The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) provides daily English translations of film and print media stories originating in Arabic, Iranian and Turkish media.
It also furnishes original analysis of cultural, political and religious trends in the Middle East.
It sends its daily postings to every news outlet in the United States and Europe, in addition to politicians and cultural leaders.
And it's free, which makes it a Godsend for journalists, editors and policy analysts.
But according to its critics, it is also a dangerous, highly sophisticated propaganda operation, disseminating hate and disinformation on an unprecedented worldwide basis.
"They use the same sort of propaganda techniques as the Nazis," Professor Norman G. Finkelstein, a well-known scholar on Israel/Palestine, told InFocus. "They take things out of context in order to do personal and political harm to people they don't like."
Take the case of Professor Halim Barakat, a novelist and scholar associated with the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
In 2002, he published an article on Zionism in London's Al-Hayat Daily, but says that in certain instances, MEMRI selectively edited what he wrote.
"I know how to make a distinction between Judaism and Zionism, but they distorted the article," Barakat told InFocus. "They left out certain things and tried to make it look anti-Semitic."
Shortly afterward, Campus Watch, the brainchild of notorious Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, used the allegedly doctored translation in an effort to smear Georgetown University.
Finkelstein, an outspoken critic of Israeli policies and the U.S. pro-Israel lobby, also had a run-in with MEMRI.
In 2006, he gave a TV interview in Lebanon on the way the Nazi Holocaust is used to silence critics of Israel.
Finkelstein later wrote on his Web site: "MEMRI recently posted what it alleged was an interview I did with Lebanese television on the Nazi Holocaust. The MEMRI posting was designed to prove that I was a Holocaust denier."
Far from being a Holocaust denier, Finkelstein's own parents were Holocaust survivors, a fact he has often spoken about.
But MEMRI was able to create the opposite impression, as Finkelstein demonstrated on his Web site, by editing out large chunks of the actual interview.
When some comments by the moderator were included, it appeared that Finkelstein's interview was about nitpicking the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust rather than about Israel/Palestine.
MEMRI's obsessive interest in protecting Israel derives from the people and interests that founded, fund and manage the institute's international operations.
It was founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (Intelligence Branch) from 1968 until 1988, acting head of civil administration in the West Bank from 1977 to 1982; and Israeli-born Meyrav Wurmser, an extreme rightwing neoconservative now affiliated with the Hudson Institute.
Memorable quote re: torture (Washington Post May 4, 1995):
"Yigal Carmon, a former terrorism adviser to Rabin and former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir…[,] Asked whether he would justify the infliction of pain to extract information, Carmon replied: "Pain is not taking life. Pain comes and goes. Pain disappears. You know, everyone experiences that. Unwillingly, of course."
Meyrav is married to David Wurmser, at one time an American Enterprise Institute "scholar" and then a State Department apparatchik under John Bolton.
Both participated in the collective writing of "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," a seminal 1996 neocon document that advocated an end to negotiations with the Palestinians and permanent war against the Arab world.
They also worked with Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle and other rightwing ideologues who promoted and embellished the fiction that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.
MEMRI has offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, London, Washington and Tokyo, and in a 2006 Jerusalem Post interview, Carmon claimed to have one in Iraq.
It translates film and print into English, German, Hebrew, Italian, French, Spanish and Japanese.
Tax returns for 2004 indicate American funding of between two to three million dollars, much of it from conservative donors and foundations - but those who have followed its far-flung operations suspect much higher expenditures.
Besides Carmon, several MEMRI staffers are former Israeli intelligence specialists. Especially troubling are suspected links between MEMRI and the current Israeli intelligence establishment.
According to a 2005 article in Israel's Ha'aretz, the Israeli Defense Forces plants fake stories in the Arab media, which it then translates and tries to retail to Israeli journalists. How much of MEMRI is simply an extension of such IDF operations?
The questions raised by the Ha'aretz story caused Proffesor Juan Cole to write, "How much of what we 'know' from 'Arab sources' about 'Hizbullah terrorism' was simply made up by this fantasy factory in Tel Aviv?"
British journalist Brian Whitaker, Middle East editor of the Guardian, dismisses MEMRI as "basically a propaganda machine."
Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, accuses them of "outright distortion," and former CIA case officer Vince Cannistraro has written that "they (MEMRI) are selective and act as propagandists for their political point of view, which is the extreme-right of Likud."
With characteristic bluntness. Norman Finkelstein has written: "MEMRI is a main arm of Israeli propaganda. Although widely used in the mainstream media as a source of information on the Arab world, it is as trustworthy as Julius Streicher's Der Sturmer was on the Jewish world." (Der Sturmer was a rabidly anti-Semitic newspaper, and Streicher a notoriously cruel Nazi.)
