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  • Disinformation and Xenophobia in the Western Media
  • Disinformation and Xenophobia in the Middle East Media
  • Issues Raised by Journalists
  • Monday, October 11, 2010

    International Media Awards 2011

    Nominations Now Open to the Public. Close on 30th November.

    The International Media Awards 2011 will take place in April of next year and the Next Century Foundation welcomes nominations now. The International Media Awards is hosted yearly by the NCF to show our appreciation for those journalists, TV producers, Broadcasters and those in that area who have worked to improve the understanding of the issues both of and within the Middle East.

    The current list of those already nominated can be found here: http://www.ncfpeace.org/drupal/node/572.

    Nominations close before November 30th with shortlisting taking place on the 8th December.

    Please send your nominations, and if possible a short biography of them and why you are nominating them, to NCFPeace@aol.com and we will include them in the long list as soon as possible.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    International Media Awards 2010

    The International Council for Press and Broadcasting Sixth International Media Awards

    The International Media Awards ceremony was held at a gala night in central London on Saturday 8th of May. Western, Israeli and Arab journalists from across the Middle East gathered for the 6th International Media Awards.

    The International Media Award winners for 2010:

    Outstanding Contribution to Peace Award
    MOSSI RAZ & MAYSA SINIORA joint Israeli and Palestinian winners for All For Peace Radio, a joint Israeli-Arab radio station.

    The Peace through Media Award
    IAN BLACK Middle East Editor of the Guardian
    SAMIA NAKHOUL is the Reuters Middle East Editor
    AKIVA ELDAR is the Chief Political Columnist for Haaretz
    PATRICK COCKBURN, Foreign Correspondent Independent and contributor to London Review of Books

    Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting Award
    BEN WEDEMAN is CNN’s Senior International Correspondent based in Cairo.

    The Cutting Edge Award:
    ITAI ANGHEL is a senior correspondent for the weekly current affairs program “UVDA” on Israel’s Channel 2 television
    MOEEN AL HILOU is currently Gaza Producer for Israel's Channel 10 TV, as well as being a director for the Hebrew News Department at Palestine TV

    The Breakaway Award:
    RANJ ALAALDIN is a Middle East political and security risk analyst based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He writes for the Guardian columnist and numerous other print and online publications.

    Outstanding Contribution to New Media (The Bloggers’ Award)
    BENNY ZIFFER has been the literary editor of Haaretz since 1987. More recently his blogs “Lo BeBeit Sifrenu” and “Dressed to Provoke” have risen to prominence in the Hebrew blogosphere.
    MBI Lifetime Achievement Award
    JIM MUIR is BBC Middle East Correspondent. Having begun his involvement with the region in Beirut in 1975, he is now based there again, focusing on issues both within Lebanon (particularly Hezbollah) and in the wider Middle East, traveling regularly to cover Iraq.
    The Annual International Media Awards were established in 2005 and are one of the projects run by the Next Century Foundation. The awards celebrate the work of journalists covering the Middle East, whose high standards of analysis and reporting have helped break down barriers and promote better understanding of the people and politics of the region. The awards also recognise the skill, courage and determination of individual journalists when reporting from areas of conflict or political repression. The Awards honour and encourage journalists who have advanced our understanding of the Middle East through their outstanding journalism.

    Speaking on behalf of the International Council for Press and Broadcasting, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, the Patron of the International Media Awards said “It is a great pleasure to be able to sponsor these Awards”.

    Ms Dalia Salaam of the Next Century Foundation, convener of the awards along with Lord Stone of Blackheath, stated, “We are all ourselves honored to be able to honour these outstanding journalists on this special occasion.”

    Lord Stone of Blackheath told reporters, “The Media Awards are awarded to journalists and broadcasters who, through the consistently high standard of their work, promote better understanding of the people and politics of the Middle East. All those journalists honoured are worthy recipients.”

    Ambassador Mark Hambley said, “These awards demonstrate anew the positive role which media, in all its varied forms, is playing to increase understaning and reduce conflict in the Middle East. The award winners are to be congratulated for their persistence and courage, often under fire.”

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Friendship Across Frontiers

    The hasty attempt by the US/UK administration in post occupation to persuade the docile Iraqi-in-Government to formalise the Hydro Carbon Law remains undiminished. Particularly in the absence of tangible security and improvements of living standards to the Iraqi people. The Law was resented and rejected by most Iraqi oil experts on the basis that this law is biased as it is believed that the original formulation, was by experts from Exxon – Mobil – BP, but fronted by Iraqis!! The other objections were focused on the production sharing contract which understandably is suited for high risk production field rather than to the Iraqi discoveries which enjoy low risk and low production costs (approx 1US$ per bbl). Also the duration of these contracts are longer than economically envisaged as acceptable (maximum 15 years).

    More importantly is that the essence of the peoples “national pride”, was profoundly overlooked by the occupier and the Iraqi-in-Government. That Iraq since nationalisation in 1972 has proved and capably managed these resources. Now to undermine the achievement of nationalisation is rather difficult to accept by most, although all of the previous contractual concerns are not beyond reasonable negotiation. The reality remains that Iraq’s oil industry at present has been forced to acquire outside finance and expertise due primarily to the neglect of the 13 years of sanctions causing deterioration in training, coupled with the recent forced migration of most oil experts and trained manpower, particularly in the field of drilling and exploration. Indeed although most Iraqi oil experts favour phased fields development and technical assistant contracts this option is no longer viable due primarily to the aforesaid reasons. Also most departments within the Ministry of Oil have suffered between 2003-2008 a drastic loss of technical experts, exploration records and data. The collective experiences which were cultivated since 1972 to enhance the functions of a successful nationalised industry are no longer readily available, coupled with the lack of political enthusiasm for upholding the “national interest” among the Iraqi-in-Government, has paved the way to this new Hydro Carbon Law being enforced in order to reverse the sovereign oil industry back into private foreign ownership.

    Since 1972 the oil has been a major factor in determining the US/UK foreign policy towards the Middle East. The motive by Iraq to reject a foreign control of production has been its demise, particularly as Iraq remains the only country among the Arab oil producing countries, to manage and operate successfully their industry entirely by the indigenous technical manpower. The use of the political oil power by the Iraqi Government has obstructed the US and the UK Government in furthering their regional economic privileges effectively. Iraq’s ability to utilise the oil revenues unhindered (for only five years) to embark on a major industrialisation, free health care, eradication of poverty, transport and free education programmes and subsequently coupled with successfully utilising the oil as a political power to challenge the US Aid Programme in influencing friends in Africa, Lebanon and Jordan. These maverick development programmes and foreign policies have not only concerned the US/UK but also the Gulf leadership and the Saudi. Where in 1980 Iraq persuaded the Saudis reluctantly to utilise their combined oil influence in halting the US from recognising an annexed Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity. Iraq’s consistent support for the Palestinian struggle and the proper utilisation of oil revenues in progressive and strategic development initiated a justifiable fear by all the oil Arab producing leadership and ultimately paved the way for their support to the 2003 war to achieve a regime change in order to safeguard their long term abuse of oil revenue and hold to power.

    Iraq also remains as the only oil producing country to have its oil fields not fully developed. Their development was hindered by the eight years of Iraq-Iran war, which benefited neither but served the interests of the Zionist entity. This war, which was supported politically and financially by the permanent members of the Security Council and the Gulf Sheikdom, had a diverse consequence by halting Iraq’s ability in developing their essential social programme and ultimately placed Iraq’s economy in a vast debt to the (US/UK influenced) Gulf Sheikdom. Furthermore, the 13 years of sanctions has caused a tremendous loss of life to the majority of the population and hardship to the Iraqi people, in anticipation by the US/UK Governments that these draconian measures, ultimately would influence a regime change and the reversal of the 1972 national initiative of nationalisation.

    However, the future successful implementation of the law remains to be unclear, undetermined and dependent on many factors emanating within Iraq and those influenced by Iran and US/UK. Iraq, since 1972, has experienced the benefit of the freedom to control their oil resources and financial gains and this stigma will be difficult to sway away from, particularly as nationalisation has provided the Iraqi people with independence, self-motivation, pride and rejection of the free market consumerism adopted by the leadership of other Arab oil producing countries. Nowhere in the history of occupation has there been such a concentration of vast US/UK money, military manpower and determination by the occupier. Nowhere has their failure been more dramatic. Indeed the Hydro Carbon Law and the occupation are too unpopular to be able to defeat the Arab Nationalism.

