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Selective MEMRI
by Yahoo! Groups Notification (by way of John Leonard <leonardjp@earthlink.net>)
11 October 2002 05:30 UTC
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Here's an article on MEMRI and what they're all about
Selective Memri

Brian Whitaker investigates whether the 'independent' media institute that 
translates the Arabic newspapers is quite what it seems

Monday August 12, 2002

For some time now, I have been receiving small gifts from a generous 
institute in the United States. The gifts are high-quality translations of 
articles from Arabic newspapers which the institute sends to me by email 
every few days, entirely free-of-charge.
The emails also go to politicians and academics, as well as to lots of 
other journalists. The stories they contain are usually interesting.

Whenever I get an email from the institute, several of my Guardian 
colleagues receive one too and regularly forward their copies to me - 
sometimes with a note suggesting that I might like to check out the story 
and write about it.

If the note happens to come from a more senior colleague, I'm left feeling 
that I really ought to write about it. One example last week was a couple 
of paragraphs translated by the institute, in which a former doctor in the 
Iraqi army claimed that Saddam Hussein had personally given orders to 
amputate the ears of military deserters.

The organisation that makes these translations and sends them out is the 
Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), based in Washington but with 
recently-opened offices in London, Berlin and Jerusalem.

Its work is subsidised by US taxpayers because as an "independent, 
non-partisan, non-profit" organisation, it has tax-deductible status under 
American law.

Memri's purpose, according to its website, is to bridge the language gap 
between the west - where few speak Arabic - and the Middle East, by 
"providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media".

Despite these high-minded statements, several things make me uneasy 
whenever I'm asked to look at a story circulated by Memri. First of all, 
it's a rather mysterious organisation. Its website does not give the names 
of any people to contact, not even an office address.

The reason for this secrecy, according to a former employee, is that "they 
don't want suicide bombers walking through the door on Monday morning" 
(Washington Times, June 20).

This strikes me as a somewhat over-the-top precaution for an institute that 
simply wants to break down east-west language barriers.

The second thing that makes me uneasy is that the stories selected by Memri 
for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the 
character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of 
Israel. I am not alone in this unease.

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the 
Washington Times: "Memri's intent is to find the worst possible quotes from 
the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible."

Memri might, of course, argue that it is seeking to encourage moderation by 
highlighting the blatant examples of intolerance and extremism. But if so, 
one would expect it - for the sake of non-partisanship - t o publicise 
extremist articles in the Hebrew media too.

Although Memri claims that it does provide translations from Hebrew media, 
I can't recall receiving any.

Evidence from Memri's website also casts doubt on its non-partisan status. 
Besides supporting liberal democracy, civil society, and the free market, 
the institute also emphasises "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the 
Jewish people and to the state of Israel".

That is what its website used to say, but the words about Zionism have now 
been deleted. The original page, however, can still be found in internet 

The reason for Memri's air of secrecy becomes clearer when we look at the 
people behind it. The co-founder and president of Memri, and the registered 
owner of its website, is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon.

Mr - or rather, Colonel - Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military 
intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli 
prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

Retrieving another now-deleted page from the archives of Memri's website 
also throws up a list of its staff. Of the six people named, three - 
including Col Carmon - are described as having worked for Israeli 

Among the other three, one served in the Israeli army's Northern Command 
Ordnance Corps, one has an academic background, and the sixth is a former 
stand-up comedian.

Col Carmon's co-founder at Memri is Meyrav Wurmser, who is also director of 
the centre for Middle East policy at the Indianapolis-based Hudson 
Institute, which bills itself as "America's premier source of applied 
research on enduring policy challenges".

The ubiquitous Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's defence policy 
board, recently joined Hudson's board of trustees.

Ms Wurmser is the author of an academic paper entitled Can Israel Survive 
Post-Zionism? in which she argues that leftwing Israeli intellectuals pose 
"more than a passing threat" to the state of Israel, undermining its soul 
and reducing its will for self-defence.

In addition, Ms Wurmser is a highly qualified, internationally recognised, 
inspiring and knowledgeable speaker on the Middle East whose presence would 
make any "event, radio or television show a unique one" - according to 
Benador Associates, a public relations company which touts her services.

Nobody, so far as I know, disputes the general accuracy of Memri's 
translations but there are other reasons to be concerned about its output.

The email it circulated last week about Saddam Hussein ordering people's 
ears to be cut off was an extract from a longer article in the pan-Arab 
newspaper, al-Hayat, by Adil Awadh who claimed to have first-hand knowledge 
of it.

It was the sort of tale about Iraqi brutality that newspapers would happily 
reprint without checking, especially in the current atmosphere of war 
fever. It may well be true, but it needs to be treated with a little 

Mr Awadh is not exactly an independent figure. He is, or at least was, a 
member of the Iraqi National Accord, an exiled Iraqi opposition group 
backed by the US - and neither al-Hayat nor Memri mentioned this.

Also, Mr Awadh's allegation first came to light some four years ago, when 
he had a strong personal reason for making it. According to a Washington 
Post report in 1998, the amputation claim formed part of his application 
for political asylum in the United States.

At the time, he was one of six Iraqis under arrest in the US as suspected 
terrorists or Iraqi intelligence agents, and he was trying to show that the 
Americans had made a mistake.

