Russian billionaire Alexander Mashkevich announced yesterday that he plans to create a Jewish version of al-Jazeera to combat the “negative information about Israel” emanating from similar networks and the international media on a whole. “The most important thing is to represent Israel on an international level, with real information,” Mashkevich said, stressing that the station would not deal in propaganda but report accurately on events in Israel.
Machkevitch said he and unnamed partners are already in the early stages of developing the venture and that their plan is to establish a network with editorial direction independent of any government or special interest. He said that he is considering a multi-language and multimedia format that could include Arabic and Farsi programming. According to the billionaire, his Jewish roots, as well as the fact that he was raised and worked among Muslims, has motivated him to look for ways to bridge the divide between the two peoples.
Machkevitch’s news channel is an interesting idea and, if done right, can greatly benefit Israel. While Israel’s defense capabilities are lauded as one of the best in modern times, for years the Jewish state has been losing the battle on another front: the battlefield of the mind, where ideas, words, and images are the weapons of choice.
Today the media in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East frequently depicts Israel as colonialist or apartheid state, waging a “war of imperialism” against the Palestinians. Israel is commonly cast as an oppressor rather than a victim defending its citizens from terror and forces that seek its destruction.
By reporting “real information” on an international level, such as Israel’s assistance in Japan, which has received little coverage, Machkevitch’s channel would be a breath of fresh air and could work towards transforming that negative image of Israel so often provided. There’s reportedly already a lot of interest in the channel and, according to Machkevitch, the only thing missing is a name.