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Wednesday's launch of Qatar-based Al Jazeera International, a 24/7 English-language satellite network, will make the "information war" harder for Israel, according to Haifa University communications expert Prof. Gabriel Weimann.
"There will be a global channel in English that tends to be more pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli than the others, and it will not be preaching to the converted," he said. "It will not be trying to win over the Jewish community in the US or Europe. It will be speaking to a neutral audience, to the uncommitted, the uninvolved, the uninformed. Israel doesn't have an answer to it."
Feature: Al Jazeera enters the 'information war' - in English
Danny Seaman, the head of the Government Press Office, was immensely more sanguine about the debut of the English Al Jazeera, which follows 10 years after Al Jazeera in Arabic revolutionized Arabic media, becoming the most influential and most watched Arab communications medium in history with some 50 million viewers.
Seaman said he found Al Jazeera in Arabic to be fairer to Israel than either CNN or the BBC, adding that the GPO had given the new English network every assistance in setting up here.
"We've cut red tape for them even more than we ordinarily do for other foreign news services because we certainly hope they will have a positive effect in the Arab world," he said.
Not for the first time when it comes to the foreign media, however, Israel is speaking with two voices on the issue. In direct contrast to Seaman, the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman to the Arab-language media, Atira Oron, said that, as a matter of course, CNN and BBC were much less biased against Israel than Al Jazeera in Arabic has been.
Although its "bias is diminishing," she said, Al Jazeera "naturally" blames Israel for everything in its conflict with the Arabs, lingering on graphic footage of Arab casualties, and exaggerating Israeli "threats" such as the marginal movement to conquer the Temple Mount.
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