Defending the rights of “terrorists”

Al-Manar is the satellite television channel of Hezbollah (which much of the West regards as a terrorist organisation, a view I do not share.)

The channel is currently available in many Australian homes. The Lebanese community is massive here and many people regard the group as a liberation movement. Others see it as an aggressive force that needs to be eliminated.

The Australian Zionist lobby is currently trying to ban the channel in the belief that its anti-Semitic content is inflammatory. While it is true that some of the programming is indeed offensive, I am strongly opposed to the banning of a channel that represents a legitimate Arab nationalist movement. It’s counter-productive, anti-democratic and pointless.

Sadly, the Zionist lobby refuses to understand that its attempts to ban the station only reinforce the belief that some Jews are opposed to hearing different points of view. As proven by the 2006 Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah, the first war that the Jewish state comprehensively lost, the partly Iranian-backed group is now a permanent feature of the Middle East, for better or worse.

The Australian Jewish News editorialised recently:

Tolerance and sensitivity go hand in hand with the notion of free speech and from what we have observed, there is not a lot of tolerance or sensitivity to be found in the vile propaganda spewing forth from Hezbollah’s broadcasting arm.

Iran’s satellite channel PressTV produced a story this week about the Australian angle to this saga and featured an interview with me and others about the pointlessness of trying to ban the station.

I may often disagree with the content of Al-Manar but I’ll publicly defend its right to present alternative points of view to the public. I can’t help but think that the official Jewish community simply doesn’t want the Australian public to consider perspectives that are routinely critical of Israel and its inhumanity in the occupied territories (and Hezbollah endeavours to keep Palestine in the headlines).

After all, we’ll be waiting for a long time to hear Jewish complaints about the incessant anti-Muslim bias on Fox News.

Let one thousand opinions bloom.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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