Saturday, January 22, 2011

No one reported

It's never worthwhile explaining a joke. If you need to say what the point of your own article was, you either underestimate your own readers, or you're doing it wrong.

Hi ho. Tunisia? Tunisia! Who would have thunked it! (I hate that title in so many ways. Who would have thunk it is an internet tradition, usually with a question mark. 'Thunked' on the other hand...)

That's good old Nick Cohen in the Spectator, as one of the comments points out, not only is he an irregular blogger, but when he shows up, he copies and pastes an the opening of an article he wrote elsewhere, and explains what his "wider point" was. His heart does not seem to be in this.

Shorter Nick. I knew nothing about Tunisia until earlier this month. This is the fault of the broadsheets, radio 4, and more generally all of you lot. Especially you.

Here is the opening reprinted on the Spectator blog.

Every morning I read The Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Financial Times and the Independent. I stay with the Today programme until Radio 4 drives me away by insulting my intelligence with Thought for the Day and look at the Economist and the New York Times if I have a moment. But I knew nothing about Tunisia.
No journalist thought it worthwhile to tell readers about the grotesque figure of Leila Trabelsi, an Imelda Marcos and Marie Antoinette rolled into one, who was looting a country millions of western tourists knew well. No one looked at how she hoarded gold on the one hand, while keeping her dirty old man of a husband sweet on the other. No one bothered to look at her equally ghastly and rapacious children, who, along with the wider clan, formed a Mafia state that forced businesses to pay off the ruling crime family.

I would have liked have to read about the brutality of the secret police, as well, and to have had a little advance notice that the subject people was preparing to revolt. Leaving all political considerations aside, Tunisia was in journalistic terms a great story from the Middle East that virtually sat up and begged journalists to take notice, but because it did not involve Israel, foreign desks looked the other way.


I'm lazy, so I only searched the Guardian.

Tunisia is backtracking on women's rights Wednesday 25 August 2010 (CiF, possibly not in the print edition)

Four days earlier, the author of that piece, Kamel Labidi, had written about Jordan: Is Jordan the latest enemy of press freedom online? First paragraph:

Jordan's provisional law on cyber crimes, deviously adopted earlier this month, has brought the Hashemite kingdom a step closer to Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt, which are considered by international freedom of expression groups among the most notorious online oppressors worldwide.


Ian Black, the Guardian's Middle East editor was so obsessed with Israel that in October 2009 he wrote Tunisia prepares for 23rd year of democracy, Ben Ali style.

Intimidation of the press is normal. The Le Monde correspondent sent to cover the election was turned back at the airport this week. Official Tunisian media have been campaigning against al-Jazeera TV since it aired interviews with leading dissidents. Last month the democratically elected journalists' union faced a court-backed takeover. Human-rights activists are the target of constant government repression, detained without charge, subjected to travel restrictions and surveillance.


I would not have read Wolfram Lacher's Dynasty in north Africa this time last year as prophetic, but the sub-headline "The possibility of four near simultaneous dynastic successions in north Africa is striking – and not as simple as it seems" looks that way now.

Amnesty covers police and prison brutality.
Finally, Wikileaks had everything Nick says he wanted, and it had it in December.

The truth was out there. Not quite in the salacious human interest way Nick wanted, but that was because reporting from Tunisia was hard. As the Wikileaks cable should make clear, Western governments were very ambivalent about Tunisia, but unwilling to criticise. Might this have been a factor, rather than everybody-hates-Israel?

Since the column layout of Blogger (owned by Google) doesn't fit the new YouTube (also owned by Google) format, here's a link to Elvis Costello singing Black and White World for any of you naughty Manicheans.

93 Comments:

Blogger Naadir said...

I also have this on Cohen's inability to use Google.

1/22/2011 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Know how I knew the Tunisian revolt was going on, in its first couple of weeks? From a massive number of Tweets, Facebook entries and blog posts by leftists. The sort of people who are in favour of boycotting Israel.

1/23/2011 08:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

and to have had a little advance notice that the subject people was preparing to revolt.

Doesn't expect much does he. That's not so much asking for better journalists, as asking for better soothsayers.

1/23/2011 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny that Nick fails to mention his friend Christopher Hitches, who wrote about Tunisia - although embarrassingly Hitchens wrote a great big dollop of praise
"one of Africa's most outstanding success stories. In the 2006–7 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, it was ranked No. 1 in Africa for economic competitiveness, even, incidentally, outpacing three European states (Italy, Greece, and Portugal). Home ownership is 80 percent. Life expectancy, the highest on the continent, is 72. Less than 4 percent of the population is below the poverty line, and the alleviation of misery by a "solidarity fund" has been adopted by the United Nations as a model program. Nine out of 10 households are connected to electricity and clean water. Tunisia is the first African state to have been accepted as an associate member of the European Union"

Andrew Onnoo

1/23/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

he really lets himself go when writing for the JC doesn't he. all that 'jew-obsession' stuff. it just reads so badly, if nothing else.

1/23/2011 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

To be fair there is a valid criticism to be made that large parts of the globe are completely ignored by the mainstream media in the UK. South America really gets very little coverage and ditto Africa where there are some very unpleasant regimes. But there's no conspiracy at work here. It's about the priorities of the major news institutions. It's very expensive to keep reporters permanently stationed across the globe. Even an organisation which has pretensions to global coverage such as the BBC only has reporters permanently stationed in a very small number of countries. For the rest of the planet they rely on agency material or stringers. Someone I know who worked on one of the Scottish Sunday broadsheets told me that their weekly budget for international news was £500. Plus there is a perception amongst a lot of editors that international news outside of America and the EU is of very little interest to viewers.

Israel is a different case and it has a number of aspects which make it newsworthy. These include:

1- It the site of great significance for three of the world's biggest religions.
2- There is a large constituency of Jews and Muslims, both in the UK and across the globe who are deeply interested in the story.
3- The deep and long standing role of the US.
4- It is a major regional flashpoint in an volatile area where most of the world's hydrocarbon resources are located. So that happenings there can gravely impact the global economy - see post 1973 War.

When you throw in Britain's historical links to the area and the fact that the occupation inevitably creates friction, violence and strong visuals it is not difficult to see why it generates a steady stream of stories.

Nick is an experienced journalist so he must be aware of all this. For him then to reduce it down a 'near permanent state of Jews on the brain' suggests that he has either completely lost his critical faculties or that he is now writing to appeal to more eccentric end of the Speccie's readership base.

1/23/2011 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Today we observe Nick Cohen claiming that interest in Joanna Yates's murder is proof there's nothing to fret about or, er - something. (Presumably the uproar over Sacco and Venzetti showed there were remarkably few killers in 1920s America.) Amusingly he sees fit to note that British crime doesn't match that of Johannesburg - presumably there's no cause to worry about inflation 'til it's worse than in the Weimar Republic. Then he's blithely credulous about the death of Gareth Williams; claims that Julie Bindel "often seems like the last feminist in England" (bad luck, Joan) and calls on us to join the Labour Party.

1/23/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

For him then to reduce it down a 'near permanent state of Jews on the brain' suggests that he has either completely lost his critical faculties or that he is now writing to appeal to more eccentric end of the Speccie's readership base.

It is, sadly, what Cohen genuinely believes and it's how he'd phrase it all the time if he could get away with it. In a sense I think it's founded on something vaguely noble in him - a commitment to equality and a longing for a journalistic world long since past (it fits in with his horror at the times devoting its entire front page to the death of Michael Jackson - they never did this for Elvis was his response, stolen from Kamm naturally).

His media analysis is surely weird, though. He says:

Only a safe and placid country, where people fear violence but rarely experience it, could find her death shocking.

well, maybe, but the main reason the story got the headlines was because it happened just after Xmas, one of the slowest news periods in the year.

and on surveillance - as with his other prediction, discussed on here recently, his prediction that CCTV should have instantly solved the crime might look a bit silly if CCTV footage of the killer is eventually used in a trial...

1/23/2011 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

also just to note that Cohen's main interest in Tunisia is, um, Israel-related.

Also does anyone understand the logic here:

If you want a working definition of Islamophobia that rises above the special pleading of religious reactionaries my suggestion would be: “Islamophobia is a prejudice that dominates western political and media elites and the confused and faintly sinister mind of the Chairwoman of the British Conservative Party. It holds that Muslim women want to be oppressed, that Muslim gays want to be murdered, that Muslims want to have their rights to speak and vote denied, and that Muslim dominated countries want to be ruled by sleazy, life-denying and vicious dictators.”

?? i can understand the rant, but not the link to islamophobia. what's he on about?

1/23/2011 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I think I can summarise Cohen's output thusly.

1/23/2011 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Apparently, for Nick, non-Islamophobes know that what Muslims really want is to be bombed by foreigners and have their countries occupied.

