Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Deceptive Juan Cole and MEMRI

Academics do themselves and their students a great disservice when they substitute preaching for teaching. Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan, runs a blog called "Informed Comment" which has received considerable attention, much of it from the echo-chamber on the far-left. However, Cole touched off a wider debate this month when he decided to take a shot at a favored anti-Israel target, the Middle East Media Research Institute, better known as MEMRI. Cole's accusations were typically exaggerated and unbalanced, probably intentionally so.

Cole's original comment on MEMRI was almost comical in addition to being wrong. He accused MEMRI of:

1. Having $60,000,000 budget (yeah, you read that right);

2. "[C]leverly cherry-pick[ing] the vast Arabic press, which serves 300 million people, for the most extreme and objectionable articles and editorials. It carefully does not translate the moderate articles."; and of being

3. "[O]ne of a number of public relations campaigns essentially on behalf of the far right-wing Likud Party in Israel that tries to shape American perceptions of Muslims and the Middle East in a negative direction."

Yigal Carmon, who runs MEMRI, proceeded to e-mail Cole and threaten him with a lawsuit. Carmon said that he had no idea where Cole got the $60 mil figure from, reminded Cole that MEMRI does not, in fact, look only for antisemitic articles and articles critical of the United States, but also for progressive Arab articles, and told Cole that he had nothing to do with the Likud party.

Cole admitted
that he had no source for his $60 million quote, mischaracterized Carmon's reminder that progressive Arab voices were emphasized on MEMRI, and repeated his guilt-by-association accusations that MEMRI was a Likud house organ because Carmon and Meyrav Wurmser, who is MEMRI's co-founder, are identified as being on the right.

Cole's well-known as an anti-Israel activist, but his MEMRI claims are worth commenting upon because a number of left-wingers have made them.

I read a lot of what MEMRI puts out, and they are (surprise), not in the business of providing the Arab world with good public relations, which monarchical ambassadors with good English who school at Georgetown and Harvard, along with European leaders like Jacques Chirac and Western Arabist professors like Mr. Cole who dominate Middle Eastern studies in the US and Europe, are quite adept at doing. They do indeed spend time translating what people like Mr. Cole do not, the daily barrage of antisemitic filth that appears in the Arab presses. Mr. Cole seems to believe that this practice is unjustified because it does not include the moderate voices, but he fails to ask the obvious question, which is: Why aren't any of the pro-Arab organizations and academics he is constantly boosting doing what MEMRI is doing in addition to providing their take on the Arab world? Why are accusations of rampant antisemitism in the Arab world met with accusations toward Israel first rather than condemnation first?

And why isn't Mr. Cole thankful that MEMRI provides progressive Arab voices from the Arab media to an extent that few others do? These articles (which are not, as Mr. Cole erroneously claims, all written by secularists) suggest that there are indeed voices in the mainstream of the Arab world who are horrified by the hatred that is a part of the mainstream Arab discourse. They suggest that the problems of the Arabs are not insoluble. Mr. Cole apparently prefers not to highlight these voices; it suggests, as I have argued before, that so-called progressives are not progressives at all, but merely left-wing conservatives who simply cling to a different set of orthodox values. Like many ideologues, these folks do not allow the truth to get in the way of their politics.

There is little question that highlighting antisemitic articles in the Arab press and providing self-critical Arab voices is a favorite activity of right-wingers. The response should not be to question the motivation. The response of left-wingers should be to ask why highlighting antisemitic hatred is not a favorite activity of self-styled left-wing progressives as well. Left-wing progressives claim to be against antisemitism, but they are awfully weak on standing up to it when that means criticizing their unarguably non-progressive de facto allies in the Arab world.







10 Comments:

At 1:08 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

There are very few people who are willing to engage in true intellectual honesty and point out the strengths and weaknesses in their own positions.

It is far easier for them to gloss over the inconsistencies and to try and pretend that they do not exist.

