Al Jazeera’s Revolving Door: Suspended, Reinstated After Holocaust Denial Video

A screenshot of the Holocaust denial video featuring Muna Huwwa (Courtesy of MEMRI)

In May 2019, Al Jazeera’s “informative” video purportedly intended to educate Arabic-speaking viewers about the Holocaust sparked a scandal when it emerged that the AJ+ production categorically engaged in Holocaust denial (part 1/part 2, English subtitles by MEMRI).

Al Jazeera subsequently pulled the video within 24 hours, distanced itself from the production and suspended the two AJ+ employees blamed for its creation: Palestinian presenter Muna Hawwa, as well as Syrian producer and editor Amer al-Sayed Omar. In a subsequent letter to the network’s employees, Al Jazeera’s Executive Director of Digital Division Yaser Bishr also called for the implementation of a “mandatory bias training and awareness program.”

Amer al-Sayed Omar with his social media storytelling class, December 2019 (Screenshot from Omar’s Instagram account)

Nevertheless, Omar reappeared in AJ+ videos less than a year later, beginning May 2020. He even taught a “social media storytelling” class in Istanbul in cooperation with Al Jazeera’s Media Institute as early as December 2019, less than seven months after he was allegedly suspended. As of this writing, the Media Institute refers to him as one of its experts.

At the time of the video’s appearance, CAMERA Arabic documented no fewer than nine instances of Holocaust denial in Al Jazeera’s video. Alongside other lies, distortions and misleading assertions, the video:

  1. Referred to the death of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis as “a narrative endorsed by the Zionist movement”;
  2. Suggested that the reason Jews are at the focus of World War II remembrance is because the 1940s saw “Jewish groups possessing financial resources, media institutions, research centers and academic institutions that were able to highlight the Jewish victims more so [than others];”
  3. Called Israel “the greatest beneficiary from the Holocaust” (due to Jewish immigration and German reparations), and of course
  4. Accused Israel of “using the same Nazi justifications as a premise for [its own campaign of] ethnic cleansing and extermination against the Palestinians,” since “the main ideology [behind] the establishment of the State of Israel stands on national, religious and geographic premises that were fed by the spirit of Nazism and its first principles.”

According to their LinkedIn profiles, Hawwa and Omar have worked continuously at Al Jazeera since 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Hawwa’s LinkedIn profile, where she also identifies as “self-employed,” is the only indication suggesting that she is still on Al Jazeera’s payroll. (Separately, she recently married an active Al Jazeera correspondent, Palestinian journalist Adnan Borini).

Unrepentant Holocaust denier Muna Hawwa at the Vancouver Art Gallery, May 2021 (Screenshot from Twitter account of @Matlaqa77)

Last May, during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hawwa actively engaged in anti-Israel demonstrations in Canada. In a subsequently deleted tweet, BBC Arabic’s Amman correspondent Layla Bashar al-Kloub praised Hawwa’s parroted Hamas propaganda as exquisite journalism.”

Currently dividing her life between Vancouver and Doha, Hawwa recently participated in a live panel in the Qatari capital alongside The London Times’ newfound star Muna el-Kurd

Despite continuing to present themselves as Al Jazeera journalists, neither Omar nor Hawwa has publicly acknowledged their wrongdoing with the original video, let alone admitted that the mass extermination of Jews was actually not just “a Zionist narrative.” To the contrary, Hawwa issued an unrepentant statement upon her suspension. She also later referred to Israel (in her words, “the occupation,” “the entity,” “the Zionist regime”) as “Nazi” at least four times in Twitter alone.  

Furthermore, there is no indication that either of the two has ever undergone a “bias training and awareness program” of the kind Al Jazeera promised to improve coverage of Jews and other minorities

For the Arabic version of this post, please see CAMERA Arabic.