1/23/2011 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

yeh it feels like he thinks that islamophobia is in fact a manifestation of relativism, and people who ACTUALLY hate muslims are the ones who think that rape, killing gays, etc, are a-ok cos they're 'from another culture'.

But i honestly don't know anyone who thinks like that - aside form tony Blair's views on Saudi, that is. nothing in Warsi's speech seems to tally with it either.

the islamophpbia rant also seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the piece.

1/23/2011 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

"Apparently, for Nick, non-Islamophobes know that what Muslims really want is to be bombed by foreigners and have their countries occupied."

And to be want to spy on Muslim university students, and their dangerous academic superiors.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/10/terrorism-islam-abdulmutallab-nick-cohen


"No journalist thought it worthwhile to tell readers about the grotesque figure of Leila Trabelsi, an Imelda Marcos and Marie Antoinette rolled into one, who was looting a country millions of western tourists knew well."

Is Nick's hatred of the late Harold Pinter so strong that he ignored Antonia Fraser's book on Marie Antoinette? 'Madam deficit' in fact did not bankrupt France while advising the starving masses to eat cake.

1/23/2011 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I must admit that I had a bit of a Bruce Forsyth double take at that section. It is garbled and doesn't make sense.

My reading of it is that he is saying that Islam can be equated with these vile practices and to complain about Islamophobia means you support such practices.

Leaving aside the tortured logic for a moment but this sort of reductionist thinking is actually pretty nasty. It is little different from you see from the bigoted rubbish that you would find on Jihadwatch, LGF and other wingnut sections of the blogosphere.

1/23/2011 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

"These things happen, their victims are Muslims, condoning them in the name of multiculturalism means that they'll go on happening, therefore condoning them means that you hate Muslims, therefore those who denounce Islamophobia are in fact the real Islamophobes". Cheap stuff.

1/23/2011 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

I think you are being unfair in your original article. Utilising the ProQuest database I searched the period of the last five years.(I could easily select a different period).

During that time period I searched for certain terms. You can see the amount of results that would include different articles that would be thrown up. Of course, a search for "Turkey" includes the bird that people eat at Xmas, the search for "China" would include articles on cups and saucers. "America" as a search term has been included but I am not sure how useful it is as it would include articles on things like "Bank of America","Latin America" etc. The same problem applies to Canada where articles dealing with the "Royal Bank of Canada" would be picked up. Similar issues will occur with other names.

I did not exclude (as I did not know how) articles on sport. This would probably explain for the very high amount of articles for countries such as Australia and even South Africa.

I have not selected every country - I do not have all day.


America: 23,873 results
Canada: 19,797 results
Germany: 14,884 results
Australia: 14,111 results
Iraq: 12,967 results
China 12,858 results
Spain: 10,445 results
South Africa:9,591 results
Russia: 9,066 results
Afghanistan:8,452 results
Israel: 7,309 results
Japan: 6,833 results
New Zealand:6,566 results results
Pakistan: 6,319
Iran: 5,749 results
Brazil: 5,486 results
Mexico: 4,619 results
Holland: 4,373 results
Turkey (would include the food!) 4,309 results
Jordan:3,993 results
Switzerland:3,769 results
Portugal: 3,574 results
Poland: 3,116 results
Egypt: 2,748 results
Vietnam:2,396 results
Austria: 2,335 results
Lebanon: 2,316 results
Denmark 2,258 results
Norway: 2,117 results
Saudi Arabia: 1,901 results
Thailand: 1,682 results
Bangladesh: 1,611 results
Syria: 1,568 results
Sudan: 1,201 results
Kenya: 1,997 results
Ukraine: 1,953 results
Syria: 1,568 results
Singapore: 1,566 results
Hungary: 1,487 results
Finland: 1,470 results
Serbia:1,345 results
Rumania: 1,307results
Venezuela 1,167 results
Congo 1,100 results
Morocco: 1,078 results
Burma: 1,053
Colombia: 993 results
Qatar: 864 results
Algeria:907 results
Malaysia: 890 results
Bosnia: 874 results
Somalia: 869 results
Slovakia: 802 results
Luxembourg: 801 results
Rwanda: 798 results
Peru: 791 results
Libya: 756 results
Philippines: 744 results
Slovenia: 743 results
Panama: 530 results
United Arab Emirates: 501 results
Cambodia: 452 results
Senegal: 451 results
Tunisia: 436 results
Mozambique: 359 results
Namibia: 337 results
Mongolia:267 results
El Salvador: 256 results
Moldova:196 results

For a bit of fun,I include a few names of people:

Tony Blair: 10,144
David Cameron: 9,901
Obama: 8,375
George Bush: 6,352
Jesus: 3,315
Michael Jackson: 1,812
Peter Mandelson: 1,304
George Galloway: 371


I think a reasonable conclusion is that some countries including Tunisia do not get much press publicity, Israel gets an inordinate amount more publicity than would be suggested by its size and economic importance. The fact that Israel has more articles mentioning the country than Japan, one of the leading economies in the world and a population size a huge multiple of Israel, says an awful lot.

Jesus does not seem particularly important either.

1/24/2011 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

I should make clear as I left it out - it was the Guardian newspaper that I searched with ProQuest.

A further conclusion we can draw is that George Galloway is deemed more newsworthy than countries such as Mozambique, Moldova and El Salvador!

1/24/2011 04:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

"The fact that Israel has more articles mentioning the country than Japan, one of the leading economies in the world and a population size a huge multiple of Israel, says an awful lot."

yeah, but then Japan hasn't undergone 63 years of almost continuous war, invaded its neighbouring states, and annexed their territory while failing to reach a peace agreement.

As for countries not getting much press attention, I shouldn’t think the nations of Laos, Palau, Sao Tome & Principe or San Marino get much coverage either.

1/24/2011 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Asteri,

I assume you believe that it is a real shame that neighbouring states with Israel did not recognise Israel's right to exist until Egypt and subsequently Jordan had a peace treaty.

Perhaps you forget about the famous "Three Nos" where the Arab states said "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it."

Or perhaps you think otherwise and you cheer on those who wish to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

1/24/2011 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

trolling as usual michael.

by the way, anyone who demands others 'accept Israel's right to exist' should clearly define the borders of the country.

Am happy for an Israel sited within 1967 borders to exist. I think any settlement outside these borders should be relinquished.

incidentally, why did you only search the guardian? Why not the times, etc etc?

1/24/2011 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

also to note, i understand that michael 'the troll' Ezra is a personal friend of nick cohen's, so i'll assume that Ezra's lack of engagement with either cohen's piece or ours above is a result of his friendship and not his desire to troll on here.

All the same, it's very clear that Cohen's article is deliberately disingenous. In fact the only reason he's written about Tunisia, sometime after the beginning of the revolt, is to - oh yes - make a point about Israel!

1/24/2011 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

organic cheeseboard,

I do not know why you seem to like to denounce me for "trolling." If you do not wish for me to post here and you simply want this blog to be an echo chamber where you all pat each other on the back and say how wonderful you all are, just let me know.

Well, at least you accept Israel's right to exist within its '67 borders. I do not ask for much more than that,apart from what I would assume you would allow other states: the right to defend itself from attack.

The reason I only searched the Guardian is because that is what Chardonnay Chap has done in his main post to this thread! I followed his lead.

I am not a spokesperson for Nick Cohen. He can quite well defend himself. By the way, if you haven't read it, I do suggest his book, What's Left?, his argument is quite compelling and very decent!

1/24/2011 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

"I assume you believe that it is a real shame that neighbouring states with Israel did not recognise Israel's right to exist until Egypt and subsequently Jordan had a peace treaty."

Its a shame indeed that Israel's neighbours didn't recognise its 1967 borders, but Israel wants to be recognised within its 1982 borders, which include part of another nations territory.

To return to your findings that Israel has had much coverage within the last 5 years, that maybe because of the small issues of the 2006 Lebanon war and well etc. I also am prepared to guess that Cohen, Aaronovitch, Kamm, et al have contributed quite a bit to the coverage Israel had received in that time frame.

1/24/2011 06:00:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I do not know why you seem to like to denounce me for "trolling."

Perhaps because of comments like this...

...perhaps you think otherwise and you cheer on those who wish to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

The Oxford Union is thattaway, man...

1/24/2011 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Asteri,

I believe you are mistaken. Israel has continually said that it wishes to be recognised as a state. It is not a question of where the borders are, Israel's Arab opponents fundamentally have not accepted the right of Israel to exist on any of the land. They have continually rejected the idea.

Hamas say in their Covenant: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it." While this is quite violent,it is not new.The PLO Charter also does not recognise the State of Israel: "Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit." It is violent in nature: "Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine." They aim for "the elimination of Zionism in Palestine." They have never changed this Charter much to the concern of many Israelis. They have had plenty of time to do so in the run up to Oslo and post Oslo, but they have not done so.

