The head of Al-Jazeera’s investigative journalism unit has taken the TV network’s Qatari owners to task over their hesitance to broadcast an undercover examination of “Israeli influence” on United States foreign policy.
The prospect of the report has been the subject of furious speculation in US pro-Israel groups over whom it targeted and what may be revealed, after a senior public servant in the United Kingdom was fired after a similar expose last year.
However Qatar in recent months embarked on a campaign to improve its image in the US through public outreach to Jewish community leaders.
In February Haaretz newspaper reported that senior US Jewish leaders had received assurance by Qatar that the documentary had been killed off.
That report was given credence on Thursday in an opinion piece by Clayton Swisher, the head of Al-Jazeera’s investigations team, who revealed that “senior management” at the Doha-based broadcaster have been stalling the documentary for months.
“For since October, we’ve faced a series of unexplained delays in broadcasting our project, the likes of which I’ve never experienced,” Swisher wrote in The Forward.
“I was repeatedly told by everyone I asked to ‘wait,’ and was assured our documentary would eventually see the light of day. Then, as now, I took my senior management at its word. To my own specially trained ears, ‘wait’ did not constitute ‘stop.’”
Swisher further revealed that he requested a sabbatical from the network “In part because of this deep frustration and my inability to get any real transparency about the decision to delay our broadcast.”
Swisher said the investigation will reveal, if aired, “how Israel wields influence in America through the pro-Israel American community.”
In January, Tablet magazine identified Al-Jazeera’s undercover reporter as a British citizen named James Anthony Kleinfeld who was active in pro-Palestinian groups in the UK before adopting the pseudonym Antoine Kleinfeld and going undercover in the US.
The revelations from the heart of Al-Jazeera come days after a group of US lawmakers called on the Justice Department to consider declaring Al-Jazeera news a foreign agent of Qatar’s government.
The letter was signed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas along with more than ten Republican congressmen and three Democratic lawmakers — all of whom are seen as strong supporters of Israel.
The lawmakers accused Al-Jazeera of broadcasting anti-Semitic and anti-American content while giving “favorable coverage” to terror organizations.
Swisher said that if his bosses permanently stay the documentary’s release, it will give impetus to claims that the network is beholden to Qatar’s gas-rich royal family and their strategic interests.
Israel’s embassy in Washington has come out against Qatar’s outreach to the US Jewish community and said it does not support pro-Israel leaders visiting the kingdom.
By: i24 News