SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Australian Jewish groups welcomed a government regulatory agency’s decision to investigate claims that a Hezbollah-backed TV station is in breach of anti-terror and racial hatred legislation.
The Lebanese-based Al-Manar station, which is beamed by satellite via Indonesia into Arabic-speaking homes in Australia, has been banned in Australia on two previous occasions, but was given a green light last July by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
But the authority’s chairman, Chris Chapman, announced Feb. 4 that the regulatory agency was opening a broader investigation into the station.
“We have broadened the investigation from anti-terrorism standards to include racial vilification and hate speech, and we have considerable material to work through,” Chapman said.
Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council director Dr. Colin Rubenstein welcomed the new probe, saying the previous investigation overlooked an advertisement “directly recruiting funds for a Hezbollah-run organization.”
“Al-Manar is well known for its anti-Semitic content, including, most notoriously, material based on the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and the medieval blood libel accusing Jew of murdering non-Jews to use their blood for religious purposes,” Rubenstein said. “Al-Manar is a station owned and operated by a terrorist organization, which airs programs espousing hatred of Jews and glorification of terrorism.”
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry echoed Rubinstein’s sentiments, adding that it would be working with Jewish community groups to make submissions to the Australian Communications and Media Authority by the March 5 deadline.