Thursday, September 01, 2011

'A bunch of damn Jews'

I'm not in the mood this morning and the title reflects the message an article is imparting. I would normally consider the offense level to the title and choose something else. But I'm offended by the article and figure it's better to share the offense with any who will care and not try to pretty up the blanket of hate a news outlet is handing out.

When The Diane Rehm Show features Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera and the show gets nothing but complaints, there's a reason and it goes beyond opinion into his very real bias. It was on display and undeniable when Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and Abderrahim wanted to depart from reality to offer justifications for Al Jazeera Arabic not covering it. There are two Al Jazeeras and some of the concern in this country over the network has always derived from the difference between the Happy Face English language version and what's put across in the Arabic version. It's a case it's critics don't generally bother to establish and just assume most people grasp already. (When most have no idea.)

Let's drop back to the March 18th snapshot:

A CBS news reporter was attacked and sexually assaulted while stationed in Egypt to cover the events there. We'll call her "Ms. Logan" for right now -- that's not an insult to Logan and you'll understand after an excerpt why we're doing that. The February 24th snapshot noted that Diane Rehm asked Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara about the fact that "Al Jazeera Arabic did not cover" the assault on Logan. He begged off at the time and stated he'd be happy to address it at a future date, after he was able to pursue the topic and gather some information. On The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) this morning, that day finally arrived during the second hour.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim, the last time you were on this program, we asked you about why the sexual assault of Laura Logan in Egypt was not reported by Al Jazeera You said you'd give us an answer the next time you came on.
Abderrahim Foukara: So, I mean, I'd be happy to report my findings, so to speak. What I've been told is that there was some debate about how the Laura Logan story should be reported and if it should be reported at all. For Al Jazeera English, there were people who wanted to, in one way or another, report the story. And there were others who thought that the focus should remain the revolution in Egypt rather than what happened to an individual journalist, although many other journalists had come under attack in Cairo. There are actually people who knew -- there's one particular individual who is the managing director of Al Jazeerra English, who knew Sarah Logan personally from his time at CBS. He knew her personally. She's a former collegue of his. And the decision eventaully was made that because Al Jazeera English broadcasts to 120 different countries, not just the United States, that they would go with the revolution at the focus not what happens to individual journalists.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim Foukara. He's Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic. When we come back, we'll open the phones, read our e-mail, look at our Facebook postings and your Tweets.
First, let's note that in the previous conversation -- which was now being 'updated' -- it was agreed by both that Al Jazeera English had reported on Logan's assault but Al Jazeera Arabic had not. Second, Al Jazeera -- either English or Arabic -- was not going to have an exclusive interview with Logan. All they were going to do was a 30-second headline in a series of headlines. That would not have changed the focus. Foukara's a damn liar and Diane's a damn fool. Al Jazeera was posting Nir Rosen's 'reporting' days after his apology tour. Don't pretend the two weren't connected.

For those who've forgotten, Lara Logan received medical treatment and took some (brief) time to personally address the assault. When she finally spoke it was well after March and it was one interview (with CBS, her outlet) and that was pretty much it. She did not make the rounds, she had no interest in doing so. We're talking a 30-second headline, that's all it would have required.

In the refusal to note it, you see the some very real hatred and a pattern of hostility that so frequently emerges from Al Jazeera Arabic. They are very lucky that their so many of their American devotees do not speak Arabic.

I bring up the bias issue because it is real (and "is real" is bringing us closer to the issue of the headline -- say it slowly) and it doesn't get commented on. But if you read Arabic and you check out Arabic blogs and Facebook pages, you'll see how often AlJazeera Arabic does what it intends to do which is pollute the conversation.

Iraq's our focus and we're writing about this today due to this Al Jazeera Arabic story. It's all over -- quoted, linked to reposted in full -- a number of Arabic sites. Social media loves this article. There's not a version on Al Jazeera English because Al Jazeera Arabic doesn't want their blindly devoted in America to know what they're 'reporting.'

The article is about looting in Iraq of cultural treasures and the whole point of the article is "a bunch of damn Jews" are responsible.

It's interesting because the article so frequently mentions America and Europe as being where various "Jewish groups" who have entered Iraq in archaeology teams hailed from. And, of course, we learn that Israel's behind it all in a jump cut that never make sense. But it's not about sense, is it? It's about inflaming tensions and screaming, "Kill the Jew!"

Israel, when it pops in to the article, does so under the network's assertion that its 'lax laws' allow cultural treasures to be kept there when stolen.

The article's a piece of garbage, nothing but spewed xenophobia.

And it so knew that it would be embraced (and again, elements of Arabic social media are embracing it), that it didn't even bother to try to make a semi-coherent conspiracy presentation.