In an e-mail to InFocus, Cole characterized MEMRI as "a Right-Zionist propaganda organ, which usually does its propaganda unobtrusively, by being very selective in what it translates."
Indeed , MEMRI appears to view the Arab world as a malevolent, mind-numbing monsters' ball, populated almost exclusively by fanatics, freaks and fundamentalists.
Every story that could possibly make Middle Eastern people look deranged, hateful or diabolical gets translated; anything that could make them look informed, talented or admirable is ignored.
MEMRI says it covers reformers in the Arabic-speaking world, but longtime observers point out that people who make Islam or Arab culture look attractive rarely get translated, regardless of their position.
Nor does MEMRI feature stories about Palestinian suffering, Israeli dissenters, moderate Islamists, Christians in Arab governments or the growing nonviolent movement against the apartheid wall in the Occupied Territories, especially around Bal'in.
Instead, it promotes highly-edited footage featuring people like Wafa Sultan.
It was MEMRI that translated the sound bites from her famous al-Jazeera debate with Dr. Ibrahim al-Kouly that ended up on YouTube, making her an instant rock star to those who promote an international clash of cultures.
It is said by TV viewers who watched the entire debate that al-Kouly was rather patient with Sultan despite her extreme opinions.
(Among other things, Sultan has declared herself an atheist.) But MEMRI never bothered to translate and promote the whole debate.
MEMRI President Yigal Carmon was contacted to ask why the entire Sultan debate wasn't translated and circulated, at least in a print version.
"MEMRI couldn't do the whole interview because of the limitations of our resources," Carmon told InFocus. "And it was just our best judgment of what was fit to translate." He said he thought there was an "almost" complete version in the archives.
InFocus asked Carmon why MEMRI didn't post more stories about domestic events in Israel and the OTC.
"Eighty percent of such stories are already in English," Carmon said.
Then why not buy a few every week and send them out in order to give a more balanced picture of the Middle East, InFocus asked, "It probably wouldn't be legal ," he responded.
That brought up the thorny issue of copyright, ownership and power.
Why, Carmon was asked, does MEMRI copyright all the stories it translates, when most stories are written by Arab authors?
"Of course we copyright," Carmon told InFocus. "Once we translate a story into another language, it becomes ours, because it's our work."
To test this theory in an American context, InFocus contacted The New York Times.
"If you translate copy from the Times, it would still belong to us, because we originated it," said an employee of the Rights and Royalties Department who did not wish to be named.
When war and peace hangs on the translation of a single word or phrase, nuance is everything.
But can we trust the translator?
According its critics, until MEMRI starts translating Hebrew stories about the rightward drift of Israeli society, torture of Palestinians in Israeli jails, the forced exile of Ilan Pappe and Azmi Bishara, and the elevation of the neo-fascist Avigdor Lieberman to deputy prime minister of Israel, they aren't really covering all Middle Eastern media.
"I think it's a reliable assumption that anything MEMRI translates from the Middle East is going to be unreliable," Finkelstein said.
http://groups.google.com/group/total_truth_sciences/topics/ for more real news posts and support the truth! (sorry but don 't have time to email all posts)
As we have known for some time now, MEMRI, short for the Middle East Media Research Institute, specializes in disinformation by distorting translations of film and print media stories originating in Arabic, Iranian and Turkish media. In essence, what MEMRI does is change the context of news stories by way of mistranslation and excision. Call it MEMRI loss, the deliberate mangling of media.
MEMRI did this to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by turning a speech he delivered in 2005 into a racist and genocidal screed. MEMRI accomplished this through mistranslation. Not a day passes now we do not witness corporate media claims Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, Ahmadinejad said the “regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.” He did not say Israel must be wiped off the map. But this engineered lie is repeated constantly by the corporate media and to such a degree it is now accepted as fact.
Earlier this week, as Israeli PM Olmert met with Bush, we once again heard this MEMRI spawned lie. Olmert “said he wanted to discuss with Mr. Bush the threat to Israel from Iran, whose president has said Israel must be ‘wiped off the map.’” the Associated Press reports. “Mr. Bush replied that he views Iran’s statements as a ’serious threat’ to Israel and that ‘all options are on the table’ to make sure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.” In other words, Olmert used the MEMRI lie as the cornerstone for his argument that Iran must be attacked and Bush agreed. It wasn’t long ago the neocons made up similar lies about Saddam Hussein, lies that have so far resulted in the murder of more than 750,000 Iraqis.