    Kind regards,

    Riad El-Taher

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    The Americans: Khalid Issa Taha's view

    Proposed Iraq-US.treaty should be cooked in slow fire

    According to administration and military officials; The Bush administration is asking The Iraqi Government for a broad authority to carry out war operations and guarantee national contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law.

    The mentioned proposal should be dealt in a very diplomatic and intellectual way by the Iraq's foreign affairs minister and they should be patient to see the forthcoming hidden problems as I believe there are many.

    Iraqi people might give the impression that they are prepared to accept any treaty coming from USA as they are the occupier but I would like to remind you the unpopular Anglo-Iraqi Portsmouth Treaty upheaval of early 1948.
    Iraqi people struggled to demolish the treaty which was proposed by the Great Britain. During that time, Baghdad was full of protests against the treaty.
    In connection with three main newspapers The Iraqi enlightened people and intellectuals were trying so hard to let people know what was going on behind the closed doors with their writings and articles so that they managed to get a reaction from community. That was resulted that the treaty was not signed as proposed and this was done by Iraqi people’s protest.
    These three newspapers were El-Alhali that represented the Democratic Party in Iraq, El-Esteklal that represented Nationalist Party and Al-Qaidie that represented the Communist Party.

    The sweltering Iraq was being run by late Salih Jabr who was resented by nationalists for his support of the British during the Rashid Ali uprising and for sending hundreds of people to prisons and detention camps when he became minister of the interior after the uprising.

    TODAY UNFORTUNATELY Iraq is occupied by American and this Iraq knows how vulgar this occupation has been since March 2003. Even the gun machines and the bullets are the same as 1948. Americans shot Iraqis in person and they did and will kill thousands of Iraqi people. Comparing the time of these two we will see the American Embassy today is more influential than the British Embassy in 1948.

    One advise could be given to all Iraqi patriots regardless their background to be united as one heart with full of courage to stand against any decision will be taken hastily. I strongly believe the following points should be considered in order to make people to re-think and make a decision on what to do about this treaty and to know what it is not in their favour.

    Initially, we have to make conferences, write articles and publish every detail about this treaty, which America wants Iraq to sign. I believe Lawyers Without Borders could successfully participate in this due to large scale of background on legal matters. What people know little about this treaty are horrible things to any country who wants to sign a treaty.

    America is willing to build hundreds of military bases, America will not let Iraqi court to deal with any crime relating to their owned soldiers and last but not least they will have their right to ask any other country to send their army and join to stay in Iraq and that for sure will irritate many neighbours. Beside these major points many other points are still in secret. Iraqi people have the right to study the whole treaty and discuss it freely and openly. The advice to both the Iraqi government and the American government is that if they want to sign such treaty, they should sign it amicably without implementing any force or army. Otherwise, they could not secure a long time to stay peacefully in Iraq and it wouldn’t be called a treaty but something else.

    I am happy to know that Bush’s administration has withdrawn to push and rush the Iraqi Government for signing the treaty. I was asked the question in one of my interviews that if I would prefer Iraq would stay under chapter 7 of UN or sign this treaty and my answer was I’d rather stay under chapter 7 of UN.

    In Iraq we are facing growing opposition to a proposed security agreement that would set out how long American forces and military bases stayed in Iraq but my concern is that we need to be louder and more decisive to study the terms and conditions before we even move our pen.

    Iraqi leaders should keep their reservations about rushing the talks, partly because they believe it makes little sense to negotiate with America before the current term has ended for Bush.

    I agree with many intellectual that American policy is not clear and it is wise to wait until the American elections to deal with a Democratic or Republican president.

    I hope that everybody understand this position and everybody play will his own fairness and honesty.

    Best regards
    Khalid Issa Taha

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Sa’ad Abbas

    الاسم: سعد محمد عباس (سعد عباس)
    التولد : بغداد في 17 - 1 - 1963
    التحصيل العلمي: بكالوريوس تربية فنية - جامعة بغداد – 1886/ 1987

    الشهادات والجوائز:
    - جائزة اليونسكو لأصغر كاتب في الشرق الأوسط – 1976.
    - جائزة وشهادة تقديرية من مهرجان أفلام وبرامج فلسطين – بغداد 1977.
    - المرتبة الثانية للمهرجان القطري للشعر لمدارس العراق – 1978.
    - جائزة أفضل قصيدة - دار ثقافة الأطفال - 1984
    - المرتبة الأولى في مسابقة الإبداع الأدبي - جامعة بغداد - 1984
    - المرتبة الأولى في مسابقة السيناريو للأفلام الروائية القصيرة - بغداد - 1985
    - أفضل برنامج إذاعي - بغداد 1986.
    - أفضل معدّ ومخرج إذاعي - بغداد 1987.

    المواقع والأعمال
    - مقدم وكاتب لبرامج الأطفال - إذاعة بغداد 1973 - 1980
    - كاتب قصة وقصيدة وسيناريو في مجلة (مجلتي) وجريدة (المزمار) 1974 - 1990.
    - معدّ ومقدم ومخرج برامج منوعات وثقافية - إذاعة بغداد 1980 - 1990
    - كتابات نقدية أدبية في الصحافة العراقية والعربية – 1980 – وحتى الآن.
    - مقالات سياسية في الصحافة العراقية والعربية 1997 وحتى الآن.
    - عشرات الحوارات مع سياسيين وخبراء وأكاديميين عراقيين وعرب.
    - سكرتير تحرير في المركز الصحفي والإعلامي لحركة الوفاق الوطني العراقي - عمّان - 1997 - 1999
    - سكرتير صحيفة (الزمان) الدولية - لندن 1999.
    - مدير تحرير صحيفة (الزمان) الدولية - لندن 2000.
    - مدير تحرير صحيفة (الزمان) طبعة البصرة 2003.
    - مدير تحرير صحيفة (الزمان) طبعة بغداد 2004 - 2007.
    - مدير تحرير صحيفة (الزمان) – عمّان 1997 وحتى الآن.
    - عمود صحفي (نقطة نظام) في صحيفة (الزمان) منذ 1999 وحتى الآن.

    المواقف السياسية
    - تركت العمل في الإذاعة والتلفزيون احتجاجاً على غزو الكويت 1990.
    - تم اعتقالي في آذار 1991، اعتقالاً احترازياً في مديرية الأمن العسكري في الكاظمية، بعد أيام من اندلاع الانتفاضة الشعبية، ثم تم نقلي إلى معتقل الرضوانية في حزيران 1991 ولغاية شباط 1992.
    - اضطررت إلى التخفي تحت الأرض بعد خروجي من معتقل الرضوانية، إلى حزيران 1997 حيث نجحت في تأمين وسيلة لمغادرة العراق إلى الأردن، وبعد وصولي إلى عمّان مارست نشاطي الإعلامي المعارض.
    - المشاركة في مؤتمر (العراق 2020) في لندن (سبتمبر - 1999)، ببحث يحمل عنوان (العلاقة التكاملية بين التربية والدولة).


    Wijdan Mahdi Ali Alsalih (Wijdan Mahdi Almulla Ali)

    · Address: Iraq, Baghdad, Aladamya, Hay Almageb quarter 302 line 32 house 57
    · Telephone: 07802 018 107
    · E-mail: wejdanmahdi@yahoo.com
    · D.O.B : july/ 28th /1970 – Basrah
    · Sex: female
    · Marital statue: single
    · Nationality: Iraqi

    · Rusafa administration institute ( Business administration department)

    Work and training experiences:
    · Journalist in Kurd home of culture
    · Employee in judicial institute in 1996
    · Employee in ministry of justice ( consolation of state council)
    · Journalist of friendship( Kurd and Arab magazine)
    · Journalist I Human right magazine
    · Have an activities in scope of policy and independent Democracy power


    1- computer skills:

    · business application ( Microsoft office , ward and excel
    · internet application
    · Journalistic skills , Ability to track and search for specific news

    2-personal skills:

    · Ability to lead and coordinate the conferences
    · Ability to management the Employees affairs
    · Have a communication skills and ability to deal with different of cultural workshops

    Membership and affiliations:
    · Arab and Kurd friendship association (secretary member)
    · Human rights organization
    · Human rights association


    · Arabic native language
    · Kurdish average
    English average

    The participation in the conference and workshops:

    · Conference of democracy development ( Babylon Hotel)
    · The first national conference for the foundations of civil society about the mechanism of electing the temporary national council) 2004
    · The first national conference which held under the motto of (democracy , development, aim of civil society) 2004
    · The second national conference for the foundations of civil society motto of ( hand in hand with foundations of civil society to built the new Iraq) 2005
    · conference for the foundations of civil society ( supreme committee of placating and national conversation – conferences palace – 2006
    · conference of Iraqi representatives council under the motto of (attitude of government by supporting of civil society and mechanism of acting it
    · conference of integrity of treatment the administration corruption and financial which held in ( Almansoor Milia Hotel)
    · conference of the federalism is a share of power and unity of the soil)
    · conference of independent electoral commission of Iraqparticipant in several scope and workshops about (woman, child and society rights)


    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Sarwah Abdulwahid Qader

    Family Name: Qader
    First Name: Sarwah
    Middle Name: Abdul-Wahid
    Date of birth: 27 March 1970
    Place of birth: As- Sulaymaniyah, North of Iraq, and (Kurdistan region)
    Nationality (ies) at birth: Iraqi
    Present Nationality (ies): Iraqi
    Sex: Female

    College of Educations, University of Baghdad, Iraq, 4 years, Sep.1989 to Sep. 1993. BA Degree, in Arabic language and Lectures.

