Against the backdrop of the trial of Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, the Lebanese media held a conference to mark a "Day of Solidarity" with Al-Manar TV. TV critic Ibrahim Al-'Aris spoke on the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV about Al-Manar and its antisemitic series Al-Shatat. The following are excerpts:
Interviewer: Do you believe that the media, cultural, and political discourse promoted by our stations is essentially antisemitic, whether we like it or not?
Al-'Aris: Yes, it is antisemitic. The Arab public discourse is antisemitic, and does not manage to gain the world's support ? in contrast to the great political discourse of Hizbullah, which is faultless. It is rationalistic and logical. Hassan Nasrallah's political speeches are the epitome of political behavior.
There is no need, in my opinion, for the solidarity with Al-Manar. The Lebanese Information Minister and others who wish to show solidarity with Al-Manar are following the saying, "Support your brother whether he is right or wrong."
True solidarity with Al-Manar means telling them that the world is changing and does not accept a media discourse that lowers the level of political discourse of important political leaders, who say important things about the world. But in my opinion, the Al-Shatat series, which is the subject of this discussion, lowers the Arab media discourse by dozens of levels. On this I agree with the French gentleman, but not on the political level. It damages Hizbullah and the Arabs. Sharon and the radical Zionist right take advantage of this and use it as a pretext to fight us. Because this kind of media discourse and this kind of artistic discourse ? and in my view it isn't even art ? lowers the level of Arab political discourse with which we can speak to our allies.
I'd like to tell a short story. In France we published a magazine called The 7th Day, which belonged to the PLO and was financed by Fatah. For seven years, France aided us and supported everything we wrote. But they kept an eye on us. Even though they treated us like allies, they kept an eye on us. One day, after seven years, we published a poem by a Palestinian poet from Syria, referring to the Jews as filthy and blood-letters. The "Jews," not the Zionists or the Israeli army. We published this at the personal request of Yasser Arafat. They called us and threatened to shut down the magazine.