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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 29, 2003

The State of Denial


Matthew A. Levitt writing in National Review Online observes what has been noted a number of times: The Arab media, state controlled, allows the blaming of all Arab/Muslim problems on Israel and the U.S.
Well into the second year of a global war on terrorism, key Arab journalists and intellectuals continue to whitewash Middle Eastern terrorism. In effect, there currently exists a pan-Arab state of denial.

The shallow nature of America's anti-terror partnerships in the Middle East is only partly a result of the State Department's ineffectual public-diplomacy campaign. Indeed, no information campaign can stand a chance so long as the region's hearts and minds continue to be poisoned by a media concerned less with addressing the Arab world's ills than with spinning conspiracy theories and (to borrow a term from Fouad Ajami) "endless escapes" to explain those ills away.

The Arab media deny most of the terrorist threat facing the world today, and excuse the rest. For example, in the wake of a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem on November 21, 2002, several Egyptian newspaper editorials hailed the suicide attack as a "valiant, courageous operation" and "most honorable mission" (Al-Gumhuriyya, 11/22/02), and described the noncombatant, civilian victims as "terrorists" (Al-Akhbar, 11/22/02).

We can hardly expect the support of the Arab masses in the war on terror when their most respected journalists and intellectuals are apologists for terrorism. The Arab public readily accepts such apologetics and blame-shifting as fact, hungrily consuming them so long as the blame can be shifted elsewhere, and Arabs are not forced to take any responsibility for either the current state of affairs or the radicalism it fosters.
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