Straight from the horse's mouth!
July 1, 2004 11:39 AM   Subscribe

MEMRI adds a TV monitoring project. MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) has added hundreds of clips from various Middle Eastern television stations (list of sources here). The archive of clips can be found here. There are amazing primary sources available, like "Saudi Sheik Sa'd Al-Breik on Human Rights in Islam and in the West", "Sheik Youssef Al-Qaradhawi in Favor of Democratic Elections in the Arab World", and "Former Dean of Humanities at Cairo's Ein Shams University: 9/11 was 100% American".
posted by loquax (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
THe videos are quite big to download (many more than 100 MB), and the streaming seems to only work with Windows Media Player in Internet Explorer, but there are brief summaries available for each video.
posted by loquax at 11:40 AM on July 1, 2004

And the rebuttal (from the next page of google results on MEMRI).

Whitaker's view of Memri's work is not shared by others. In fact most of the well-known media in the US respect and frequently quote Memri, for example the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and Miami Herald.

The Guardian itself published Thomas Friedman's column (October 16 2001) commending Memri translations. The Qatari Al-Jazeera television channel also trusts Memri and frequently asks me to appear on their programmes.

Even the Palestinian National Authority website has posted our material - with attribution. On the other hand, it is interesting to see whom Whitaker did choose to quote to back up his allegations against Memri. Ibrahim Hooper is the spokesman of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, which supports Hamas.

posted by loquax at 11:55 AM on July 1, 2004

Or from disinfopedia if you prefer:

Although MEMRI's viewpoint is pro-Israel, it is not the case that it contains no criticism of Israel or is monolithically anti-Arab. Many of the articles distributed by MEMRI are in fact criticisms of the Arab world offered by Arab liberals, and some of those are critical of Israel. It can be argued that MEMRI, despite its faults, amplifies the voices of reformers and liberals in the Arab and Muslim worlds, extending a platform that they would not otherwise have because of societal taboos and government censorship. Critics of MEMRI face something of a contradiction in this respect, since it is these liberal and reformist views that they themselves tend to favor.

MEMRI's stance is that it is opposed to Islamic fundamentalism, not Islam itself, although the integrity of this position may be questioned because of links on MEMRI's website to certain evangelical Christian organizations who take a harder line on Islam. Though a number of its founders worked in Israeli intelligence, this may be explained by the fact that former Israeli intelligence officers are also the most likely Israelis to know Arabic. Yigal Carmon, MEMRI's founder, actually worked for both Labor and Likud governments. Moreover, the fact that one works for Israeli intelligence evinces little; four former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service, are in fact supporters of peace negotiations and proponents of the two-state solution. Both criticism and praise of MEMRI should be taken with a grain of salt, since analyses of MEMRI are almost always motivated by politics, not the quantity or quality of MEMRI's work. It should, however, be noted that MEMRI has gained currency with most writers in mainstream. For example, New York Times writer Thomas Friedman, a influential foreign affairs columnist, has used MEMRI translations a number of times in his columns.

posted by loquax at 11:58 AM on July 1, 2004

Here's a tip: debkafile has been posted here, too.

Selective Memri

Selective Memri? A Debate On the Secretive Media Institute Run By Israel's Former Counter-Terrorism Advisor That Is Disseminating Articles About Arabs to the Western Media

Stop the presses! Wingnut with internet access has axe to grind!
posted by y2karl at 12:20 PM on July 1, 2004

At a time when interfaith dialogue groups are opening around the country, when Islamic histories make the bestseller lists and bookstores can't keep the Koran in stock, when the nation is following the President's lead in working toward a fuller and more amicable appreciation of Islam and the Arab world, the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute spreads hate speech, baseless conspiracy theories and vicious calumny in a blatant effort to discredit Arabs and stir up malice toward Muslims. And they're providing a pretty valuable service in the process.