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Interestingly enough, many self-critical Arabs are labeled as "self-hating" Arabs by so-called progressive left-wingers, who are supposed to be promoters of democracy and liberal values. So if the left world is AGAINST reform in the Middle East, what DOES it really stand for?
Irina

 
At 4:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a leftist who both supports the struggle for liberation of Palestine, and criticizes the Islamiscist fundamentalist anti-semites in their ranks (and in other mostly islamic countries), I both recent and take issue with the assertion that the left is having a double standard. Like any political movement, the left indeed engages in contradictions, lesser-evilism, and other less-than-palatable conducts (even murderous movements such as those led by Stalin or Mao). But such is the nature of politics, and conservatives (who count among their members such luminaries as Hitler and Mussolini), are in no position to engage in moot moral excercises in this regard.

Furthermore, to claim this without specific accusations against specific leftists, and without recognizing there are indeed many voices (I would say the majority) in the left who are crtical of both the Occupation and of Muslim Fundamentalism (or Christian and Jewish for that matter) that leftists support anti-semites in their anti-semitism when they support them in their struggle for liberation is sophism of the most crass kind.

Or need I remind you that our country invented the phrase "He is a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch"? Or that Saddam Hussein was for most of his murderous regime "our man in Baghdad"?

I particulary find it disingenious when using Juan Cole's criticism of MEMRI as an example of leftist double standards.

Yes, Cole was wrong on the $60,000,000 count (it is actually close to $2,000,000 per annum, according to the IRS forms, and that is only for the DC office, not the offices in Berlin, London, and Jerusalem). But was reasonably right on the other two. The sheer logical fallacy of trying to hide one's sins by pointing the finger at your rival's is the sole reason MEMRI exists, so it comes as no surprise it is being used to attack Cole.

You seem to continue this sad role in your "defense" of MEMRI. That Cole was unreasonable in exagerating, tabloid style, the MEMRI's funding, does indeed wound his credibility. But this can't be reasonably construed as bolstering MEMRI's as a result. Oranges + Bottles does not equal Orantles.

MEMRI claims to just present translations of mainstream Arab media. But this is disingenious. It presents, with the exception of the Saudi media (which no leftists in their right mind supports), what you could call the equivalent of the tabloid press. It doesn't present the New York Times, but the New York Post, it doesn't present CNN, but Fox News Channel.

One needs only to read the Jerusalem Times and other such Zionist newspapers to see the exact mirror image of what MEMRI publishes from the arab tabloid press. For example, a recent article in the Jerusalem Times claimed Arafat was homosexual and died of AIDS!!!

Memri tries to hide the fact that Arab tabloid press just behaves like any other tabloid press in the world, by peddling their translations as if they where the common opinion of the common arab.

If that is the logic we must use, then we must reach the inverse conclusion, that the Jerusalem Times expresses the common opinion of the common Jew.

Reasonable people can agree that both views would be wrong.

Yet, MEMRI presents as reasonable one of them, that the tabloid press in the arab world is not only anti-zionist (a reasonable proposition) but anti-semite (an unreasonable one). This is a politically motivated editorial attempt, which comes as no surprise. And of course it is their right.

The problem lies not with this, but with claiming objetivity while at the same time pursuing a political agenda. This of course is not without precedent: FNC claims to be "Fair and Balanced" when everybody knows they aren't (or conservatives tune in for O'Reilly's smashing good looks?).

So Cole was reasonable correct in his assertion of a pro-zionist bias in MEMRI's efforts, in that MEMRI republishes only the worse of the tabloid press, but tries to pass it off as a representative, "fair and balanced" effort.

On the issue of the Likud, well, this is a weak point of Cole's arguement, but not without basis. The Likud netherlands website consistently reposts MEMRI editorials and National Review articles, so there is at least ideological affinity and knowledge of MEMRI's existence.

But perhaps more telling is the biography MEMRI published in the old version of their website (now completely redone) of their president, Yigal Carmon:

"Col. (Res.) Yigal Carmon is MEMRI’s President. He served in the IDF/Intelligence Branch from 1968 to 1988. From 1977 to 1982 he was the Acting Head of Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria and the Advisor on Arab Affairs to the Civil Administration. Following Col. Carmon’s retirement from the IDF he was Advisor to Premiers Shamir and Rabin for Countering Terrorism from 1988 to 1993. In 1991 and 1992 he was a senior member of the Israeli Delegation to peace negotiations with Syria in Madrid and Washington."

http://web.archive.org/web/19990220054656/www.MEMRI.org/about.html

MEMRI is presided by a high-level memeber of the IDF Reserve (that is what "Retired" means at that rank) and served in the AMAN (IDF/Intelligence Branch) for 20 years, in which he served in high-level capacities for most of his carreer. Now, any reasonable person, armed with this information, will conclude that MEMRI, if not directly an agent of the State of Israel, is at least in ideological affinity to the more anti-arab wing of its body politic.

