Backing Gulf, Liberman equates al-Jazeera with ‘Nazi propaganda’
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Backing Gulf, Liberman equates al-Jazeera with ‘Nazi propaganda’

Defense minister tells Knesset meeting on Gaza that the Doha-based news service offers tacit support for Iran

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 11, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 11, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman compared the Doha-based al-Jazeera news service to Nazi propaganda on Monday, inserting himself into a Qatar-Gulf spat and accusing the channel of tacitly supporting Iran.

Israeli officials have largely kept out of the rift between Doha and many of its former Arab allies, over its support for terror, Iran and the controversial news outlet, other than noting that this harsher stance by the Sunni countries could potentially allow for closer ties with Israel.

Liberman earlier called the row a potential “opportunity” for Israel.

However, during a Knesset meeting about Israel’s strategies toward Gaza, he opted to wade in further, offering stiff criticism of al-Jazeera, which the Sunni states accuse of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.

“Some [Arab countries’] interests overlap with Israeli interests, including the issue with al-Jazeera,” Liberman said.

“Al-Jazeera is not media, it’s not journalism. It’s an incitement machine. It’s pure propaganda, of the worst variety, in the style of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia,” he added.

In his remarks on Monday, Liberman also hinted that the television network appears to support Iran, the nemesis of Riyadh.

“I’ve been tracking al-Jazeera for many years,” Liberman said. “You’ll never see a single article against Iran.”

Early in the morning last Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt announced that they were severing ties with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and “destabilizing” the security of the region, Riyadh said in a statement.

Maldives and Yemen also cut ties with Qatar, and Jordan downgraded its diplomatic cooperation with the country.

Doha, for its part, denied that it funded extremists and rejected the idea of shutting down al-Jazeera.

This is not Liberman’s first flirtation with media criticism. In 2013, he said Israeli daily Israel Hayom, widely seen as a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was the same as Soviet state organ Pravda.

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