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Israel, settlements, research institutes « Previous | |Next »
November 27, 2004

The pro Likud Israeli supporters in Australia are generally silent about the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements, let alone acknowledging that they should and can, be halted and reversed.

Does not Israel's two-state solution mean getting the settlers out of the occupied territories?

Tony Judt asks:

"What are the chances of an American president in the foreseeable future forcing Israel not just to stop colonizing the Occupied Territories but to dismantle its holdings there and retreat to the 1967 frontiers? I don't mean the US saying that this would be a nice idea, or tut-tutting when it doesn't happen; I mean forcing Israel to comply right down the line (and, yes, exerting the same pressure on Palestinians, which is a lot easier to imagine)."

I would say that under the current Bush administration the chances are zilch.

More on the settlements problem here and here.

As for the research side of things I've already made mention of the bias of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC). This says that it is the:

".... premier public affairs organisation for the Australian Jewish community. Through research, commentary, analysis and advocacy, AIJAC represents the interests of the Australian Jewish community to government, media and other community groups and organisations. It has professionals dedicated to analysis and monitoring developments in the Middle East, Asia and Australia."

I have questioned the AIJAC claim that it "represents the interests of the Australian Jewish community" by suggesting that it's bias is pro-Likud Israel.

A similar situation can be found in the US with the Middle East Media Research Institute. It says:

"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, Farsi, and Hebrew media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East."

However, its selections are onesided in the sense that it has both a tendency to select anti-Israel content, and has a tendency to depict the Arab world by highlighting the more negative aspects of Arab societies.

Juan Cole highlighted MEMRI's bias: more specifically funding of $60 million a year, its clever cherry-picking of the vast Arabic press to make them look bad, and itis part of a public relation campaign on behalf of the far right-wing Likud Party in Israel. The response was intimidation of Cole through being threatened with a SLAPP. We know this legal instrument well from their use against environmentalists in Australia. They are designed to attack the critic's bank account, close down the cut and thrust of public debate, and to prevent political speech.

I'm with Cole on this attempt by research institutes to dampen down critique, because critique is the lifeblood of democracy.

You can find more on MEMRI seeking to use the legal system to silence people who disagree with its politics at: Abu Aardvard; at the Agonist; by Atrios; at American Amnesia; by Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber; by Brad DeLong; and Kurt Nimmo over at Another day in the Empire.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:02 AM | | Comments (0)