That MEMRI has a bias against Arab societies can hardly be disputed. Although chairman Yigal Carmon occasionally argues for restraint in Israel's dealings with the Palestinians, he has been fixated on both the failure of the peace process and extremist Arab media for many years. Co-director Wurmser argues at length for blood-and-iron approaches to Israeli nationalism. MEMRI writers stay focused on the Middle Eastern culture of incitement when writing for other publications.
What is not clear is why this is necessarily an unfair representation of the Arabic media. 'They look for the absolute worst, most inflammatory rhetoric they can find in the Arabic press,' says CAIR's Hooper. 'It's kind of like if we translated Franklin Graham's remarks [condemning Islam as a 'wicked' religion], and then went to the Arabic press and said 'See, this is what they're saying in America.''

posted by matteo at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2004

coming soon: why FrontPage Magazine is not a biased source of information
posted by matteo at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2004

Give me a break skallas et al. Watch the videos, read the translations. You don't think there's any value in them? Do you think they're fabricating the clips? Faking the translations? Many of them are very positive, like the one I mentioned in the post about democracy. Sure it's not objective. Sure they are pro-liberal democracy and human rights. Do you have a problem with that? Do you want to read the disinfopedia link again?

Anyway, I think that the video clips are a valuable addition to MEMRI's work, and frankly, it's extremely heartening to see Sheik Youssef Al-Qaradhawi questioning why there is no democracy in Qatar. If that's ideological bias, I'm all for it.

Hearing Arabs and Muslims speaking in their own words is important, both when it's positive and negative. Too often we delegate our responsibility to analyze and interpret to others, be it FOX news, or the NYT, or the BBC. Is MEMRI perfect? No, of course not. Perfection would be complete and total knowledge. At least MEMRI provides the ability for non-Middle Easterners and non-Arabic speakers to see some of what is happening there with fewer filters, either right or left.
posted by loquax at 12:23 PM on July 1, 2004

loquax, MEMRI likes to take the Ann Coulters and David Dukes of the Muslim world and paint them as representative of 1.3 billion people, simple as that. do you think that 'America = David Duke'? is Baruch Goldstein representative of Jewish opinion, loquax? would you appreciate a media outlet who did exactly that, Jew = Baruch Goldstein? I bet you wouldn't.

MEMRI does the exact same thing to Muslims.
posted by matteo at 12:32 PM on July 1, 2004

Not true matteo, not true at all. First of all, I would prefer to hear what Sadr or others say verbatim, rather than an interpretation thereof, just like I want to hear what Duke says rather than have someone give me the gist of it. There is a balance there. Read through the archives. Here are some interesting articles and translations that add to an outsider's understanding of distant and foreign societies:

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 180 - June 16, 2004
Progressive Arab Intellectuals: Tarek Heggy –Campaigner for Reform and Modernization in the Arab and Muslim World

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 171 - April 20, 2004
Reactions in the Arab Media to 'The Passion of the Christ'

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 169 - April 5, 2004
The Muslim Debate Over the French Veil Ban

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 166 - March 12, 2004
The Alleged Al-Qa'ida Statement of Responsibility for the Madrid Bombings: Translation and Commentary

Special Dispatch Series - No. 728, June 8, 2004
Satirist Ali Salem to Arab League: There's Light at the End of the Tunnel

Special Dispatch Series - No. 724, June 2, 2004
Arab NGOs: Arab League Summit Declarations are Not for Reform, But for Deceiving Arab Public Opinion and the International Community

Special Dispatch Series - No. 722, May 26, 2004
New Palestinian Publication Calls for a Halt to Violence

Special Dispatch Series - No. 718, May 20, 2004
Reaction and Counter-Reaction to the Abu Ghureib Abuses in the Arab Media

Special Dispatch Series - No. 713, May 12, 2004
The Political Debate in Iran Following Elections for the Seventh Majlis

Special Report - No. 14, April 11, 2003
Arab and Muslim Media Reactions to the Fall of Baghdad

Sure there are many articles and translations of anti-American or anti-Israeli pronouncements, but that is an important part of the bigger political picture in the MidEast. It is valuable to provide first hand links to radicals in order to know what their issues are, not to just simply believe what Ann Coulter or, say, Juan Cole tells you their issues are. Do you really disagree? MEMRI has clearly stated their bias against radical Islam and terrorism. They have not claimed that they are posting articles "representative" of 1.3 billion Muslims. In fact, they are the "Middle East" Media research Institute, not a "Muslim" monitoring agency. Here is their mission statement:

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) explores the Middle East through the region's media. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East.

It is a selection of information. Certainly an editorial selection. But to compare it to FOX news is absurd. Watch the videos, read the translations, and make up your own mind on the issues they bring forward. And by all means, watch Al Jazeera too, or whatever you like. This isn't the be-all end-all of sources, just a valuable compliment to the standard news of the region that we typically receive. And the television clips made it better.
posted by loquax at 1:03 PM on July 1, 2004

Holy crap! Something biased got posted to Metafilter?! We better nip this in the bud.
posted by boaz at 1:12 PM on July 1, 2004

When do we get the translation of the 41 part mini-series based on the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' that was broadcast on Egyptian state television.

