Making a MEMRI

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.’
–Craig Cox
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