This is the bottom line. organic cheeseboard said that he would recognise Israel in the 1967 borders. When other Arab states do so too, then perhaps there would not be wars. This will be especially so if Lebanon can control Hezbollah and stop them trying to murder Israelis. If they can't then I would not surprised to see Israel retaliate to stop its own population from being attacked.

1/24/2011 06:55:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

jesus, yet more trolling. it's not that this place should be an 'echo chamber', but I'd like to see honest debate, as opposed to your tedious ignoring of other people's points in favour of posting age-old leading questions.

though I'll answer your other question all the same. i believe that Israel has a right to defend itself - though I cannot recall a conflict involving Israel in the last ten years, possibly even longer, in which the actions of its military could be classified as self-defence. I'd also say that I believe that Palestininans in Gaza and the West Bank have a right to mount armed resistance against the Israeli military.

I'll respond with my own trolling question, which i've no doubt you'll ignore: if you believe that every action of Israel's military is an act of self-defence, why was the lighthouse in Beirut bombed in 2006? Do you support that particular instance of bombing?

I do suggest his book, What's Left?, his argument is quite compelling and very decent!

I've read it, pal. As have many others on here. Search the archives, you're obviously good at internet research.

And it's compelling in the sense of its being a scattergun rant with no intellectual value whatsoever whose momentum is sustained largely though the author's hysteria as opposed to argument. and in many cases Cohen's 'points', such as they are, based on research that's dubious at best and at worst is actively fabricated. it's pretty funny that you claim to be a history buff yet you liek the book - another example of your approach to history, where you approve of texts not because of their quality, but because you agree with them.

Since we're in the trolling game, maybe you can tell me what you think of Cohen's other books - Cruel Britannia and Pretty Straight Guys?

1/24/2011 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

This will be especially so if Lebanon can control Hezbollah

analysis on a par with a certain G. w. Bush. You might want to think about why, exactly, 'Lebanon' will have difficulty 'controlling Hezbollah'. For someone who's so keen to point out 'media bias' in coverage of the ME, you sure as hell don't seem to understand much about that particular country.

1/24/2011 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

organic cheeseboard,

I do not like the accusation that I am dishonest. I am also rather fed up of being referred to as a troll or being accused of trolling. To be honest, I do not know exactly how you define the word but what I do know is that it is being used in a pejorative fashion. I would like an apology for such accusations. I do not expect you to provide one as it seems that you take delight in heaping personal abuse on me. Nevertheless, while I shall respond to your latest posts, I shall not bother with you in future if that is the way that you wish to behave.

You state that you "cannot recall a conflict involving Israel in the last ten years, possibly even longer, in which the actions of its military could be classified as self-defence."

Perhaps I should refresh your memory. We can consider the 2006 war in Lebanon that you have mentioned. I copy below from a contemporaneous article published by the New York Times website on July 12, 2006:

"The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah surprised Israel with a bold daylight assault across the border on Wednesday, leading to fighting in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and at least eight killed, and elevating recent tensions into a serious two-front battle....

"The White House released a statement condemning the Hezbollah raid, calling it an 'unprovoked act of terrorism' and holding Syria and Iran responsible because of their longstanding support for the group. The United Nations representative to southern Lebanon, Gier Pedersen, also criticized the raid, calling it 'an act of very dangerous proportions.'

"The fighting on the Lebanese border erupted around 9 a.m., when Hezbollah attacked several Israeli towns with rocket fire, wounding several civilians, the Israeli military said. Israeli civilians rushed into their bomb shelters and many remained there through the day.

"But that attack was a diversion for the main operation, several miles to the east, where Hezbollah militants fired antitank missiles at two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence, the military said. Of the seven soldiers in the two jeeps, three were killed, two were wounded and two were abducted, the military said....

"In Beirut, residents gave out sweets in celebration of the kidnapping."

Now, if responding to rocket attacks on towns in your own country and attacks on your own military vehicles killing some soldiers and kidnapping others is not self-defence, I am not sure what is. But perhaps you do not think America was justified in joining WWI after the sinking of the Lusitania or WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

Likewise, we can consider Operation Cast Lead that commenced at the end of 2008. This action occurred at the end numerous years of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. One wonders what sovereign country would simply allow rockets to keep raining down terrorizing and even killing its population in its towns as they did in Israel in Sderot.


You state: "I'd also say that I believe that Palestininans in Gaza and the West Bank have a right to mount armed resistance against the Israeli military." Incidentally, I do not see how firing rockets from Gaza into Sderot could be deemed as "armed resistance against the Israeli military." However, if your own political views would have led you to supporting the IRA and its attacks on British military personnel and potentially even the Brighton Bombing where the IRA blew up a hotel at Conservative Party Conference, then perhaps you might be consistent with your political views even if I find them wholly distasteful.

1/25/2011 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

organic cheeseboard (response part II)


You ask "why was the lighthouse in Beirut bombed in 2006?" You wish also to know whether I "support that particular instance of bombing?" The truthful answer to the question is that I do not know why the lighthouse was bombed and as such I do not know whether I support it. I am not a military strategist, are you? I am capable of using Google to find out the following:

"Major-General Gadi Eizenkot, head of the General Staff Operations Branch, said in a briefing held at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv that 'in the evening hours we destroyed all of Lebanon’s coastal radars. The reason for the radars’ destruction was the part they played in the attack on an Israeli missile boat on Friday, in which one soldier was killed and another three went missing.'"

It seems a reasonable explanation to me. But as I say, I do not hold myself out as a military expert and I generally do not comment on individual actions of an army. My main point is that Israel should have the right, like other states, to defend itself.

1/25/2011 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Organic Cheeseboard (Response Part III).

I can now move on to your comments about Nick Cohen's book, What's Left?. As I previously said, "I am not a spokesperson for Nick Cohen. He can quite well defend himself." However you slate What's Left? and tell me to "Search the archives" of this blog. I just did a quick search and located a blog post suitably entitled "What's Left? Errata"

Of the errors, a few are dates that are not material to Nick Cohen's thesis. I have not bothered to check them. Another is the claim that Nick Cohen wrote "Information Research Bureau" when he meant "Information Research Department." Assuming "Couscous Kid" who wrote the post is accurate and this is an error, I not sure how this discredits the book. With close scrutiny, I would not be surprised if small errors such as this can be found in more books than not. I am not sure how this can possibly discredit the book.

We move on to the first point that prima facie appears more substantive:

"[p.274] 'Said couldn’t manage a word of condemnation of the ideology and the methods of the suicide bombers.'False."

This sentence has been correctly quoted. The problem is that the link where Couscous Kid claims that this is false is ridiculous. It is a link to an article in the Observer. It is quite clear that Cohen is referring to an article that Said wrote in the London Review of Books. This should be obvious to any reader as Cohen commenced the relevant paragraph "The London Review of Books in Bloombsbury invited its regular contributors to share their thoughts with its academic readership." It was in this context that Cohen commented on what Said had said. I have located the relevant article in the London Review of Books and Cohen was correct: Said did not condemn the "ideology and the methods of the suicide bombers."

The next error spotted is that Cohen apparently has provided an incorrect reference. This is not an accusation that what he has said is incorrect just that the source was a different one to the one Cohen used. Again, this is not the sort of thing that discredits an entire book.

1/25/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

organic cheeseboard (Response part IV - Final part)

The final error noted is that Cohen had declared that Azar Nafisi's book, Reading Lolita in Tehran had been dedicated to Paul Wolfowitz. It is declared that "This bit is complete horseshit, as Nick has already acknowledged." I am not entirely sure what Cohen has or has not acknowledged. What is certainly true is that the reference to a "Paul" is not on the title page but (in the Random House paperback edition of 2004) on page 346. It could well be that that reference is to Wolfowitz. I simply do not know. What error has Cohen admitted to? Is it the business about the title page or a different matter?

As to whether or not that Paul was Wolfowitz, this blog published a post in September 2006, prior to the date that What's Left? was published where the author, noting that Nafisi would not confirm or deny who the mysterious Paul was, said, "I take that to mean she may well have meant Paul Wolfowitz, but does not wish to be seen as partisan." So, this blog published an article a few months earlier than Nick Cohen's book that also suggested that Wolfowitz was the unknown "Paul." In any event, according to the Doug Ireland post linked to, Cohen had acknowledged an error and admitted he would change it. I only have the first edition, not the later edition, of Cohen's book and cannot comment if he did indeed change anything.

However, even if Cohen was totally wrong there, it does not in any way take away from his central thesis that parts of the liberal left have "lost their way."

I have not read the other Nick Cohen books that you mention, but I have read his Waiting for the Etonians which I very much enjoyed.
Finally, I actually meant the "Lebanese Government" controlling Hezbollah as opposed to "Hezbollah." I am aware of the reasons that the government cannot control this terrorist militia organisation that is within its borders, the main reason is that Iran backs it via Syria. If the Islamic Republic of Iran falls, then Hezbollah in Lebanon will tumble with it. This is one more reason why all good people should support the speedy end to the grip that the mullahs, Ahmadinejad and Khameini have on Iran. I, like many others, cheered on the Iranian green movement in the summer of 2009 and I continue to wish them well. One wonders where you stand.