Or is state controlled Egyptian television too 'on the fringe' to be considered seriously?
posted by PenDevil at 1:13 PM on July 1, 2004

correct link
posted by PenDevil at 1:16 PM on July 1, 2004

Thank you skallas, Mosaic's compilation of various selected news reports also looks very interesting.
posted by loquax at 1:31 PM on July 1, 2004

Mosaic includes television news broadcases from selected national and regional entities.
And this is different (and supposedly better) than MEMRI how?

Middle East governments (and note that's governments not people) have long used the language barrier and lack of access to Mid-East media to allow themselves cover to publish some particularly nasty hate speech. Why MEMRI is biased for pointing it out (and as loquax has noted they do a lot more than just that) is beyond me. Frankly if a government media broadcasts a message to 'destroy the tyrant Jew' I expect them to be called on it.
posted by PenDevil at 2:09 PM on July 1, 2004

MEMRI likes to take the Ann Coulters and David Dukes of the Muslim world and paint them as representative of 1.3 billion people, simple as that. do you think that 'America = David Duke'? is Baruch Goldstein representative of Jewish opinion, loquax? would you appreciate a media outlet who did exactly that, Jew = Baruch Goldstein? I bet you wouldn't.

MEMRI does the exact same thing to Muslims.

From everything I've read from a variety of news sources (and note that MEMRI and FOX news are very seldom among them, but I do occasionally glance at Al Jazeera), the Muslim media *is* filled with hateful extremists. I have yet to see a "moderate" comment from anyone about anything, untempered by the qualifier of the sort of: "but the Americans and Jews are still Satan's scum!" But of course they aren't promoting violence when they call for the destruction of Jews.

I'm sure that those in Muslim-controlled media who would dare make unpopular statements would be made to regret it. Does it change the fact that Muslim media is chock full of violent, extremist opinion? MEMRI should not claim to be unbiased, but I appreciate it for pointing out what I will rarely hear about on the "mainstream" media.

Do point me to a source where I can find credible counter-examples, if such sources exist. I'll try to look into this Mosaic thing, but something text-based would be better.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2004

MEMRI likes to take the Ann Coulters and David Dukes of the Muslim world...

No. Coulter and Duke aren't paid by our government, nor are they official mouthpieces of our country/culture's policy or polity, nor are their words given the weight of the words of God.

MEMRI, on the other hand, posts many videos of imams--who are paid by their state governments, such as in Saudi Arabia--preaching holy war against America and Israel, comparing Jews and Christians to pigs and monkeys, calling for our murders, etc. This isn't a once-in-a-while fringe thing, these are respected mainstream leaders, usually in the employ of their governments, regularly and vehemently espousing this kind of hatred, whether in Friday sermons or nightly news shows, from all across the Middle East, which is in turn broadcast by state-run media. For a "fringe" view, that's some pretty serious religious, cultural, and political endorsement.

Again, let's point out that MEMRI's translations, whether of the hate speech or the pro-democracy discussions or whatever, are agreed to be accurate, even by the group's detractors. Which makes me wonder if some of the animus to the group isn't motivated purely by a desire to shoot the messenger.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:32 PM on July 1, 2004

I've never agreed with you more, asparagirl.

I'd like to see more textual translations of muslim clerics speeches. If the more moderate ones are reaching more people, great - no problem for them too be put to MEMRI for translation.

I absolutely _do not_ trust what is offered as translated by arab governments. There was a cleric who recently visited Canada who regularly calls for the death of pigs and monkeys, ie jews. He is the grand imam of the holiest mosque in Islam. I don't recall his speeches being translated by another independent source.

Are we being asked to believe that violent incitement against westerners is not uttered by muftis, imams and ayatollahs? If so, where do they get the idea from to behead us, to kidnap and ransom us, to bomb and threaten us?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:47 PM on July 1, 2004

An interesting commentary on misunderstandings and incorrect translation and interpretation between the West and Islam (the bits more relevant to this thread are further down in the article).
posted by loquax at 5:14 PM on July 1, 2004

Biased source - sure.

Taken from original source material in their own words? Sure.

Sounds like F-911 and MEMRI to me.

