Monday, March 21, 2005

Dishonest Journalism of the Middle East (in the New York Times). Arab neo-conservatives are having a field the US. After Hasan Fattah, now Michael Young (the right-wing Lebanese writer who is always interviewed by Fattah). Arab neo-conservatives, you must have noticed, always interview one another: Ajami interviews `Ali Salim, Fattah interviews Michael Young, and Michael Young interviews Samir Qasir, etc. Here Michael Young has a piece on Walid Jumblat in New York Times Magazine. It could easily be a press release written by Jumblat's own personal sectarian party (which uses the name of "progressive" and "socialist" although the "chairman" lives in palaces and was closely aligned with the cruel capitalism model of Rafiq Hariri). Every single person interviewed in this article is a friend AND fan of Jumblat. The standards of NYT in Middle East are even lower than the standards of NYT in US. You will never see a piece on Tom DeLay, for example, with interviews only with his admirers. That would be considered unacceptable. But not for the neo-conservatives of the Middle East who are given a platform in NYT or New Republic. One part got my attention here: "(He toes the Arab line on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but he also insists that bridges must be built toward Israeli liberals. ''Not all Jews are Sharonists,'' he recently told an interviewer.)" But Young does not tell the reader that Jumblat had a history of anti-Jewish expressions, refusing to distinguish between Jews as Jews and Zionists. He used to mock those Arabs who opposed anti-Semitism. But you will notice that supporters of Israel do not care about somebody's bigotry or fascism provided that one toes the US/Israeli line. Notice how the Nazi past of Anwar Sadat was forgiven and forgotten once he signed the Camp David accords. Also, Young makes it sound that Jumblat had to align with the Syrian government because he had to (under duress). Not true. Jumblat was a Syrian puppet even when the Syrian troops were not in Beirut (between 1982 and 1987). And notice how he explains away Jumblat brief criticism of Syria in 2000 just before the elections (presumably to get Christian votes) only to change course later, without any explanation, and Young does not even bother to point the contradiction. He just goes along with Jumblat. Furthermore, notice that Young only mentions Jumblat's militia war crimes in the Mountain War (and the right-wing Lebanese forces started that war) without mentioning Jumblat's militia war crimes in West Beirut between 1984 and 1987 and the notorious War of the Flag. Lastly, notice that Jumblat apologizes to Paul Wolfowitz toward the end. Jumblat's US visa (which was revoked) will soon be restored. You read it here first.