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December 24, 2004

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 24, 2004 PAGE 11 U.S. to ban , but law By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)--A U.S. decision to place Hez- bollah's TV station on a ter- rorism watch list could stop broadcasts of the station in the United States--but it raises questions about free speech and the murky laws governing satellite and cable broadcasting. The State Departmentwas scheduled to place AI-Manar on its Terrorist Exclusion list by the end of last week, JTA learned. It would be the first such designation of a jour- nalistic outlet; others now on the list include terrorist groups and banks, charities and even bakeries with ties to terrorist groups. The decision was influ- enced by France's ban last week of the channel, which routinely raises money for its terrorist affiliate and broadcasts incitement and anti-Semitism. "This is a first and impor- tant step," said David Har- ris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, which has taken the lead for over a year in urging a U.S. ban of AI-Manar. Hezbollah already is on the State Department For- eign Terrorist Organization list, which is much more re- strictive: That list threatens criminal liability for groups that provide material support for bannedorganizations, and refers U.S. financial holdings to the Treasury Department's powerful Office of Foreign As- sets Control. The Terrorist Exclusion list, relating mostly to im- migration status, carries weaker sanctions. It bans aliens working for AI-Manar from entering U.S. territory and subjects those already in the United States to deporta- tion proceedings. Under the exclusion list, it's not clear whether the A1-Manar bureau in Wash- ington would face sanctions if all its staffers are U.S. citizens A book on AI-Manar published recently by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "Beacon of Hatred," says the station is housed in the Associated Press' Washington bureau building, and identified the station's correspondent as Muhammad Dalbah. Someone answering the phone at the Arabic TV sec- tion of the A.P. denied that, and there is no Washington telephone listing for AI- Manor. A journalist working for another Arab television outlet and familiar with AI-Manar's operations con- firmed that Dalbah was the AI-Manar correspondent, but said he filed most re- ports over the phone and without pictures. Dalbah very occasionally would use the Associated Press feed for an interview, but it was not his office, the other journalist said. The journalist said Dalbah freelanced for AI-Manar and several other outlets and is a U.S. citizen, which probably would protect him from sanctions. Dalbah did not return requests for interviews left on his cellular phone's voicernail. Harris said the AJCommit- tee would seek further sanc- tions, including Treasury Department oversight and the freezing of the station's U.S. assets. Additionally, Harris said, the AJCommittee has heard from congressmen who are eager to pass laws restricting AI-Manar. Inteisat, the Bermuda- based satellite operator that sells capacity to GlobeCast, the company that carries AI-Manar in the United States, would abide by any such laws, said a Washing- ton-based spokesman, Fritz Stolzenbach. "It goes without saying that if the U.S. federal au- thorities enact regulations or legislation that requires us to undertake an action along those lines, we're a company that follows the law," he said. Stolzenbach emphasized that Intelsat was several steps removed from AI- Manor; linking his employer to Hezbollah is like linking a company that "lays fiber in the ground" to an offensive Web site, he said. A spokesman for Globe- Cast, a subsidiary of France Telecom, was unavailable. Efforts overseas to re- move the channel have been successful. An Aus- tralian satellite provider removed AI-Manar a year ago. In France, the station's persistence in broadcasting anti-Semitic libels despite explicit promises to stop do- ing so led French authori- ties last week to order Eu- telSat--Intelsat's European equivalent--to remove the station. Attempts to ban incite- ment to hatred in the United States have foundered, how- ever, against the broad free speech protections of the First Amendment. The AJCommittee's Har- ris said he anticipated free speech defenses against any ban of AI-Manar, but he also was certain that his organization's decades of work defending freedom of speech would help undercut such arguments. "Our free-speech efforts are quite impeccable. We are very comfortable with what we are doing," he said. "Does the First Amendment protect national suicide? Do we become 'useful idiots' in our destruction?" Another murky area is the Community rabbi partners with Jewish Pavilion during holidays Community rabbi Arnold Siegel assisted the staff and volunteers of The Jewish Pa- vilion during Chanukah celebrations December 8 - 15. Rabbi Siegel, who is employed by Jewish Family Services, is available to counsel all unaffiliated Jewish Pavilion residents. Shown above, RABBI SIEGEL (r) visits with SYLVIA HERMAN at Life Care Center of Orlando on Rouse Rood in the University of Central Florida area. In the center is DOREY WOLF, a speech pathologist at the facility, an a~unct faculty member at UCF, and a member of Congregation of Liberal Judaism. For more information about T~e Jewish Pavilion, contact the program coordinator at 407-678-9363. government's tendency to avoid regulating cable and satellite content. "One of the things that is not regulated is which channels a cable provider carries," said Monroe Price, a communications law expert at Yeshiva University's Car- dozo School of Law currently on li~ave at the University of Pennsylvania. The Federal Communica- tions Commission, which this year ordered conventional broadcasters carrying.How- ard Stern to pay record fines, declined last Wednesday to even consider fining satel- lite stations that broadcast the shock jock, saying sim- ply that it does not deal with subscription services such as cable or satellite. Even AI-Manar's direct appeals for funds for Hez- bollah--complete with bank account information--might not be subject to regulation in the United States. "I don't know whether there's any policing of cable channels for objectives for which money is raised," Price said. Cable and satel- lite providers tend to abjure themselves of any responsi- bility for content, he said, noting the proliferation of home shopping and evan- gelical fund raising across cable and satellite. Whatever the immediate consequences of the ban, the mere listing of the sta- tion could have an inhibit- ing effect on broadcast of the channel--if only because it implies formal U.S. recog- nition of the relationship photo courtesy of MEMRI A scene from the anti-Semitic Syrian-made series "AI- Shatat," or "Diaspora," which was broadcast from France by Hezbollah's AI-Manar television station in 2003. between AI-Manar and He- zbollah. "It is a commercial entity owned by a designated ter- rorist organization," said Matthew Levitt, a former FBI analyst now with the Washington Institute. Avi Jorisch, who wrote "Beacon of Hatred" and who now is an analyst with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said the station's clear incitement makes it vulnerable to sanc- tion. His study--accompa- nied by a CD- Rom packed with clips--uncovers calls for suicide attacks against Israelis and against Ameri- cans in Iraq. "The incitement to vio- lence that takes place at Al- Manor crosses all red lines," he said. Jorisch's book, which was sent in bulk to State Department officials in recent weeks, recommends a long list of far-reaching sanctions, including U.S. pressure on other countries to remove AI-Manar and to bar its correspondents from reporting. He even calls for the criminal prosecution of Dalbah, the Washington freelancer. That might be far-fetched, but there are precedents showing that even the threat of sanctions can be effective. EutelSat, for instance, re- moved SerbianTVbroadcasts during the Yugoslavian wars of the last decade, pre-empt- ing European lawmakers who were calling for an end to the broadcast of Serbian incite- ment. Harris said the AI-Manar listing was just the tip of the iceberg. "The whole issue of how terrorists use satellite tech- nology and cyberspace merits much greater attention," he said. "The national laws are ambiguous." e 0 0 FDN makes it easy and affordable to keep your business on the cutting edge of technology with a variety of product packages, premier calling features, con- solidated billing and outstanding cus- tomer service. From voice to Internet, FDN has everything your business needs to keep you communicating! COMMUNICATIONS Call today to find out how we can save you 20-40% off your current local, long distance, and Internet services! .com 407.835.0332 L