Friedman’s mirror

thomas friedman sunday
Thomas Friedman.

Imperious New York Times foreign affairs columnist and Pulitzer Prize magnet Thomas Friedman sometimes transcribes URLs in his dispatches. In 2006, for example, he directed us to www.fclimo.hu, the website of his limousine driver in Budapest, a “Communist-era-engineer-turned-limo-proprietor” whose globalizing metamorphosis enabled Friedman to exultantly coin the following proverb: “You know that the global economy is spinning off all kinds of new business models when your Hungarian driver has his own Web site in English, Magyar and German—with background music.”

Then there was www.americanselect.org, the property of a group aiming to field a third presidential ticket elected by Internet convention. Not long after Friedman swore that Americans Elect would do “what drugstore.com did to pharmacies,” observers noticed that the organization had “given up.”

Friedman’s latest column, titled “Look in Your Mirror,” contains not one but 10 URLs, all of which were provided to him by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) and nine of which link to various locations on the Memri website.

The column was occasioned by the reaction of Khaled Ali, Official Representative of the Arab/Muslim World, to the film The Innocence of Muslims. Friedman writes:

On Monday, David D. Kirkpatrick, the Cairo bureau chief for The Times, quoted one of the Egyptian demonstrators outside the American Embassy, Khaled Ali, as justifying last week’s violent protests by declaring: ‘We never insult any prophet — not Moses, not Jesus — so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?’ Mr. Ali, a 39-year-old textile worker, was holding up a handwritten sign in English that read: ‘Shut Up America.’ ‘ Obama is the president, so he should have to apologize!’

belen
(Photo: Belén Fernández/Jadaliyya)

In most Friedman productions, Arabs and Muslims are offered a limited range of identities: fetus, special needs baby, babysitting charge. All incarnations are susceptible to haughty lectures; in this particular case, Friedman instructs Mr. Ali and company to “look in the mirror—or just turn on their own televisions” to witness the “chauvinistic bile that is pumped out by some of their own media.”

And if Mohammed won’t come to the mirror, the mirror will be brought to Mohammed! Friedman reports: “I asked Memri for a sampler of the hate-filled videos that appear regularly on Arab/Muslim mass media” and then lists 10 of them, divided into four categories: “On Christians,” “On Shiites,” “On Jews,” “On Sufis.” One example:

The Egyptian Cleric Mazen al-Sirsawi: ‘If Allah had not created the Shiites as human beings, they would have been donkeys.’ http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3101.htm — Aug. 7, 2011.

So there, Khaled Ali. But what exactly is Memri?

According to its website, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit “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.”

According to Friedman, who has sung Memri’s praises since 2001, it is an “invaluable… research service” that “translates not only the ugly stuff but the courageous liberal, reformist Arab commentators as well.”

And according to persons less prone to hallucinatory delusions, such as the Guardian‘s former Middle East editor Brian Whitaker, “it poses as a research institute when it’s basically a propaganda operation…to suit [a] political agenda.”

Indeed, as journalist Ali Gharib has noted, “[a]n early archived version of the ‘about page’ of MEMRI’s website… lists one of MEMRI’s missions as ‘emphasiz[ing] the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel,’” while Memri president Yigal Carmon happens to be “a 20-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces (where he spent five years running Israel’s occupation of the West Bank) and top adviser to two Likud governments.”

Gharib also highlights a few examples where Memri has succeeded spectacularly in bridging the language gap:

In 2007, CNN correspondent Atika Shubert checked MEMRI’s translations of a Palestinian children’s program against those provided by the cable news channel’s own interpreters:

Media watchdog MEMRI translates one caller as saying – quote – ‘We will annihilate the Jews.’ But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says ‘The Jews are killing us.’

What Friedman means by “courageous liberal reformist,” meanwhile, is basically any Arab or Muslim—Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf included—who either confirms Arab/Muslim backwardness, complains that the Arab world “can’t even make an aspirin for our own headache,” declares Islam fanatical and intolerant, exonerates bellicose maneuvers by the U.S., blames Arabs and Muslims for being more concerned with Israel than with progress, or writes poems about how “the large majority of [Arabs] oppose freedom and find joy in slavery.”

