Fox News' Bret Baier last night said the sale of Al Gore's failed Current TV network to Al Jazeera showed that “opposites do attract—at least in TV.” The “opposites” in this case were Gore’s anti-oil environmental activism and Al Jazeera’s propaganda funded by the oil-rich country of Qatar.
The “opposite” tag may be true environmentally, but Gore (now $100 million richer) and Al Jazeera are not opposites ideologically. Current TV’s first announcement of its sale said Al Jazeera—long sympathetic to al-Qaeda—“has the same goals” as Current TV. Since press releases rarely shake hands with truth, a later statement removed that reference. The New York Times, though, quoted Gore himself praising Al Jazeera: “Their coverage of major events like the Arab Spring is thorough, fair, and informative.”
Other examples of the liberal-Islamist mutual admiration society have also shown me that what was present among the hard left a decade ago has now spread. Ten years ago I attended Socialism 2003, a three-day gathering of 900 leftists sponsored by the International Socialist Organization. It was the first Marxist gathering I had gone to in 30 years, and books about Vietnam or Cambodia, the main squeeze three decades ago, had given way to anti-Israel tomes on the Middle East.
Many conference speakers had names like Ahmad, Ahmed, Salim, and Mostafa. At one session socialists scorned all of the major Democratic Party presidential nominees for 2004 but loudly hissed only Sen. Joseph Lieberman, “the Zionist.” The lead speaker at the best-attended session I observed, Toufic Haddad, raged against “the Zionist imperialists”: When his microphone did not work for a moment, he grumped about “a Zionist mic,” and received not only laughter and applause but imitation—later, when an elevator lurched, one comrade said, “Zionist elevator.”
When comrades later discussed which sessions had been most informative, John from New York praised those that “proved Zionism is the essence of capitalism and imperialism.” Another attendee agreed: “The Palestinian movement, which I’m certainly no expert on, is clearly part of a great arc of anti-capitalist struggle.”
Understanding the great arc does wonders for self-esteem. At one session, socialist babe Jennifer Rush sashayed up to a microphone to make a point, but moderator Mustafa O. first asked her to answer a question one comrade had posed: In essence, does Israel have to be wiped off the map or could an independent Palestinian state exist beside it? Rush said, “I wasn’t planning to talk about that and I’m not really prepared, but I’ll try.” Off she raced, orating breathlessly: “You need to look in structural terms, to understand that the U.S. and Israel have as their major strategic goal imposition of a Palestinian dictatorship that will be under their control. …” Five minutes later she caught a breath, sat down to thunderous applause with her face glowing, and said to a nearby admirer, “That was so great.”
What’s not great is the way some liberals have joined their socialist counterparts by implicitly approving the Islamist demand that Israel be wiped off the map. The New York Times report yesterday said that Gore had to do some arm-twisting to preserve the deal: Gore went to carriers “who were looking for an excuse to drop the low-rated channel, and reminded them that their contracts with Current TV called it a news channel. Were the distributors going to say that an American version of Al Jazeera didn’t qualify, possibly invoking ugly stereotypes of the Middle Eastern news giant? ‘The lawyers for the carriers couldn’t find their way around it,’ said a person briefed on the negotiations.”
Well, I’ve watched Al Jazeera, and I wish those lawyers and carriers had invoked the ugly stereotypes, which in this case are justified: What should we call a news channel that propagandizes for policies that will lead to genocide? In any event, Al Jazeera will now be able to pump propaganda directly into at least 40 million American homes. The good news is that God is still in charge, so while truth and falsehood argue now, truth—as John Milton wrote—eventually will win. Besides, few Americans will watch Al Jazeera, for as the alliance between the left and Islamists deepens, liberals can turn to other networks and get an anti-Israel perspective.