Making a MEMRI
Heard the one about the Palestinian doctor's celebration of
anthrax or the Saudi Arabian debate about ridding the world of
Christians and Jews? It's all part of the Middle East Media
Research Institute's (MEMRI) determined campaign to stir up
animosity toward the Muslim world. And according to Tim Cavanaugh
in the Online Journalism Review, there are few news services more
valuable to Americans at the moment.
'They look for the absolute worst, most inflammatory rhetoric they can find in the Arabic press,' says Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. '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.''
But Cavanaugh notes that MEMRI is one of the few news organizations willing and able to deliver a steady stream of articles translated from the Arabic press, and argues that its campaign does, unfortunately, represent the views of a certain segment of the Arab world. 'Anybody who has spent any time in the Middle East, or even stayed alert to Arab politics, knows that MEMRI doesn't need to travel very far to cherry-pick offensive comments,' he writes.
And MEMRI's ability to bring those views to a wider audience helps Americans develop a broader perspective on Middle Eastern opinion. 'The picture of Arab media presented by MEMRI is a slanted, ridiculous cartoon,' he writes. 'But it is not an entirely inaccurate picture. It's also a vital service at a time when Americans are starved for other viewpoints. And at the moment, it's one of the only shows in town.'