So after all, once again, Cole was reasonably correct.

There are, of course, more facts to support this assertion, but I leave it to your own capacities. Suffices to say that the former executive director of MEMRI now works as Director for Middle-Eastern Studies at the Hudson Institute, whose connections to Likud are not in doubt.

You can of course claim whatever, and accuse the left of whatever, but the facts are that Cole was wrong only in one of his three assertions, and MEMRI is lying when it claims to be non-partisan.

As to left-wing sites who give a voice to those in the arab world whose voice is not republished by Memri, there are many sites. But I will provide just a couple:

http://electronicintifada.net/

http://www.hanitzotz.com/

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger Michael Brenner said...

Anonymous wrote:

"As a leftist who both supports the struggle for liberation of Palestine, and criticizes the Islamiscist fundamentalist anti-semites in their ranks (and in other mostly islamic countries), I both recent and take issue with the assertion that the left is having a double standard. Like any political movement, the left indeed engages in contradictions, lesser-evilism, and other less-than-palatable conducts (even murderous movements such as those led by Stalin or Mao). But such is the nature of politics, and conservatives (who count among their members such luminaries as Hitler and Mussolini), are in no position to engage in moot moral excercises in this regard."

I reply:

I'm not a conservative, but most of the leftists I know are more self-righteous than this and pretend they are as pure as the driven snow.

You wrote:

"Furthermore, to claim this without specific accusations against specific leftists, and without recognizing there are indeed many voices (I would say the majority) in the left who are crtical of both the Occupation and of Muslim Fundamentalism (or Christian and Jewish for that matter) that leftists support anti-semites in their anti-semitism when they support them in their struggle for liberation is sophism of the most crass kind."

I reply:

Juan Cole, Jose Bove in France (claimed that the Dolphinarium bombing was Israel's work), the Stop the War Coalition in Great Britain (refused to speak out against the antisemitic signs carried by the Muslim Association of Britain), Alexander Cockburn (constant Jew-baiting on his very popular Counterpunch website), the Nation magazine (published David Hirst's anti-Jewish article based on Israel Shahak's Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, a book that has been criticized even by Joseph Massad for being hateful), the continued popularity of the International Action Center despite the fact that they kept Michael Lerner from speaking at an anti-war event. I could go on, but you asked for specific examples. These are all people with lots of the respect on the far-left.

You wrote:

"I particulary find it disingenious when using Juan Cole's criticism of MEMRI as an example of leftist double standards.

"Yes, Cole was wrong on the $60,000,000 count (it is actually close to $2,000,000 per annum, according to the IRS forms, and that is only for the DC office, not the offices in Berlin, London, and Jerusalem). But was reasonably right on the other two. The sheer logical fallacy of trying to hide one's sins by pointing the finger at your rival's is the sole reason MEMRI exists, so it comes as no surprise it is being used to attack Cole."

I reply:

He was NOT reasonably right on the other two, as I pointed out. All he did was repeat old charges typical of someone who is criticizing something he has never seen before. It is NOT reasonable to claim that MEMRI only prints extreme antisemitic Arab articles; they very clearly promote liberals in the Arab world.

His claim that MEMRI is a front for Likud is wishful thinking on his part, and a tawdry attempt to connect all things critical of Arabs with Israel's Likud party. A front is International ANSWER for the IAC. MEMRI is an organization with a viewpoint, no doubt, but saying it's a front for the Likud (and, of course, providing no evidence of this except guilt by association) is crass demagoguery.

You wrote:

"You seem to continue this sad role in your "defense" of MEMRI. That Cole was unreasonable in exagerating, tabloid style, the MEMRI's funding, does indeed wound his credibility. But this can't be reasonably construed as bolstering MEMRI's as a result. Oranges + Bottles does not equal Orantles.