Ummm... gander meet goose... goose meet gander.
posted by swerdloff at 8:13 PM on July 1, 2004

"Coulter and Duke aren't paid by our government"

unlike, say, Israeli settlers? they give their words the weight of God's word, they're very heavily subsidized by US taxpayers, they deeply influence the Israeli right's policy, etc.
you mean unlike them, Asparagirl?

thought so.

look, it's OK for the Israeli right wing (and its various non-Israeli shills) to hate Islam -- just wage war against those 1.3 bn people if they're so evil and you feel they're that dangerous.
just don't be disappointed if a lot of people worldwide (like, a few billions) won't join you in your religious war.

screaming about how savage and corrupt those husky Arabs are makes you happy? go ahead. read MEMRI to reinforce your prejudice. just learn to live with the fact that outside of, say, Hebron, or a Ma'aleh Adumim town meeting, or a LGF meet-up, you just won't find many reasonable people ready to join your, ahem, crusade


"I have yet to see a "moderate" comment from anyone about anything, untempered by the qualifier of the sort of: "but the Americans and Jews are still Satan's scum!"

posted by matteo at 2:08 AM on July 2, 2004

That's one the most devoid of fact and side-stepping responses I've ever read. No one here has mentioned anyone hating Muslims except you. I have issues with governments using government controlled media to broadcast hate speech as if it were fact:

This holiday [Purim] begins with a fast, on March 13, like the Jewess Esther who vowed to fast. The holiday continues on March 14; during the holiday, the Jews wear carnival-style masks and costumes and overindulge in drinking alcohol, prostitution, and adultery. This holiday has become known among Muslim historians as the "Holiday of Masks."

"Who was Esther, and why the Jews sanctify her and act as she did, I will clarify in my article next Tuesday, Allah willing. Today, I would like to tell you how human blood is spilled so it can be used for their holiday pastries. The blood is spilled in a special way. How is it done?"

"For this holiday, the victim must be a mature adolescent who is, of course, a non-Jew - that is, a Christian or a Muslim. His blood is taken and dried into granules. The cleric blends these granules into the pastry dough; they can also be saved for the next holiday. In contrast, for the Passover slaughtering, about which I intend to write one of these days, the blood of Christian and Muslim children under the age of 10 must be used, and the cleric can mix the blood [into the dough] before or after dehydration."

Ar-Riyadh, Saudi government daily, two-part article entitled "The Jewish Holiday of Purim" by Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma of King Faysal University in Al-Dammam, March 10 and March 12, 2002

"I thought that my grandfather's story was a fairy tale like the story about the wicked witch who turned children into frogs. But when I matured and read. I found out that the story of the Jewish blood Matzah is true [and] that all its details are recorded in the Shar'i [Islamic Religious] Courts in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama in 1840. The French Orientalist Charles Laurand published these details in a book called The Murder of Father Toma and his Servant Ibrahim Amara. The book was translated to Arabic by Dr. Youssef Nasrallah and published in Cairo in 1898"
Al-Ahram (Egyptian government), October 28, 2000.

And frankly I'm glad that MEMRI is translating (and they are the one who originally translated both these articles) this kind of crap. This has little to do with 'hating Muslims'. If the Israeli (or US or UK or Norwegian or South African for that matter) government reviewed and published swill such as this I would like to know about it.

And what the fsck does Israeli settlers have to do with this. Last time I checked when some right wing (or for that matter left wing) nutcase in Israel spouts some extremist bullshit the Israeli media themselves are usually the first to smack them down. Wonderful thing that, indepependent media...
posted by PenDevil at 3:29 AM on July 2, 2004

matteo, skallas et al: who would you prefer to translate the current versions of the blood libel? Why aren't they already doing it?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:26 AM on July 2, 2004

And what the fsck does Israeli settlers have to do with this.

Aw, matteo's just acting pissy because we've been on different sides of the Israel/Palestine debate in previous MeFi threads (I'm one of those eeeeevil American Zionist stooges he hates). Nothing new there. But if he's dragging debate over Gaza/West Bank pullout plans into this thread, that really is saying something about his lack of a substanative argument here.

to hate Islam -- just wage war against those 1.3 bn people if they're so evil and you feel they're that dangerous.

So loquax's pointing out that there are now hundreds of videos online (and their agreed-to-be-accurate transcripts) of government officials, very well-respected religious leaders, cultural authorities, and many, many others calling for murder, preaching jihad, repeating the blood libel, etc...somehow makes us, the viewers and the would-be discussers of that content, the "real" racists.