1/25/2011 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

i find it odd that your admiration for nick cohen doesn't extend to reading his earlier books. Try either of them. I'd like to know what you think.

A quick note:

Finally, I actually meant the "Lebanese Government" controlling Hezbollah

yes, i understood that. have you looked at which parties make up the govt of Lebanon?

1/25/2011 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Michael,

I don't think one has to question Israel's existence or believe it to be solely responsible for the various problems in the region in order to consider that events in recent years (and much further back) have made the country more news-worthy than Japan.

1/25/2011 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

As can be seen, my last comment that appeared is number 4 in a series of four. I hope the moderator releases the earlier three.

organic cheeseboard,

The sort of books that Nick Cohen writes are not my normal sort of reading. I tend to prefer more academic books than journalistic books. This is not intended as a slight on Nick as I admire him, but more of a statement about myself. It is also true that I am much more interested in reading books on American foreign policy during the Cold War years than I am in reading books about UK domestic policy. (I am not sure what Nick has written about in his earlier books). The main reason why I would wish to read Nick's earlier books is that I like Nick as a person and I think he has a very pleasing style of prose. That is aside from the fact that I often agree with him!

I am aware of how the Lebanese government is made up. Are you aware why the Christian population of Lebanon has been leaving the country in droves since 1976? (The Jews of Lebanon have all but completely left.)

Andrew, I am not sure what you do, but I can assure you that what occurs in Japan is very news worthy. Many that work in the City of London can trade literally billions of dollars a day of Japanese Yen. They need to know what is occurring in Japan. The Israeli Shekel is hardly traded: it is a tiny and irrelevant economy. If you work for a company and that company has a pension scheme - the amount of money that pension scheme is likely to invest in Japanese companies dwarfs that they might invest in Israeli companies. I can assure you that your pension fund manager is very interested in what occurs in Japan - and you should be too if you are concerned about your pension. Yes, it is true that the Middle East has been a hot point of action, but to suggest that what occurs in Israel is somehow more important than what occurs in Japan is pure delusion.

1/25/2011 01:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

"Yes, it is true that the Middle East has been a hot point of action, but to suggest that what occurs in Israel is somehow more important than what occurs in Japan is pure delusion."

What goes on in Japan is certainly news worthy, but I don't see why you think its economy and that of Israel are the same as Israel's regional problems. Japan is a very rich, stable and peaceful country, the most it does internationally is contribute to some regional peacekeeping missions, Israel has been involved in a war against Lebanon, the evacuation of Gaza, the flotilla incident, the Gaza siege, Iran's nuclear ambitions etc, a lot of shit has gone down there in the last 5 years, not to mention its close relationship with Europe and the US. Comparing the two is like asking why Sweden wasn’t getting proportional representation in the news at the time of the Chechen war.

1/25/2011 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I was watching Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society, last night on the television. He was discussing the reception of scientific knowledge by the lay public and commented on the strange phenomenon whereby people will ignore mountains of evidence that refute their preconceptions and cherry pick data that supports their views. This of course is a well known finding known in psychology as the confirmation bias.

I have to say that people like Brownie and Michael Ezra are text book examples of this. Bensix posts a series of links detailing some of America's more nefarious dealings in its 'backyard' and Brownie just bats them away by saying that he's not convinced by Bensix's sources. Nevermind that they include sources not exactly famed for far-left wingnuttery such as the New Yorker, Foreign Affairs and Salon. Remember this is someone who insists with a straight face that Blair never lied over Iraq and that every intelligence service in the world sincerely believed Iraq had significant WMD. It's the same scenario with Michael Ezra. I mean the idea that 'if the Islamic Republic of Iran falls, then Hezbollah in Lebanon will tumble with it' or that the reason that Israel gets so much coverage is because of 'Jews on the brain' betrays a complete unwillingness to think about issues in a remotely rational or critical way.

In other words it's a complete waste of time trying to argue with people who will only accept information which confirms their prejudices.

1/25/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. So if this blog becomes ACAI, it will cease to create any kind of value and we should drop it down a well.

Chris Williams

1/25/2011 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

I am pleased to see that the first three parts of my earlier response to organic cheeseboard have now appeared. I thank the moderators for releasing the posts.

@Asteri,

With respect, I am not sure you have a full grasp on what is important in the world if you believe that events in Israel has been more newsworthy for people in the UK than those in Japan in the last five years.

This not a scientific method either, but if I just use Google to search for information on Israel , I obtain 232,000,000 hits. If I do the same excerice for Japan I locate 595,000,000 hits. This is more than 2.5 times the amount of hits for Japan. It is simply a much more important country. Your argument that Japan has been peaceful holds no water. In my post above where I discussed how articles in the Guardian mentioned the names of various countries, Germany came up with 14,884 results. Germany has not started wars (that I can recall) in the last five years. The reason why Germany would get so many results is because Germany is a major economy in a major market. The Euro is important and Germany is at the centre of the Euro block of currencies. Your excuse about Israel therefore carries no weight.

@bubby

You conclude your rant with the following words:

"it's a complete waste of time trying to argue with people who will only accept information which confirms their prejudices."

I think your point is valid.As such I will not bother arguing with you.

1/25/2011 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

sorry michael but you're a troll. in almost every post on the middle east here you implicitly accuse your opponent of siding with fascists and racists. that's not debate, it's namecalling, and it's trolling.

You might not like being called a trooll , but you've repeatedly shown on this site that you're not interested in debate.

I do not like the accusation that I am dishonest.

unless you actually answer the questions put to you, and cease skewing debate off in directions you're happier in, then I'm afraid the accusation holds.

See your utterly disingenuous postings on Nick Cohen. I know he's a personal mate of yours, but you recommend What's Left often when you're online; if cohen matters that much to you, the least you could do is look into his writings prior to that book.

I think you'll be rather surprised, and you also might discover one of the motivating reasons for my coming to this blog - Cohen used to be a genuinely great political writer, one of the few journos who saw through New Labour and tony Blair from the start. But since 9/11 he's become a belligerent, intolerant ranter and has lost the nuances and consistency that made his writing so captivating. i'll use the example of What's Left as an example of the deterioration of his thinking, in a following post.

1/25/2011 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

For the seven million Muslim Americans (only two million of them Arab) who have lived through the catastrophe and backlash of 11 September, it’s been an unpleasant time. Several victims of the atrocities were Arabs and Muslims, but there is an almost palpable air of hatred directed at the group as a whole. George W. Bush has clearly drawn God and America into alignment, declaring war on the ‘folks’ – who are now, as he says, wanted dead or alive – who perpetrated the horrible deeds. And this means that Osama bin Laden, who represents Islam to the vast majority of Americans, has taken centre stage. TV and radio have run file pictures and potted accounts of the shadowy (former playboy, they say) extremist almost incessantly, as they have of the Palestinians caught ‘celebrating’ America’s tragedy. Pundits and hosts refer non-stop to ‘our’ war with Islam, and words like ‘jihad’ and ‘terror’ have aggravated the understandable fear and anger that seem widespread all over the country. Two people (one a Sikh) have already been killed by enraged citizens, fired up by Paul Wolfowitz, a Defense Department official, to think in terms of ‘ending countries’ and nuking our enemies. Hundreds of Muslim and Arab shopkeepers, students, women in hejab, and ordinary citizens have had insults hurled at them, while posters and graffiti announcing their imminent death spring up all over the place. The director of the leading Arab-American organisation told me this morning that he averages ten messages an hour of insult, threat and verbal attack. A Gallup poll released yesterday suggests that 49 per cent of the American people said yes to the idea that Arabs, including those who are American citizens, should carry special ID; 58 per cent demand that Arabs, including those who are Americans, should undergo special, more intensive security checks.

Official bellicosity has slowly diminished as Bush discovers that his allies are not quite as unrestrained as he is, and as some of his advisers, chief among them the altogether more sensible-seeming Colin Powell, suggest that invading Afghanistan is not a simple matter. Meanwhile, the enormity of the mess that Bush faces dissipates the Manichean simplicity that he has been proposing to the public. A change sets in, even though reports of police and FBI harassment of Arabs and Muslims continue to flood in. He visits a Washington mosque, he calls on community leaders and the Congress to damp down hate speech, he starts trying to make at least rhetorical distinctions between ‘our’ Arab and Muslim friends (the usual suspects: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, those well-known champions of democracy) and the still unnamed terrorists. Here and there Powell expresses displeasure with Sharon for exploiting the crisis by oppressing Palestinians still more. Yet there is little real knowledge of the Arabs and Islam to fall back on: the stereotypes of lustful, vengeful, violent, irrational, fanatical people persist. Palestine as a cause has not yet gripped the imagination here. Even Columbia, my own university, justly famous for its intellectual diversity and the heterogeneity of its students and staff, does not have a course on the Koran.