Earlier this year, Memri scored two significant propaganda successes 
against Saudi Arabia. The first was its translation of an article from 
al-Riyadh newspaper in which a columnist wrote that Jews use the blood of 
Christian or Muslim children in pastries for the Purim religious festival.

The writer, a university teacher, was apparently relying on an anti-semitic 
myth that dates back to the middle ages. What this demonstrated, more than 
anything, was the ignorance of many Arabs - even those highly educated - 
about Judaism and Israel, and their readiness to believe such ridiculous 

But Memri claimed al-Riyadh was a Saudi "government newspaper" - in fact 
it's privately owned - implying that the article had some form of official 

Al-Riyadh's editor said he had not seen the article before publication 
because he had been abroad. He apologised without hesitation and sacked his 
columnist, but by then the damage had been done.

Memri's next success came a month later when Saudi Arabia's ambassador to 
London wrote a poem entitled The Martyrs - about a young woman suicide 
bomber - which was published in al-Hayat newspaper.

Memri sent out translated extracts from the poem, which it described as 
"praising suicide bombers". Whether that was the poem's real message is a 
matter of interpretation. It could, perhaps more plausibly, be read as 
condemning the political ineffectiveness of Arab leaders, but Memri's 
interpretation was reported, almost without question, by the western media.

These incidents involving Saudi Arabia should not be viewed in isolation. 
They are part of building a case against the kingdom and persuading the 
United States to treat it as an enemy, rather than an ally.

It's a campaign that the Israeli government and American neo-conservatives 
have been pushing since early this year - one aspect of which was the 
bizarre anti-Saudi briefing at the Pentagon, hosted last month by Richard 

To anyone who reads Arabic newspapers regularly, it should be obvious that 
the items highlighted by Memri are those that suit its agenda and are not 
representative of the newspapers' content as a whole.

The danger is that many of the senators, congressmen and "opinion formers" 
who don't read Arabic but receive Memri's emails may get the idea that 
these extreme examples are not only truly representative but also reflect 
the policies of Arab governments.

Memri's Col Carmon seems eager to encourage them in that belief. In 
Washington last April, in testimony to the House committee on international 
relations, he portrayed the Arab media as part of a wide-scale system of 
government-sponsored indoctrination.

"The controlled media of the Arab governments conveys hatred of the west, 
and in particular, of the United States," he said. "Prior to September 11, 
one could frequently find articles which openly supported, or even called 
for, terrorist attacks against the United States ...

"The United States is sometimes compared to Nazi Germany, President Bush to 
Hitler, Guantanamo to Auschwitz," he said.

In the case of the al-Jazeera satellite channel, he added, "the 
overwhelming majority of guests and callers are typically anti-American and 

Unfortunately, it is on the basis of such sweeping generalisations that 
much of American foreign policy is built these days.

As far as relations between the west and the Arab world are concerned, 
language is a barrier that perpetuates ignorance and can easily foster 

All it takes is a small but active group of Israelis to exploit that 
barrier for their own ends and start changing western perceptions of Arabs 
for the worse.

It is not difficult to see what Arabs might do to counter that. A group of 
Arab media companies could get together and publish translations of 
articles that more accurately reflect the content of their newspapers.

It would certainly not be beyond their means. But, as usual, they may 
prefer to sit back and grumble about the machinations of Israeli 
intelligence veterans.

 Join Middle East editor Brian Whitaker and Washington correspondent 
Julian Borger at 1pm on Tuesday August 13 for an online chat to discuss the 
growing threat of a US military attack on Iraq.

The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and 
Clarifications column, Wednesday August 21 2002

In an article headed Atrocity stories regain currency, page 13, August 8, 
and in an article headed Selective Memri on the Guardian website, we 
referred to Dr Adil Awadh, an Iraqi doctor who alleged that Saddam Hussein 
had ordered doctors to amputate the ears of soldiers who deserted. Dr Awadh 
has asked us to make it clear that he has no connection with Memri (Middle 
East Media Research Institute), and that he did not authorise its 
translation of parts of an article by him. He is no longer a member of the 
Iraqi National Accord (INA). He is an independent member of the Iraqi 
National Congress (INC). His reference to orders by Saddam Hussein to cut 
off the ears of deserters has been supported by evidence from other sources.


----- Original Message -----
From: <mailto:leonardjp@earthlink.net>)>Dick Eastman (by way of John 
Leonard <leonardjp@earthlink.net>)
To: <mailto:WarOnFreedom@yahoogroups.com>WarOnFreedom@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2002 12:16 PM
Subject: [WarOnFreedom] Who really are these shady styled "Muslim 
fundamentalists" who are psy-oping "captured" young Palestinians int 
suicidal terror killing?

Great wars are often started with a frameup  -- with a provocation -- often
not-very-wise young men are captured and the lethal suggestions planted and
glorified .  But are the Hammas and Jihad leaders any more what they seem,
than those unknown individuals who bankrolled, coordinated, instructed and
inspired those who supposedly (but probably not) hijacked four airliners on
September 11, 2001?

After reading this father's account -- we see that the suicide terrorists
are not coming from fanatical families, they are being manufactured on
demand by psy-opers -- but then we must ask:  Whose psy-opers are they


Suicide Bomber's Father: Let Hamas and Jihad Leaders Send Their Own Sons

Suicide Bomber's Father: Let Hamas and Jihad Leaders Send Their Own Sons

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