    Training Courses
    • -2000: Certificated for learning and education English Language, Appall Instituted, Sulaymaniya, Iraq.
    • -2001: Training in the all kinds of programming and equipment of Computers. Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.
    -2005: training political and predicating and Public Relations. Baghdad, Iraq

    Work Experience

    1994 – 2001: Lectures and Teachers – (Ash tee) Peace Secondary School – Sulaymaniyah – Iraq.
    1996 – 2003: Published hundred Essays, Analysis in the Aletihad weekly in Arabic, (Union Newspaper); the voice of Patriotic union of Kurdistan (PUK). I was writer in woman paper and
    2000 – 2003: Reporter and Presenter (in Sulaymaniyah), Iraqi Kurdistan, for the Al- Mutamar, official INC daily Newspaper, based in London.
    2000 – 2000: February and March, Journalist as Broadcaster and reporters in Qatar Radio from north of Iraq through the war in Iraq.
    2003 – Until now: Reporter and Presenters duly Reporter for Voice of America (VOA), Kurdish Sections.
    2003 – 2004: Consultant and offices Manager for (SAWATEL T. V. Production), the employer who operate TV production to Kuwait and Qatar TV stations.
    2004 – Until now: Reporters and representing of the Al-Hurra-Iraq and Al-Hurra World TV Station beside in Washington, USA, in Iraqi Kurdistan.(Reporting daily TV to station).

    My Duties:
    1. Establish contacts and maintain a network of interlocutors including high-ranking government officials, politicians' parties' members, spiritual and religious figures, heads of tribes, includes the basis of media writing and editing; news writing; report writing; interviews and essays writing.
    2. Presentation in my program’s the principles and the features of public opinion, and its role in the Iraqi society.
    3. Report and analyses information contained in communications and publications received from different sources including the press on current and everyday events related to the political process.
    4. Critical view to mass media and the role and impact of media in the society.
    5. Create databases project and programs to support peace and reconciliation, brotherhood, and building democratic principles in the Iraqi society.
    Defense and Development of Freedom of Journalism Organization
    With some journalists in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region we established last year the Defense and Development of Freedom of Journalism Organization in Iraq. I have been selected the leader of the Organization which objectives are to support peace and reconciliation, brotherhood, and building democratic principles in the Iraqi society.

    Telephone Nº: Baghdad: -00964-07904792033.
    Sulaymaniyah: -00964-7701445976.
    Arbil: -003248-4458167. -00964-66-2501845.
    Email: Srwa70.shany@yahoo.com


    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Media Ethics Code in Arabic

    1 - قل الحقيقة كما هي

    2 - الأخبار من غير مصدر، مصدر للمتاعب

    3 - الإشاعة ليست مصدراً للحقيقة

    4 - احرص على الحقيقة، واقطع الشك باليقين

    5 - ابتعد عن الأحكام المسبقة

    6 - كن موضوعيا

    7 - افصل التعليق عن الخبر

    8 - توخى الدقة

    9 - لا للعنصرية

    10 - اعرف الآخر لتفهمه

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    New Strategy for War Stresses Iraqi Politics

    Ann Scott Tyson
    The Washington Post

    Top U.S. commanders and diplomats in Iraq are completing a far-reaching campaign plan for a new U.S. strategy, laying out military and political goals and endorsing the selective removal of hardened sectarian actors from Iraq's security forces and government.

    The classified plan, scheduled to be finished by May 31, is a joint effort between Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American general in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. More than half a dozen people with knowledge of the plan discussed its contents, although most asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it to reporters

    The overarching aim of the plan, which sets goals for the end of this year and the end of 2008, is more political than military: to negotiate settlements between warring factions in Iraq from the national level down to the local level. In essence, it is as much about the political deals needed to defuse a civil war as about the military operations aimed at quelling a complex insurgency, said officials with knowledge of the plan.

    The groundwork for the campaign plan was laid out in an assessment formulated by Petraeus's senior counterinsurgency adviser, David J. Kilcullen, with about 20 military officers, State Department officials and other experts in Baghdad known as the Joint Strategic Assessment Team. Their report, finished last month, was approved by Petraeus and Crocker as the basis of a formal campaign plan that will assign specific tasks for military commands and civilian agencies in Iraq.

    The plan anticipates keeping U.S. troop levels elevated into next year but also intends to significantly increase the size of the 144,000-strong Iraqi army, considered one of the more reliable institutions in the country and without which a U.S. withdrawal would spell chaos. "You will have to do something about the sucking noise when we leave," said a U.S. officer familiar with the plan.

    The plan has three pillars to be carried out simultaneously -- in contrast to the prior sequential strategy of "clear, hold and build." One shifts the immediate emphasis of military operations away from transitioning to Iraqi security forces -- the primary focus under the former top U.S. commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. -- toward protecting Iraq's population in trouble areas, a central objective of the troop increase that President Bush announced in January.

    "The revised counterinsurgency approach we're taking now really focuses on protecting those people 24/7 . . . and that competent non-sectarian institutions take the baton from us," said Kilcullen, offering an overview of the campaign plan.

    In contrast, he said, U.S. operations in 2004 and 2005 "had the unintended consequence of killing off Iraqis who supported us. We would clear an area, encourage people to sign up for government programs, but then we would have to leave and those people would be left exposed and would get killed." The plan recognizes that there are too few troops to protect all of Iraq's population, and so focuses on critical regions such as greater Baghdad.

    Next, the plan emphasizes building the government's capacity to function, admitting severe weaknesses in government ministries and often nonexistent institutional links between the central government and provincial and local governments. This, too, is in contrast with Casey's strategy, which focused on rapidly handing over responsibility to Iraq's government.

    Such a rapid transition "was derailed as a strategy," said one person involved with the plan. Instead, he described the focus of the next 18 to 21 months as "a bridging strategy" to set the necessary conditions for a handover.

    Finally, the campaign plan aims to purge Iraq's leadership of a small but influential number of officials and commanders whose sectarian and criminal agendas are thwarting U.S. efforts. It recognizes that the Iraqi government is deeply infiltrated by militia and corrupt officials who are "part of the problem" and are maneuvering to kill off opponents, install sectarian allies and otherwise solidify their power for when U.S. troops withdraw, said one person familiar with the plan.

    "For the surge to work, Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus have to identify the Iraqi nationalists and empower them, while minimizing" two other groups -- namely, "the militant sectarians . . . and the profoundly, personally corrupt," said Toby Dodge, a Middle East expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London who recently returned from Iraq. Dodge, one of the assessment team members, was speaking in his capacity as an Iraq expert and declined to comment on anything about the plan.

    "The focus has to be on abusive sectarian actors" involved in orchestrating sectarian killings and also obstructing key political legislation and financial reforms, agreed a U.S. official involved with the plan. "You will never eliminate sectarian tendencies, [so] you want to go after those who are abusive. You have to focus on setting some examples, but you need good evidence to support that," he said.

    "We try to gather evidence in conjunction with the Iraqis, that convinces the Iraqis that they need to act. . . . We are not running our own death squads or vigilante activity," a senior official in Baghdad said. One officer familiar with the plan said: "For us to do it would be horrible. But for the Iraqis to do it would be hard."

    Indeed, one source of pessimism about the plan is whether the Iraqi government has the means and willpower to weed out sectarian officials and commanders, in an atmosphere complicated by rumors and ambiguous intelligence.

    "Very often you won't get ironclad information. Very often they cover their tracks," said Stephen Biddle, a member of the assessment team and military expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, who spoke in his capacity as an independent analyst.

    While saying they are confident that the United States is making headway in improving security, several officials involved with the plan expressed doubt in the Iraqi leadership. "I have less confidence about . . . the Iraqi government and whether they will be able to modify their behavior in the time we have available because of the U.S. political cycle," a senior U.S. official in Baghdad said.

