Why Al Jazeera’s Lawsuit against Israel at the ICC May Backfire

Dec. 13 2022

In May, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate the death of its reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was hit by a stray bullet during a shootout between the IDF and Palestinian guerrillas. Rafael Medoff suggests that this exercise in lawfare may end up hurting Al Jazeera—not just because its claim against Israel has no merit, but because the proceeding might reveal the news organization for what it is: an arm of the Qatari government tasked with disseminating anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and Islamism. Medoff cites a historical precedent:

Al Jazeera’s suit against Israel is somewhat reminiscent of the legal actions initiated by the anti-Semitic agitator, Benjamin Freedman, against American Jewish organizations in the 1940s. Freedman, a New York businessman who was born Jewish but embraced Catholicism, placed large advertisements in the American press in 1946 accusing Jews of trying to, “drag [the U.S.] into a war to create a nationalist sovereign Jew state in Palestine.” The ads were signed by the “League for Peace with Justice in Palestine.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) charged that the purported interfaith coalition was a sham. . . . Freedman promptly filed suit, demanding $5 million in damages. An AJC leader welcomed the suit as, “an opportunity to demonstrate in court the nature and character” of Freedman and his alleged organization. The suit was dismissed before it went far enough to delve into those details, but two years later, the litigious Freedman re-opened that pandora’s box.

The defense [in the subsequent case] produced a cable sent by Freedman to Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Palestinian Arab mufti and Nazi collaborator, praising Husseini’s “vision, courage, strength, and struggle [on] behalf [of] justice” and vowing “fullest cooperation” with the mufti’s war against the Jews. The defense also revealed a document in which Freedman reported to an associate that he had recently, “negotiated [the] immediate establishment” of a “sub-machine gun factory” in Pakistan.

Not surprisingly, the judge dismissed the suit, finding that Freedman was “a crackpot,” and that [the criticism he claimed to be libelous] was “proven to be true.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Al Jazeera, Anti-Semitism, Qatar, Shireen Abu Akleh

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount