By Syed Zafar Mehdi
The pro-Israel lobby groups in the West have over the years made desperate attempts to silence and tame independent global news networks over their coverage of Israeli crimes against Palestinians, says an analyst.
Abeer AlNajjar, who teaches media criticism, accountability and critical media literacies at the American University of Sharjah, told the Press TV website in an interview on Saturday that these groups have sought to airbrush the colonial and apartheid policies practiced by the Israeli regime in the occupied territories.
Earlier this week, US-based leading pro-Israel lobby groups - The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) - released a new report accusing Irans Press TV of spreading dangerous anti-semitism through social media platforms.
The exhaustive report focused mainly on the leading Iranian international news network's weekly show, Palestine Declassified, which is co-hosted by former UK Labour Party MP Chris Williamson and former Bristol University professor David Miller.
It said the critically-acclaimed show spreads hateful narratives and lies about Jewish people as a whole, and that it constitutes a foreign state hate operation.
Palestine Declassified, known for meticulous research and analysis, has gained tremendous popularity for highlighting the Israeli regimes unchecked aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories and seeking to build global solidarity for the Palestinian cause.
Al-Najjar said the accusation of anti-semitism is often used to silence critics and create self-censorship, which is illustrated by the latest CCDH-ADL report against the Press TV.
She noted the work of these lobby groups follow a "pattern" that "lacks clear methodological approach to practice news criticism" as they only seek to do "advocacy" for the Israeli regime.
Hence, many of their accusations and reporting are ideologically motivated and they entail a frequent conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-semitism," Al-Najjar remarked.
Since its inception more than 15 years ago, Press TV has been known for its free and fearless coverage of Palestine, which has often made it a target of Zionist lobby groups in the West.
Press TV journalists and hosts have also been at the receiving end of the smear campaign.
Williamson, the 66-year-old host of Palestine Declassified show and former British lawmaker, was in February stripped of his parliamentary pass for his role with Press TV.
Speaking to the Press TV website at the time, Williamson said he wasnt surprised by the arbitrary decision, noting that the political class in the UK has been gripped by a kind of hypocritical hysteria.
The action against Williamson was primarily due to the success of his show and the way it was influencing public opinion toward Palestine and the Israeli regime in the West, as Westerners are rarely exposed to harsh realities on the ground.
Al-Najjar said reportage on Palestine in the mainstream Western media shows limited commitments to fundamental journalistic principles including fairness and balance.
The context of the Israeli military occupation seems to be absent in the coverage of events in Palestine which indicates newsroom and editorial policies, she told the Press TV website.
The systematic absence of Palestine in Western media reports undermines the global understanding of the occupation and apartheid and promotes its framing as a "religious conflict", said the media studies professor.
It completely blinds the international public opinion of the facts that Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike have been struggling for over seventy years to achieve self-determination and independence from the Israeli regime, she hastened to add.