    A primary element of Petraeus's strategy of placing U.S. troops with Iraqi army forces and Iraqi police in the same outposts is to monitor for sectarian abuses. The quality of evidence will determine whether the United States will pressure the Iraqi government to fire the wrongdoers -- by withholding military or economic aid or threatening to expose them in the news media -- or to target them for capture and criminal punishment.

    The problem, officials said, is that the U.S. drive to make Iraqi forces independent has already limited U.S. leverage. "We've surrendered a lot of levers that we need," the senior official in Baghdad said.

    Also part of the plan is reaching out to grass-roots groups such as tribes, religious leaders and provincial administrators that are moving forward on reconciliation efforts, said Kilcullen, noting a tribal agreement in Babil province last week to end violence and a tribal movement in Anbar to oppose al-Qaeda. "We should not restrict our view of what a 'political' settlement is, solely to the Iraqi government -- civil society also has a really key role to play."

    Efforts at negotiated settlements brokered by U.S. and Iraqi officials will extend to a broad spectrum of Iraqi groups, including some that have killed U.S. troops -- a source of consternation for some U.S. officers. But they will exclude groups such as al-Qaeda that are considered "irreconcilable," officials said.

    The plan is also designed to shore up Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, even though some U.S. commanders regard him as beholden to narrow sectarian interests. But they support Maliki for pragmatic as well as political reasons: As pressure mounts in Congress for a troop withdrawal, time lost reorganizing the government could mean losing the war, officials said.

    "Maliki is the chosen vehicle; he's the one-trick pony," Dodge said in an interview from London. "Everyone recognizes that the success or failure [of U.S. policy] would be delivered through the office of the prime minister" and there is no discussion in Baghdad of removing him, he said.

    The campaign plan upholds Bush's long-term goal of creating a stable and unified Iraq that is a partner against terrorism. Yet because of uncertainty over Maliki's intentions, the plan lowers medium-term expectations for reconciliation in Iraq. Instead, it aims for bargains to curb sectarian violence.

    "Our notion of 'reconciliation' . . . is not necessarily where Iraqis are at right now," said Kilcullen, explaining that the word has no equivalent in Arabic. "The tribal and community leaders I talk to are more pragmatic and are looking for a compact or a settlement that brings an end to the violence. Restoring relationships is separate."

    The campaign plan is being formulated by a Joint Campaign Plan Redesign Team, which includes members of the JSAT as well as other military planners and civilian officials. The final document will be signed by Petraeus and Crocker.

    The plan is a thick tome with more than 20 annexes on topics such as policy on Iraqi security forces, detainees, the rule of law and regional diplomatic engagement, one participant said.

    Friday, June 29, 2007

    Media Awards

    The International Media Council Awards of the Next Century Foundation were presented at a ceremony in March 2007. The Main Prize was awarded for an outstanding contribution to better understanding both in and towards the Middle East. The Cutting Edge Prize is awarded young or upcoming journalists in the same field.

    Nominations were in the following categories:

    The International Media Council Prize:

    1. Western Journalist - Mr David Gardner - The Financial Times (Proposer Abigail Fielding-Smith, IB Tauris Books)
    2. Israeli Journalist - Mr Rafik Halabi - Channel 2 (Proposer June Jacobs, The International Council of Jewish Women)
    3. Western Journalist - Mr Michael Binyon - The Times(proposer Adel Darwish of the Daily Mail)

    The Cutting Edge Prize for an outstanding Newcomer to Journalism:

    4. Arab Journalist - Mr Sami Abdul Shafi - The Independent (Proposer Turi Munthe, Rusi)
    5. Jewish Journalist - Mr Jack Hugi - Maariv, Israel (Proposer Rafik Halabi, Israel)
    6. Western Journalist - Ms Louisa Brooke, The BBC (Proposer Mike Wooldridge, BBC)

    The Patrons Award - a special honorary award for lifetime achievement nominated and chosen by the Patrons and awarded this time to:

    7. Mr Hassan Soussi, Arab News Network Satellite TV (Proposer Ribal al Assad, Syria)

    The awards were hosted by Lord Stone of Blackheath and presented in the House of Lords.

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    The Middle East and the Media Conference

    The International Media Council of the Next Century Foundation together with the International Communications Forum held a lively one day conference on the 18th of June entitled THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE MEDIA.

    The conference, attended by over a hundred people, brought together a range of luminaries, commentators, opinion makers, and movers and shakers involved in Middle East and the media. Participants including editors, broadcasters, journalists of various stripes, religious leaders from the three great faiths, diplomats, activists, academics and many others.

    The day was divided into sessions on a number of topical issues relating to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and responsible coverage of regional conflicts. While the conference successfully created a space for convivial conversation, the sessions, as one might expect, also drew out energetic debates with participants expressing impassioned opinions.

    The issue of the National Union of Journalists’ recent decision to support Palestinians living under occupation by calling for a boycott against Israel found unexpected consensus among conference participants. While some argued that this was inappropriate and others that it was counterproductive, supporters and critics of Israel alike agreed that journalists shouldn’t take collective public stands of this kind.

    There were also especially dynamic debates in two sessions with Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips, whose strident views always provoke animated reactions. In a session on BBC coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Ms. Phillips alleged that the Corporation has an institutional anti-Israeli bias. Her claims prompted active audience participation with many, including Chris Doyle of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, arguing that her case depends on the very same selective sampling of which she accuses the BBC. Ms. Phillips also participated on a panel discussing Islamophobia, which she has been accused of promoting.

    Another highlight of the day was a forceful exchange between two Iranians discussing ‘Xenophobia in Iran and Scaremongering in the West’. Amir Abbas Fakhravar of the Iranian Freedom Institute was fiercely critical of the Iranian ‘dictatorial regime’, including what he argued was its hateful portrayal of outsiders and Israel. He welcomed strong international action to overthrow it. Mohammad Kamali, chair of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, disputed the accuracy of these claims and warned that foreign intervention would find vociferous resistance from across Iranian society, regardless people’s own attitude towards the government.

    But the conference did more than prompt spirited debates or explore questions of balance and bias, editorial ethics and the repercussions of reporting on explosive issues. As veteran publisher William Porter put it, ‘A major preoccupation of the conference was to turn fear into hope’, an aspiration which we hope, in some small measure, to have achieved.

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Beyond Denial


    By Richard Burden MP (Chair, Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group)

    Let us be clear. There was no justification for Hamas’ military takeover in Gaza last week. Reports of summary executions and of those considered to be rivals being thrown from rooftops were nothing short of horrific. It opens up yet another chapter in the ongoing tragedy of Palestine. And once again, it will be ordinary Palestinians who will suffer the most.

    But neither can I disguise my anger about the role of the international community. The Quartet of the USA, EU, UN and Russia is in a state of denial about our own contribution to creating the circumstances in which the current bloodshed was unleashed. We told the Palestinians to go down the path of democracy and then we shunned the government that came out of the elections we ourselves supervised. We told Hamas to turn away from violence and to commit to democracy. But when they stood for election, suspended their attacks on Israel and offered a long term ceasefire, we ignored these changes.

    Instead, we boycotted them, telling them that their election would be disregarded by the outside world unless they signed up, without qualification, to a total renunciation of violence, full recognition of Israel and full acceptance of existing international agreements on Israel and Palestine. We are right to insist that these will all be essential elements of a lasting and just peace settlement in the region. But we made them preconditions to our even talking to the elected Hamas government. We have never applied similar preconditions to Israel, despite the fact that it does not in practice live up to those principles. For example, Israel has never in practice renounced the use violence in pursuit of its objectives. And it continues to violate its own obligations under international law and existing agreements through its continued occupation of Palestinian land, through the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements and through its construction of a Wall, not along its own lawful borders, but beyond them.

    Our own boycott of the Palestinian Authority provided cover for Israel to impose on Gaza a military blockade that cut off most Palestinian trade access to the outside world by land, sea and air. Simultaneously, Israel has withheld from the Palestinians the tax revenues they are owed from the movement of those goods that they have been able to get through Israeli checkpoints. Not surprisingly, poverty in Gaza has soared to levels similar to those of sub Saharan Africa. The bitter irony is that the UK and other Western Governments is now spending more on emergency food and medical aid to the Palestinian population caged in by Israel than we ever did before we imposed the boycott. But that aid is more costly and less effective because we have insisted on by-passing the regular institutions that deliver health, education and social welfare. That, in turn, helped to increase unemployment amongst public service workers and deepened poverty across the West Bank and Gaza. As a result, we now have to put in even more aid to offset the impact of our own policies

    And do we really think any of this helped the elected secular President Abbas when he needed it? The brutal truth is that the actions of the international community over the last two years have undermined the President and those in both Fatah and Hamas who were not only willing to share power between themselves but who were also trying to bring their own movements towards the conclusion of a durable peace agreement with Israel. Even when the Mecca agreement brought a National Unity Government in to existence, we refused to seize the opportunity, ignoring a new proposal for a ceasefire with Israel which was published by Fatah, Hamas and Independent members of that Government as recently as two weeks ago.

    Instead, we have unwittingly strengthened the hands of the hardliners; of the more extreme elements in Hamas, of those Fatah figures who were never prepared to accept that they had lost the Palestinian Parliamentary elections and of the clan and militia leaders for whom the power bestowed on them by the gun is more important than any political or ideological loyalty. Just have a look at the reports flying around the US administration in recent months, none too subtly recommending that Fatah-dominated forces should be given the financial and other support necessary to “sort out” Hamas. This has fuelled rumours in Gaza itself of US-funded arms shipments going to Fatah. Hamas leaders warned that a coup was coming against the National Unity Government they led, allowing their own hardliners to push for a pre-emptive strike. That strike came last week. As with some other pre-emptive military strikes, the rhetoric turned out to have been launched on the basis of faulty intelligence. The rumoured stockpiles of US-funded Fatah weapons have not been found.

    None of this should be surprising. A report from the House of Commons International Development Committee pointed out the perverse effects of Quartet Policy on poverty in Palestine earlier this year. Humanitarian agencies have been making similar points. Independent and moderate Palestinian voices have been warning the Quartet for months about the dangerous situation its policies were creating and so too has the recently retired UN Special Envoy to the area. All have been ignored. We now face the consequences of that. Our task now is at least to avoid making a bad situation worse and to identify what we can do to help in practice.

    In appointing Salam Fayyad as the emergency Prime Minister, President Abbas has chosen someone who has a reputation for honesty and who has credibility in the outside world. However, It is no criticism of Fayyad to acknowledge that the depth and breadth of his support amongst Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories is more limited. His chances of bringing greater stability to Palestine will depend on how far and how fast he is able to secure real changes in the daily lives of Palestinians living under occupation. The brass neck with which the USA has promised a quick end to the boycott now it has the prospect of a Palestinian Government more to its liking may be breathtaking, but that does not alter the fact that the lifting of the boycott is vital to any chance of progress.

    However, lifting the international boycott on aid to the PA it is not enough. As long as the West Bank is criss-crossed with Israeli checkpoints and closures and a Wall that prevent students getting to college, patients getting to hospital and traders or farmers getting their goods to market, there is simply no chance of taking forward the “economic roadmap” out of poverty on which Gordon Brown has rightly placed such emphasis. Israel has existing obligations here under international law and under a number of international agreements. Its own Association Agreement with the EU gives Israel goods preferential access to European markets but carries with it a raft of human rights and obligations which Israel ignores. The EU summit this week should make clear to Israel that the continuation of its own trade preferences are dependent on its fulfilling these obligations and allowing the Palestinians the same rights to trade that it demands for itself.

    In Gaza, the position is even worse. In a report this month Christian Aid reported that over 80% of its 1.5m population are without a regular income. Even before last week it was cut off from the outside world for most of the time by Israel’s military blockade. The response of Israel and parts of the international community to Hamas’ military takeover could now make the isolation of Gaza complete, taking it to the point of starvation and its humanitarian catastrophe to unprecedented levels. We have to keep the humanitarian aid going in even whilst the search for a settlement to the Palestinian crisis goes on. To do that, aid agencies will not be able to avoid dealing with the Hamas fighters that control the streets and their leaders. Accepting that does not mean endorsing anyone or excusing what happened last week. It simply recognises that - as an international community - we have humanitarian responsibilities to the ordinary people of Gaza that we cannot ignore.

    And we need to give the Palestinians the space and encouragement to rebuild a political consensus out of the bloodshed of recent days. President Abbas is the legitimate President of the PA and the recognised leader of the PLO. He has the constitutional right to appoint a new government under Salam Fayyad but he is also obliged to have that ratified by the Palestinian Parliament within a month or so. Fatah, Hamas and a range of other parties are part of the political reality of Palestine and their voters have a stake in its democracy. A Palestine fractured between a “Hamastan” in Gaza isolated from the outside world and a series of rival Fatah Bantustans in the West Bank, surrounded by Israeli settlements and Walls, offers no hope for the Palestinians and no security for Israel. It could also breed not the nationalist Islam of Hamas but an Al Qaeda-type Jihadism that has never until now had any significant support in the Occupied Territories. The dangers of that for the outside world should be clear. So this time we should support, rather than undermine, any attempts by the Palestinians and perhaps by the Arab States to promote reconciliation between Palestinians rather than “victory” of one side over another. We should press for the release by Israel of the democratically elected Palestinian Parliamentarians that are being held in Israeli gaols – including figures like Marwan Barghouti who could play a key role in promoting reconciliation.

    And just as important as all this, we should pick up and take forward the plan which was agreed by all Arab States at the Beirut Summit five years ago which sets out the two simple principles which can give both Israelis and Palestinians the future they deserve. Full withdrawal by Israel from the territories it occupies and a fair solution to the refugee problem in return for full recognition and full peace.

    1670 words

    17th June 2007

    Richard Burden is Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield and Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group. He is also a Member of the House of Commons International Development Committee which published its report “Development assistance and the Occupied Palestinian Territories on 24th January this year. He can be contacted at

    Richard Burden MP
    House of Commons
    SW1A 0AA


    Friday, June 15, 2007

    UK Media Conference

    The Middle East and the Media

    A Conference to be held on: Monday 18th June 2007
    Under the auspices of:
    The International Communications Forum / The International Media Council of the Next Century Foundation
    At the International Communications Forum
    The Barn Meeting Hall
    24 Greencoat Place - London SW1

    The organizers believe that reconciliation develops through change in
    individual attitudes. The purpose of this event is to search out
    areas of understanding rather than the defence of well-known positions.
    We look forward to a penetrating and constructive day.



    9.45-10.00: “Replacing fear with hope – the role of the media in areas of conflict”
    Opening speech by Mr William Porter
    Founder President, The International Communications Forum

    Session 1 – The BBC and the NUJ

    10.00-11.00 The BBC and the Middle East
    Discussants: Deborah Pout, freelance, formerly Reuters Fellow, Oxford and correspondent for Sky News Australia and Channel News Asia in Jerusalem with Jeremy Bowen, Middle East Editor, The BBC
    Chair: William Morris, Chairman, The International Media Council

    11.00-11.30 The British National Union of Journalists’ boycott of Israel
    Discussants: Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent Newspaper; Talya Lador-Fresher, Deputy Ambassador, The State of Israel; and Abigail Fielding-Smith, Middle East Editor, IB Tauris
    Chair: Tim Pendry, TPPR Public Affairs and Communications

    11.30-11.45 TEA/COFFEE BREAK

    Session 2 – Islamophobia

    11.45-13.00 Islamophobia in the UK and in Israel
    Discussants: Chris Doyle, Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding with Mr. Adel Darwish, Columnist and Commentator, The Middle East Magazine, The Daily Mail Newspaper; Imam Abduljalil Sajid, Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK (MCRRH), Mr. Ribal Al Assad, Chairman, Arab News Network (ANN) Satellite TV
    Chair: Rev George Pitcher, St Brides’ Forum

    13.00-13.45 LUNCH BREAK
    Over Lunch, Informal discussion with Mr. Adel Darwish, Columnist and Commentator, The Middle East Magazine, The Daily Mail Newspaper on:
    Practical Solutions to Reporting Diversity

    Session 3.1 – Iranian media issues

    13.45-14.30 Xenophobia in Iran and Scaremongering in the West
    Discussants: Amir Abbas Fakhravar, Iranian Freedom Institute; Jonathan Paris, Senior Fellow, The Next Century Foundation and Adjunct Fellow, The Hudson Institute, Washimgton; Professor Abbas Edalat, Imperial College, Founder of the Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran; and Moustafa Sanatnama, Confederation of Iranian Students
    Chair: Mr Turi Munthe, Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute

    Session 3.2 – Both sinned against and sinning

    14.30-15.15 Al Jazeera
    Discussants Mrs Baria Alamuddin, Director, Media Services Syndicate, Columnist, Al Hayat; International Media Council Member; Stephen Desmond, Centre for Conflict Resolution Journalism and Felix Posen, Media Campaigner
    Chair: Ms June Jacobs, The International Council of Jewish Women; Trustee, The Next Century Foundation

    15.15-15.45 Palestine
    Discussants: Chris Doyle, Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding; Rabbi Herschel Gluck, The Jewish-Moslem Forum; Walford Road Synagogue; Daud Abdullah, Palestinian Return Centre and Moslem Council of Britain
    Chair: Sharif Nashashibi, Chairman, Arab Media Watch

    15.45-16.00 TEA BREAK

    Session 4 – Arrest, imprisonment and intimidation of Journalists

    16.00-17.30 Concerns over free speech
    Discussants a panel consisting of: Sharif Nashashibi of Arab Media Watch; Lior Ben Dor, Counsellor for Media Affairs and Spokesman, Embassy of Israel, The State of Israel; Jane Kinninmont, The Economist Intelligence Unit; Ms Mona Al Ghussein, Freelance journalist; Mr William Porter, Founder President, The International Communications Forum
    Chair: William Morris, Chairman, International Media Council

    17.30 CLOSE

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Back to the Future

    One on One: Back to the future
    Ruthle Blum, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 28, 2007

    In a manner so even-tempered that someone out of earshot might imagine he is exchanging pleasantries about the weather, Prof. Robert S. Wistrich dissects the "new anti-Semitism" and its speedy, infectious dissemination through technologies such as the Internet. But perhaps the 61-year-old prize-winning authority on the "longest hatred" (a phrase he coined, and the title of his 1992 book, which became a documentary film) really should be seen as a sort of weatherman, a barometer, whose extensive research on the Holocaust and radical Islam enables him to assess cultural, political and religious climates - then and now. Which leads one to want to pick his brain about the current and future state of the Jews, and of the Jewish state, caught in the crosswinds of an international cold front.

    It's a blizzard that doesn't seem to be letting up. On the contrary, Muslim extremism, an increasingly anti-Zionist Europe and what Wistrich considers "irresponsible levels" of Jewish and Israeli self-flagellation are the stuff global tempests are made of- the kind that stir up, and threaten to blow in, nuclear missiles.

    Wistrich, who holds the Neuberger chair for modern European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he heads the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism and edits its journal, Anti-Semitism International, was born and spent his early childhood in Kazakhstan (where his Polish-Jewish family fled in 1940, before immigrating to England). He attributes this storm to what he calls the "apocalyptic anti-Semitism" espoused by Iran and introduced into the Arab world, according to which "the annihilation of Israel is a necessary prologue to the redemption of all of humanity through Islam."

    This he sees as aided and abetted by the same type of "fellow travelers" who, "in effect, if not in intent," gave impetus to the Nazis. Two documentary films he scripted and for which he acted as historical consultant deal with this very phenomenon - Blaming the Jews (2003) and Obsession: Radical Islam and the West (2006).

    The author of dozens of books, among them Hitler and the Holocaust (first published by Random House in 2001, and subsequently translated into many languages), his latest work, Laboratory for World Destruction: Germans and Jews in Central Europe (University of Nebraska Press/Vidal Sassoon Center), will be released in May. He is also completing a book on the history of anti-Semitism since World War II, which will be published by Random House at the end of the year.

    During this two-hour interview, which took place at the Hebrew University's Beit Mayersdorf late last month, Wistrich - who made aliya from the UK in 1982 - grins at the pause taken to ask him whether he has seen the Borat movie.

    "I have," he laughs. "And, as a native son of Kazakhstan, I felt deeply offended on behalf of my countrymen."

    Is anti-Semitism really on the rise, or does mass communication give the impression that it is?

    Mass communication enables anti-Semitic messages to spread like wildfire. This has the dangerous effect of making the myths and stereotypes that have always driven anti-Semitism both instantly accessible and more difficult to refute.

    Doesn't this work both ways? Doesn't it enable instant refutation of anti-Semitic claims?

    In principle, yes. But there is some truth to the adage that "mud sticks."

    Whenever I enter a chat room relating to anti-Semitism, I am shocked to see the mind-boggling level of ignorance and prejudice, particularly about Israel. This is the new anti-Semitism. One of the things lacking in the effort to counter this is an organized campaign, via the Internet. We don't have people whose task it is to refute anti-Semitic claims 24 hours a day. Nor have we mobilized ordinary citizens who care passionately about this and who often have much better arguments at their fingertips than official spokesmen.

    Do you really think that the rational refutation of irrational discourse makes a dent? Would it have mattered during the Third Reich had Jews argued their case better?

    This is a complicated question. But one of the the things that enabled the Nazis to succeed was the abundance of "fellow travelers."

    Hitler's rise to power was not self-evident, particularly in such a highly civilized and educated society as Germany. Yet there were many circles that, in moments of crisis, were ready and willing to contemplate collaboration with the Nazi party once they became convinced either that they could use the Nazis to achieve certain ends, or that Nazism was indeed the salvation of Germany. These circles included intellectuals, members of the upper-middle class, industrialists, church leaders and academics. Anti-Semitism was particularly attractive in academia.


    It's not very fashionable to say this now, but it had to do with competition. Jews were shaping the national and international culture of the time. It was a source of tremendous resentment that these "outsiders" were actually changing the societal agenda and modern culture as a whole. They were, as the anti-Semites said, "Judaizing" it.

    But European Jews didn't see themselves as outsiders.

    This is one of the most intriguing features of the anti-Semitism that became so rampant in Europe before the Holocaust, and which was a main cause of it. What turned the anti-Semitism that had its profane banal explanations, such as economics and social rivalry, into something lethal was precisely the fact that Jews had "assimilated" so intensely. They were like super-Germans, super-French, super-Englishmen, etc. Because of this, the traditional anti-Semitism that was based on religion no longer had the same effect or resonance. Recourse was made, then, to an argument against which there is no defense, namely race. You cannot change your race: even conversion can't help you. A Jew remains a Jew under all circumstances, whether he is baptized, becomes totally assimilated or rejects any residual Jewish identity.

    Ironically, the argument Jews always used in their apologies was that they were great contributors to their societies. They produced whole volumes about "the Jewish contribution to German culture." But, of course, this further fed the very anti-Semitism they were trying to counter, because it completely confirmed the feeling that yes, indeed, they were contributing to society - they were totally Judaizing it.

    The fact that they were willing to sacrifice their identity made things even worse. It confirmed in the minds of the anti-Semites that there was nothing to be valued in Judaism or Jewishness. After all, if these Jews are so eager to abandon it, what value can it have?

    Freud spoke about the "narcissism of small differences" - about how, in ethnic conflicts, it is often the small differences that make antagonism greater. Indeed, the more that Jews became similar to their neighbors - the more their differences were dissolving - the more the problems that had been bubbling beneath the surface became acute.

    The anti-Semites began to claim that the Jews were fusing with their societies in order to dominate their cultures and identities, and ultimately obtain political control. Communism was invoked as an example of this in the 1920s and '30s, because Jews were quite prominent in the communist leadership. And if the Jews were in the forefront of a universalist ideology that was perceived as sapping the whole basis of national identities, it was confirmation that the Jews were playing a diabolical role.

    This is the thesis of The Protocols of the Elders ofZion, according to which any force that saps the cohesion and established order is diabolical. This sapping force could be liberalism, freemasonry, the emancipation of women, doctrines like psychoanalysis or Marxism or even Darwinism - all of which were attributed to Jews, This is also what fired Hitler and the Nazis up on an ideological level. People often miss the point when they say that Nazism was anti-intellectual rubbish. To be sure, there was a gangster element in Nazism - the brute force - which was fundamental. But it could not have won over a people like the Germans, or gained so many fellow travelers, if that's all it had to sell. We shouldn't make that mistake again today.

    Let's talk about today. If what you describe is true, wouldn't Europeans now fear Muslim domination? Why do Jews and the Jewish state still appear to constitute a threat?

    Some people claim that Islamophobia is the greatest problem of European society today. But an objective look at the current situation, through statistics carefully compiled by European government agencies and police, shows that Islamophobia is much less acute than anti-Semitism.

    Europeans are reluctant to accept and admit that, despite all the Holocaust education and commemoration that's taking place - and all the solemn declarations about having thoroughly learned the lessons of the past -anti-Semitism has returned in such strength. There's the beginning of an attempt to come to grips with this. In the UK, for instance, there was an inter-parliamentary committee that issued a report on this. I was one of the experts asked to testify. I met the members of the committee, non-Jewish parliamentarians who took their job seriously. They knew very little to begin with. One of them even said to me: "I don't recognize the country you're talking about." By the time they ended, they were aghast at what they'd discovered.

    After the Holocaust, there was a kind of taboo on public expressions of anti-Semitism, which seems to have expired. Can you provide a decade-by-decade account of the shift?

    The first two decades of Israel's existence - 1948-1967 - was the honeymoon period, when Europe developed a new relationship with this young country. At that time, Israel was presenting itself not so much as a Jewish state, but as the pioneering, socialist land of the "new Jews." Zionism was like a fresh start. This very much suited the Europeans, who refused to deal with the Holocaust, which was itself somewhat of a taboo subject at the time.

    It was not acceptable to attack Jews publicly, and Israel was seen as a redemptive, and in many ways a convenient, solution all around. It was a sort of affirmative action, and there was willingness to look at it in friendly terms. Furthermore, the Arab world at the time did not have a very compelling narrative. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the idea of throwing the Israelis into the sea did not greatly resonate in the West.

    After '67, the first shift began in the decay that set in during the 15 years between the Six Day War and the first Lebanon war - the period which carried the seeds of today's developments.

    What caused it?

    Here we have to bring America into the equation. Until 1967, the United States was not particularly friendly to Israel. In 1948, if it hadn't been for President Harry Truman, the US would not even have recognized Israel. This was a time when Congress didn't even want to admit Holocaust survivors into the US. In the 1950s, there was the practically anti-Israel policy of [president Dwight D.] Eisenhower and [secretary of state John Foster] Dulles. The first shift began to occur slowly with [president John F.] Kennedy. But it wasn't until the Six Day War that Israel became a strategic ally of the US - a valued partner that fit in very snugly with the entire global Cold War strategy, and polarization between America and Israel and the Soviet Union and the Arab world. From that point on, there was a slow build-up of a certain view - on the Left and in the liberal-Left mainstream -of Israel as an arm of America. Anti-Americanism began feeding anti-Zionism and vice versa. It is from that steady build-up over the past 40 years that we're reaping all the poison fruit now.

    Where Europe is concerned, the big shift can be attributed to several factors, crucial among them the Yom Kippur War. For the first time, Europe's vulnerability to a blow to its oil supply was exposed, and the Arab world exacted a price: Israel. The condition for guaranteeing a good relationship with the Arab world and a flow of oil was "delivering" Israel. This meant eventually "delivering" Israel altogether, through its dissolution. But the Arab leaders, more realistic after '67 and '73 about their chances for achieving that aim by military means, had to go down another track. This is where the Euro-Arab dialogue came in and contributed to Europe's steady alienation from Israel.

    To say that Europe has adopted the Arab viewpoint would be an over-simplification. Europe has its own interests. Nevertheless, it's clear that, from the late '70s on, European officialdom adopted a political stance that only tolerates a greatly reduced Israel. This has been curbed somewhat by the rise of Islamic terrorism, as it has begun to occur to government and security agencies in Europe that it is a threat to them, as well.

    Public opinion, however, is a different story. A potentially lethal process has been under way for at least three decades in which the intelligentsia have adopted a view that is in its effect, if not in its intent, anti-Jewish. (That it's anti-Israel goes without saying.)

    In other words, the current politically correct and even dominant discourse says that Israel is the last colonial state, an apartheid state, a lackey of American imperialism in the best case, and the controller of US foreign policy in the worst. It is a diabolical force that is preventing peace in the Middle East and around the world.

    This view of it as a diabolical conspiracy is reminiscent of the Protocols, is it not?

    No self-respecting Western politician or intellectual would openly come out and say so. It's much more subtle than that. Terms like "neocon cabal" are used instead.

    Speaking of "neocon cabals," is anti-Semitism spreading in America, as well?

    For historical reasons, anti-Semitism has been much less of a political force in the US than in Europe. America is exceptional; it's an immigrant society in which there's no established state religion. To put a more cynical gloss on it: [<>He laughs] It's a bigots' paradise. There are so many races to choose from, why focus on Jews? Seriously, though, America has been good for the Jews, but not always to the same extent that it is now. There was quite a lot of outspoken anti-Semitism in the 1930s and '40s. Things improved dramatically in the 1960s. That was the beginning of the Golden Age of American Jewry.

    Was that connected to the Six Day War in some way?

    Well, the Six Day War certainly improved the image of Jews vis-a-vis Israel. And herein lies a major difference between America and Europe: To put it simply, Americans love winners. And they were immensely impressed by what was probably the most spectacular military success of the 20th century. Americans didn't and don't have the same kind of hang-ups as Europeans do with that.

    In terms of American opinion, the most dangerous point for Israel, and possibly for Jews in general in the US, is that at which they are perceived to be losers. Which is why Israel has to be particularly careful about policies that not only go against its political and military interests, but about those that give the impression of weakness. This doesn't mean being insensitive to human rights, which are very important - no less in the US than anywhere else. But it requires being intelligent about how they are applied in a given situation - taking this neighborhood into account.

    Regarding "this neighborhood," is it more appropriate to examine Muslim or Arab anti-Semitism?

    In a study I published with the American Jewish Committee, I called it Muslim anti-Semitism. One disconcerting phenomenon of the recent decade is that anti-Semitism among Muslims is no longer confined to Arabs. It's easy to forget that only about 20 percent of the Muslim world is Arab. You would never guess this from the way in which Arabs - from a non-Arab Muslim perspective - have hijacked Islam. There are good historical reasons for this: The prophet Muhammad was from the Arabian Peninsula, and Arabic is Islam's holy language. But the great demographic centers and powerhouses of the Muslim world are in Asia: in Indonesia -the largest Muslim country in the world; in Pakistan; in India alone, there's a minority of more than 100 million, which dwarfs most Arab countries; in Bangladesh; and so on.

    Israel has never intelligently adjusted its policy to that fact. We are fixated on our little corner, which is one of the things that makes it difficult to develop a more productive global strategy.

    Now, in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, it would have been justified to focus all the attention on Arab nationalism, which was also anti-Semitic. Ba'athism, for example, is a fascistic, pan-Arab nationalism that was founded by Christian Arabs. It is what drove the anti-Zionism and the anti-Semitism in previous decades. [Egyptian president Gamal Abdel] Nasser, the great hero of the Arab masses, borrowed freely from European sources in the anti-Semitism that was state policy in Egypt. The Egyptians used former Nazis who had fled to the Middle East in their propaganda department. After '67, Arab nationalism looked bankrupt because of the crushing Arab defeat in the war. Also, it had lost its agenda, and in the '70s began to lose ground to Islam.

    Islam is much more than a religion in the Western sense. We can't even begin to grasp what it means to ordinary Arabs in terms of their culture. It's an entire way of life. And it has the popular resonance that no alternative can have, which is what accounts for its popular force. And which is why the Iranian revolution of 1979 is such a crucial event.

    Iran is not Arab, but it has become an inspiration to radical Muslims, including Arabs. The Ayatollah Khomeini introduced a form of anti-Semitism into the Arab world which I call "apocalyptic." It is more visible than ever because of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, but it was implicit in the Khomeini revolution from the beginning. They are actually waiting for the coming of the Islamic messiah - the 12th imam - and the annihilation of Israel is a necessary prologue to his return and to the redemption of all of humanity through Islam. And they believe - like the Marxists used to - that "history is on their side."

    Does criticism of Israel constitute anti-Zionism, and does anti-Zionism constitute anti-Semitism? If so, how do you explain the fact that Jews and Israelis are often among the most vociferous critics?

    There are those who claim that the merging of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is designed to silence legitimate criticism of Israel. This is disingenuous, if not deliberate obfuscation. I'm not aware of anybody who has been silenced. On the contrary, Jewish progressive voices have every platform imaginable available to them, and the prime-time media are only too willing to publicize every dissenting view.

    On the substantive issue of when criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic, I think that there are good criteria. Every rational person understands the difference between criticism and defamation. If you talk about an individual in a defamatory way, you're going to the heart of his character, his essence. The same is true of countries. For decades, Israel has been discriminated against internationally in the most obvious and palpable way. It is a singling-out mechanism, which is even worse than applying a double standard. Double standards are automatically applied to anything Israel does. But it is only when Israel is deemed to violate human rights that there is a major international scandal.

    There is a genocide going on even as we speak [in Darfur]; yet, this is something that cannot get onto the agenda. Instead, we have the diversion of the so-called ethnic cleansing or even genocide of the Palestinians being perpetrated, when in fact the only real abuse going on is that of the language used in making accusations. Yet these accusations develop their own raison d'etre. It is enough simply to label Israel, you've made your case. You don't have to produce any real evidence. That's defamation.

    Is there such a thing as Jewish anti-Semitism?

