Hizbullah broadens its airwaves battlefront
Al-Manar’s satellite television channel moves
into Palestinian homes for an extra 14 hours a day
Daily Star staff
As Arab media mobilizes to support the Palestinian
intifada, Hizbullah’s al-Manar has joined the struggle through
an intensive campaign to make inroads in the Palestinian
territories and the Arab world.
The risky decision to
increase al-Manar’s satellite broadcasting time from four to
18 hours a day, supported by the same number of staff, has
been a tremendous and burdening task, but one that has paid
Al-Manar first began its four-hour satellite
broadcast on the eve of the May 24 liberation of the South,
“because we wanted to transmit the message of this liberation
to the Arab world,” said Nayef Krayyem, the station’s General
“Our message was clear: to encourage the Arabs
and show them a model of resisting the enemy. Our main target
was specifically the Palestinians living in occupied
Palestinian territories,” Krayyem said.
After the intifada
broke out again Sept. 28, Krayyem decided to increase
satellite broadcasting hours to encourage and show support and
solidarity with the Palestinians.
The feedback from Arabs,
particularly Palestinians, was “beyond expectation.”
moved to become one of the first satellite stations watched by
Arabs during this time and the main reason behind this success
is Hizbullah’s credibility,” he said.
satellite broadcast is solely dedicated to airing anything
related to the intifada. Besides broadcasting Arab nationalist
songs, breaking news updates and on-the-hour news bulletins,
throughout the day television hosts take telephone calls from
Arab supporters expressing their views.
The station has
also been airing provocative clips in both Arabic and Hebrew.
One that has been on for two weeks now shows photos of the
three Israeli soldiers and the colonel Hizbullah captured last
month. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 are written on top of the
pictures of the three soldiers and the sign +1 is written on
top of the picture of the Israeli colonel.
An empty frame
appears with a question mark, hinting that more such captures
might be on the way. Below the frames, in both Arabic and
Hebrew, Hizbullah says “Barak, count your soldiers every
Krayyem said that the station will soon begin
broadcasting bulletins in Hebrew. The idea is not new, but
Krayyem was confident it would to happen within a month. A
more long-term plan also includes airing a news bulletin in
“Al-Manar did not only give the Arabs the chance
to make contact with Hizbullah but also gave them an
opportunity to express their views on regional developments,”
The station has also become an effective tool for
showing Palestinians how much Arab support they enjoy. “We’ve
got thousands of phone calls and e-mails from Palestinians
telling us how much al-Manar is giving them determination to
continue to fight,” he said.
Viewers’ enthusiasm was not
only limited to expressing support over the phone. Hizbullah’s
policy against Israel and the Palestinian Authority prevents
it basing a correspondent in Palestine. But this has not hurt
“Every single one of our viewers has become
a correspondent. We’d receive calls from someone to tell us
that a Palestinian was just killed, or an Israeli attack was
being staged, and we’d immediately broadcast the news,
becoming the quickest news provider to the Arabs about the
attacks on Palestinians,” said Krayyem.
The secret of
al-Manar’s sudden popularity is not only news. “We’re
addressing the heart of the Arab nation, reflecting the Arabs’
determination to not accept the current situation anymore.”
Krayyem explained that Arab viewers could see that
al-Manar was transmitting a completely different message from
that of other stations. “We’re carrying the message of facing
the Israeli enemy. We consider the plight of the Palestinian
people as our own and we consider ourselves a basic part of
Another small but meaningful decision on
al-Manar’s part is its listing the times of its shows
according to Jerusalem and Greenwich Mean Time.
Hizbullah is proud of the station’s accomplishments, which
Krayyem maintained were beyond expectations, the party
official solemnly acknowledged the huge responsibility
shouldered by the television station.
“Our main goal is to
give all Arabs the opportunity to speak against the Israeli
occupation from a credible platform. It’s not our goal to
criticize anyone else because we have a deeper objective to
achieve,” he said.
As a result, al-Manar’s policy is to
prevent viewers shouting obscenities about Arab leaders.
“We’re not a station for expletives. We take objective
criticism anytime. This is not a problem, but not more,” he
He explained that al-Manar’s policy is not to
promote a battle between Arab people and their rulers,
regardless of Hizbullah’s view of Arab leaders.
want to lose sight of our main target, which is fighting the
enemy. If we’re able to show Arab leaders that their people
think strongly against Israel, we may eventually achieve
something. However, attacking the leaders will do more harm
Al-Manar’s satellite logo, which mirrors the
station’s logo with the words “The Arab and Muslim Channel”
below it, is no coincidence.
“We make it a point to have
Arab guests from all political affiliations, so you’ll see an
Arab nationalist expert, then an Arab communist one. We
believe it’s our strength to link all these Arab potentials
and direct them to one target: the Israeli enemy,” he said.
Krayyem proudly recounted how, last week, when Israel’s
Channel One television was interviewing a Palestinian official
at his home, the television behind him showed he was watching
The satellite channel is received in all Arab
and European countries and Krayyem is certain Israel has
people monitoring the station 24 hours a day.
obvious that, whatever information Hizbullah intends to
broadcast about the captured Israeli soldiers, it will first
be aired on al-Manar. So we’ve forced the Israelis to rely on
us to know what’s happening,” he said, confirming that the
party has the capture of the three Israeli soldiers on video.