IF THERE WERE JUSTICE in the universe, the Middle East Media Research Institute would already have been awarded some kind of special-achievement Pulitzer Prize. MEMRI has pioneered the careful translation, and dissemination to European and American audiences, of print and broadcast news sources in the Arab world. The group's work now pops up everywhere; here in the States, hardly a week goes by when some major daily or cable news show doesn't make use (generally without attribution) of a MEMRI translation. And the cumulative effect of such translations is--or ought to be, at least--roughly analogous to the body blow struck against European philo-communism by the first Western publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novels in the 1960s. Here, really for the first time, non-Arabic speaking Westerners are being given a direct, first-person look into a previously unseen gulag. Only this time there is no barbed wire, the prisoners all serve by choice, and the anti-Semitism is no longer ancillary but central, basic, and paramount. It turns out that the Islamic Middle East, just as the Israelis have been begging us for years to figure out, has got itself trapped in a deep, deep swamp of near-psychotic Jew hatred.
Yesterday morning at the National Press Club here in Washington, MEMRI held a briefing on Arabic-language media coverage of "martyrdom and suicide bombers." Along with all the usual, scrupulously documented newspaper translations, the group also screened an eye-opening videotape compilation (with English subtitles) of recent broadcasts on something called Iqraa Television. Iqraa is one of the global satellite channels packaged by the Arab Radio and Television Network (ART), a Saudi-based company with transmission facilities in Italy which describes itself as "the leading producer of premium Arabic family programming and entertainment worldwide." Iqraa is ART's effort to provide "a focused insight into the teachings of the Quran" to "intellectual, elite, and conservative Islamic markets." It is widely watched.
And it is hair-raisingly insane. The April 25, 2002 interview with Prof. 'Adel Sadeq, head of the psychiatry faculty at 'Ein Shams University in Cairo, for example. Professor Sadeq beams with glee as he explains how Western civilization "has no concepts such as self-sacrifice and honor," which is why Americans fail to understand that the suicide bomber experiences "the height of ecstasy and happiness" just at the moment when, "ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and then he presses the button to blow himself up." Big smile.
Then there's the May 9, 2002, program on "discipline in the family," featuring one Jasem Al-Mutawah, an "expert on family matters," who patiently describes to his viewers where on her body, how severely, with what weapon, and under what circumstances a man should beat his wife.
And, most harrowing of all, perhaps, especially if you have kids of your own, there is the May 7, 2002 edition of "Muslim Woman Magazine," hosted by Doaa 'Amer, a soft spoken, highly polished anchorlady who might just as well be Joan Lunden or Katie Couric--except that she's wearing a body-length robe. And also that she's a monster. Ms. 'Amer begins as follows:
"Our report today will be a little different, because our guest is a girl, a Muslim girl, but a true Muslim. Allah willing, may our God give us the strength to educate our children the same way, so that the next generation will turn out to be true Muslims who understand that they are Muslims and know who their enemies are. This girl will introduce herself immediately. She is the daughter of my sister in faith and of the artist, Wagdi Al-Arabi. Her name is Basmallah and we will ask her as well."
The camera then begins a low pan downward and to the right as Ms. 'Amer offers a "peace be unto you" welcome to her guest. Who turns out to be . . . a toddler.
Toddler: Allah's mercy and blessing upon you.
'Amer: What's your name?
'Amer: Basmallah, how old are you?
Toddler: Three and a half.
'Amer: Are you a Muslim?
'Amer: Basmallah, are you familiar with the Jews?
'Amer: Do you like them?
'Amer: Why don't you like them?
Toddler: Because . . .
'Amer: Because they are what?
Toddler: They're apes and pigs.
'Amer: Because they are apes and pigs. Who said they are so?
Toddler: Our God.
'Amer: Where did he say this?
Toddler: In the Koran.
'Amer: Right, he said that about them in the Koran. Okay, Basmallah, what are the Jews doing?
Toddler: The Pepsi company.
'Amer: [Approving laughter.] You also know about the boycott, Basmallah? Did they love our master, Muhammad?
'Amer: No. What did the Jews do to him?
Toddler: [Pauses, struggling for the right answer.] The Prophet Muhammad killed someone . . .
'Amer: Obviously, our master Muhammad was strong and could have killed them. All right, you know the traditions about the Jews and what they did to the Prophet Muhammad?
Toddler: [Mumbled assent.]
'Amer: Is there a story you know?
Toddler: Yes, the story about the Jewish woman.
'Amer: The Jewish woman? What did she do to our master, the Prophet Muhammad?
Toddler: The Jewish woman?
Toddler: There was a Jewish woman who invited the Prophet and his friends. When he asked her, "Did you put poison (in my food)?" she said to him, "Yes." he asked her, "Why did you do this?" and she replied, "If you are a liar you will die and Allah will not protect you; if you speak the truth Allah will protect you."
'Amer: And our God protected the Prophet Muhammad, of course.
Toddler: And he said to his friends, "I will kill this lady."
'Amer: Of course, because she put poison in his food, this Jewess.
'Amer: [Speaking directly into the camera.] Basmallah, Allah be praised, Basmallah, Allah be praised. May our God bless her. No one could wish Allah could give him a more believing girl than she. May Allah bless her and her father and mother. The next generation of children must be true Muslims. We must educate them now while they are still children so that they will be true Muslims.
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