The right of Israel to exist is deemed to be controversial and a taboo topic for discussion in the Arabic media. But Alhurra has carved out a niche for itself as a broadcaster that will cover topics rarely seen on other Arabic-language news channels. It regularly provides a forum for experts and advocates to speak about issues freely and comprehensively and to challenge traditional mindsets in the region.
During Alhurra’s Gulf Talks, a Saudi academic presented a new perspective on the Jewish people’s historic presence in the Middle East. Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, called on Arabs to recognize Jerusalem’s sanctity to Jews. Hakeem said:
“We have to admit and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol for the Jews and that it is just as holy for them as Mecca and Medina are for Muslims. The Arab mind must liberate itself from the legacy of [former Egyptian President] Gamal Abdul-Nasser, and the legacy of both the Sunni and Shi’a sects, which has instilled for political interests the culture of Jew-hatred and denial of their historic rights in the region.”
Although Hakeem’s statements touched off a critical response from Palestinian and Iranian publications, more than 100 publications, including Aljazeera TV, Al-Quds Al-Arabi Newspaper, Euro News Arabia, Rai Al-Youm, Beirut Observer, Watan, Al-Araby, Dunia al-Watan, Russia Today- Arabic, Syrian Mirror, Tunisia Sat, The Jerusalem Post, The Independent, and Breirbart published excerpts from the interview. The journalistic impact of Alhurra’s in-depth coverage on this topic is evident in not only how the broadcaster became a source of information for both Arabic and international media organizations, but also in how Alhurra contributed to viewers’ understanding of political current events. In addition, the video footage of the interview was among MEMRI’s top 50 clips for 2017.