MEMRI claims to just present translations of mainstream Arab media. But this is disingenious. It presents, with the exception of the Saudi media (which no leftists in their right mind supports), what you could call the equivalent of the tabloid press. It doesn't present the New York Times, but the New York Post, it doesn't present CNN, but Fox News Channel."

I reply:

First of all, I did not defend everything MEMRI does. If you read my post, you can see that I quite clearly said that MEMRI has an ideology and a purpose. That purpose is to highlight extremism in the Arab world and to provide and space for Arab liberals, repressed in the Arab world and largely ignored here, to speak. It is not in the business of providing good public relations for the Arabs or in observing the protocols of Edward Said's Orientalism. But it is not the equivalent of the tabloid press anymore than Juan Cole's website, which claims to be "Informed Comment" but is clearly slanted toward a certain type of story and viewpoint, is. Again, my point was that left-wingers should be thankful for MEMRI, not condemnatory, because this is exactly the type of project they themselves would have been involved in when they had some moral backbone on these issues. And that's the point. If MEMRI covered anything else, Islamophobia, anti-Black or anti-Latino racism, you'd be celebrating it and signing up for its newsletters.

You wrote:

"One needs only to read the Jerusalem Times and other such Zionist newspapers to see the exact mirror image of what MEMRI publishes from the arab tabloid press. For example, a recent article in the Jerusalem Times claimed Arafat was homosexual and died of AIDS!!!"

I reply:

I assume you mean the Jerusalem Post. MEMRI is appreciated by more than the right; the NY Times quotes their articles fairly frequently. Only Arabists who romanticize the Arab world (like Brian Whitaker of the Guardian) or leftists who tolerate no dissent from the orthodox line seem to dislike it.

You wrote:

"Memri tries to hide the fact that Arab tabloid press just behaves like any other tabloid press in the world, by peddling their translations as if they where the common opinion of the common arab.

If that is the logic we must use, then we must reach the inverse conclusion, that the Jerusalem Times expresses the common opinion of the common Jew.

Reasonable people can agree that both views would be wrong."

I reply:

I don't find this accurate at all. I hate to tell you, but more than one person I know who has visited the Middle East finds antisemitic viewpoints to be held by the common Arab. Polls show that something like a third to a half of the Arab world believe Jews were responsible for 9/11. The Arab world's most prominent clerics say all kinds of terrible things about Jews. And PA TV is really bad, which is why Mahmoud Abbas findly clamped down on it in the last couple of weeks.

The Jerusalem Post leans right, but to call it the tabloid equivalent of Arab extremism is pure nonsense. It is a broadsheet newspaper and a fairly serious one at that, and has a fairly wide spectrum of views.

You wrote:

Yet, MEMRI presents as reasonable one of them, that the tabloid press in the arab world is not only anti-zionist (a reasonable proposition) but anti-semite (an unreasonable one). This is a politically motivated editorial attempt, which comes as no surprise. And of course it is their right.

I reply:

I admit this. Most newspapers have some sort of political line, so in this sense MEMRI is no different.

You wrote:

The problem lies not with this, but with claiming objetivity while at the same time pursuing a political agenda. This of course is not without precedent: FNC claims to be "Fair and Balanced" when everybody knows they aren't (or conservatives tune in for O'Reilly's smashing good looks?).

I reply:

C'mon. Every news source claims objectivity while having some sort of political agenda. MEMRI is really not putting on some facade; I don't think they claim objectivity, by the way. It's clear what their MO is from how they describe themselves and the promotional quotes they provide in their "About Us" section. I think they do everyone a great service by exposing hatred which would otherwise not be exposed and by letting us know that there are people in the Arab world who condemn it. Cole would rather they toe the PC line and provide good public relations for the Arabs like he does.

You wrote:

So Cole was reasonable correct in his assertion of a pro-zionist bias in MEMRI's efforts, in that MEMRI republishes only the worse of the tabloid press, but tries to pass it off as a representative, "fair and balanced" effort.

I reply:

If it is now the belief of the left that being against antisemitism is the same as being pro-Zionist, then I think you've illustrated the whole problem right there.

