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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why is the HOT satellite operator replacing CNN with al-Jazeera?

HOT, one of Israel's largest satellite television providers is to replace CNN with al-Jazeera's English language channel in its list of offerings early next week. CNN is no bargain when it comes to their coverage of Israel - back in the early days of the Oslo War, many of us had bumper stickers on our cars like the one at the top of this post. Still, even CNN ought to be better than al-Jazeera. So why isn't this story causing an uproar? Because it's just the latest step in a process to have more and more Israelis get their news from Arab propaganda sources that don't have to answer to a legislative body where those who oppose giving the country away still have a voice. HOT's main competitor, YES, already has al-Jazeera in English and BOTH networks already have it in Arabic. Between the two of them, HOT and YES cover two thirds of the country's cable and satellite subscribers.

Personally, I don't have cable television or a satellite dish, nor do I want one. Satellite dishes are a rare sight in a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem. But how many Israelis are now going to be getting their news from al-Jazeera and taking it at face value? Too many for my taste.
The removal of CNN and the addition of Al-Jazeera's English version both stemmed from financial considerations, Lubaton said, describing the changes as part of a cost-cutting campaign launched last year by HOT CEO David Kamenitz.

"It's an economic issue," Lubaton said. "Most of the internationally famous news channels - Sky News, the BBC and Fox - for all of them the cost is significantly lower than CNN. [The move] to introduce Al-Jazeera in English comes at a much lower cost than CNN."

Though HOT is prepared to cut ties with CNN at the end of the month, Lubaton distanced the company from statements released last week that appeared to question CNN's competitiveness as a news organization, and which drew attention to the channel's drop in the American ratings race behind Fox. "We are not arguing that CNN is not one of the leading news channels in the world, that CNN is not a good news channel," Lubaton said.

But, he added, "We believe that the other news channels are sufficient to satisfy subscribers' news demand."
But is it really just an economic decision? Or are there 'other' considerations?
That position is debatable, however, at least as it relates to the arrival of Al-Jazeera's English version, said Prof. Tamar Liebes, head of the Hebrew University's Communications Department.

"Even to think of it as a replacement is a joke," Liebes said, adding that few Israeli viewers would be inclined to "trust" the channel's coverage of international affairs. Al-Jazeera's Arabic network, which broadcast videotapes featuring Osama bin Laden soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks, has been criticized for what some call its anti-American and anti-Israel news coverage.

"It's incomprehensible," Liebes said. "Whatever functions CNN performed, none of them will be performed by Al-Jazeera. It's a whole different kind of person who will watch."
I see the problem differently than Professor Liebes. My problem is that many of the same people who used to watch CNN and take its broadcasts at face value will now watch al-Jazeera and will take its vilification of Israel at face value without questioning its veracity or whether its viewpoint is fair and unbiased. In other words, my problem is that many Israelis will trust al-Jazeera's coverage of international affairs. Check them out over at YouTube. Al-Jazeera's broadcasts are just as slick as any other network's.

Why would any Israeli want to give a Qatari propaganda channel entry into Israel like that? To answer that, we need to know who HOT is. HOT was formerly known as Matav Cable Systems (and its corporation is still called that). Its web page is here (link in Hebrew). According to the web page, Matav - a publicly traded company in Israel - is 40% owned by Delek Investments and Properties Ltd. and 44% by the public.

Who is Delek Investments, which is obviously the controlling shareholder? It's a huge conglomerate that controls interests in nearly every area of the Israeli economy. Its controlling shareholder is a man named Yitzchak Tshuva. According to Forbes, Tshuva is worth some $2 billion and is the scion of one of the twelve families who control some 60% of the Israeli economy (For the record, unlike most of them, Tshuva is at least self-made. He did not inherit his wealth).

There have been accusations that those twelve families, along with six or seven others, control the entire Israeli economy, and that the Kadima Achora party was created as their political vehicle.
We can state, with great satisfaction, that there is no political power in Israel today that can stop us; there is no public debate that could restrain us; and there no investigative journalism that can imperil us. Thanks to methodical, professional work over a decade, we have achieved absolute hegemony for you. A hegemony that wealth never had in any western country worthy of the name. A hegemony that even the steamroller of Mapai back in the 1950s could not boast. A hegemony that has essentially changed Israel from a democracy into an oligarchy. Your oligarchy, dear Families. An oligarchy that allows 18 oligarchs to rule our country without constraints.


Remember, Arik Sharon was very convenient for us. He liked power and esteemed power and understood that we are the power. But his obedience was not absolute. Here and there he was moved by old-fashioned notions of patriotism that were hopelessly unbusinesslike. On the other hand, E.O. is really a great chap. We all know it: his door is open and there's no red tape that can't be cut. There's no deal that can't be dealt with. It's the promised land, milk and money.