What is encouraging is the slow emergence of dissent, petitions for peaceful resolution and action, a gradually spreading, if still very spotty and relatively low-key demand for alternatives to further bombing and destruction. If only more Americans can grasp that the long-term hope for the country is this community of conscience and understanding, that whether in the protection of Constitutional rights, or in reaching out to the innocent victims of American power (as in Iraq), or in relying on understanding and rational analysis, ‘we’ can do a great deal better than we have so far done. This won’t lead directly to changed policies on Palestine, or a less crazy defence budget, or more enlightened environmental attitudes: but what serious option is there, other than this sort of decent reconsideration?

Edward Said
New York

1/25/2011 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

So Michael Ezra thinks that the Guardian should have more articles on Japan because of the carry trade, and the lack of such coverage means that the Guardian is anti-semitic.

Zombie! Michael's a zombie!

1/25/2011 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

"This not a scientific method either, but if I just use Google to search for information on Israel , I obtain 232,000,000 hits. If I do the same excerice for Japan I locate 595,000,000 hits. This is more than 2.5 times the amount of hits for Japan. It is simply a much more important country. Your argument that Japan has been peaceful holds no water. In my post above where I discussed how articles in the Guardian mentioned the names of various countries, Germany came up with 14,884 results. Germany has not started wars (that I can recall) in the last five years. The reason why Germany would get so many results is because Germany is a major economy in a major market. The Euro is important and Germany is at the centre of the Euro block of currencies. Your excuse about Israel therefore carries no weight."

So we've gone from The Guardian to just google in general? I made those statments without bothering to check, and yes Japan has more hits, that might be because Japanese food, fashion, culture and animation are extremely popular in the west. I searched the Guardian and actually found coverage of Israel went up 2006-2009 but went down in 2010.

I would also note that in that list of countries you posted all the ones before Israel except China have been involved in some way in a war in recent years (China up there for obvious reasons).

1/25/2011 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I'm a bit late to this. I thought about commenting almost right away, to shift my position somewhat, but I think the first three comments were really excellent, and Cian's 'soothsayers' line pretty much anticipates my revisions. Nick was not being sensible in expecting news media to predict an uprising. I don't recall any of the media getting the fall of the Berlin Wall right. The odd thing about that was it happened because a lot of people showed up in the same place at the same time with much the same intention, but nobody knew what was going to happen.

The Guardian is the most sympathetic paper to students, but, barring the odd piece by Laurie Penny, it's shown very little understanding of the fees protests. They don't even get things right in London.

If you really wanted to know about the Islamic world, you shouldn't only read UK papers. As Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco are former French colonies, Le Monde pays more attention. I quoted from the Guardian an account that a Le Monde correspondent was turned away from Tunisia. And of course, there's Al-Jazeera.

I still find Nick's piece bizarre. It's vague: he suggests that someone is to blame for his not knowing about Tunisia (and Egypt and Yemen), but he's not really sure who. He does like to blame other people though, rather than looking for non-blaming explanations. I think those have been gone through thoroughly enough on this thread.

Nick says he wanted "to read about the brutality of the secret police". Amnesty produces country by country reports; he could have looked there. There are good reasons why journalists don't report on these things. Naming names or even suggesting that their contacts had complaints against the state could get those people further victimised. Also, as I said, our government and the US are ambivalent about Tunisia. It's not a great country, but it tries to clamp down on Islamic fundamentalism, and it's more our friend than not. I'm sure any British journalists are reminded of these facts by Embassy staff, quite possibly over pinks gins and ending with the words, "Don't rock the boat, there's a good chap."
Michael mentioned What's Left? I'm surprised that he thinks it has an argument, as it's a collection of Observer columns. I've not read it as a book, but I have read most of those columns, and I recall arguments, but no general argument.

Regarding Edward Said, I'd much rather judge people on what they choose to condemn than what they don't. Melanie Phillips has not, to my knowledge, come forward and condemned the police kettling of peaceful student protests. (Oops, almost peaceful, as David T pointed out on Harry's Place, someone may have defaced a phone box, which obviously makes the student protests meaningless, even if the phone was, so to speak, pre-defaced.) I could try to stir up some Twitter anger about that, but for most people, failing to condemn is a nothing, and may even reflect on the sanity on the non-condemner. OTOH, Ms Phillips did get rather heated about a non-story in the Mail, which twisted some putative government spending, threw out the rest of the report and replaced it with pure fabrication. From this, Phillips constructed the Protocols of the Elders of Dorothy and lapsed into her usual boilerplate about the end of civilisation. From that, we can indeed deduce that she is a pathetic specimen. From her failure to condemn, nada.

1/25/2011 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Would it be all right if I naffed off again?

1/25/2011 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well, if you must. I had thought of digging deeper into your comment (#2 on this thread), which I think is dead right, and deserved further mention. If you want to know about various underground movements, Twitter and Facebook are miles ahead of newspapers.

"I read all the UK broadsheets and I expect everything in the world to be reported on by them" is a really naive, if not crazy, world view.

1/25/2011 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

If you want to know about various underground movements, Twitter and Facebook are miles ahead of newspapers.

But how many people actually keep up with events on these new forms of social media as compared to the number of people who watch television news or even read a broadsheet?

I would imagine its probably only 1 percent at most. Although this group are heavily skewed towards the upper of society and have quite a lot of influence for their size their scarcity is a big handicap.

The mainstream mass is still the dominant source of public influence and so it really is important that these stories are covered by the mass media for obvious reasons.

I think you have to be really careful if you spend a lot of time discussing politics online not to forget you are not in the mainstream. That's not to say that new social media can't have other useful effects.

1/25/2011 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

As for the dedication in Reading Lolita in Tehran, I think it's up to the author (while alive) to say who or what was meant by their words.

Azar Nafisi didn't say who 'Paul' was, and there's no good reason to assume that she's on first name only terms with Wolfowitz. AFAIK, the "rumour" (never confirmed by her) was started by Christopher Hitchens.

IIRC, Oliver Kamm used to make a huge thing about Chomsky's alleged support of David Irving. Chomsky's version was that he was standing up for Irving's free speech. Here's someone else standing up for Irving on YouTube. I entirely get the free speech part of the argument. I don't get at all the "publishers must publish" part or the "we must be able to read" part.

I know Justin has stated his admiration for the younger Christopher Hitchens, and I often believe CH has his heart in the right place, including his support of free speech, but sometimes he does seem to have written the book on being disingenuous.

1/25/2011 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Bubby - quite true - but how many people read all five broadsheets? I was really thinking about wonks like Nick - who clearly has the time to read then all.

I should have made myself clearer. I think reading all the UK papers makes sense if you're interested in UK politics - as journalists, spin doctors, etc are. But if you're interested in world affairs, it's a waste of time to read much the same things over and over. This does bring me to another flaw in Nick's assumptions. You can't pick up all the news from the papers. You really do have to specialise, almost to government department level.

1/25/2011 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

(I meant from this thread rather than AW as such, to be fair. But it's a shme there's no way of somehow tinting the interesting parts of the comments box a different colour. Or the other way round, like that stuff that supposedly showed up the plaque on your teeth when we were kids.)

1/25/2011 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

There used to be kill files on Usenet which were great. You could just ignore the trolls.

1/25/2011 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, the Daily Mash has a splendid skit on Mad Mel up right now.

Chris Williams

1/25/2011 11:35:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Back on track - Cohen here sort of reminds me of my teenage self; i used to get really frustrated by the NME etc, sa I couldn't understand why, when music journos had all the time in the world to find new, interesting music, they ended up hyping the same people as were on the radio 1 playlist, etc. Now i understand that magazines aren't produced in a vacuum - the reason why, for example, mediocre bands like Embrace were hyped was because they were what people wanted to listen to.

Equally, Cohen reminds me of my teenage self because he's part of the problem - I used to like a lot of the stuff on radio 1 and as such was just being a self-important pseud in thinking myself above those journos. He, though, is in a privileged position; he'sll have whatever media he wants from aorund the world availble to him at the touch of a button (i'm thinking about a lot of the american magazines which I buy when I'm feeling flush - the New yorker, Harper's, etc - whenever I buy them I invariably learn something about another part of the world); that's before we get to his ability to ring up or email correspondents across the globe. And then we have social media etc - he seems to have abandoned Twitter, though, and when he was on it he just used to rib his north London journo friends about what they were having for dinner.

Also to add that, aside from its crass playrgound tone, his idea of 'jew-obsession' must surely permeate the right-wing media - places like The times, Fox News, tec - as they focus 'obsessively' on a small part of the middle east too.

