— The Erimtan Angle —

The fortuitous Arabic translation of the Innocence of Muslims’ trailer appears to be at the root of the now worldwide protests and outrage: “The movie was produced several months ago, screening to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood and elicited no reaction. This trash movie would have been relegated to the garbage bin of history if it weren’t dubbed into Egyptian Arabic. The dubbed version went viral on Egyptian and Libyan Facebook pages and networks, resulting in the protests” and other outrages witnessed over the past week.[1]  Now we know that this Sam Bacile, the man behind the movie, appears to be the 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a man of dubious origins and intent.[2]  But, the movie and the trailer were executed in English for the purpose of . . . catching terrorists???  Who could and would have translated the short yet atrocious trailer into Arabic???  Who would benefit from such a thing, sure to lead to outrage and manipulated masses committing acts of violence and sheer stupidity????  For quite some time now the Arab Awakening has been riding high, dispelling normally quite prevalent ideas that Muslims are unable to embrace such concepts like unfettered democracy and free elections. And these elections have led to governments not necessarily in favour of certain Western interests and preoccupations. Particularly, in Egypt . . . and therefore the answer could only lead to one other country, a place currently led (or misled) by a man called Bibi, one could argue.

Of course, this is nothing but conjecture on my part but Israel would appear to be the only party to substantially benefit from a deterioration in Arab-Western relations. And, there is MEMRI: ‘The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) explores the Middle East through the region’s media. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Persian, Urdu-Pashtu, and Turkish media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East. Founded in February 1998 to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East, MEMRI is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization. MEMRI’s headquarters is located in Washington, DC with branch offices in London, Rome, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Shanghai and Tokyo. MEMRI research is translated to English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Hebrew’.[3]  Am I being a mere conspiracy theorist, speculating that a “mysterious” yet decidedly anti-Islamic and pro-Israeli organisation might be up to no good???

About ten years ago, the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker penned a piece about MEMRI. He related how he was regularly receiving e-mails sent by MEMRI, and added that “several things make me uneasy whenever I’m asked to look at a story circulated by Memri. First of all, it’s a rather mysterious organisation. Its website does not give the names of any people to contact, not even an office address. The reason for this secrecy, according to a former employee, is that “they don’t want suicide bombers walking through the door on Monday morning” (Washington Times, June 20). This strikes me as a somewhat over-the-top precaution for an institute that simply wants to break down east-west language barriers. The second thing that makes me uneasy is that the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease. Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Washington Times: “Memri’s intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible.” Memri might, of course, argue that it is seeking to encourage moderation by highlighting the blatant examples of intolerance and extremism. But if so, one would expect it – for the sake of non-partisanship – to publicise extremist articles in the Hebrew media too”.[4]  MEMRI’s partisan and activist agenda is plain to see, one of the sections on their website, for example, bears the telling name ‘Jihad & Terrorism Threat Monitor’. And, as pointed out by Whitaker, the organisation makes no bones about their stress on “the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel”.[5]  In other words, MEMRI is a Zionist and anti-Muslim propaganda machine, hiding behind a cloak of fair & balanced news reporting, however selective their translations may be. As remarked by Whitaker: “To anyone who reads Arabic newspapers regularly, it should be obvious that the items highlighted by Memri are those that suit its agenda and are not representative of the newspapers’ content as a whole”.[6]

As a good and conscientious journalist, Whitaker dug a bit deeper and found that the “co-founder and president of Memri, and the registered owner of its website, is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon. Mr – or rather, Colonel – Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin”.[7]  Now would it be too far a stretch to imagine such a propaganda machine to operate in the reverse, and translate a “relevant” English-language broadcast into Arabic???  To quote Cenk Uygur, “I am not saying anything, but I am just saying, you know”.


[1] Garibaldi, “’Sam Bacile’ Produces Hate Movie about Prophet Muhammad Provoking Protests and Violence” Loonwatch (12 September 2012). http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/09/israeli-american-sam-bacile-produces-hate-movie-about-prophet-muhammad-provoking-protests-and-violence/.

[2] “Another Muhammad Controversy: Who is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula?” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (16 September 2010). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/another-muhammad-controversy-who-is-nakoula-basseley-nakoula/.

[4] Brian Whitaker, “Selective Memri” The Guardian (12 August 2002). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker.

[5] Brian Whitaker, “Selective Memri”.

[6] Brian Whitaker, “Selective Memri”.

[7] Brian Whitaker, “Selective Memri”.

Comments on: "Another Muhammad Controversy: Who benefits and why????" (4)

  1. The current Israeli government does not want the U.S. to have good relations with the Arab world. True. Thanks.

    PTxS

    • sitanbul said:

      It is just conjecture, but . . . it does make sense somehow . . .

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