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December 24, 2005


Jay C

"To respond by attacking the Arab journalist messengers who carry the bad news, however, rather than addressing the contentious underlying political problems between the U.S., Israel and the Arab world, is a sign of political amateurism and personal emotionalism."

And just WHAT exactly, does Mr. Khouri (or anyone for that matter)expect from the Adminstration of George W. Bush? The attitude of the White House and its official enablers is that even the American television media is "unreliable" and prone to broadcasting the "wrong" message most of the time (i.e. anything that reflects badly on the Administration or the country; not that the Bush gang make much of a differentiation between the two) - how are foreign media - especially in the Arab world - going to be thought of as any better?

Shooting the messenger may not be the best way to deal with bad news: but messengers are certainly an easier target!


As an undergraduate over 1993-1995 I spent two years in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem talking with editors, journalists, and stringers for my senior thesis. After that experience, I have to say that complaints about al-Jazeera by right wing Americans and Israelis strike me as weirdly misplaced. Would they really want to go back to the situation before al-Jazeera? The news media split between party-funded organs, secretly party funded organs, and foreign news outlets that hired local journalists as stringers but published (usually without them on the byline) in a venue that barely anybody could afford, even if they understood it? Conspiracy theories published at will, with little sense of professional commitment to anything but? A million fragmented versions of events, so any consipracy theory could be proposed, with little chance of refutation?

Al-Jazeera is so obviously to the mutual advantage of both the populations in its satellite footprint and anybody who has ambitions to govern those populations that you have to wonder what the bitchers and moaners in Washington and Tel Aviv are thinking. I suppose one issue is it's "in your face," a document as opposed to the oral grapevine that most people got their real news from before al-Jazeera came along. But they'd better get used to it, because whatever the technological advances in coming decades, no one is ever going to make a product that consumers everywhere in the world are willing to accept. Regional satellite stations are the wave (so to speak) of the future, and if they don't like what it's saying then they ought to think about not pissing off people in the region so much.

Chuck Dupree (Belisarius)

Of course the real reason the Bush administration and its supporters complain about Al-Jazeera is that it's precisely "an accurate and timely reflection of how ordinary Arab men and women feel about their world". This tends to increase the sense that people can run their own affairs; in short, that democracy could work.

And of course "the overall coverage of Iraq on the mainstream Arab satellite services has been more comprehensive, balanced and accurate than the coverage of any mainstream American cable or broadcast television service." That's the problem: it's the threat of a good example.

The real goal of the US government has long been, to use the title of a Chomsky book, Deterring Democracy, both at home and abroad. Problem with that strategy is, it's a tough sell in the marketplace of ideas. So we talk about security and the spread of WMD. My opinion is, which are the two most dangerous states in the world today? The US and Israel. Let's get them to eliminate their nuclear arsenals in synch with the elimination of nukes by the UK, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and whoever else is developing them (wouldn't you, given the difference between the US reaction to Iraq and North Korea?). Then we'll be talking about the spread of people power.

I'm not holding my breath.

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