Friday, April 14, 2006

"How to Lose Your Job at a Saudi Newspaper" (And how to apply for a job at an American or Israeli newspaper). Of course, I never will say anything in defense of the House of Saud, or its media empires worldwide, or their insistence on monopolizing thought, opinions, and expression in the region. And of course, Saudi media fire people at will for the transgression of deviating from the "straight path" that is rigidly set by House of Saud delegates. I told the story before. I was asked back in 1993 by the Washington, DC correspondent of Ar-Riyadh, Amal Mudallali (who now is the foreign policy and media advisor for Sa`d Hariri) to write columns for the Saudi daily. She told me that I would write what I wished about the US, and about world affairs (outside the Middle East), and that I would not be censored. I wrote for a couple of years: I never met with anybody, and I would mail my article to the Washington, DC office. Only once I was contacted by the publisher of the paper (whose name now escapes me). He said, politely, that while they never interfered in what I wrote, they would really like it if I were to write something on the occasion of the Saudi National Day on "the prominent role of King Fahd in world affairs." I said that I would not write about that, and that I was writing mostly on US foreign policy, but that if I were to write on Saudi Arabia, I would write on women's issues. He got very awkward, and within days I was told that my articles would not be published anymore. But this is Fawwaz Turki. While this story is probably true, I still wonder what happened. I don't believe anything that Turki says, on anything. I would even have to check if Turki says that the sky is blue. I lived in DC for years, and never crossed path with him, or I did but did not want to meet him, ever. I never bring up people's personal lives on this blog, and not even for political figures. But Turki is not a credible person period. I, however, still recommend his only good book: his first book, the Disinherited. The rest is quite trashy and tabloidish--at best, and most likely a figment of his wild and vulgar imagination. He tells tales that can't be produced by an untainted imagination. This is a man who claimed that his own sister was forced by her parents to drink poison--a la Socrates without telling us if she was subjected to a trial too. There is a review of his last trashy book by Sharif ElMusa in Journal of Palestine Studies from a decade ago, and he did an excellent job in exposing his lies and fabrications. Turki lies and fabricates as much as the From Lebanon segment on LBC-TV. Turki is desperate, and he seems keen now on cashing on the Bush's propaganda machine. What else would explain his (thematic) quasi-plagiarism from the Arab Mind in this piece of his: "How responsive can a country be to such an ethos when its people have, for generations, existed with an ethic of fear -- fear of originality, fear of innovation, fear of spontaneity, fear of life itself -- and have had instilled in them the need to accept orthodoxy, dependence and submission?" And then he dares to offer us lessons about "Western media": "What Arabs have yet to learn, in addition to that, is that newspapers are not published to advance the political preferences of proprietors, or the commentary of subservient analysts who turn a blind eye to the abuse of power by political leaders running their failed states." Oh, really, o expert on democracy and free media. Oh, really. So Washington Times was not published by Rev. Moon to advance the political preferences of its proprietor? And Fox News was not launched to advance the political preferences of its owner, Murdoch? And the NYT and Washington Post do not advance the political preferences of owners. Oh, please, teach us more about Western media, you definitive expert of the Western media. And please, can you tone down that really offensively patronizing tone of yourw in which you talk to Arabs as if they are little children who need to be enlightened by you? And I don't know what happened between his newspaper and him, but I know that I am not on the same side with House of Saud, and will never be on the same side with Turki on anything. I hear that they may need a writer at Near East Report. They really would love your views and generalizations about Arab culture of submission. And tell them the stories and tales from your last book. They would really love them. If only Patai was alive: you probably would have earned the First Patai Medal for the Promotion of Arab Mind Myths About Arabs. And it must be very courageous for Turki to say this: "If the Western democracies work better than many others, it is because to them the concept of accountability, expected from the head of state on down, is a crucial function of their national ideology." Oh, ya: it must be really courageous to offer accolades to the Western media in a Western newspaper. And yes, tell us about Western accountability. Tell me about accountability of Bush and responsibility of the Washington Post during the last several years. Turki has been a pen for hire for years: he sang the praises of `Arafat when he was reportedly on the payroll, and turned against him when he no more was on the payroll. Spare me. (thanks John!)