Home inContext Israeli Billionaire Eyes al-Jazeera Purchase

Israeli Billionaire Eyes al-Jazeera Purchase

Samara Greenberg

Israeli businessman Haim Saban, an Egyptian-born Jew, is reportedly negotiating to purchase 50 percent of the al-Jazeera television network, which is based in Qatar. Saban, who fled Egypt after the 1956 war, first offered to buy the station five years ago, but his bid fell through.
Qatar’s reopening of these negotiations highlights al-Jazeera’s major financial troubles, despite the channel’s immense popularity. Since its founding in 1996, al-Jazeera (the peninsula, in Arabic), is known for bringing journalistic scrutiny to Middle East regimes, but also for unjustly and consistently vilifying the United States and Israel. The channel’s editor-in-chief, Ahmad al-Sheikh, claims Israel’s founding is the basis for the Arab world’s problems.
While Turkish Weekly asserts that Saban will use al-Jazeera to broadcast pro-Israeli messages, Saban’s motivations are still unclear. Last year, Israel officially boycotted al-Jazeera for its pro-Hamas leanings, and for arousing “people to terrorist activities.”