For those of us who know something about history, these neocon lies may be accurately compared with the lies and disinformation used by the Nazis to ultimately invade countries and slaughter millions of people. MEMRI, according to Norman G. Finkelstein, employs “the same sort of propaganda techniques as the Nazis. They take things out of context in order to do personal and political harm to people they don’t like,” or people Likudniks and neocons want the United States military to mass murder.
Finkelstein had a close encounter with MEMRI in 2006, when “he gave a TV interview in Lebanon on the way the Nazi Holocaust is used to silence critics of Israel,” according to Lawrence Swaim, writing for InFocus, the largest Muslim newspaper in California. “MEMRI recently posted what it alleged was an interview I did with Lebanese television on the Nazi Holocaust. The MEMRI posting was designed to prove that I was a Holocaust denier,” Finkelstein told the newspaper. “Far from being a Holocaust denier, Finkelstein’s own parents were Holocaust survivors, a fact he has often spoken about,” Swaim adds. “But MEMRI was able to create the opposite impression, as Finkelstein demonstrated on his Web site, by editing out large chunks of the actual interview.”
“MEMRI is a main arm of Israeli propaganda,” explains Finkelstein. “Although widely used in the mainstream media as a source of information on the Arab world, it is as trustworthy as Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer was on the Jewish world.” Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, accuses MEMRI of “outright distortion,” while former CIA case officer Vince Cannistraro has written that “they (MEMRI) are selective and act as propagandists for their political point of view, which is the extreme-right of Likud,” in other words, the people associated with MEMRI—David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle and other neocons—are racist reactionaries, no different than the above mentioned Julius Streicher (instead of hating Jews, the neocons hate Arabs and Muslims).
(As an aside, a few pranksters connected to the former Marxist gone neocon David Horowitz’s FrontPage operation, funded by the CIA operative Richard Mellon Scaife, have spent time modifying photos of Streicher in Photoshop, dropping your humble blogger’s head on Streicher’s body, apparently as a reaction to my criticism of Israel and the “extreme-right of Likud” neocons, thus demonstrating not only the silliness but the vicious tenacity of people who cannot stand to hear criticism of their beloved apartheid state, even in the blogosphere.)
“According its critics, until MEMRI starts translating Hebrew stories about the rightward drift of Israeli society, torture of Palestinians in Israeli jails, the forced exile of Ilan Pappe and Azmi Bishara, and the elevation of the neo-fascist Avigdor Lieberman to deputy prime minister of Israel, they aren’t really covering all Middle Eastern media,” Swaim concludes.
Of course, these topics are strictly forbidden, not only for a Mossad operation pretending to be a media translation service, but for the rest of us as well. For instance, in Canada, a news website, the Peace, Earth and Justice News, may soon be convicted of disseminating hate by the Canadian Human Rights Commission at the behest of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith for posting an article written by your humble blogger on this very subject, as well as for daring to post articles penned by a handful of others accused of “hate crimes” for criticizing Israel.
Come the North American Union, all of us may be sharing a Canadian jail cell or one in Israel, in much the same way Ernest Zündel is locked in a German prison for the crime of bucking the Zionist orthodoxy. As we know, or some of us do—most Americans believe Israel is a democracy—prison cells in Israel, for non-Israelis, often translates into a death sentence. Others are murdered outright—for instance Rachel Corrie, American member of the International Solidarity Movement, crushed to death by an IOF bulldozer for the crime of demonstrating against the demolition of the home of Samir Nasrallah, a Palestinian pharmacist.
Finally, it appears an appreciable number of mostly clueless Americans are stupid enough to fall victim to MEMRI’s lies, as millions of them sincerely believe Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel off the map. Of course, they know nothing of MEMRI, or that it is an Israeli intelligence operation run by Yigal Carmon, who “served” in the IOF’s intelligence branch, or that it was co-founded by one Meyrav Wurmser, wife of “Clean Break” author David Wurmser, a dual citizen questioned by the FBI for allegedly passing state secrets on to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It should be noted that Meyrav Wurmser wrote her Ph.D. thesis on Revisionist Zionism, the racist and murderous political philosophy behind the Herut and Likud parties in Israel, thus demonstrating Meyrav’s racism and hatred is a generational affair.
Naturally, when the depleted uranium tipped bunker busters and cruise missiles begin taking out grandmothers and babies in Iran, MEMRI, the mass murdering Likudniks and neocons will be to blame.
However, instead of justice, the perps will likely move on to teach a new generation of psychopaths at Georgetown University or retire to palatial estates on land ethnically cleansed of Palestinians.
Thanks for the excellent commentary on this busy, and highly influential, propaganda organization. I consider this a very important must read.
It is very much needed for as many people as possible to know what MEMRI is really all about.
I think you would be pleasantly surprised to know that I have posted the following on this website. It is getting a lot of hits too: