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Media Conscience

category international | arts and media | opinion/analysis author Wednesday May 17, 2006 22:08author by David MAnning - toirtap Report this post to the editors

because the corporate media doesn't have one

The Illusion of Balance

Ah that wistful sense of balance so uncommon in the liberal media. In response to a letter sent to the Irish Times criticising Charles Krauthammer's mis-quotation, among other things, of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks at the "World without Zionism" conference held in Tehran, the Irish Times printed a 'counter balance' of sizeable proportion.

"Madam, - According to David Manning (May 12th), your columnist Charles Krauthammer is guilty of "blatant propaganda" in misrepresenting the Iranian president's remarks on Israel. Mr Manning quotes from a translation of President Ahmadinejad's October 2005 speech which appears to show its intention as one of mere regime change rather than destruction of the state of Israel. But the translation, by the Middle East Media Research Institute, of the speech as a whole shows clearly that the Krauthammer interpretation is the correct one.

The speech, delivered at a "World without Zionism" conference, is full of bellicose rhetoric from start to finish, and portrays Israel as the spearhead of the West in the Islamic world which must be eliminated: "This occupying country [ Israel] is in fact a front of the World of Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world. They have in fact built a bastion from which they can expand their rule to the entire Islamic world

. . .Very soon, this stain of disgrace [ ie Israel] will vanish from the centre of the Islamic world - and this is attainable."

These are the words of a millenarian leader who believes in the imminent return of the Twelfth Imam following a world conflagration. Some of his other statements - that he was enveloped in a green aura while speaking at the UN General Assembly, and that his audience was so overawed that nobody blinked for 30 minutes - call his actual sanity into question.

But this matter involves more than the personality of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The suicide cult of radical Islamism in general renders a regime such as that in Teheran unamenable to the rational calculation of mutual destruction which kept the world safe from nuclear conflict during the cold war. As Mr Krauthammer shows in his quotation from ex-president Rafsanjani, it is quite easy to conceive of the Iranian leadership being willing to accept the destruction of some of its cities as the price of destroying tiny Israel with a single nuclear bomb.

Do we need any further reasons why, grim as the dangers may be, the military option must be held in reserve to ensure that the Iranian regime is never allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon? - Yours, etc, Dermot Meleady"

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/letters/2006/0517/index.html#1146660076694

Although this accounts for only three articles in three different issues of the Irish Times it does represent almost the sum total of 'balance' applied to the Iranian 'crsis'. Therefore it is, I feel, fair to infer that the Irish Times considers the 'debate' representative of the it's position on the issue.

In my original letter, which Mr. Meleady was subsequently allowed ample space to take issue with, I merely pointed out that in fact Mr. Ahmadinejad had in fact not called for the 'wiping out' of Israel, he 'merely' agreed with the sentiment of [Ayatollah] Khomeini, that the Israeli regime should be "eliminated from the pages of history". A basic fact, that Mr. Krauthammer must be obliged to restrict himself to.

"Madam, - Charles Krauthammer's continued misrepresentation of the Iranian president's remarks on Israel and its leaders now borders on the ridiculous. "The world has paid ample attention to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel must be destroyed," he writes (Opinion, May 8th).

The Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, gives the following as the correct translation of the president's remark: "Imam [ Khomeini] said: 'This regime that is occupying Qods [ Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.' This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise."

While Mr Krauthammer may disagree fundamentally with everything the Iranian President has to say, he must at least be obliged to find issue with what he actually said, not what it would be useful for him to have said. There is no excuse for this sort of blatant propaganda. - Yours, etc, David Manning"

However, in the unedited version of my letter which neither Mr. Meleady nor the Irish Times readers could be privy to, I pointed out, through the words of Juan Cole, Professor at the University of Michigan, that neither the quote, nor the speech (though obviously overtly anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist) endorse military action, indeed it does not support killing anyone at all (a strange idea in times of deaths numbering the tens of thousands in Iraq). The phrase Mr. Krauthammer +quotes+ (not infers) is in actuality "almost metaphysical." "It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks."

http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html

While the speech is as I said anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli, it is arguably no more anti-Israeli than present US and Israeli rhetoric is anti-Iranian.

""All options are on the table," Mr Bush said as he responded to a question at the White House about whether the US was considering military action."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4919804.stm

""Israel - and not only Israel - cannot accept a nuclear Iran," Sharon warned recently. "We have the ability to deal with this and we're making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.""

