Kazakhstani Jewish billionaire Alexander Mashkevitch on Thursday announced a plan to open a pro-Israel news channel to rival Al-Jazeera at an estimated initial cost of at least “$100 million.”

In an interview over the phone from New York, Mashkevitch told The Jerusalem Post he has ordered a feasibility study for the project that has been a decade in the making.

“It’s not a new project, we’ve discussed it for 10 years,” said the mining magnate, whose fortune is estimated at more than $3 billion. “Everybody understands in Israel and the Jewish world today that there is a war not by weapons and military troops, but of information.”

A source close to Mashkevitch said the project should cost at least “$100m.” in its initial stage and that he expected it to start broadcasting by “mid- 2012.”

“There will be a few languages in English, Spanish and Arabic,” Mashkevitch said. “For the time being we invited a group of professionals to give a business plan. I think in three, four months we’ll have a presentation and during this presentation we’ll understand who is with us,” he said, declining to go into further details.

Born in Kyrgyzstan to parents who fled Europe during World War II, Mashkevitch made his fortune in the mining industry in nearby Kazakhstan where he has close ties with the government.

Besides his business ventures, Mashkevitch is the head of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and supports Jewish activities and organizations in several countries.


Mashkevitch said the new channel would deliver fairer coverage of Israel than that which the international media provides. He added that he he would “not be involved in the daily operation.”

“The channel will be not only for Israel but the world, and there is room for such a channel,” he said.

“We would like to deliver news to billions of people. We will know more after due diligence but there is a group of people who are ready to invest.”

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