More On Memri On Torture Everyone

More on MEMRI
On Torture: “Everyone Experiences Pain”

Further to the frivolous threat of a lawsuit directed at me by Colonel Yigal Carmon, director of MEMRI and formerly of Israeli Military Intelligence , an informed reader writes:

You asked a few questions about MEMRI in your most recent posting including why Brian Whitaker found that three of their staff in Washington were ex-military intelligence. The answer to that one is quite easy: they used to post it openly on their website until they decided to get more coy about their identity, but thanks to the magic of the web you can still find the old page here.

I could swear I remember going through their website a long time ago as well and finding info on their other offices, this site says they have offices in London, Jerusalem, and Berlin. The Berlin office info can be found here.

This posting on MEMRI’s site describes Carmon recently as the head of their Jerusalem office:

You might try scanning through old versions of the website on to see if you can find more info . . .

Actually, the Disinfopedia entry on MEMRI has a fair amount of information about the “Jerusalem Branch,” which is apparently no longer listed at the American web site. Of course, there is a real question as to whether the Washington DC office isn’t actually a “branch” of the Jerusalem operation. A reader writes, “MEMRI has a Jerusalem web-site in Hebrew: www. memri. org. il. The Domain registration is:

Amutat Yesodot Shalom

7 Hamaalot St.

Jerusalem Israel 78542

Phone: +972 2 6244730

Fax: +972 2 6255779.”

For other criticisms of MEMRI see The Forward.

I wrote another inquirer:

I think it would be possible for there to be a MEMRI USA incorporated here, and to show only US income [on Form 990].

Think about all the labor that has to go into scanning hundreds of Arabic newspapers, deciding which articles to translate, and then translating and disseminating them. Most of them aren’t on the Web. Who buys them and warehouses them? Where? How do they get to Washington, DC the next day?

I think you have to figure . . . [lots] for each office and big . . . money for the Jerusalem office.

Then Norbert Mattes wrote me from Germany:

Dear Mr. Cole,

I followed your dispute with Yigal Carmon/MEMRI with interest. I´m the editor of a small German quaterly called Inamo. Our project, which is called The Information Project for the Near and Middle East (a bit like MERIP), has no real funding. We can pay the expenses of the journal by selling it but receive no compensation for our work on it.

In the Fall, 2002, issue we printed a translation of the article by Brian Whitaker (Guardian) about MEMRI and its selective approach to translating articles from the Arab press. Nine days later Yigal Carmon reacted to Whitaker’s article, and his reply was published at the website of the Guardian.

In Inamo, we then we brought out three articles concerning MEMRI (No. 32, winter 2002) . . . these included a reply of MEMRI-BERLIN to Whitaker’s article as well as an article by Christopher Hayes, an Inamo editor, concerning the work of MEMRI-Berlin, along with a portrait of Yigal Carmon . . .

In response to this further material, an article appeared in “Die Wochenzeitung” (Zurich, Switzerland) of 6.2.2003, entitled “An enemy of Peace: The German academic periodical Inamo profiles MEMRI founder Yigal Carmon in their latest Issue, NR. 32, winter, 2002.”

In January 2003 we got a letter from Carmon’s attorney in Berlin regarding this article. He threatened legal action and demanded a retraction of 12 points in the article. Otherwise, he said, he would take us to court. The amount of damages he threatened to ask for was 50 000 Euros [$60,000], in addition to attorney and court fees. The lawyer appended a counter-statement by Carmon himself. He alleged that, in accordance with German media laws, we had to print it. I initially cut out about forty percent of his response because it had nothing to do with our article.

We disputed six of his original points. For instance, he had threatened us with legal action for asserting that he supported torture. We stood our ground, pointing out that in an interview in the Washington Post, Yigal Carmon had said he accepted the application of “pain.” The Washington Post asked him about if he could cause pain to a Palestinian prisoner to get information. Carmon said words to the effect that ‘pain does not take your life; pain comes, pain goes; pain disappears … everybody has had this expierience.’ [see exact quote below]. With regard to two points, we did commit errors in our research.

But we had to print his response, because we had to reach a settlement with his attorney, not having the money to go to court. They accepted the 6/6 offer, but we had to print his reply in full. Carmon or MEMRI did take care of the lawyer fees.

Later on I spoke with Yossi Melman from Haaretz. He had written an article about Carmon, the one man secret service and said, “I will be your witness.” It was too late . . .

All the best,

Norbert Mattes

editor of INAMO

P.S. By the way. Carmon of course replied in the Guardian to the article by Brian Whitaker. At the beginning of October, 2002, an e-mail chat began between Whitaker and Carmon. But suddenly Carmon stopped. I spoke with Brian at the beginning of November, he said “I´m still waiting for an answer from Carmon.” If he doesn´t answer within three weeks we will print the chat in the Guardian.” So they did middle of January 2003.

*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.”

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