You wrote:

On the issue of the Likud, well, this is a weak point of Cole's arguement, but not without basis. The Likud netherlands website consistently reposts MEMRI editorials and National Review articles, so there is at least ideological affinity and knowledge of MEMRI's existence.

I reply:

Yes, there is some ideological affinity, I suppose, but the NY Times also uses MEMRI. So does Tom Friedman of the NY Times. They are not Likud adherents.

You wrote:

MEMRI is presided by a high-level memeber of the IDF Reserve (that is what "Retired" means at that rank) and served in the AMAN (IDF/Intelligence Branch) for 20 years, in which he served in high-level capacities for most of his carreer. Now, any reasonable person, armed with this information, will conclude that MEMRI, if not directly an agent of the State of Israel, is at least in ideological affinity to the more anti-arab wing of its body politic.

So after all, once again, Cole was reasonably correct.

I reply:

Not at all. It's guilt by association. Carmon's on the right, no one disputes that. But the more likely reason for his biography is that few Israelis outside of Israeli intelligence speak fluent Arabic. And of course, given that most past leaders of the Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, are prominent peaceniks, the idea that people from Israeli intelligence are more right-wing than most people is nonsense.

You wrote:

There are, of course, more facts to support this assertion, but I leave it to your own capacities. Suffices to say that the former executive director of MEMRI now works as Director for Middle-Eastern Studies at the Hudson Institute, whose connections to Likud are not in doubt.

I reply:

Again, I have not denied that MEMRI is right-wing. This seems, as I have argued, to be the real reason the left doesn't like it; it has taken a traditional province of the left and stolen it.

You wrote:

You can of course claim whatever, and accuse the left of whatever, but the facts are that Cole was wrong only in one of his three assertions, and MEMRI is lying when it claims to be non-partisan.

I reply:

I have fairly disproved your argument here.

You wrote:

As to left-wing sites who give a voice to those in the arab world whose voice is not republished by Memri, there are many sites. But I will provide just a couple:

http://electronicintifada.net/

http://www.hanitzotz.com/

I reply:

Citing leftists propaganda sites like electronicintifada and hanitzotz is really not a very good tactic for you to take to convince me. I recommend that you think about what I wrote, and you'll realize that I'm right and that the answer lies in a stronger left-wing response to antisemitism, rather than attacking the messenger by criticizing MEMRI.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

To: Anonymous
In your argument, you seem to be implying that MEMRI is connected to Likud and that it is right-wing. Other than the fact that such a statement is inaccurate, that implication in itself is accusatory, as if having a right-wing point of view is inherently tantamount to having FAR right point of view, as would Hitler and Mussolini.

Although I do not dispute that the conservative movement has its extremists, just as the left has its own, I think it's extremely narrow-minded to imply that the entire right-wing party, Likud, consists of these extremists. You may not agree with conservative ideology (it's your right), but do us all a favor and restrain yourself from putting all conservatives under one label. If you actually read the Jerusalem Post on a regular basis, you'll find that it is a very reasonable newspaper.

It has its own viewpoint, but the same is true for the NY Times or any other serious publication. It's quite unrealistic to expect everyone to think in the same (left-wing) manner. I think it's quite useless both for conservatives and for liberals to bash each other's mainstream movements, usually fairly moderate, and imply that the other is fascist or communist. Rather, I think it will be to any serious activist's advantage to look into the opponents' arguments and to seriously consider their critique.

 
At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irina:

Had you taken time to see beyond your preconceptions and self-rigtheousness (bad pun, I know) you would see I said EXACTLY what you said, but from the view point of the left.

!!!

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Well, actually, no. Sorry, but I have to disagree yet again. If you look at the Jerusalem Post and the "arab tabloid press", you'll understand there can be no comparison. The JP does is indeed a right-leaning newspaper. However, unlike the "arab tabloid press" it is not limited to hate-filled writings or villification of its opponents.

 
At 12:36 AM, Blogger Michael Brenner said...

Look, I don't think the Arab tabloid press is limited to hate-filled statements. But there is indeed no comparison between them and the Jerusalem Post, a serious newspaper which simply does not engage in hate-filled rhetoric on a regular basis, and perhaps more importantly, is part of the media in a country where if it did, it would be condemned immediately. Israel has one of the freest presses on Earth, as a perusal of its newspapers will immediately reveal.