And cohen has a blog, on the Spectator. He has a ready and avaialable place to publish nything he found, free of the editorial contratins he might get elsewhere. But he only seems to use that blog to plug stuff he got paid to write.

And for someone who wanks on about 'courage' all the time, it's simply inconceivable that Cohen doesn't have the capacity to at least argue in editorial meetings for a shift in focus. Am guessing that he's too lazy, but the other problem is that he doesn't seem to be able to do it without accusing everyone he disagrees with of hating Jews. It's very clear why ther's more coverage of Israel/Palestine in the media than Tunisia - the place is the holiest site on the planet for thre important religions, it has been involved in a fair few dubious wars over the last few years, and it has a combinaiton of a govt which does a lot of questionable things and a relatively free environment for the press, unlike many of the non-democracies like Tunisia.

1/26/2011 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I have located the relevant article in the London Review of Books and Cohen was correct: Said did not condemn the "ideology and the methods of the suicide bombers."

*Cough*

While it might be more fun to lay into Cohen's hypocrisy, I'm surprised and happy to say he now admits the description in What's Left? is misleading, and will be correcting it in the next edition.

1/26/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

I've not got a copy to check in, but i'm still baffled at how anyone who read that Said piece (represented in full above) could possibly be upset or even annoyed by it. Certainly oy'ud have thought that cohen's fact-checker would have pointed out the problem of its inclusion.

oh wait, what's that you say? who was his fact cherker?

1/26/2011 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Has Nick updated his views of former drinking partner Paul Wolfowitz since this story?

http://www.truth-out.org/wolfowitz-directive-legal-cover-human-experimentation-detainees64184

'In 2002, as the Bush administration was turning to torture and other brutal techniques for interrogating "war on terror" detainees, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz loosened rules against human experimentation, an apparent recognition of legal problems regarding the novel strategies for extracting and evaluating information from the prisoners.

Wolfowitz issued a little-known directive on March 25, 2002, about a month after President George W. Bush stripped the detainees of traditional prisoner-of-war protections under the Geneva Conventions. Bush labeled them "unlawful enemy combatants" and authorized the CIA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to undertake brutal interrogations.'

ps Denis MacShane tweeted the following,

Left discovers Tunisia + proclaim support having shown no interest before. Arab dominos not abt 2 fall. Policy not comment pieces needed
Mon Jan 17 2011 11:02:00 (GMT Standard Time) via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Did Nick read this, and who paid for the BlackBerry?

1/26/2011 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse steak with bernaise sauce said...

Why do some journalists and politicians always go on about the oppressive Iranian regime and its crushing of dissent, imprisonment of protesters and suppression of the freedom of speech?

Why haven't they been telling me about Tunisia and Egypt, eh? Eh? Tell me that!

Bloody right-wingers, obsessed with Iran, now pretending they cared about Tunisia all the time.

1/26/2011 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Response Part I

Given that organic cheeseboard has continued to call me a troll and declare that I am dishonest, I have no desire to respond to him/her any further.

Cian believes I am a zombie. I am not sure what he/she means by such an accusation. Perhaps Cian would enlighten me. He is pretty out of touch if he is referring to the carry trade.

Asteri seem intent on explaining why Israel should be on the front cover of the newspaper every day irrespective of what else is occurring in the world. For him/her, I assume Jerusalem is the centre of the world. Well, he/she has that in common with some religious loons.

Chardonnay Chap talks as if he is qualified to discuss Nick Cohen's What's Left? This is at the same time that he admits that he hasn't even read it.

Regarding the acknowledgement of Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, it is also my understanding that the "Paul" is Wolfowitz. While she did not confirm in writing to an email in a public debate as to who the Paul was, she did not deny it. I have had a private conversation with someone (who shall remain nameless) in last couple of days who is in a position to know and said that it certainly was Wolfowitz and not only that, she has admitted it to various people. But even if you intend to taunt me for not disclosing my source (it was a private conversation and I am not going to) then one can just think logically: the name Wolfowitz was banded about by others including Christopher Hitchens in 2004. According to Doug Ireland Nafisi, in her response, declared:

"The acknowledgments to my book, [although the individuals I mention belong to very different political spectrums, both liberal and
conservative, left and right) are very personal, and I do not wish them to be used to define my political views, or to imply political associations. Without being coy I reserve my right to keep the identity of Paul private and not let my relationships become political inferences either in support or against certain views."

This is not an unreasonable response, but it falls down in one area. One understands that she would not want to disclose who the "Paul" is, but it would not be doing so if she simply ruled out one Paul in the world - Paul Wolfowitz. There are many more Pauls and by ruling out Wolfowitz she would hardly be exposing the identity of her own Paul.

It is also not just me who makes this logical deduction from Nafisi's response. BruschettaBoy writing a main post on this blog declared:

"I take that to mean she may well have meant Paul Wolfowitz, but does not wish to be seen as partisan."

1/27/2011 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

jsut to reiterate Michael, the reason I have repeatedly called you a troll is because you are trolling. Even in this last post: witness:

Asteri seem intent on explaining why Israel should be on the front cover of the newspaper every day irrespective of what else is occurring in the world. For him/her, I assume Jerusalem is the centre of the world. Well, he/she has that in common with some religious loons.

this is barely even playground level debate. you're not taking any points on board, you're just insulting people. No matter how precise your grammar, your intentions are very clear. and we can all see through it.

1/27/2011 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Response Part II of II.

Chardonnay Chap also states, "IIRC, Oliver Kamm used to make a huge thing about Chomsky's alleged support of David Irving." Chardonnay Chap's memory is faulty on this point: Robert Faurisson was the Holocaust Denier for whom Chomsky notoriously provided support.

BenSix jumps on the band wagon by mentioning that Nick Cohen admitted to making a mistake in What's Left? BenSix notes that Cohen said that he would correct it in a later edition. I am not sure what is wrong with this. As I have stated earlier in this thread, I would suspect that more non-fiction books of that sort of length than not contain at least one published error.It should not be expected that the editing process is faultless. The Guardian did not receive the nickname the Grauniad for nothing. A fuss could be kicked up if the author refused to acknowledge an error and refused to correct it. If Nick Cohen said he would correct the error, which he did do, then what has he done wrong? Is it that he is simply being criticised for making an error in the first place? Of course, neither this error or other tiny errors in the first edition of his book invalidates his central thesis that parts of the liberal left have "lost their way."

1/27/2011 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

If Nick Cohen said he would correct the error, which he did do, then what has he done wrong?

seeing as how you appear to have not read any of the dsicussion of this and are just restating your previous post, I'll make it clear.

The 'factual error' about Said in What's Left is not just a factual error. it's a gross misrepresentation which, even if viewed charitably, seems to be based on Cohen's selective reading of the Said piece, which actually goes against Cohen's claims about it.

it's part of Cohen's wider approach to 'research' and 'evidence' in the book - which i have read - where he picks up and drops 'evidence' without seeming to pause to consider it fully - or even at all, in the case of the Said.

Nobody who'd actually read the Said piece would think it soft on suicide bombers. This isn't the matter of 'errata', it's the matter of Cohen's entire bludgeoning apporach to researching and writing the book, and to the laziness of his own checking and that of the people he got to check for him.

Who was his main proofreader again, by the way?.

1/27/2011 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Michael, you're quite right about my Irving/Faurisson mistake. Thank you for pointing it out. However, I think my point stands. Hitchens defended Irving in the interests of free speech; Chomsky Faurisson ditto. One is a hero to the 'Decents' and the other a villain. This seems unfair. Kamm in particular seems unwilling to concede that Chomsky has any good points.

My turn to be pedantic.

In the hot metal era, The Guardian was first lampooned as The Grauniad for its typographical errors. The Eye continues to use the name, and the word has entered the language.

Wikipedia. Before its move from Manchester, the Guardian had plenty of production problems. Early editions didn't always appear and its irregular distribution was mentioned frequently in its letters column. Mondays were especially notorious for the paper's non-appearance.

I think its subbing leaves much to be desired, and its CiF editorial policy seems to be a mix of laissez-faire and the encouragement of trolls. The editors are not to blame for the name, though.

1/27/2011 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

@Cheeseboard - Yes, I can personally attest that Michael is the recipient of regular visits from the Phantom Stopper.

http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2008/01/phantom-stopper.html

I know I joke about this all the time is if wild accusations were an incidental Decent quirk, but the Oh my God you love genocide stuff isn't accidental or unintentional at all.

1/27/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah - there's a _necessary_ Manicheanism in there.

Chris Williams

1/27/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

hhmm, Part I of my previous response has not been released yet by the admins, I trust they will do so soon. It would have saved organic cheeseboard responding to me as I made it clear I have no desire to enter a conversation with him.