Encoding into online video their calls for jihad against the unbeliever, or their admitted desire to reclaim Andalusia and other areas, or their repetition of the righteousness of suicide bombings, is somehow a sign of our "religious war".

Talking about the aforementioned videos on MeFi is the very same thing as "screaming about how savage and corrupt those husky Arabs are".

Point noted, matteo, thanks ever so much. We'll be quiet now and go back to watching cartoons while over on another channel people openly call for our murders, incite hatred, and tell kids that blowing yourself up for God is really swell. We shouldn't watch it, nor discuss it on an Internet bulletin board--that would be the real outrage here.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:45 AM on July 2, 2004

I'm one of those eeeeevil American Zionist stooges he hates

again, I don't hate anybody, especially you -- I don't care enough about you, among many reasons. I just think you're probably smarter than your I/P arguments on MeFi (that's not saying much I admit, but still) and you should know better. the "Muslims are bad" routine is now terribly tired. if it's any consolation, if it warms your cute paranoid heart, a lot of Muslims are getting killed these last 2 1/2 years, so you definitely have a few thousand less believers in the blood libel to worry about.
better now?

I understand your desire to rally the troops in the good fight against those allegedly freedom-hating 1.3 billion people, but the War Against Islam is not my war, Asparagirl. deal with it. not my war.
the (historically) sorry state of Muslim/Jew and Jew/Muslim relations is really not my problem, as a secular Goy.
(well, as a frequent plane traveler and visitor to the US and citizen of a large European city it actually became mine, too, these last three decades, but let's not start that argument here. not again)

and it's sad that you don't get how spewing racial/religious hate while being subsidized by govt money is not only some Arab country media's bad habit -- your fundy settler buddies are exactly as guilty.


We'll be quiet now and go back to watching cartoons

please do, your neocon buddies are civilizing the Middle East so that you don't have to. enjoy the cartoons -- they're actually journalistically more honest and accurate than MEMRI, come to think about it
posted by matteo at 12:02 PM on July 2, 2004

I would really like to point out again that even if you have no use for MEMRI's political reports and videos (for whatever reason), there are many translations and clips of Middle Eastern cultural and social miscellany that don't often get reported in the Western mainstream. For example, I heard about that Iranian woman that gave birth to a frog on MEMRI first.
posted by loquax at 12:09 PM on July 2, 2004

myself, I received an email from the frog
posted by matteo at 12:45 PM on July 2, 2004

Matteo, you should know that I also have a frog fetish.
posted by loquax at 12:50 PM on July 2, 2004

so why don't you ask Asparagirl if she'll allow you to watch her as she kisses a frog, MEMRI TV blasting in the background?

posted by matteo at 2:14 PM on July 2, 2004

(the frog will obviously turn into Postroad, and you'll all live together, happily ever after in a heavily fortified illegal outpost with cable modem and MEMRI TV)
posted by matteo at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2004

Sounds grand!
posted by loquax at 3:15 PM on July 2, 2004

the (historically) sorry state of Muslim/Jew and Jew/Muslim relations is really not my problem, as a secular Goy.

I'll be honest with you, matteo - that's the saddest statement I've seen on here, perhaps ever.

So you aren't an internationalist then? I thouf=ght you were, up to now, on your record.

Substitute, in different eras, Serb/muslim, or german/jew, or iranian/iraqi. Even, in my backyard, catholic/protestant.

I'm glad Clinton had the vision thing better than you.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:58 PM on July 2, 2004

matteo: *cries*

Good answer. You've proven your point. I surrender.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:04 PM on July 2, 2004

History of Jewish/Muslim relations is a lot more complex then current times would suggest. It's a fascinating topic, not one that should be used to score points in debates, because it's way too ambigious a history to make for good cheap shots.
posted by cell divide at 6:08 PM on July 2, 2004

This is confusing. I've often seen detractors of Israel state that criticism of Israeli govt (and criticism of Zionism in general) is not anti-Semitism.

Yet here criticism of of Arab governments and their track record of publishing outright hate speech is the same as hating 1.3 billion Muslims?
posted by PenDevil at 1:03 AM on July 3, 2004

that's the saddest statement I've seen on here, perhaps ever.
So you aren't an internationalist then? I thouf=ght you were, up to now, on your record.

one thing is being an "internationalist" -- even if you're stepping into dangerous ground there, what's 'internationalism' really? a 24/ world police corps?