Arab states have fairly restricted media. If government newspapers are printing the kind of garbage reported by MEMRI, it is likely that it is pervasive and widespread.

As I said before, if it weren't there, there wouldn't be anything for MEMRI to print. Whether they are biased or not, I think left-wingers should be embracing them with open arms, because the values that MEMRI pushes are the values of open-mindedness and tolerance, values which are not well represented in the Arab world right now. MEMRI pushes these values and promotes Arabs who promote these values. Why then, would there be any other reason except perhaps jealousy, that the left would oppose it?

 
At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, actually, no. Sorry, but I have to disagree yet again. If you look at the Jerusalem Post and the "arab tabloid press", you'll understand there can be no comparison. The JP does is indeed a right-leaning newspaper. However, unlike the "arab tabloid press" it is not limited to hate-filled writings or villification of its opponents."

Have you read the Arab Tabloid Press? Or only the editorialized translations of MEMRI? Which goes to the heart of the matter, MEMRI only republishes what it wants.

It is disingenious to claim that the right-wing in Israel is not hate-filled towards Arabs and palestinians. Denying this is like saying the right-wing of Arabs and Palestians is not hate-filled towards Israelis. It is incredible the lengths the right-wing goes on to lie on their track record of hate. Or calling Arafat a terrorist and Sharon a hero not hate?

They are indeed morally equivallent, and your denial of this shows that you hold a double standard. The Zionist press is with few exceptions "fair and balanced" but the Arab press is without variation "hate-filled". Nice.

Your repeated denials of hate-motivated declarations on the part of the Israeli right-wing press shows you are not a honest observer, but a partisan, and hence to claim a superior moral ground is moot.

I make no such claim. I clearly stated I am a partisan, and that my views are biased. I am an anti-Zionist. I am not anti-Jewish. And I am left-wing.

Now, what are discussing here is if MEMRI is partisan, and if it is in the ideological and financial sphere of the Israeli Zionist right-wing or not.

I have already stated the reason why many people belive it is so. None of which have been factually challenged, which is the interest of my intervention here.

I like reading MEMRI, like I enjoy watching FOX News. I have a morbid taste for the dark side of humanity, represented by the cynicism of both efforts.

For example, the "anti-semite cartoons" section, while indeed containing abhorent samples of jingoism, similar in form an content to anti-Arab cartoons in mainstream Israeli papers, also contains others you can only consider "anti-semite" if you equate Zionism with Jewishness, something only the right-wing does.

I guess the written material also has the same type of selection. The worse is mixed in higher doses with the moderate. Since I don't speak or read Arab, I can't verify this by myself, but the few Arab publications in english certainly give off a different impression than what MEMRI achives. Is it thinking this honestly such a stretch? Really? It is unreasonable?

Then educate me in what is reasonable or not.

 
At 12:43 AM, Blogger Michael Brenner said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Have you read the Arab Tabloid Press? Or only the editorialized translations of MEMRI? Which goes to the heart of the matter, MEMRI only republishes what it wants."

Me:

Again, this is not the point. The point is that whether MEMRI is selective or not, they would not be able to do what they do if there was not a constant stream of material. Furthermore, given MEMRI's fairly transparent activism for exposing Arab antisemitism and promote liberal intellectuals, what they are doing is positive and should be respected.

Anonymous:

"It is disingenious to claim that the right-wing in Israel is not hate-filled towards Arabs and palestinians. Denying this is like saying the right-wing of Arabs and Palestians is not hate-filled towards Israelis. It is incredible the lengths the right-wing goes on to lie on their track record of hate. Or calling Arafat a terrorist and Sharon a hero not hate?"

Me:

Why? Is the whole right-wing this way? I submit that there is a major difference between the pro-Israel right-wing and the Palestinian one; the latter is annihilationist in word and deed.

Are you seriously asserting that calling Arafat a terrorist is an example of hate? This is view shared across the political spectrum. Only the far-left seems to deny what is an historical fact.

Really, I could come up with much better examples if I were you of anti-Arab hatred from right-wingers. Regardless, you seem ready to engage in exactly the generalizations that you are rejecting.

