Cliff May

Hamas may not have funds to pay the salaries of civil servants and improve social services for Palestinians. But resources to fund its propaganda efforts? That, evidently, is not a problem. This month, the terrorist organization that governs Gaza and the West Bank launched a satellite television station.

The new station will be broadcast by Arabsat, majority-owned by the Saudi government. Arabsat, along with Nilesat, owned by the Egyptian government, already distribute the programming of Al Manar, the television station of Hezbollah.

Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Manar have all been officially designated by the U.S. government as terrorist entities. Meanwhile, the Saudi government runs commercials in the U.S. claiming to be America's “ally” in the War on Terrorism. And the Egyptian government presents itself as our moderate Arab friend – in exchange for billions of dollars in American aid.

The Hamas television station is called “The Light of Al Aqsa.” Thanks to the Saudi government, its broadcasts will be available throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Europe as well. A senior Hamas official, Fathi Hammad, was candid enough to say that its mission would be to challenge "the Western culture that has invaded our territory."

If the model for Al Aqsa is Al Manar, it will feature a steady drumbeat of vilification and dehumanization of Americans, Israelis and Jews. It also will glorify suicide bombing, help recruit terrorists, raise funds for terrorist operations and directly incite terrorism.

Why is Hamas doing this now? One strong possibility is that Hamas expects to soon be at war – with Israel, certainly, but also possibly with Fatah, the Palestinian organization it defeated at the polls early this year.

During the recent war in Lebanon, Al Mana proved an effective weapon for Hezbollah. Through its broadcasts -- and with the help of its Saudi and Egyptian satellite providers -- Hezbollah was able to drive its messages to the Arab world, into Europe and beyond. Among those messages: that Israel was intentionally targeting civilians, rather than Hezbollah fighters. That false charge diverted attention from the fact that Hezbollah was using Lebanese Christian and Muslim civilians as human shields, while also firing missiles at the Jews and Muslims who coexist peacefully in the northern Israeli city of Haifa.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.