MEMRI and Bias
Many thanks to all the readers who have written in response to my posting about the attempt of the Israel-linked MEMRI “translation service” to intimidate me with the threat of a lawsuit.
Many of the letters have been eye-opening, and I give an example, which seems to me especially instructive, below.
Dear Mr Carmon,
I regularly read Dr Cole’s weblog, Informed Comment. This is an excellent service that summarizes reports from published in the Arabic press about events about that part of the world. I was dismayed to learn that you and your organization, MEMRI, have threatened to sue Dr Cole over some comments he made regarding your selection of material from the Arabic press. In your letter to him, you indicate that his suggestion that your organization “cherry-picks the vast Arabic press” is “patently false”.
Curious, I had a look at your website and found my way to “Cartoons from the Middle East Media”. This area contained about 750 cartoons, divided into four categories essentially based on whether their targets were Israel, the USA, or both countries. After reading through a sample of these, I came to two plausible conclusions: either 1) Arabic cartoonists are a singularly unimaginative lot, and are essentially incapable of publishing anything that pokes fun at anybody in the world other than Americans, Israelis and Jews or 2) that your claims to be presenting “representative” material from the Arabic press may not be entirely based in reality.
Again, I decided to see for myself and looked at cartoons in a few Arabic papers online. What I found was a wide variety of political cartoons about people and politicians from the Arab world, Europe, the UN, and, admittedly, Israel and the USA, although the latter were in proportions far, far smaller than your website would appear to suggest. Frankly, I find your claim to being objective in selecting items for your website to be woefully at odds with what is actually presented there. In all seriousness, I don’t understand how you could expect any intelligent person to perceive it as such. Clearly Dr Cole does not, and I respectfully request that you withdraw your threat to sue him for publishing a perfectly valid viewpoint regarding MEMRI’s choice of material on its website.
Respectfully yours . . .