Q&A with Al Jazeera bureau chief amid Jerusalem station debate

Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau chief responds to Israel's recent threat to shut down the station, addresses questions about the outlet's future in the region.

Palestinian journalists are seen through a glass window at the offices of the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 15, 2009. The Palestinian Authority banned Al-Jazeera television from operating in its territory and threatened legal action over allegations it broadca (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian journalists are seen through a glass window at the offices of the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 15, 2009. The Palestinian Authority banned Al-Jazeera television from operating in its territory and threatened legal action over allegations it broadca
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Amid the threats that Israel wants to shut down Al Jazeera's office in the Jewish state, the Qatar-based cable network's Jerusalem bureau chief, Walid al-Omari, talks back in a Q&A with Arik Bender from The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv.

Q: People say that you support Hamas and Hezbollah.

A: "We do not support any one. We attempt to report objectively. The ugly situation and wars are not our problem. Once we were pinned Zionists for interviewing Israelis. Another time we were called pro-PLO, who are now chasing us everywhere in the world. People also once said that we are working with the CIA."
"But how could it be, that suddenly Israel decided that it wants to shut us down? Because Arab countries closed us? We have a huge offices in the US, England, France, Russia, Turkey, and Japan."
Q: Why are the Arab countries after you?

A: "The problem with Al Jazeera in the Arab countries is that the media outlets there are traditional and only broadcast what the reigning king or president does, how handsome he is, and what car he drives."

Q: Are you planning to lay low until this blows over?

A: "We are not going to lay low and we are not going to provoke. We are going to work as usual. Besides what we heard in the news and Liberman's attack on us at the Knesset, that we by the way broadcasted with [Arab] translation, no one else has requested our shutdown. However, we are acting with extra caution because of the protests by extreme settlers in front of our Jerusalem office."
Q: Do you feel threatened?

A: "We felt threatened when Baruch Marzel and his people came to our office. In the past, our reporters were struck several times. We are living in suspense all the time, everywhere. That's our type of work. We are always in suspense with the government. We are taking precautions but will continue with out work. No one has contacted us saying that there is any intention to limit or close us down."