Chardonnay Chap, Chomsky went further than simply defending free speech, he also defended Faurisson against the charge of antisemitism: "As far as I can judge Faurisson is a kind of relatively apolitical liberal." (Noam Chomsky's preface to Robert Faurisson's Mémoire en Défense, contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire: La question des chambres à gaz [Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1980] pp. XIV-XV cited and translated by Gill Seidel, Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism & the New Right, [Leeds: Beyond the Pale Collective, 1986] pp.103-104).

I do find it amusing given there seem to be those on this thread who are so concerned with accuracy that Chardonnay Chap uses Wikipedia as his preferred source.

1/27/2011 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

I apologise, part I of my earlier response did appear. My general point re organic cheeseboard stands.

1/27/2011 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, is anyone actively moderating this, or is there a technical reason why ME's posts are failing to appear in the order he's expecting?

Chris Williams

1/27/2011 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Chris,

To be fair to the administrators, I do not believe I am being censored. I do think it is technical. My comments that do not appear tend to be the ones that are quite long or have a number of links. I think they go to the spam box. Some here probably think they should stay there ;)

1/27/2011 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Chris, I'm moderating this in the sense that I release comments from Blogger's spam jail. I was under the impression that comments went back into the timeline in the correct order. I'm at home today, and all I'm doing is checking the spam folder when I hear my BlackBerry ping. I've looked at all Blogger's settings and I can't turn off spam detection. It caught dd earlier which is why Sarah thought he hadn't replied to her in the last thread. I'm sorry about this, but there's not a lot I can do.

1/27/2011 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I'm willing to discuss Chomsky and Faurisson with anyone who can tell me the real name of the author of "Fascism/Anti-Fascism" (and why I'm asking). Verb. sap.

1/27/2011 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I am not sure what is wrong with this.

Nothing much! But as you seemed to be defending Cohen's claim I thought I'd point out that he doesn't see anything to defend himself. If pushed, though, I'd add that it's in keeping with his sloppy or dishonest treatment of a lot of others.

Anyway, these reviews seem good.

1/27/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

I wonder if Michael Ezra believes that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagazaki constituted genocide and/or war crimes?

1/27/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

(Largely, anyway. As I'm sure it'll attract Michael's attention I'll admit that I don't share the former critic's admiration for The Chorus and the Cassandra. But I want an argument about Noam Chomsky like I want a great big bowl of arsenic flavoured ice-cream with strychnine sauce.)

1/27/2011 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I'd imagine that blogger's new 'tedious, disingenuous troll detector' is in its beta stages.

still not quite ure how being called a troll is worse than taking up someone's well-articulated opinions on media coverage of the middle east and declaring that it 'seems' that they're some sort of religious fanatic. I know which one i'd rather be called.

you might pose as ignoring my posts, but the problem is that you're ignoring everyone's posts on here.

1/27/2011 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

"Asteri seem intent on explaining why Israel should be on the front cover of the newspaper every day irrespective of what else is occurring in the world. For him/her, I assume Jerusalem is the centre of the world. Well, he/she has that in common with some religious loons."

Is Israel on the front cover of every news paper every day? I think not. It may come as a supprise to you, but I don't actually follow Israel orientated news much and I'm not even really that interested in what goes on there. If you don't think the middle east conflict is that news worthy and that the Japanese economy is more important then fine, but I dont think it would be reported otherwise if the media thought the majority population didnt care.

1/27/2011 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

He is pretty out of touch if he is referring to the carry trade.

So nobody has engaged in carry trades in the last five years. Interesting...

But it was actually a sarcastic response to this idiocy:
The fact that Israel has more articles mentioning the country than Japan, one of the leading economies in the world and a population size a huge multiple of Israel, says an awful lot.

Yes it says that Japan mostly isn't that interesting, and I say this as someone who follows the news in Japan. I mean only a lunatic would see it as a sign of anti-Semitic bias in the media...

I mean you can definitely see how it works with the editorial process. Do our readers want to read about bond yields in Japan, or the bombing of Beirut. Tricky...

1/27/2011 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Asteri seem intent on explaining why Israel should be on the front cover of the newspaper every day irrespective of what else is occurring in the world.

So its never British news, or US news, or Iraqi/Afghan news on the cover?

I think I know the problem, Michael. You're reading the Jerusalem Post. See the clue's in the title...

1/27/2011 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I think I know the problem, Michael. You're reading the Jerusalem Post. See the clue's in the title...

I read that and thought of this (starting 8.11).

1/27/2011 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Can we calm down on the troll-calling please? Just stick to the arguments.

But, to come back to the subject of my original post, Justin at comment #2 was on the money. If you want to understand the arab world, start with Marc Lynch (formerly Abu Aardvark), Juan Cole and take it from there. Blogs really cover the ME far better than papers.

If, on the other hand, you want to follow shifts in power in the UK government and parliament, you should read the broadsheets -- and I'd suggest the Sun and the Mirror political writers too.

I don't agree with Lynch that the Tunisia uprising wasn't a Wikileaks revolution; the timing suggests to me that it was.

Contra Nick, the information on the states of Tunisia and Egypt were in the public domain and available through the Guardian. And, as Justin also said, many of the best sources for the revolts are also hostile to Israel and the US. It's shocking, isn't it, that people who are against torture and against military force -- are against both whether they're in Gaza or Cairo, and are against the police using force against peaceful protests by students here.

Norman Geras is probably the clearest 'Decent' voice against 'relativism', but it seems that one side here is consistent in being absolutely against torture and police brutality, and it's not the side of Paul Wolfowitz and his admirers. I'll admit that Geras is unwilling to turn a blind eye to abuses in Abu Ghraib and practices like waterboarding, and he deserves credit for that. C Hitchens was also principled when he allowed himself to be waterboarded and wrote about it, but I'll never forgive him for The flaw in Seymour Hersh's theory.

But Hersh's article wants to argue that the fish rots from the head, as indeed it very often does (even though, metaphorically speaking, one might think that the fish's guts would be the first to decay). And in order to argue this top-down process, he decides to propose that it began with Sept. 11. "In a sense," as he himself cautiously phrases it, this could arguably be true.

It not only was arguably true, it was true. And Wolfowitz, whom Hitchens remains an apologist for, was one of the heads which rotted. The "it was some nasty plebians" line revolts me.

Like everyone else who uses the internet a lot, I don't trust UK newspapers very much. Nick generally has it in for the BBC, but IMO they're the best. I can't understand why he left the Beeb out of his news sources apart from the 'Today' programme. The BBC does much better world coverage elsewhere - the World Service and the website.

1/27/2011 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

The World Service has some tremendous journalism and Radio 4 runs first rate current affairs programming. What's also noticable is how radical News 24 can be in the wee hours when no one is watching. You hear opinions that would never be aired in the ultra-conservative BBC News at Ten because they know there won't be any comebacks.

1/27/2011 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

Chardonnay Chap states:

"If you want to understand the arab world, start with Marc Lynch (formerly Abu Aardvark), Juan Cole and take it from there."

Marc Lynch is the person of the "nonviolent" Muslim Brotherhood. This defies reality. He laughingly delcares that Hamas, part of the Muslim Brotherhood is part of the, "moderate Islamic political movements" that "can serve as a firewall against radicalization." He seems to have forgotten to discuss that Hamas support suicide bombings. Indeed, so much for a non-violent Muslim Brotherhood, the motto of the organisation is "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." No one seriously doubts that the term Jihad here is anything but a violent Jihad. Marc Lynch seems to ignore this motto!


Juan Cole
is no better. He is the person who famously implied that 9/11 was "in response to the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp, which left 4,000 persons homeless." The fact that Israel's action in Jenin occurred in 2002 and hence after 9/11 was totally lost on Cole.

1/27/2011 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Michael whenever you post this kind of material I am immediately reminded of a character played by Stephen Fry and in particular the words he utters between 2:27 and 2:38 in the clip below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf0Lm7XwtjE

1/27/2011 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Michael, as regards Juan Cole, the post you link to is indeed incorrect. However, it appears that Cole updated and corrected it, and this seems to be a better link.

In his response, Foreign Minister Jack Straw said that September 11 had not come in response to any Western attack, and was itself in part responsible for the Iraq War. Straw seems unaware that according to the September 11 Commission report, al-Qaeda conceived 9/11 in some large part as a punishment on the US for supporting Ariel Sharon’s iron fist policies toward the Palestinians.* Bin Laden had wanted to move the operation up in response to Sharon’s threatening visit to the Temple Mount, and again in response to Sharon’s crackdown in spring of 2001.

The * refers to a footnote where Prof Cole corrects the earlier version, and admits that he was wrong. That seems the honest and honourable thing to have done. "This is correct; one writes blogs in haste and my phrasing was insufficiently careful." I have been guilty of the same sin.

However, Cole is surely right about the 9/11 Commission.

Twelfth Public Hearing.

