OSC Analysis: Al-Manar Promotes 'Resistance,' Tones Down Anti-US Material
Lebanon -- OSC Analysis
Thursday, December 8, 2005 T23:50:11Z

Al-Manar uses its newscasts, talk shows on political, social, and cultural issues, and educational and religious programming to push Hizballah's pro-Palestinian agenda and to educate its viewers in line with its Shiite principles. It prominently features Hizballah's Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, routinely airing his speeches and statements live, followed by rebroadcasts of excerpts in subsequent newscasts. Entertainment is limited to a few Egyptian, Syrian and Iranian dramas, sports programs, and a game show.

According to its website located at www.almanar.com.lb, Al-Manar seeks to "develop the spiritual and moral dimensions" of Arabs and Muslims worldwide and "avoids cheap incitement in dealing with developments and activities." This marks a shift from Al-Manar's description of itself in 2003 as "the first Arab establishment to stage an effective psychological warfare against the Zionist enemy."

Al-Manar's programming gives heavy emphasis to coverage of Arab-Israeli and Hizballah-related events while adopting a strong anti-Israel tone, and frequently broadcasts promotional clips and music videos that glorify Hizballah's "Islamic Resistance" and portray the group as protector of Lebanon.

An Islamic Resistance Support Association clip that airs frequently shows children sleeping, while outside a Hizballah fighter is using night vision goggles to watch Israeli soldiers across the border. A voice is heard saying: "All eyes are asleep, but there are eyes that stay up to watch the homeland."

Al-Manar regularly airs music videos that glorify Hizballah's fighters by showing them in action while Israeli soldiers retreat, marching in parades, or being welcomed by Lebanese citizens. The songs carry titles such as: "Oh Zion's elders beware of the revolt of the glorious rebel," "I Wrapped My Forehead in Yellow" (Hizballah color), "Lebanese with Arab Zeal," "I will not Run," and "If it Were Not for Force" (the land would not have been returned).

The station regularly broadcasts video clips featuring photos of "martyrs" and readings from their wills. From the will of Abbas Muhammd Bahjat: "... And I entrust you to follow the Islamic Resistance and to stay on this blessed course for the next generation."

The 21 November clashes between Hizballah and the Israeli military generated an all-day tribute to Islamic Resistance. After breaking the news, the station broadcast a special segment of its "With the Viewers" program, which included interviews with military and government officials confirming the importance of Hizballah, and calls from viewers who expressed their pride and support. Programming regularly broke to air Hizballah music videos, which were preceded and/or followed by short clips featuring statements from Nasrallah's 25 May Liberation Day speech, in which he justified Hizballah's maintaining its weapons and called on the Lebanese to unite on the issue. Messages on the screen read: "Resistance for the Protection of Lebanon," or "Our Unity for the Protection of Lebanon."

Al-Manar devotes significant airtime toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, treating the issue with as much zeal as its own grievance with Israel. In its news broadcasts the channel portrays the Israelis as the primary belligerents calling them the "Zionists" and "the enemy" and terming their actions as Israeli "escalation" and "aggression," while haling Palestinian "martyrs." Hizballah fighters' music videos often include images of the Palestinian struggle and Jerusalem indicating Hizballah's commitment to the Palestinians. Al-Manar provides program times in "Occupied Jerusalem Time" as well as GMT.

The station also carries programs and a variety of filler material that glorifies Palestinian armed resistance and focuses on Palestinian grievances against Israel such as the separation fence, the right of return, and the Gaza withdrawal as a victory that will be repeated.

One frequently shown video clip shows a Palestinian youth spray-painting the following message on the separation fence: "It is not stronger than the Berlin Wall and will not resist Palestine's heroes." The youth then proceeds to pick up and throw rocks.

[Scenes from a music video comparing the separation fence to the Berlin Wall.]

On 17 November, Al-Manar aired an episode of its program "This is Palestine" that featured Palestinian refugees and "reunited" a Palestinian family via broadcasts from Gaza and Jordan.

Although most of Al-Manar's children's programs offer universal children's themes, Al-Manar airs a children's music video called "My Country," which tells the story of life in Palestine prior to 1948 and how this life was destroyed.

Al-Manar also features a series of clips under the slogan "The return is a right from which there is no turning (away)." The clips show images or segments of interviews with various generations of Palestinians longing for their homeland.

Al-Manar continues its negative treatment of the United States but has dropped the more incendiary anti-US material seen in the past. Anti-US material has largely been confined to newscasts and political talk shows. Al-Manar's reporting on Iraq adopts a critical tone toward US policies and actions but condemns insurgent bombings targeting Iraqi civilians. The channel refers to US forces in Iraq as "occupation" forces and sometimes editorializes in its news reporting on US actions. Al-Manar refers to Iraqis killed by both American forces and insurgents as "martyrs" and highlights popular Iraqi opposition to such acts. In addition to its critical tone toward the continued violence, Al-Manar highlights reconstruction efforts and portrays them as the benefit of establishing security.

A 27 November announcer-read report on the debate in the US about the military presence in Iraq said that the "pressure of the American street against the 'mistaken' Bush policy in Iraq is worrying the Administration."

On 25 Nov, Al-Manar reported that there were "more than 34 new martyrs in Iraq resulting from two suicide bombings targeting civilians in a market in the city of Al-Hillah."

A 20 November report on reconstruction projects in Karbala noted: The theory that says that construction is correlated to security has become more popular among Iraqis. The evidence is that the cities that maintained their calm and security have headed toward construction and development, as opposed to those that are still suffering war and destruction."

Al-Manar also continues to carry speeches and remarks by Hizballah leaders such as Secretary General Nasrallah that have an anti-US edge. However, OSC has not observed the kind of egregious anti-US videos once seen, such as those aired during 2003-2004 that compared President Bush to Hitler and suggested that the US was a "terrorist," using missiles to kill babies.

Al-Manar regularly airs spots for the Martyr Association, which provides support for children of "martyrs." The station was also observed to solicit contributions for the Association for Islamic Resistance Support.

In this advertisement for the Martyr Association, the boy is seen daydreaming about his father while drawing his picture carrying a gun and writing: "My Father in Heaven." Telephone numbers for the Martyr Association are shown on the screen.

On 21 November this advertisement for the Islamic Resistance Support Association appeared twice, following a Hizballah music video. It lists telephone numbers as well account #46-01-465000 at the Bank of Beirut and Riyadh - Ghbairi branch.

Al-Manar regularly broadcasts advertisements for DVD collections of programs and music videos that appeared in its broadcasts or that are representative of its programming. Such DVD's include a compilation of patriotic and religious songs, the Iranian drama "The Virgin Mary", and "Days of Humiliation," which tells the story of "Israel's defeat in its leaders' own words in Hebrew." The station also carries advertisements for Hizballah's publications, such as its weekly newspaper. The station was not observed to carry any other commercial advertising. However, on 17 and 18 November, it frequently aired an advertisement for the World Summit on the Information Society that was taking place in Tunisia (which appeared to have been produced by the Tunisian Government).

As of 25 November, Al-Manar transmits on the following satellites: Arabsat 2B at 30.5 degrees East; Arabsat 2C at 26.2 degress East, Arabsat 3A at 26.0 East, and Nilesat 102 at 7.0 degrees East, allowing its programming to mainly reach audiences in North Africa and the Middle East.