims on the other hand tend to be illiterate, superstitious and violence prone. They tend to dance in the streets at the slightest sign of western weakness. They ARE prone to listen to hate speech and believe. After all, they for the most part DO believe the blood liable stories, and they for the most part, DO believe the stars are demons. There is NO philosophical correlation between westerners listening to provocative radio/TV and Islamic populations listening to provocative radio/TV.
You are comparing apples & grenades.

Your right on, but get this, we DID have effective air stations for iran
The Iranian resistance movement was going strong, using an American radio station in one of more freindly UAE countries to organise and control the movement through cell phone contact with the station.

It was going along WONDERFULLY until Colon Powels son was made the head of the FCC. He decided the station needed britney spears instead of subversion. So he pocketed the money and screwed the world. No more air America organising the democracy movement inside Iran.


He's another one that needs to be shot in the crotch with a 12 gauge, pissing in a bag for the rest of his life for that one move. effing traitor.

icky, I get your point but....icky.
"When their daughters are walking around dressed like Brittany Spears, and their sons are acting like little inner city punks with their pants hanging down, we'll know we've won the culture war of east vs west."


but at what price.

Why cant we get them voting republican and wearing button downs & such?

why do we HAVE to drag THEM through THAT cultural toilet?

Why cant we export something wholesome instead?

Rivenburg
It's been a while since I've read something quite so backward and bigoted so congratulations!
The irony of how the Irish have been described through the ages is evidently lost on you.

'They are not even closely related in culture or in their response to suggestions of violence.
The Irish are a western civilization, with western Christian morals and goals. They are very unlikely to do [sic] violence because they were prompted by the telly.'

That clearly wasn't the thinking behind the broadcasting restrictions was it? I repeat: Thatcher regarded the voices of IRA /Sinn Fein being heard as giving them the 'oxygen of publicity'. The British state's fear was that their appearances and words would only widen support and potential recruitment for the IRA.
As regards the Irish as a 'Western civilization', that wasn't how hundreds of years of anti-Irish prejudice, mainly in Britain but also in the US, portrayed the Irish. Regularly, they were desribed as sub-humans, animals and anarchists in C19. If you want something more contemporary, check out the 'political' cartoons of Cummins and Jak in the British press in the 1970s and 1980s. Plenty of rabidly chauvanistic depictions of the Irish as psychopaths, unevolved thugs and fanatics for you to feast your eyes on.

'Muslims on the other hand tend to be illiterate, superstitious and violence prone. They tend to dance in the streets at the slightest sign of western weakness. They ARE prone to listen to hate speech and believe. After all, they for the most part DO believe the blood liable stories, and they for the most part, DO believe the stars are demons.'

Provide evidence when you say 'most do ...' or 'for the most part ...' or 'tend to ...'. Without it, your opinions are based on illiterate and superstitious assumptions. And that would be terribly 'unwestern' wouldn't it?

'There is NO philosophical correlation between westerners listening to provocative radio/TV and Islamic populations listening to provocative radio/TV.'

Does Joseph Goebbels ring any bells? And where does one of the most appalling crimes in human history - the Holocaust - fit into you theory of Western civization? And what about the violence meeted out to most of the world during the Britsh, French Italian, Belgian and Dutch empires? Or are those things that can be airbrushed out of your theory? Clearly ALL peoples are capable of humanity as well as barbarism.
Your sentance is patently absurd and racist! You imply that only Muslims - all Muslims, in fact - respond to 'provocative radio/TV' as if they were automatons. That is crass, dishonest and pig ignorant.

What do the following have in common: a gay Glaswegian Big Brother contestant, Chuck D, Miss England, comedian Shazia Mirza, Edward Said and Zinadane Zidane?
They are (or were) all Muslims. Presumably they are part of the Umma - all alike, probably 'illiterate, superstitious and violence prone', tend to 'dance in the streets at the slightest sign of Western weakness', 'believe in blood libels' etc etc.
Your views are abhorrent and demonstarte that 'even' Westerners can descend into barbarism.


you MUZI? or just a symp?
A"bleeder"?
The 5th column?


Ive found people that take your slant are anti-western.

BTW, you can pull historical barbarities out of your anus all day long, it doesn’t mean you can use it to convince people its contemporarily relevant.

Thanks for answering my points!
Very profound comments!

As far as I'm concerned you and your mirror image, OBL, can hole up in a cave. I'm sure you've got a lot in common.

Oh dear have you I p*ssed on your assumption of Western civilization? If anything, your use of language demonstrates a paucity of civilization.

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