Bin Ladin had been pressuring KSM for months to advance the attack date. According to KSM, Bin Ladin had even asked that the attacks occur as early as mid-2000, after Israeli opposition party leader Ariel Sharon caused an outcry in the Middle East by visiting a sensitive and contested holy site in Jerusalem sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Although Bin Ladin recognized that Atta and the other pilots had only just arrived in the United States to begin their flight training, the al Qaeda leader wanted to punish the United States for supporting Israel. He allegedly told KSM it would be sufficient simply to down the planes and not hit specific targets. KSM withstood this pressure, arguing that the operation would not be successful unless the pilots were fully trained and the hijacking teams were larger.

In 2001, Bin Ladin apparently pressured KSM twice more for an earlier date. According to KSM, Bin Ladin first requested a date of May 12th, 2001, the seven-month anniversary of the Cole bombing. Then, when Bin Ladin learned from the media that Sharon would be visiting the White House in June or July 2001, he attempted once more to accelerate the operation. In both instances, KSM insisted that the hijacker teams were not yet ready.


I don't know what you mean about Lynch. This is his academic bio page. Why on earth do you think he is "the person of the non-violent Muslim Brotherhood"?

Granted, Cole made a mistake in a blog. I still think both offer better insights into the ME than the UK broadsheets will, and if you really want soothsayers, they're better says of sooth than the dead tree industry.

But, you know, it's all goodies and baddies, isn't it? Maybe Nick has a point about Manicheanism.

1/27/2011 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BTW, here is Lynch on The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It seems like an objective and impartial essay to me, but I lack the Harry's Place nose for smelling sedition, Trotskyism, or other malodorous practices. I'm sure there's at least one sentences there that with the right tweaks will betray his secret desire for the wholesale destruction of the United States. Despite he and his family living there, but that, as we all know, is just to put the credulous like me off the scent!

1/27/2011 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

That Marc Lynch piece is very good. Nuanced, very knowledgeable, intelligent, sensitive to culture, local differences and the distinction between practice and rhetoric. All the things that HP isn't in fact.

So thanks Michael, I'd have probably missed it otherwise.

Incidentally the idea that a member of the Centre for a New American Security is seeking the destruction of the US (or that matter a senior academic at George Washington University) is pretty laughable. But hey, reds under the bed.

1/27/2011 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

I think Michael Ezra missed my question, so I'll repeat it.

Do you believe that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagazaki constituted genocide and/or war crimes?

1/27/2011 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

This point should not be misunderstood. Although the Muslim Brotherhood is clearly distinct from al Qaeda, it is not the uniformly "moderate" organization that its supporters often say it is. The organization's character and goals often vary from community to community, and its rhetoric sometimes betrays a number of worrisome "gray zones," in the words of a 2006 study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Its members generally avoid making clear statements on contentious issues, such as the place of non-Muslims in the Islamic state, the toleration of secular Muslims, or where the authority to interpret Islamic law should reside. And the Muslim Brotherhood's rejection of violence at home does not extend to areas where Muslims live under occupation, such as the Palestinian territories or Iraq. Such positions may not please many Americans, but they do -- like it or not -- represent the mainstream of much of the Muslim world.

I *think* I can see what Michael objects to here (from the link Michael gave earlier). Lynch failed to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood, therefore he must be a part of it. He called its 'rhetoric' 'worrisome', a milquetoast phrase which is a transparent cover for total agreement.

Muslims support violence against occupiers. Gosh. This seems to me to be very similar to Michael's argument against Cian's pacifism in a previous thread, where he justified violence to stop a rapist. I'm sure similar arguments rage across the Gaza strip: if we don't fight them with what means we can, they'll come and take more land and kill more people. Put like that, I think firing rockets must seem very persuasive -- to non-pacifists of course.

1/27/2011 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Happy enough to continue in the argument, but I don't really see the point of comments like thi:

You state: "I'd also say that I believe that Palestininans in Gaza and the West Bank have a right to mount armed resistance against the Israeli military." Incidentally, I do not see how firing rockets from Gaza into Sderot could be deemed as "armed resistance against the Israeli military." However, if your own political views would have led you to supporting the IRA and its attacks on British military personnel and potentially even the Brighton Bombing where the IRA blew up a hotel at Conservative Party Conference, then perhaps you might be consistent with your political views even if I find them wholly distasteful.

considering that nowhere within the commnt did i make any reference to supporting indiscriminate rocket fire - which i don't, and which is clear since i specifically stated that only military targets are fair game - I fail to see how Mr Ezra is contributing construcively to debate. as the above shows, his preesntation of both the writers named is disingenuous at best, and an active misrepresentation at worst - "Marc Lynch is the person of the "nonviolent" Muslim Brotherhood" actually means 'Lynch has described the MB as 'nonviolent'. As he styles himself as a pedant, Ezra clearly intended that phrase to be worded as it was.

incidentally, I'm assuming that the Decents condemn the Egypt protests, as the MB are central to them?

if we don't fight them with what means we can, they'll come and take more land and kill more people

well yeh. both sides use this kind of argument, granted, but given that the pullout from Gaza was combined with a massive expansion of settlements, and the building of a 'barrier' which swallowed up vast swathes of the west Bank, I can easily see how Gazans might well feel a bit more charitably towards the rocket fire than I do.

1/28/2011 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Meanwhile, more interestingly, the US' allies are starting to look very vulnerable. First Tunisia, now Egypt. And Hezbollah are becoming increasingly powerful in Lebanon (not before time given the demographics of the country. I once had a funny-sad argument with Brownie where he demonstrated zero awareness of the country's rigged electoral system). If Jordan goes, I'm going to short Saudi Arabia PDQ.

1/28/2011 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Cian, they're protesting in Turkey in solidarity with Egypt now. The US have clearly picked the wrong side. I don't know how they can claim to be on the side of democracy after this sort of thing (released yesterday by Wikileaks):

Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. One human rights lawyer told us there is evidence of torture in Egypt dating back to the times of the Pharaohs. NGO contacts estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone. Egyptians are bombarded with consistent news reports of police brutality, ranging from high profile incidents such as accidental but lethal police shootings in Salamut and Aswan this past fall (refs B and C) that sparked riots, to reports of police officers shooting civilians following disputes over traffic tickets. In November 2008 alone, there were two incidents of off-duty police officers shooting and killing civilians over petty disputes. The cases against both officers are currently making their way through the judicial system.

That is NOT a stable government. "hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone" and we're supposed to lecture people on democracy and human rights? The Guardian news blog is making a good fist of covering this, but CNN, Al Jazeera, the Associated Press are providing the news. Though hats off to Jack Shenker for his efforts. It seems that most of the journalists who have been injured have been French, so yet again I think Le Monde is covering this better than the British press.

If you're on Twitter, you'll know that Giles Coren wrote an ill-advised column on sexism in the Mail. So that's hogged the trending topics. Good to know what the UK priorities are.

1/28/2011 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

What's also been interesting has been the difference in media and columnist attitudes towards the protests in Egypt and the ones in Iran last year.

The Iranian protests drew wall to wall favourable coverage and lots of exhortations to support the protesters. The Egyptian protests have so far failed to get anywhere near the same level of media support. You could make the argument that if anything the Egyptian protesters have more legitimacy than those in Iran. Iran is split down the middle with a large chunk of the population supportive of the religious right. They also have a democracy of sorts. Mubarak is universally despised and doesn't even bother with the pretence of fair elections.

How would one explain this stark difference? I know he's not popular round this parts but someone like Chomsky might suggest that it was a textbook case of worthy and unworthy victims. Iran is an enemy so any protests against the regime are to be supported whilst Egypt is an ally so they don't get the same level of favourable coverage. Journalists and in particular senior editors will be aware of these sensitivities no doubt transmitted via CC's 'pink gin' route. For people like Aaro I think it's just a reflex.

1/28/2011 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

yes bubby, and at Harry's Place rather than posting anything as of yet the Egyptian protests other than the cutting off of Twitter and facebook, their banging on about the Beeb's profile of the Islamic Brotherhood and that in fact the government of Syria should be over throne as a priority because of Israel, or something.

1/28/2011 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Brian Whittaker on Hilary Clinton's comments:

It looks to me as if Clinton is angling for a negotiated departure by Mubarak, accompanied by an increase in political freedom. I think the US is aiming to structure the solution in a way that would protect its key interests: the peace treaty with Israel, the Suez canal, and co-operation against terrorism.

If he's right then it's over. Wow.

1/28/2011 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I have no idea if someone has mentioned this above, but just to end the Reading Lolita in Tehran bit.

Nick Cohen claimed the book was 'dedicated' to Azar Nafisi (I assume based on a Hitchens article). This is a mistake. The book is dedicated to her mother, father and family. In fact Cohen had already been corrected on it in his Observer column.

The acknowledgements might refer to Wolfowitz but there are tens of people in those.

The mentions of countries in the Guardian is bizarre. Michael clearly believes it is the reading material of City of London traders.

1/29/2011 04:33:00 PM  

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