Fortunately for the decadent Arab/Muslim world, Friedman is forever standing by with reminders about civilizational etiquette. In his latest column prescribing a mirror for Khaled Ali, he announces: “[A]n insult — even one as stupid and ugly as the anti-Islam video on YouTube that started all of this — does not entitle people to go out and attack embassies and kill innocent diplomats. That is not how a proper self-governing people behave. There is no excuse for it. It is shameful.”

Never mind the argument that the video and the killings were not involved in a cause-and-effect relationship. As for the issue of the slaughter of innocents, it is useful to recall Friedman’s own contributions to the U.S. military’s civilizing mission in Iraq: Shortly after debunking the notion of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, Friedman decreed that Iraqi citizens needed to “Suck. On. This”—i.e. the “very big stick” [Video] being wielded by “American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad”—as compensation for 9/11. 

Were Friedman to look in the mirror, there’s a good chance he’d see chauvinistic bile too.

About Belén Fernández

Belén Fernández is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin magazine.
Posted in Arab Spring, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Middle East, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics, War on Terror

{ 62 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. excellent report Belén Fernández!

  2. Woody Tanaka says:

    “Shortly after debunking the notion of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, Friedman decreed that Iraqi citizens needed to ‘Suck. On. This’—i.e. the ‘very big stick’ [Video] being wielded by ‘American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad’—as compensation for 9/11.”

    Too bad Friedman didn’t take the time to examine the “moral accounting” in the violence that the US, israel and their proxies have inflicted on the Arab and Muslim words. He might then have to append who should have to suck on what…

  3. hophmi says:

    This is, again, another example where reality is simply being denied. Does MEMRI have a political agenda? Absolutely. Can you name a research institute like that that does not? They all have some agenda, including Whitaker’s own Arabist project, Al-Bab, whose single recommendation for reading about the I-P conflict is Avi Shlaim’s “The Iron Wall.”

    MEMRI’s agenda is to offer tough criticism of Islamic fanatics and the advance the work of Islamic liberals. And no, liberal does not mean Pervez Musharraf. That’s pure nonsense to anyone who reads MEMRI’s dispatches with any regularity at all. The liberals are mostly human rights activists in Arab world who argue for ideas foreign to it, such as civil liberties, women’s rights, and religious freedom, and are often imprisoned for their views.

    People here are hardly in a position to complain, given how often they rely on work by people like Israel Shahak as sources for Judaic knowledge.

    Does MEMRI mistranslate things on occasion? Undoubtedly, just like Iranian state TV, who mistranslated its own President. Is most of what MEMRI says 100% accurate and reflective of a Muslim world where these views are commonplace? Without question.

    So instead of attacking the messenger, Ms. Fernandez, why don’t you acknowledge the problem?

    • Blake says:

      The United States gives more economic aid & military aid to Israel than any other country, financing Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories & supplying it’s military aggressions. The reason for this is that pro-Israel organizations are THE most effective lobbyist working the US Congress. They out-spend pro-Arab and pro-Muslim lobbying groups (combined) by a ratio of about 70:1.

      A major plan to increase lobbying efforts to US Congress needs to be a top Palestinian priority!

    • MRW says:

      MEMRI provided the debunked and inaccurate statement that Iran wanted to wipe Israel off the map.

      link to informationclearinghouse.info
      link to informationclearinghouse.info
      link to informationclearinghouse.info

      Is most of what MEMRI says 100% accurate and reflective of a Muslim world where these views are commonplace? Without question.

      How would you know? You don’t speak Farsi, Urdu, or Arabic.

      • hophmi says:

        “MEMRI provided the debunked and inaccurate statement that Iran wanted to wipe Israel off the map.”

        Actually, that was originally Iran’s own state service, so lots of people provided that translation.

        • MRW says:

          Actually, that was originally Iran’s own state service, so lots of people provided that translation.

          No, it wasn’t. Read the links.

        • ColinWright says:

          Bore us to tears.

          Iran (or to be precise, Ahmadinejad, who doesn’t exactly have god-like powers there) stated that Israel ‘should be wiped off the map.’ He didn’t say Iran was going to do it.

          I think Israel should be wiped off the map. It doesn’t mean I intend to do it myself. Israel is an abomination, and it should be sent the way of Apartheid South Africa.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “Does MEMRI mistranslate things on occasion? Undoubtedly”…

      “Is most of what MEMRI says 100% accurate…? Without question.”

      So you suck at math, too. Is there ANYTHING you’re good at, hoppy?

      • hophmi says:

        “So you suck at math, too. Is there ANYTHING you’re good at, hoppy?”

        Did you say something, Woody?

        • ColinWright says:

          hophmi: ““So you suck at math, too. Is there ANYTHING you’re good at, hoppy?”

          Did you say something, Woody?”

          Yes. He said you’re so dishonest you can’t even keep your story straight.

          Is there ANY Zionist out there who can offer up ANY argument worth rebutting…or is it just this endless parade of primitive falsehoods purveyed by mendacious half-wits?

          I mean seriously — it’s not very challenging. One winds up looking forward to arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin with another anti-Zionist. At least it’s not dull.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Did you say something, Woody?”

          Just laughing at you, rabbit.

      • ColinWright says:

        Well, he is an Israel supporter.

        There’s a certain negative selection process implicit in that. Honesty…intelligence…morality…these are all pretty much handicaps.

    • ColinWright says:

      Hophmi:

      You and I both know that MEMRI is an organization devoted to purveying pro-Israel propaganda as assiduously as possible. Let’s not waste time pretending otherwise.

      • hophmi says:

        “You and I both know that MEMRI is an organization devoted to purveying pro-Israel propaganda as assiduously as possible.”

        You and I both know that most of what MEMRI says in completely accurate, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.

        • ColinWright says:

          hophmi: “You and I both know that most of what MEMRI says in completely accurate, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.”

          No…I’m convinced MEMRI offers selective and often grossly distorted translations from Arabic and Iranian media in order to advance a pro-Israeli agenda.

        • ColinWright says:

          hophmi says: ““You and I both know that MEMRI is an organization devoted to purveying pro-Israel propaganda as assiduously as possible.”

          You and I both know that most of what MEMRI says in completely accurate, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.”

          This gets tedious. I should have learned by now that anything a Zionist says is inevitably a lie — but I always feel obliged to check.

          So I go and check. Yup, MEMRI is indeed notorious as an ‘an organization devoted to purveying pro-Israel propaganda as assiduously as possible.’ Son of a gun, it is shamelessly selective in its choice of material and often wildly inaccurate in its translations:

          link to memriwatch.wordpress.com

          …and why do I keep falling for this? After all, wasn’t it Hophmi who just claimed that under the Ottomans, Jews weren’t allowed to pray at the wailing wall? I go do a search for images, hit .black and white’…and guess what? He’s lying again.

          Maybe it was Gildadg. Does it matter?

          Not even clever, convoluted lies that are at least intellectually challenging to take apart. Just dull, bald, shameless lies, devoid of anything other than clinical interest.

    • ColinWright says:

      hophmi says: “…Does MEMRI mistranslate things on occasion? Undoubtedly, just like Iranian state TV, who mistranslated its own President…”

      You hit the nail on the head. Memri’s ‘translations’ are fully as selective, distorted, and self-serving as those offered up by Iranian state TV.

      • hophmi says:

        You know, Colin, it’s funny how people like you insist on parsing the statements of Iranian leaders for them, like saying that the translation of “vanish from the sands of time” is not in any way, no, not at all, the same as “wiped off the face of the map” and Iranian leaders themselves don’t seem to care. The Iranian must laugh their asses off when they see leftists here going out of their way to interpret Iranian rhetoric in every possible way except the most obvious.

        Why is that? What interest do you have in it?

        • Abdul-Rahman says:

          Keep your nonsense and propaganda to yourself link to antiwar.com

        • ColinWright says:

          hophmi says: “You know, Colin, it’s funny how people like you insist on parsing the statements of Iranian leaders for them”

          Let’s back up here. Perhaps you would care to point out where I parsed the statement of an Iranian leader at all — much less ‘insisted on it’?

        • Iran is praying for disappearance for Israel from the map or time like US prayed for disappearance of USSR only with more active support. At least Iran is not seeking death and mutilations of Israeli Jewish like the Israeli friends Evangelics are praying and hoping for but not keeping themselves limited to passive wishes only . Meanwhile Israel has done enough direct and indirect damages to Iran that in a more fair world would have seen the disappearance of Israel. Israel is asking the cop shoot him and is calling the cop to be both suicidal and homicidal .

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “You know, Colin, it’s funny how people like you insist on parsing the statements of Iranian leaders…”

          Not half as funny as the gymnastics you go through, hoppy, to try to cast political rhethoric in a way that justifies your pathological cravenness and victim complex.

      • ColinWright says:

        …which leads us to suggest that for balance, you also rely on Iranian TV.

        • bilal a says:

          actually russian RT and Iranian presstv are much better on the syrian crisis than filthy lying qatari al jazeera.

        • Abdul-Rahman says:

          Your “slandering” those “peaceful” rebels being backed by the US, Zionists, NATO, Europe, and the Gulf monarchies; they are of course only interested in “freedom” not on simply being proxies of foreign powers that want the current regime in Damascus gone (specifically as a prelude to an illegal aggressive action against Iran, i.e. their own Western media saying “the road to Tehran goes through Damascus”)!

          Some good links to keep up with for reality on the situation in Syria that you mentioned.

          link to landdestroyer.blogspot.com

          link to globalresearch.ca

          In addition to RT and Press TV like you mentioned Bilal.

          Of course the rosy image of the “rebels” that the Western mainstream media (and Qatari monarchy owned Al-Jazeera) is now spinning is in stark contrast to the al-Qaeda affiliated rebels caught on video trying to use unwitting hostages as human bombs against the Syrian military, rebels videotaping themselves throwing civilian government employees off of roofs, and all other manner of actions.

          Putting aside that most of the claims made against the Syrian government have been highly questionable if not refuted by even independent Western sources link to wsws.org note much the same thing also happened in Libya last year link to indymedia.org.uk that led to the NATO destruction of that nation (Green Libya) which, putting aside the real wrongdoings Gaddafi and company certainly did do, destroyed a country had been the country with the highest living standards on the African continent (often nicknamed the Switzerland of Africa).

        • MRW says:

          Hear, hear, bilal a. I was never able to find the link again, but when I read that an Israeli bought Al-Jazeera (or maybe is was Al-Jazeera English) through a series of shells, I stayed far away. PressTV is a good news station.

        • Walid says:

          “I was never able to find the link again, but when I read that an Israeli bought Al-Jazeera”

          Are you sure of that, MRW?

        • Blake says:

          There was an Israeli bid to buy AJ but that was turned down.
          Israeli’s bid to buy Al-Jazeera from Qatar
          link to khilafah.com

          However they do have some sort of agreement with America not to be too critical of “Israel”. I for the life of me cannot find that article now. I remember seeing it on informationclearinghouse and a number of other websites.

    • marc b. says:

      So instead of attacking the messenger, Ms. Fernandez, why don’t you acknowledge the problem?

      is there anything more odd than the spectacle of hopee offering advice? i don’t know why but whenever he’s in hectoring mode i think of that picture of the group of dogs sitting around a table playing poker. hm. not that she needs it, but my advice to ms. fernandez is not to listen to the advice of hopee.

      i am disappointed in friedman, though. i thought that the terms of his journalistic probation included a prohibition on writing about the ME. he’s a lot less dangerous when prognosticating about technological innovation or the environment. in other words, issues where no one but his mother takes his ‘writing’ seriously. and by ‘writing’ i mean typing words on a computer that are later published, not that he is engaged in a creative activity.

      • hophmi says:

        Attacking the messenger is exactly what Fernandez is doing. I haven’t seen any argument made against MEMRI here except the old complaints that it has gotten its translations once or twice (no different from any translation service because translation requires some interpretation), and that it is pro-Israel (something it does not hide). Fernandez’s characterization of who MEMRI deems an Arab liberal is simply ignorant and wrong, and the rest of her argument doesn’t add up to a hill of beans.

        It’s a mystery to me why people who call themselves progressive would oppose a service that allows them to hear the voices of other progressives in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

        • Abdul-Rahman says:

          I’m sure “memri” backs “progressives” like Shas heavyweight Ovadia Yosef (a kingmaker among the Likud) and his “lovely” talk that the “goyim” were only created for the purpose of “serving Israel” and that the ONLY reason “gentiles” exist at all is this “service to Jews” so “Jews” like Yosef can “sit like an effendi and eat”! Yet of course no media in the West even bothered to pick up this ridiculous display of blatant racism by what is claimed to be America’s (a “gentile”/”goyim” majority nation of course) supposed “main ally” (which only nutjob “Christian Zionists” like John Hagee and Pat Robertson, and people drinking the AIPAC kool-aid even pretend to believe!), and “memri” of course was too busy trying to pick up some random clip (among the hours upon hours of TV they must go through with absolutely nothing to “show” for it) to tear out of context, mistranslate, or generally misuse for their nefarious agenda.

        • hophmi says:

          “I’m sure “memri” backs “progressives” like Shas heavyweight Ovadia Yosef ”

          I’m not.

          You’re just attacking the messenger here.

      • MRW says:

        The messenger is the problem.

        • marc b. says:

          The messenger is the problem.

          precisely. hopee doesn’t get it. although, frankly, the whole journalist as messenger is a flawed metaphor in the first place. a journalist’s responsibility isn’t simply to regurgitate whatever ‘message’ is placed in his pouch. a journalist is supposed to be sophisticated and discerning enough not to be serially exploited. and if he or she (friedman for example) is too f*cking stupid to separate the ‘news’ from propaganda points, then find another job . (btw, as stupid as friedman is – and he is stupid – he’s smart enough to know the true function he’s peforming. any 20-something cub reporter at E!News Network knows that score.)

        • hophmi says:

          Friedman worked in the Middle East for years and years as a journalist. He’s a more credible source than you are, Marc.

          The fact of the matter is that the main evidence that MEMRI is biased is the fact that it’s run by a center-right Israeli. Other than that, there is no evidence that any of what MEMRI translates is inaccurate, other than instances here and there, which is perfectly normal for any translator.

          It is a mystery to me why being pro-Palestinian means that you must accept an Arabist narrative of the Middle East that denies the problems that exist there.

        • MRW says:

          Friedman worked in the Middle East for years and years as a journalist. He’s a more credible source than you are, Marc.

          History you don’t know because you’re just popping off with a dullard’s tribal pride. Friedman did tell the truth once back in the early 80s and was nearly slaughtered for it. He learned it was better to toe the uber Israel alles time line.

          And how do you know marc b. isn’t a journalist? He writes like one.

        • MRW says:

          an Arabist narrative of the Middle East that denies the problems that exist there

          On another thread I recommended everyone listen to Dr. Steve Pieczenik, former Assistant Deputy Secretary of State and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, on the Alex Jones Show, no matter what you think of Jones.

          Pieczenik, who is Jewish, gives a great definition of the scholarship of Arabists, and their long history in US diplomatic worlds. The Arabists, he explained, were purged under an ignorant Clinton at the behest of small-minded essentially anti-American Zionists to the detriment of US national security and interests. Far from denying the problems that exist in Palestine and the Arab worlds, the Arabists were key to our success there.

        • straightline says:

          @hophmi “Friedman worked in the Middle East for years and years as a journalist”

          So did Ethan Bronner and shares the same level of credibility.

          What more evidence would you need that MEMRI is biased than it’s run by a center-right Israeli? Seems like a slam dunk to me. I tend to distrust sources when I find that they consistently lie – not surprisingly – anyone who continues to trust them should be seeing a psychiatrist.

          On December 1, 2002, Friedman wrote (link to nytexaminer.com) that

          “… Saddam Hussein was an expert at hiding his war toys and, having had four years without inspections, had probably buried everything good under mosques or cemeteries. That means the only way we can possibly uncover anything important in Iraq is if an Iraqi official or scientist – a Saddam insider – tells the U.N. where it’s hidden…. Is there just one Iraqi scientist or official who wants to see the freedom of his country so badly that he is ready to cooperate with the U.N. by submitting to an interview and exposing the regime’s hidden weapons?”

          That should have marked the end of Friedman. Not one word of his should have been published. So much for his Middle East expertise.

        • marc b. says:

          Friedman worked in the Middle East for years and years as a journalist. He’s a more credible source than you are, Marc.

          boo hoo, hopee. the writers here are better writers and better journalists than friedman has the capacity to be. and i can name twenty regular commenters to this site off the top of my head who write much more eloquently than friedman. and fifty who know more about the history of the middle east. and one hundred and fifty who are more intelligent. friedman is a piss poor writer, and a moron, clinically speaking. he is a hair cut and a moustache posing an a journalist.

    • Donald says:

      “People here are hardly in a position to complain, given how often they rely on work by people like Israel Shahak as sources for Judaic knowledge.”

      Maybe so–I’ve never read Shahak and so for the sake of argument will accept that he’s not a fair source of info about Jewish history and culture. But look at what you’re saying. You’re comparing MEMRI to someone you obviously think is biased and unreliable.

      • hophmi says:

        “You’re comparing MEMRI to someone you obviously think is biased and unreliable.”

        No, I’m not. I think Shahak is way more biased than MEMRI. I’m just pointing out the irony of those who would criticize (unfairly and inaccurately) the way MEMRI presents Arab liberals in one breath and then quote Israel Shahak as an authoritative source on Judaism in the next.

        • ColinWright says:

          hophmi says: “No, I’m not. I think Shahak is way more biased than MEMRI. “

          In passing, I have to wonder if you’ve actually read Shahak. I’d be mildly surprised if you have.

          However, while you have something of a point, I think you miss two key elements. First, no one has convincingly demonstrated that Shahak has actually falsified anything. It’s been shown that MEMRI does.

          Second, and perhaps more important, Shahak is clearly a polemicist. He doesn’t seriously pretend to be anything else. He isn’t claiming to be offering a balanced portrayal of Judaism. If you want to hear good things about Judaism, he’ll be the first to tell you — you’ve got the wrong address.

          MEMRI, on the other hand, presents itself as some kind of neutral ‘resource.’ ‘Here are translations from the Arab and Muslim world — just selected more or less at random. Whatever’s significant; we haven’t got an agenda’

          Hah. Their selections are rank propaganda. It’s like combing the statements of American politicians for examples of race-baiting over the centuries and then presenting that as the political history of America.

          So Shahak is a polemicist and admits it. Moreover, he is an honest polemicist. MEMRI is polemic masquerading as a ‘resource.’ Moreover, it is dishonest polemic.

        • hophmi says:

          “In passing, I have to wonder if you’ve actually read Shahak. I’d be mildly surprised if you have.”

          I’ve read most of Jewish Fundamentalism at one time or another. It’s a polemic.

          “However, while you have something of a point, I think you miss two key elements. First, no one has convincingly demonstrated that Shahak has actually falsified anything. It’s been shown that MEMRI does.”

          No, it has not. It has been shown that MEMRI has made mistakes in translation on occasion, not that it falsified anything.

          “MEMRI, on the other hand, presents itself as some kind of neutral ‘resource.’ ”

          Yes and no. I don’t think MEMRI is really hiding its agenda from anybody. But the agenda is one most people here should support – that of trumpeting the voices of Arab liberals.

          “Hah. Their selections are rank propaganda. It’s like combing the statements of American politicians for examples of race-baiting over the centuries and then presenting that as the political history of America.”

          That’s simply false. Many, if not most, of their translations come from state broadcasters and op-eds in Arab papers. They also translate TV broadcasts.

          Look, the fact of the matter is that this stuff does occur routinely in the Arab world, particularly among the fundamentalists. It’s silly to deny it, or to assert that it MEMRI is making it all up.

    • Abdul-Rahman says:

      While Shahak is a valid source on the religion of Judaism, one can just as easily see English translations of the most “important” Jewish “rabbinical sources” if they wish

      link to come-and-hear.com

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • “Undoubtedly, just like Iranian state TV, who mistranslated its own President. I”
      Could you please be more specific? You may not want to go there.

      Can you cite an article about non violent protest by Palestinians against Israel that MEMRI has produced in an approving way?
      Can you cite any article by Press TV that Friedman has quoted to lend support to accusation of crimes against humanity by Israel or calm the water a little over the hysteria about Iranain nuke?

      By the way,Press TV does talk of human right violations in Bahrain and Saudi Arab and in Afghanistan or Myanamar.

    • quercus says:

      @hophmi. “…. who argue for ideas foreign to it, such as civil liberties, women’s rights, and religious freedom ….” I thought for a moment you might have been speaking about Orthodox Judaism, hophmi.

      Here’s some religious tolerance for you — two years ago while waiting for an international flight in Philadelphia I struck up a conversation with a Franciscan friar. He was on his way back to Israel, where he lives in monastery in the village considered the birthplace of John the Baptist. We of course spoke of the Palestinian/Israeli situation. He told me of once being followed by an Orthodox Jew and having the man hit him in the back of the head with a rock and pepper spray him in the face. He also acknowledged that rabbinic Judaism thinks it acceptable to kill Christians.

      I would also add there are also some rare and choice bits in the Talmud that show not only an extreme disdain for Christianity but for the gentile world in general.

      So ……. hophmi, get out your mirror and have a goooooooood look.

      • hophmi says:

        “He told me of once being followed by an Orthodox Jew and having the man hit him in the back of the head with a rock and pepper spray him in the face.”

        Which means it happens to every Christian and is the same thing as Judaism, right?

        ” He also acknowledged that rabbinic Judaism thinks it acceptable to kill Christians.”

        Acknowledged? He’s a friar, not a rabbi, and therefore, not a source on rabbinic Judaism.

        “I would also add there are also some rare and choice bits in the Talmud that show not only an extreme disdain for Christianity but for the gentile world in general.”

        Yes, we’ve all seen Israel Shahak’s book. In terms of the killing, the score is millions upon millions of Jews dead and very few Christians dead. In terms of the rhetoric, anti-Jewish rhetoric emanating from the Church far, far exceeds anything you will find that in the Talmud in terms of volume and intensity.

        The Talmud was compiled in the 5th and 6th Century. It does not “equal” rabbinic Judaism. The statements in the Talmud about Christianity (and they are few and far between) are of little importance, and for most of history, the passages were excised altogether to avoid friction with the Gentiles arising from exactly the kind of willful bigotry you’re displaying now.

  4. tokyobk says:

    This is the kind of thing Jews who don’t want to believe what they are hearing in Max Blumenthal videos say.

    MEMRI is completely bias and that has no bearing on the truth or lack thereof of the people they are showing. Unless there is removal of context or mistranslation.

    • hophmi says:

      “MEMRI is completely bias and that has no bearing on the truth or lack thereof of the people they are showing. Unless there is removal of context or mistranslation.”

      No, it is not “completely biased.” Most of what MEMRI translates are speeches and op-eds from Islamic countries. It is not excerpted; it is whole. It’s clear you don’t read what they put out, so how are you in a position to have an opinion on it?

      • I guess when Friedman was angrily lamenting the absence of Arab/Iran/Muslim outrage at and condemnation of 911 perpetrators ,he got his information from the Israeli sources which was focusing on dancing Palestinians and was hiding the comments of Nathayahoo He did not offer a mea culpa even when Juan Cole documented the widespread condemnation across Arab and Iran and beyond from religious and secular leaders. Friedman’s passion would not have been served emotionally and factually during those turbulent times by the public stances of backward muslim countries. He gets his feed from the bottom of the barrel of dishonesty .One of them is MEMRI

    • Donald says:

      You know, I accept that there are vicious things said in the Arab world, (whether or not MEMRI is reliable) but does Friedman ever refer to his infamous interview on Charlie Rose, the “Suck on this” justification for invading a country for no good reason, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and creating millions of refugees? And he’s said plenty of other crude things in defense of both American and Israeli violence. Yes, he’s also been critical of the most extreme Israelis, but not nearly to the extent that he’s been critical of Muslims. Imagine him suggesting an invasion or even sanctions against Israel. It’s impossible that he would do such a thing. But he will support sanctions of the most severe sort against Muslims without a second thought, and advocate war against lesser humans with the moral seriousness of a teenager talking about his computer game conquests.

      I’m not opposed to someone informing me and others of the biases and hatreds in the Arab world, but Friedman doesn’t have the right to sit in judgment on the people he criticizes. He really doesn’t. He has this huge platform and he doesn’t deserve it. It’s a terrible comment on our political and pundit culture that this barbaric clown has a megaphone.

  5. ColinWright says:

    Aside from everything else, “… That is not how a proper self-governing people behave…” ignores what is precisely the point.

    Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis, Libyans, and Lebanese are not ‘proper, self-governing peoples.’ They may yet become such — but at the moment, they have no reason to expect that their governments and other institutions will be either willing or able to express outrage on their behalf. They have to speak for themselves — and however inarticulately and irrationally, they do.

  6. American says:

    “That is not how a proper self-governing people behave. There is no excuse for it. It is shameful.”

    Well, if that isn’t a member of the pot tribe calling the kettle black.
    Friedman has the mind of a little Lord Fauntleroy. That who he reminds me off.

  7. flyod says:

    friedman and memri, a match made in….

    let us not forget yigal’s founding partner in memri , the dearest neocon meyrav wurmser
    link to rightweb.irc-online.org

  8. bobsmith says:

    I read Fernandez’s book last summer and could not stop laughing. Now any time I read a Friedman piece, I think of a clueless, slightly daft, starting-to-go Alzheimer great uncle. The things that come out of his mouth! Soon it will be drool.

  9. Amar says:

    “You and I both know that most of what MEMRI says in completely accurate, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.”

    Ehem.. Memri may retain some degree of accuracy in their translations, sure. But their style is often to cherry-pick mutterings of extremists and broad brush paint that as typical of the whole. I’d love to see someone doing to the Hebrew press what Memri is doing to the Arabic. Esp the religious elements attitudes towards Christians, Jesus (often manifested in the frequent spitting on Christian clergy and their symbols) and goys in general which are no less vile and pernicious as the worst that anything Memri comes up with from the kooks of the Muslim world. Or the military rabbis whose job it is to advise soldiers of the acceptability of killing innocent goys, even children or babies if they may pose some future threat to Israel. But the Zios and their backers know this and are vigorous in keeping a lid on such stuff from seeping in the western press as well as having the means to do so. In essence Memri is simply the blackest of pots calling the kettle black.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Great piece. So clear and spot on. Has to be a bit tough to hear this hooey “civilization etiquette” from a person with Iraqi and American blood all over this hands. MEMRI…hmm are they the ones who originally mis translated the Iranian Presidents words about Israel? Wonder if MEMRI is the source for “wipe Israel off the map”

    And the attacks on the consulate. Not much coverage of the counter terrorism report on Wednesday sayin this was a well planned attack.

    • hophmi says:

      “are they the ones who originally mis translated the Iranian Presidents words about Israel? Wonder if MEMRI is the source for “wipe Israel off the map” ”

      No. As I have said umpteenth times, it was Islamic Republic News Agency who made the original mistake, which was picked up by a number of news source, NOT including MEMRI.

      In fact, the episode enhances MEMRI’s credibility, because their translation was “eliminated from the pages of history,” which largely agrees with Juan Cole’s translation that Ahmadinejad called for the Israeli regime to “vanish from the pages of time.”

      link to en.wikipedia.org

  11. Thank you Belén Fernández. Please post here more often!

  12. Mayhem says:

    Naturally you would all be a lot happier if organizations like MEMRI didn’t exist, because then the opposition to your agenda would be diminished and it would be a lot easier to cajole an ignorant public. Sorry guys you need to be accountable.
    It is absolutely vital to know what people say behind your back as that is often far more significant than what they say to your face.
    Try this one for size link to jpost.com and then compare it to something that was televised in Australia this week. Go to the 2:30 min of this discussion held in Australia at link to youtube.com, where Muslims are discussing the riots that occurred in Sydney last week over the idiotic anti-Islam film.
    This is the kind of material that MEMRI and other similar organizations (e.g. CAMERA) reveal. I can only interpret that the lack of  concern amongst the voices in this forum of the efforts made by MEMRI demonstrates that people here are not interested in hearing about what their Muslim colleagues are up to.
    If people here really wanted to know the facts and the truth (subservient to ideology in these precincts), then they would be striving to get to the bottom of what is really going on.
    Anyone can see in these two short videos how such insidious bigotry and hatred of Jews and Israelis make peace and conflict resolution virtually impossible.