The United Nations’ refugee arm’s top spokeswoman warmly welcomed Al Jazeera America to the U.S. media scene.
Melissa Fleming, the chief communications and spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), could not contain her excitement over the arrival of Al Jazeera America, which launched on Tuesday.
“Welcome! @AlJazeera America: the news channel Americans deserve,” Fleming exclaimed via Twitter on Thursday evening.
Al Jazeera America, which bills itself as a neutral news station, is funded and operated by the Qatari government, which has used the Arabic version of Al Jazeera to back the Muslim Brotherhood and other violent Islamist groups.
Al Jazeera America’s first guest was conspiracy theorist Stephen Walt, the notorious coauthor of The Israel Lobby, which accused U.S. Jews and others of perniciously manipulating American foreign policy.
Al Jazeera’s Arabic station has come under recent fire for airing what critics say is the staged death of a Muslim Brotherhood protestor in Egypt.
Fleming’s comment caused ire among some pro-Israel officials, who said that the endorsement of Al Jazeera is a sign of the U.N.’s institutional bias.
The U.N. and many of its bodies are routinely criticized for having an anti-Israel bias.
“The UNHRC is an organization dominated by despots and tyrants, which gets blasted every few months by U.S. officials for its obsessive anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity,” said one senior pro-Israel official.
“Melissa Fleming is a woman who has shilled not only for the UNHRC, but also for the [International Atomic Energy Agency] during those years when it looked the other way while Iran raced to acquire nuclear weapons,” the source said. “It’s no surprise she would drool over Al Jazeera America, a network that launched by interviewing disgraced conspiracy theorist Stephen Walt on how Jews were corrupting America’s stance toward Egypt.”