Ma’an

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Ma'an News Agency (Ma'an means 'together' in Arabic) is a Palestinian on-line News agency that publishes up-to-the-minute news in Arabic, English, and Hebrew. Ma'an News Agency (MNA) began operation in December of 2004 and is one of the main projects of the Ma'an Network which was established in 2002 as a non-governmental organization that aims to improve local Palestinian media production.

Ma'an Network (Ma'an) is composed of nine independent TV stations and production studios located in each major city of the West Bank and Gaza. Ma'an is dedicated to promoting understanding of the Palestinian situation by strengthening cooperation between local and international media. The network shares a vision of fomenting democracy and freedom of thought and ideas in Palestine. It uses both technical and academic expertise in achieving these goals as strives towards sustainable development and human rights for the Palestinian people.

Ma'an News Agency initiative is funded by both the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.minbuza.nl/ and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), http://www.um.dk/da.

Hilary Keenan writes:

Aid without mercy: the paid pipers of civil society

The Ma'an News service is a valuable resource. While its TV stations inform and entertain the locals, its news agency (MNA) sends the world 24-hour news from beleaguered Palestine. Viewers of its well-designed website receive minute-by-minute information in Arabic, Hebrew and English, with local news from ten districts in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, accompanied by high quality, and often shocking, photographs.
Much of the coverage by the 14 correspondents and 16 photographers who work for Ma'an News and Ma'an Images - from Gerry Adams' recent visit to the Middle East, to the banal regularity of humiliations endured by Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints - is enlightening information which is not easily found elsewhere. Ma'an also opens a window into the power struggles between Hamas, Fatah and the PFLP as society crumbles under the Western and Israeli economic blockade of the 'territories'.
Viewing the Ma'an News site answers many questions about daily life in Israeli-occupied Palestine which are not even asked by the main world media sources. But it also prompts another kind of question: how can people in these besieged and poverty-stricken zones afford to run this 'independent' and highly professional world-standard news outlet? The answer is that they don't. Ma'an News admits in the 'about us' section of its website that it is funded by the foreign affairs ministries of Denmark and the Netherlands. A more persistent trawl through the site reveals, among further funding organisations, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), both of which are US Government bi-partisan bodies. Bi-partisan in the current context means that boards composed of both Republican neo-conservatives and loyal Democrats decide how to spend the scores of millions of US dollars which the US Congress allocates to 'democracy promotion', 'democracy assistance', and 'conflict resolution' initiatives.
The collaboration of the United States with Denmark and Holland to finance MNA may be viewed in the context of a tactic which the NED, in its June 2006 report to Senator Richard G. Lugar of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, describes as 'transatlantic, multilateral co-ordination'. The aim of this tactic, according to the report, is two-fold:
"New restrictions on democracy assistance, often accompanied by anti-American rhetoric (as in Egypt, for example) highlight the importance of promoting multilateral initiatives that help reduce the 'made in the USA' profile of democracy assistance and also leverage additional resources."
Despite its funding sources, the Ma'an News Agency boasts "MNA is known for being reliable, objective, accurate, balanced, and informed." No doubt this is true. The integrity of its staff in revealing the frequent horrors imposed by Israeli occupation cannot be doubted. Neither can their bravery - in early July this year a photographer employed by Ma'an News, Mohammad Az Zanoun, aged 20, was shot and seriously injured by Israeli soldiers. According to a report of the incident:
"The young photographer was seriously shot and injured by shrapnel from Israeli projectiles. One hit his mouth and teeth and cut his finger. The other hit him on his body. In spite of that, he continued to work, strangely insistent. Then the Israeli soldiers aimed their weapons directly at him and shot him in the stomach. He fell instantly to the ground with his camera. "Eyewitnesses said that he fell to the ground shouting, 'Where is the camera? There are many photos in it which are witness to the killing of Palestinians; there are many photos of the Palestinians who have been killed.'"
Directly or indirectly, the USA and its allies paid both for the camera and for the bullets which hit the photographer.

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