The Al-Jazeera satellite channel, the largest news agency in the Arab
world, yesterday launched the first English-language Arab news channel,
Al-Jazeera International, amidst allegations among some reporters that
the new channel is not as objective as it should be, and that it has
succumbed to Western pressure to 'water down' coverage of the
Palestine-Israel conflict.

Khalid Amayreh is an award-winning reporter who has contributed hundreds of articles to the Al-Jazeera english website from the Occupied West Bank.  Two months ago, however, he was fired, when he publicly challenged editorial policy changes on the site.  He said the changes accompanied preparations for the launch of the English-language news channel, and the new policies do not give a true picture of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Amayreh is not the only Arab reporter who is questioning the new channel's objectivity, accusing it of a pro-Western bias that has succumbed, in their view, to the same trap as Western media: allowing Israeli sources and spokespeople to go unquestioned and unchallenged, thus allowing the Israeli government to be the final word on the subject of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

This is problematic not merely because it is one-sided news coverage, but also because Israeli government spokespeople, in nearly every case in which independent investigations have been done, have been shown to have lied quite openly, particularly about Israeli military attacks against Palestinians.

Al Jazeera Arabic channel is widely recognized as the most objective and comprehensive source of news in the Arab world, but has in the past been criticized both by Western leaders like George Bush, and by Arab monarchs, who see the 'media democracy' model promoted by Al Jazeera as a threat to their entrenched power.  In 2003, the Al Jazeera broadcasting center in Doha, Qatar was targeted by an American air strike that killed one cameraman.  The U.S. government originally denied targeting the news outlet, but recently admitted that Al Jazeera was, in fact, the target of the air strike.