Live for a moment in a world where their claim was true. It would require that the Jews control Europe and America enough not only to determine who those countries send in to Iraq for digs but also enough to keep everyone silent.

An unnamed "official" explains that US forces -- that would be the US military in Iraq -- know that the Jews are behind this. (The US military needs to issue a statement distancing themselves from the article which claims to present the views of the US military.)

There is no excuse for this article. It fails on every level including entertainment and loony conspiracy. It exists solely to feed hatred of one group of people.

And when Abderrahim Foukara comes on Diane's show and so many object to what he says (they rarely object to what reporters for the network say but Abderrahim doesn't report, he's part of the policy process), it's because he so often unintentionally exposed the split between the pleasant Al Jazeera image and the not-so pleasent reality that Al Jazeera Arabic often traffics in.

On Lara Logan, Diane got the strongest push back to including Abderrahim as a guest. Along with telephone and e-mail complaints, people took to the show's boards to leave comments. We'll note two of them. (Click here for that broadcast and its comment page, March 18th.)


Although I find your interviews imbued with decency and intelligence, I have long thought that you have a DC inside the Belt, basically establishment set of guests, ie that you are too cozy with your regular journalist guests. Today I was startled by your complete lack of response to the prepared statement by Mr. Foukara about Al Jazeera's deciding not to report the assault on Lara Logan. You permitted Mr. Foukara to recite Al Jazeera's (ludicrous) company line, which he did nervously, undoubtedly knowing how untenable it was, and you said nothing and asked no followup.
The fact that you rely on him as a guest should make you more concerned with watching your own hesitation to ask tough questions or followups.
Thanks very much,


And as a longtime Diane Rehm listener, let me point out that this discussion was about Al Jazeera English. Yet in February, when Diane first asked him, she was asking him why Al Jazeera Arabic ignored it.
There's also the issue of the names he used for Logan. "Sara Logan" and "Laura Logan," I don't believe the man did any research. If he'd pursued the question at all, someone would have stopped him and said, "Wait, Abderrahim, her name is Lara, L-A-R-A, like 'Clara,' not 'Laura.'"
As for the supposed reason for ignoring the news, a brief 30 second spot in the other hourly news items would not have changed the focus. I feel as though my intelligence was insulted and someone really thought they could pull one over me.
I also find it offensive that this attack on Lara Logan has been treated differently than other attacks on journalists. It goes to how much our society still tolerates sexual assault.
Abderrahim has now lost all credibility with me and I will not trust anything he says on future shows. His comments have also soured me on Al Jazeera English which I'd been streaming on YouTube for almost two months now.

From Diane's usually staid audience, that's practically a revolt.

There's what takes place on the English language channel and what takes place on the Arabic version. We note Al Jazeera English here and we'll do so in the future. But I'm not going to be blind to the differences between the two outlets or silent when one of them preaches hatred. They served up, for Arabic speaking audiences, an attack on Jewish people around the world, an attack on all Jews, and they knew it would go over well with certain elements (and it did go over well with certain elements). And for those who would be on the fence you need to grasp that it was an attack on Jewish people this week but it's part of the 'filtering' process by which they determine news. And when a woman's sexually assaulted in an Arabic country by non-foreigners, it's not news to them. That was the entire point of their ignoring the sexual assault of Lara Logan, that was the entire point of them promoting the work of Nir Rosen when every other outlet was walking away (rightly so) in horror over his attack of Lara Logan and his smarmy 'jokes' about her sexual assault. It is a pattern with them and those who blindly embrace the network because they think they're getting independent news (from the state-controlled Al Jazeera?) should start embracing reality and lose their need for hero worship.

The following community sites -- plus, The Diane Rehm Show and World Can't Wait -- updated last night and this morning:

Plus Mike's "Mellencamp and other topics," Ruth's "Movie marathon," Ann's "3 men, 2 women" and Kat's "No one comes out looking mature."

We'll close with this from Bill Van Auken's "NATO prepares bloodbath in Sirte" (WSWS):

Nearly six months after securing a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone in Libya and the use of “all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack,” the US and its NATO allies, former colonial powers, are mounting a barbaric siege of a major population center that threatens to produce civilian casualties on a mass scale.
In their breathless promotion of the “final battle” to realize the real US-NATO aim in Libya—regime-change—few in the Western media have bothered to consider the fact that the major imperialist powers are carrying out precisely the kind of act they claimed their war was designed to prevent.
Gaddafi’s troops were marching on Benghazi, the world was told, and only a “humanitarian” intervention by NATO could save the city’s innocent population. Now the “rebels” are encircling Sirte, led by British and Qatari special forces troops, intelligence operatives and mercenary military contractors, while the city’s population is being pounded by NATO bombs and cut off from food, fuel and all basic supplies.

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