But the issue isn't just personal. As a vehicle, Kadima has the political structure we always dreamed of, being a party with no members and no institutions and no ideology. The new ruling party will be a vastly valuable tool to achieve our goals. Since it has no obligations downward, only upward, it will enable us to seize full control over the Israeli government. Police, prosecution, treasury - it will all be in our hands. Even the antitrust commissioner. The Supervisor of Banks. Even the Supreme Court will be manned with new, friendly faces. Like Berlusconi's Italy or Putin's Russia, Israel of Kadima will be a paradise for corporate control. The decrepit democratic regime of the 20th century will be replaced by a reign of the oligarchs with absolute economic power.

Ladies and gentlemen, do not underestimate the importance of this moment. In the last few months we proved we can hold elections with no debate of the issues, no confrontations, no true picture of the situation. We proved that by anesthetizing public opinion, we can mold it. We have perfected the art of managing the democratic process so as to yield the desired results.

And at the end, when the masses return home from the voting booth, we will be able to say with absolute certainty: We rule Israel absolutely. Not indirectly but directly, not partially but wholly. Israel is ours, dear 18 Families.
Here are the statistics:
Haaretz reported yesterday that nineteen families control approximately one third of the revenues of Israel's 500 largest corporations. That's a level that would be intolerable in just about any other country in the world. But it gets worse:
The annual income of the 19 families is equal to 88 percent of the state budget or 54 percent of the business sector's share of GDP.
Let those numbers sink in for a while.

But here's what Haaretz is not telling you: Guess which side of the political spectrum most of these nineteen families support?
The families all have given campaign contributions to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and foundations associated with newly installed Israeli President Shimon Peres, WND has learned. Most of the families support major leftist Israeli organizations.
Could it be that the nineteen families who control the Israeli economy want a substantial part of the population to get their news from a very biased source like al-Jazeera rather than from a less biased source like CNN or from a better source like Fox News? Well, let's look at the other major satellite television company and see.

YES Israel is controlled by the former government monopoly Bezeq (which still dominates the telecommunications markets here). 30% of Bezeq's shares are owned by the Saban-Apax Investment Group, which is now Bezeq's controlling shareholder. The Saban-Apax Investment Group includes (I couldn't find his percentage - it's not a public company) Haim Saban, an Egyptian-born Israeli-American businessman whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $2.8 billion. Haim Saban (yes, as in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute) lived here when he fled Egypt in 1956 and still maintains a home here. He made his fortune in the entertainment industry. Saban's family is the wealthiest of those few families that control the Israeli economy:
The top five families on the list, including U.S. media mogul Haim Saban, control 61 percent of the income of these 19 families – up from 54 percent in 2005.

Saban is a top supporter of Peres and of major Israeli and international organizations petitioning for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and sections of Jerusalem. Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005; since then rockets have been regularly launched into nearby Jewish population centers. The West Bank is within rocket-firing range of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport.
According to the Jerusalem Post, his satellite network, YES, already offers al-Jazeera in Arabic and started offering it in English a year ago. His group contributed to Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert's campaign, as well as to that of President Bush. Israel's Labor party and the US Democratic National Committee. In the 2001-2002 election cycle, his Saban Capital group donated over $10 million to the Democratic National Committee, the largest donation from a single source up to that time.

Someone - lots of someone's - want Israelis to get their news from the Arab propaganda station called al-Jazeera. They are - apparently - trying to condition the ground for Israel to make 'major concessions' in Judea and Samaria. What will be next? Al-Jazeera in Hebrew?


At 4:21 PM, Blogger SC&A said...

This is unbelievable- and outrageous.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Babylonandon said...

Where did we see a country where a few powerful families ruled over everything?

Where did we see where they had this quasi-socialist view of the world where the corporations rule, dissent was not tolerated, propaganda was the rule of the day, and an "enlightened elite" ruled everything?

Hmmm. Throw out the racist / genocidal part and Israel could end up becoming like Nazi Germany. I suppose they might even decide that the religious Jews who are trying to hold onto the promised land are a threat to society.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I suppose they might even decide that the religious Jews who are trying to hold onto the promised land are a threat to society.

'They' have decided that already. 'They' have decided that it would be better to give the country away to the 'Palestinians' than to have it flooded with religious Jews. Especially since much of what they want to give away - Judea and Samaria - is the part of the country that has the greatest religious significance.

At 2:34 AM, Blogger MicroBalrog said...

THey have basically decided that already.


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