Anonymous:

"They are indeed morally equivallent, and your denial of this shows that you hold a double standard. The Zionist press is with few exceptions "fair and balanced" but the Arab press is without variation "hate-filled". Nice."

Me:

No, there's no double standard. One is by and large a serious undertaking and is part of a free society with press freedom. Any hate-filled rhetoric can be confronted by non-hate rhetoric. And it is eminently fair and balanced.

The other is largely a government controlled undertaking, full of self-serving propaganda and often displaying antisemitic sentiment as a mainstream opinion with little opposing such sentiments. Most Arabs from the region would probably openly admit this. The ones I know do, as do people I know who have visited the region. Why can't you?

Anonymous:

"Your repeated denials of hate-motivated declarations on the part of the Israeli right-wing press shows you are not a honest observer, but a partisan, and hence to claim a superior moral ground is moot.

I make no such claim. I clearly stated I am a partisan, and that my views are biased. I am an anti-Zionist. I am not anti-Jewish. And I am left-wing."

Me:

So if you don't believe right-wingers don't hate Arabs, you are a partisan. OK.

While you're at it, please explain how, as an anti-Zionist, you reconcile the discrimination against Jews in the form of denying them self-determination rights while favoring such rights for Arabs, Muslims, Christians, and Europeans.

Anonymous:

"Now, what are discussing here is if MEMRI is partisan, and if it is in the ideological and financial sphere of the Israeli Zionist right-wing or not.

I have already stated the reason why many people belive it is so. None of which have been factually challenged, which is the interest of my intervention here."

Me:

I have factually challenged every single one of your contentions on MEMRI. If you have not read what I have wrote, that is your shortcoming. Read CAREFULLY. I have not argued with your contention that MEMRI has an agenda, not unlike most newspapers, such as the Guardian, for instance, which is more biased in its own direction than MEMRI is. I have argued with the prevailing left-wing view, and your view, that MEMRI is bad, and that it is not qualified to be active on the issue of antisemitism because it is "right-wing". I am not myself a right-winger, but I find the left-wing attitude on MEMRI at best hypocritical and not a little laced with guilt at not doing what MEMRI is doing. Can you please, for the record, identify what aspect of MEMRI actions you disagree with? Do you believe, as Juan Cole apparently does, that the voices of Arab liberals should not be promoted? Do you disagree that antisemitism is a widespread problem in the Arab world and that the mainstream media does a rather poor job of exposing it?

Anonymous:

"I like reading MEMRI, like I enjoy watching FOX News. I have a morbid taste for the dark side of humanity, represented by the cynicism of both efforts.

For example, the "anti-semite cartoons" section, while indeed containing abhorent samples of jingoism, similar in form an content to anti-Arab cartoons in mainstream Israeli papers, also contains others you can only consider "anti-semite" if you equate Zionism with Jewishness, something only the right-wing does.

I guess the written material also has the same type of selection. The worse is mixed in higher doses with the moderate. Since I don't speak or read Arab, I can't verify this by myself, but the few Arab publications in english certainly give off a different impression than what MEMRI achives. Is it thinking this honestly such a stretch? Really? It is unreasonable?

Then educate me in what is reasonable or not."

Me:

What do you think? Do you think MEMRI is making these articles up? Are you really so naive that you cannot understand why English Arab publications tend to be more moderate? (Actually, it is not that hard to find antisemitic literature in them either. Arab News, perhaps Saudi Arabia's most prominent English language newspaper, has published articles by Holocaust deniers a number of times.)

Reminding you again that Israel has a free press, much of which is left-wing to centrist, please direct me to examples of anti-Arab cartoons in mainstream Israeli newspapers. Dry Bones in the Jerusalem Post is about as right-wing as an Israeli newspaper gets, and I do not remember seeing what I would describe as an anti-Arab cartoon in it. Anything to the right of the Post is not in the mainstream, so if you're going to send me stuff from Arutz Sheva, recognize that it represents the views of at most 10 percent of the Israeli populace.

Many of the MEMRI cartoons come from government run newspapers.

I truly feel sorry for you if you see MEMRI as an example of the "dark side of humanity".

 

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