I simply have no religious pony in that particular religious war -- I do have the right not to particularly care about the deep-seated reasons for mutual religious hate between two faiths I don't belong to. just that.
there's a war for land going on since 37 years ago.
war. for. land.
it's a highly unstable region, and it's exporting chaos at a very high speed -- in fine motus velocior, indeed. my brand of "internationalism" is, the international community should try to contain instability and possibly stop genocides. what the international community shouldn't do is fight religious (proxy?) wars
the I/P war is a war for land, and as a corollary millions of Jews and hundreds of millions of Muslims and all Likud cheerleaders have a huge emotional link to that war. for religious reasons. I don't. deal with it. we'd lose the Cappella Sistina and Brunelleschi and most of the art I love and the Gospels I keep re-reading and even my beloved Dante, but I'd very happily trade monotheism, of all kinds, for a little more peace. it was a bad idea to start with, and it became the mother for too many wars. I have no pony, when it comes to whose God is the true one. I just don't.

I'm glad Clinton had the vision thing better than you.
on the other hand, I'm glad that I wouldn't execute a brain-damaged man just to look un-Dukakishly tough. or, say, I'm glad I wouldn't have soiled my pants after the Mogadishu corpsedragging footage was broadcast in the US. I'm also glad I'd have sent troops to Rwanda, confiscate a few butcher knives. I'm sorry if my low opinion of the current US administration made you think I was a Clintonite -- Allah forbid. Bush/Cheney make him look like Thomas Jefferson, OK, but this is beside the point
posted by matteo at 8:45 AM on July 5, 2004

I was rude, and I'm sorry, matteo.

Well now, nor do I. Have a dog in this fight, nor attachment to their land, their gods and saints and papyri. I am attached to humanity, individuals and groups, and am sensitive to threats upon them.

However, what you allude to here is what I'm interested in:
I understand your desire to rally the troops in the good fight against those allegedly freedom-hating 1.3 billion people, but the War Against Islam is not my war, Asparagirl. deal with it. not my war.
the (historically) sorry state of Muslim/Jew and Jew/Muslim relations is really not my problem, as a secular Goy.
You say it's not your war, against Islam. But Militant Islam (all the terror groups, their financiers, ideologues and theologians) is at war against you.

In my youthful, post-hippy teens, before punk but after I became aware of the threat to the globe from the nuclear superpowers, I saw that poster "What if they gave a war and nobody came?"

The answer is: one side will conquer, and one side will be slaughtered.

You may sincerely think I am deluded with the fear of Islam itself (you'd be wrong); or that I must be jewish (wrong); or Repblican (so wrong). But I am absolutely sure that we have to prevent a genocide in the Middle East. The Israelis/Zionist entity/Jews (not too bothered on nomenclature) may have a dubious claim to the land there (I don't dispute that). But a people have a right to exist, in their historic lands. That applies to the Palestinians too.

I haven't a clue how to ensure the circle can be squared. I do know that we have seen genocides in the last decade, on tv, by people who knew that they would be discovered (Balkans), or who had told us what they would do (Rwanda). The Militant muslims are telling us - and have the backing from their religious texts, which they quote - they will annihilate the jewish people.

Why shoud we disbelieve them?

Ultimately, this maybe just underdoggism: I want to protect the vulnerable (I know, seeing an Israeli soldier pointing his rifle at a peace protestor, or an Arab youth, makes anonsense of that concept: but massacred families - toddlers, mothers, teens - reminds me that brutality is close to the surface on both sides). I don't see either 'side' as innocent - but I see one side as being at risk of extermination. Literally.

I also see that the people threatening the extermination are threatening me. A gay, atheist westerner who is rather attached to democracy. A secular goy, up to a point.

In the end, we will all see that this is our battle. We are under threat. And the progressive, humane stance is not one of a plague on both your houses. It's more like "Don't make me come in there and sort you two out!".

I don't propose that as serious foreign policy - at this point. Somehow we have to get these two tribes to share land. Well, we do it in europe now - my neighours religion and ethnicity is of small curiosity to me, no more - at some time between now and the end of the world, it'll occur in the Middle East, too. Anything which brings that closer will be a good thing (promoting mixed marriages, co-ed schools, disestablishment in the Israeli state, etc etc).

Here endeth the first ramble. It's late, but we are closer in some ways than I thought.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:48 PM on July 5, 2004

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