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MEMRI - The Middle East Media Research Institute

MEMRI - The Middle East Media Research Institute

Chinadaily US Edition Selective Memri | World news 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. 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. Mr Awadh is not exactly an independent figure. English | Front Page Yes, MEMRI, there is a Fatwa from Khamenei forbidding Nukes I’m told that MEMRI, which has its origins in Israeli military intelligence, has put out a statement doubting that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ever issued a fatwa forbidding nuclear weapons. (MEMRI claims to be a 501(c)3 non-profit but is actually an effort to cherry-pick Middle Eastern news to present the most negative face of the Arab world to Americans so as to prejudice them in favor of Israel; in this case it is just doing propaganda). A contributor has effectively answered this piece of disinformation. This posting points out that the official IRNA news agency said in 2005, “The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.” That this old posting has gone into the deep web and isn’t at the IRNA site is irrelevant. There is another consideration.

Middle East Media Research Institute - Profile - Right Web - Institute for Policy Studies Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site. Founded in 1998 "to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East," MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) claims to be an "independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit" organization. However, while the group is lauded by some observers for revealing various facets of Arab society to broader audiences, its trajectory and direction have been largely dominated by hawkish "pro-Israel" politics, and its work has been repeatedly criticized for being biased and at times purposely misleading. Among MEMRI's key activities are publishing translations and analyses of news sources from throughout the Greater Middle East. Leadership MEMRI was founded by Meyrav Wurmser and Yigal Carmon, both of whom have ideological affinities with Israel's conservative Likud Party. Funding According to tax records, in 2001 MEMRI had an operating budget of just under $2 million. Criticism

REPORT: Broadcast News Networks Misrepresent Intelligence On Iranian Nuclear Issues Many in the media have long since repudiated their failures in the lead-up to the Iraq War, acknowledging that they were too quick to accept the false notion that Iraq possessed a sizable and dangerous cache of weapons of mass destruction. The question today is whether they have learned from those mistakes. The media's self-reflection began as early as May of 2004, little more than a year after the conflict began, when The New York Times editorial board reflected on the paper's coverage of the war and stated that they "found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been." Top editors at the Times and The Washington Post subsequently acknowledged they had failed to push for front-page articles on "the flimsiness of the intelligence on W.M.D." The media's poor coverage has been noted by the Post 's Walter Pincus , CNN's Howard Kurtz , CBS' Katie Couric , and many more . Key Findings Problematic coverage Results

The media and Iran: familiar mindlessness (updated below) The lesson supposedly learned by the U.S. establishment media from the Iraq debacle was the danger of relying on anonymous government sources to disseminate unverified fear-mongering accusations. Rather obviously, no such lesson has been learned, as this continues to be the primary reporting method for accusing the Supreme Hitlers of the Moment — Iran — of anything and everything the U.S. Government can dream up. The latest entry, and one of the most egregious yet, is this Washington Post screed appearing under this headline and hovering scary picture: Here’s the crux of the story, by R. So it isn’t merely that the prior Hitler of the Moment — Moammar Gadaffi — had Weapons of Mass Destruction, but far more alarming: Iran likely manufactured and gave Gadaffi those WMDs! U.S. officials said . . . several sources . . . I genuinely don’t know what the Obama administration’s ultimate aim with this Iran-bashing is.

The Myth of Middle East Reporting The tragic death of Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin, two celebrated American reporters in chaotic Syria last month, has generated due tributes from colleagues and readers who admired their Middle East coverage over more than two decades. Shadid, a New York Times reporter, who died of an apparent asthma attack, and Colvin of the Sunday Times, who was killed in shelling in Homs, were also praised for their sense of duty to go on secret assignments, braving Bashar Al-Assad's dictatorship and defying restrictions his regime imposed on covering the Syrian uprising. Few other Western journalists also risked their lives by sneaking into the war-torn nation to get the news out, but luckily survived the bloodletting, thanks to Syrian volunteers, who protected them and smuggled them out to neighboring countries. "There's something faintly colonialist about all this," he wrote. These local reporters have been the backbone of foreign media operations in the Middle East for decades.

NYT Misleads Readers on Iran Crisis In two articles yesterday (1/5/12), the New York Times misled readers about the state of Iran's nuclear program. On the front page, the Times' Steven Erlanger reported this: The threats from Iran, aimed both at the West and at Israel, combined with a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran's nuclear program has a military objective, is becoming an important issue in the American presidential campaign. There is no such International Atomic Energy Agency assessment. The IAEA report the Times is mischaracterizing raised questions about the state of the Iranian program, and presented the evidence, mostly years old, that Iran's critics say points towards a weapons program. Elsewhere in the Times, readers saw this in a piece by Clifford Krauss about a potential conflict over the Strait of Hormuz: Again, Iran has said repeatedly and emphatically that they are doing no such thing. Overstating the case on Iran isn't a new problem at the Times. New York Times

Why Americans don't understand the Middle East I hardly ever watch network news, but I happened to stumble across this appalling report on NBC's "Rock Center" last night. In this clip, reporter Richard Engel blames this week's anti-American violence on "conspiracy theories" that Arab populations have been fed over the years by their rulers, including the idea that the United States and Israel are colluding to control the Middle East. It's no secret there are conspiracy theories circulating in the Middle East (as there are here in the good old USA: Remember the "birthers?") In short, you want to get some idea of why most Americans have no idea why we are unpopular in the region, this example of sanitized "analysis" is illuminating, though not in the way that Engel and NBC intended.

A Tale of Two Interviews “In order to solve the world’s problems, we must continue to have serious debates,” a CNN correspondent says emphatically during a glitzy promotional spot, aired endlessly on the network. But when it comes to Israel’s wars, CNN has also proven that its correspondents and editors reserve the right to reduce or withhold serious discussion and questions of accountability from the interviews it broadcasts. This was particularly clear during the latest violence in Gaza, when, on the last day of fighting, CNN lead anchor Wolf Blitzer sat down with Israeli President Shimon Peres. At the time, over 150 Palestinians were known to be dead and entire blocks flattened after eight days during which Israeli jet fighters, land-based artillery, and battleships shelled the densely populated strip. “You’re close to ninety years old,” Blitzer told Peres in the quiet calm of his presidential office. “I feel that I’m too young for the job,” Peres replied coyly. But Blitzer persisted. [Screen shot from CNN.]

Hirsi Ali, Berman, and Ramadan on Islam Was the prophet Muhammad a pervert and a tyrant? Does Islam promote terrorism and enslave women? Does Islam oblige its followers to wage jihad on Westerners whose roots lie in the secular Enlightenment? She is not hopeful that Americans will heed her warning. Muslims today, Hirsi Ali believes, must be forced to choose between the darkness of Islam and the light of the modern secular West. The emotions of the moment dissipate soon after she leaves the hospital, when, driving down Whitechapel Road with her bodyguards, Hirsi Ali glimpses covered Muslim women on the pavement and long-bearded men outside a large mosque. “The only difference between my relatives and me is that I opened my mind,” Hirsi Ali writes. “Nomad” is unlikely to earn Hirsi Ali many Muslim admirers. Whitechapel has much in its past—oppression, bigotry, poverty, radicalism—that would have helped Hirsi Ali understand not only the neighborhood’s newest inhabitants but also her own family.