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1920074,00.html

But in order to bring public opinion around to 'realising' the dangers of an Iran with or without nuclear weapons it is necessary to first convince them we are dealing with a lunatic. Therefore the content of the speech which Mr. Meleady alludes to:

"This occupying country [ Israel] is in fact a front of the World of Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world. They have in fact built a bastion from which they can expand their rule to the entire Islamic world

. . .Very soon, this stain of disgrace [ ie Israel] will vanish from the centre of the Islamic world - and this is attainable."

Is again subject to the selective quoting Mr. Krauthammer got bogged down in. Juan Cole continues..."Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope-- that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah's government."

This explanation is backed up throughout the speech. Mr. Ahmadinejad makes many references to the fall of regimes, without any reference to the wiping out of nations or peoples.

"When the dear Imam [Khomeini] said that [the Shah's] regime must go, and that we demand a world without dependent governments, many people who claimed to have political and other knowledge [asked], 'Is it possible [that the Shah's regime can be toppled]?"

"Nobody believed that we would one day witness the collapse of the Eastern Imperialism [i.e. the U.S.S.R], and said it was an iron regime. But in our short lifetime we have witnessed how this regime collapsed in such a way that we must look for it in libraries, and we can find no literature about it."

"Imam [Khomeini] said that Saddam [Hussein] must go, and that he would be humiliated in a way that was unprecedented. And what do you see today? A man who, 10 years ago, spoke as proudly as if he would live for eternity is today chained by the feet, and is now being tried in his own country... "

http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP101305

But this is all quite irrelevant as Mr. Meleady explains:

"But this matter involves more than the personality of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The suicide cult of radical Islamism in general renders a regime such as that in Teheran unamenable to the rational calculation of mutual destruction which kept the world safe from nuclear conflict during the cold war."

Suffice to say, the content of Mr. Ahmadinejad's speech is not the real issue. It exists only to support the contention that "the suicide cult of radical Islamism" is alive in Iran and therefore a military solution must not be ruled out.

Indeed Mr. Krauthammer could have simply gone the route of Mr Meleady and taken as a whole Mr. Ahmadinejad's speech at the "World without Zionism" conference. He could have inferred that this is simply the rhetoric common to "the suicide cult of radical Islamism" and that he possess none of the "rational calculation of mutual destruction" that kept us safe throughout the Cold War.

He could have done this, but it would have sounded quite ridiculous.

The quotation of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani that explained "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam," while despicable, does not suggest or promote nuclear action. It is irrelevant.

The substantial content of both Mr. Meleady and Mr. Krauthammer's writing suggests Mr. Ahmadinejad is an unstable villain. But his talk of being enveloped in a green aura while speaking at the UN General Assembly, is odd, but no more strange than Tony Blair's recent confession he was sent by God to find imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

"Mr Blair told show host Michael Parkinson: "In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well.""

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4772142.stm

Yet no one has suggested Mr. Blair's actual sanity is in question, despite the fact US plans for a nulcear solution to the Iranian issue are public knowledge. The idea of a "rational calculation of mutual destruction" is quite absurd. It is also noteable, no one has ever called the illegal invasion of Iraq a form of Christian Aggression. Though it is quite common and acceptable in the mainstream media for people to correlate regimes such as that in Iran with the "suicide cult of radical Islamism," as if the religion and the political philosophy are the same thing, "as though they were split from the same Zygote."

Eamon Brennan at Persistence of Vision

The escalating 'situation', that is actually Iran's 'inalienable right' to 'develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination' afforded to it under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is again ignored. And absent still is discussion of the possible effects on ordinary Iranians, those who would be bombed.

So no surprise then that here again the misrepresented words of a hardline president are provided as justification for sanctions, and possibly war, that may cost Iranian people their families, their friends and their futures.

Related Link: http://toirtap.blogspot.com/
author by David Manning - toirtappublication date Wed May 17, 2006 22:58Report this post to the editors

"nor the speech (though obviously overtly anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist) does not endorse military action"

should read:

"nor the speech (though obviously overtly anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist) endorses military action"

author by Ehad Ha'ampublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 08:10author email ehad_haam at yahoo dot comauthor address Ra'anana, ISRAELReport this post to the editors

"nor the speech (though obviously overtly anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist) does not endorse military action"

should read:

"and the speech (though obviously overtly anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist) endorses military action"

 
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