    Yes, and it's perfectly possible to document. In the Middle Ages, for instance, the only way a Jew could exit his own society was through conversion. There's a long list of Jewish converts who played prominent, sometimes even starring, roles in accusations directed against the Jewish communities - saying they were in a conspiracy to undermine Christendom.

    What about anti-Semitism among those who remain Jews?

    This has usually occurred among ultra-assimilated Jews, intent on distancing themselves from the community they did not wish to be associated with. The strategy was to join the majority. That still exists today vis-a-vis Israel, because Israel is unpopular. When Israel becomes the source of anti-Semitism, the temptation of Jews who feel that pressure is to say, "If only I'm outwardly and openly anti-Israel, I will not be identified as a Jew." It's still the same psychological mechanism.

    But Israelis, who are in any case identified as Jews and citizens of the Jewish state, also exhibit forms of it. How do you explain that?

    One has to recognize that there are Israelis - and Jews elsewhere - who genuinely feel shame and disgust at phenomena occurring in Israel. As the stereotype goes, Jews are hypercritical people - you know [he laughs], two Jews, three opinions. This critical faculty is turned with peculiar intensity and vehemence against co-religionists or co-nationals. In some cases, it's due to a genuine sense of indignation. Still, it often appears to have no rational limits - if these "critics" are neither aware of, nor interested in, the wider implications of their accusations. If you are part of a society whose very survival is threatened, and your opinions - as legitimate an expression of free speech as they may be - are feeding into hostility that could produce possibly genocidal results, I think a little responsibility is called for.

    This doesn't necessarily mean self-censorship or being false to your beliefs. But it does mean the application of a minimum of sanity. After all, the critics of Israel are always one-sided. They always seem - despite their claims for caring about Palestinian rights and so on - to be totally, artistically, focused on Israel. It's as if the inhuman consequences of so much of what goes on in the Arab world is a matter of absolutely no concern to them.

    Such as the treatment of women?

    Yes, and the totally intolerant attitude toward homosexuals. Any number of phenomena that liberals and leftists champion are ignored when they are abused in the Arab world, because all attention must be focused obsessively on Israel.

    Now, I'm as critical as the next person about what's going on in this country. But being critical doesn't mean you can embrace cheap and empty slogans, such as claims that Israel is an apartheid state. When such blatant falsehoods are uttered by intellectuals, one not only has to question their self-proclaimed status, but to wonder what it is they are trying to achieve. My conclusion is that this is an incurable pathology. I'm against heavy-handed responses to it. But people who hold such views should not be given excessive importance, which is what they crave. They have to be put in their proper place as a footnote in the long and sad saga of Jewish self-hatred.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Media Awards

    The International Media Council Awards of the Next Century Foundation will be presented at a ceremony in March 2007. The Main Prize is awarded for an outstanding contribution to better understanding both in and towards the Middle East. The Young Journalist Prize is awarded young or upcoming journalists in the same field. We are accepting nominations in the following categories:

    The International Media Council Prize:

    1. Arab Journalist
    2. Jewish Journalist
    3. Western Journalist

    The Cutting Edge Prize for an outstanding Newcomer to Journalism:

    1. Arab Journalist
    2. Jewish Journalist
    3. Western Journalist

    Please add your comments as well as nominations below. Alternatively, email ncfpeace@aol.com

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    St Brides Forum

    International Media Council Conference

    The International Media Council has convened a conference on Xenophobia in the Media under the auspices of:

    Next Century Foundation / The St Brides Forum /
    The International Communications Forum


    Hosted by: The St. Brides Forum

    Note to participants: The conference will be followed an informal light lunch followed in turn by a short inter-faith service. Participation in either of which is entirely optional but open to all present at the conference.

    Thursday 21st September 2006

    Venue: St Brides Church - Fleet Street, London EC1 (70 participants)

    10.00 a.m: Registration and coffee

    10.30-11.30: SESSION ONE – OFF THE RECORD

    Mr William Morris, Chairman, The International Media Council and Secretary General, The Next Century Foundation
    · Keynote speaker:
    On "Xenophobia: the present situation". (t.b.c.)
    · Panel:
    Rev Larry Wright, Director of Religious Affairs, Yarl'swood Immigration Removal Centre
    Russell Twisk, Editor at Large of the Readers Digest, former Editor, The Listener

    11.30-11.40: Tea/Coffee break

    11.40-12.30: SESSION TWO – OFF THE RECORD

    Rev George Pitcher, Chairman, St Brides Forum and Curate, St Brides Church, Fleet Street
    · Keynote speaker:
    On "The impact of disinformation on journalists".
    · Panel:
    To be confirmed

    12.30-13.00: Break for light refreshment

    13.15-13.50: INTERFAITH SERVICE

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Journalists cross cultural divide for Middle East Media Awards at House of Lords

    Journalists and editors from the Arab World, Israel, and the UK, were given awards for producing consistently balanced reporting on the emotive and polarised conflicts of the Middle East. The ceremony, which took place at the House of Lords on Thursday 9th March, brought together journalists from across the cultural divides of the region who were aware of each others’ work, but who had never been given the opportunity to meet before.

    The prize-winners of the Peace through Media Awards presented for distinguished contribution to the coverage and consideration of developments concerning the Middle East were:

    Mr Jihad al Khazen, Editor at Large, Al Hayat Newspaper, for his significant contributions to informed and enlightened debate in the Arab media throughout a long and distinguished career.

    Mr Danny Levi Rubinstein, Haaretz Newspaper, in recognition of his passionate engagement with Arab issues, and uncompromising editorial contributions.

    Mr Peter David, Foreign Editor, The Economist, in recognition of the consistently original, well-sourced, informative Middle East coverage of the Economist.

    Ms Caroline Hawley, BBC Television, in recognition of her sober, balanced and informative reporting from Iraq, and her sensitivity to local culture and concerns.

    Mr Salah Ali Sindi, Editor In Chief, Istithmar Al Arabia Magazine, in recognition of the consistently progressive and enlightened editorial policy of his increasingly influential publication.

    In addition to the main prizes, awards were given to up-and-coming journalists as investment in the future of quality reporting on the Middle East. The prize-winners of the Cutting Edge Awards presented for distinguished contribution to the coverage and consideration of developments concerning the Middle East were:

    Mr Mohamed Chebaro, Al Arabieh
    Mr Yoav Stern, Columnist on Palestinian Affairs, Haaretz Newspaper
    Mr Martin Asser, BBC News Website Correspondent
    Ms Mona Eltahawy, Freelance journalist, Sharq al Awsat columnist
    Ms Jane Kinninmont, Middle East Editor, Business Monitor International

    The Middle East Media Awards were launched for the first time last year by the International Media Council. The Chairman of the awards committee, William Morris, Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation, explained:

    "By publicly recognising the efforts of these editors and journalists, some of whom have put their careers and even their lives at risk through their commitment to reporting truthfully and responsibly, we hope to help raise the standards of reporting from the region. Although we recognise that the business of publishers is to sell newspapers, we believe that because of the suffering caused by war in this region, and the enormous influence that the media has in it, journalists have an ethical responsibility to reflect the true nature of conflicts, and to avoid reproducing cultural stereotypes and incitements to hatred”.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Media Ethics Code

    Media Ethics Code in English, Arabic and Hebrew:
    1. Write the facts as you see them

    2. A story without a source is a source of trouble

    3. A source is not a source when the story is based on rumour

    4. When in doubt, cut it out

    5. Prejudge no one

    6. Be objective

    7. Divorce comment from news and label it as such

    8. Commentators are not exempt from the duty to be accurate

    9. Never incite racial or religious division

    10. Enlighten, lest we fail to understand one another
    1 - قل الحقيقة كما هي
    2 - الأخبار من غير مصدر، مصدر للمتاعب
    3 - الإشاعة ليست مصدراً للحقيقة
    4 - احرص على الحقيقة، واقطع الشك باليقين
    5 - ابتعد عن الأحكام المسبقة
    6 - كن موضوعيا
    7 - افصل التعليق عن الخبر
    8 - توخى الدقة
    9 - لا للعنصرية
    10 - اعرف الآخر لتفهمه
    כתוב את העובדות כפי שאתה רואה אותן
    סיפור ללא מקור – מקור לצרות
    מקור אינו מקור, כאשר הידיעה מבוססת על שמועה
    כאשר יש לך ספק, בעובדות תסתפק
    אל תדון איש במשפט קדום
    היה אוביקטיבי
    תבחין בין דעה וידיעה
    פרשנים אינם פטורים מחובת הדיוק
    לעולם אל תסית למחלוקת גזענית ודתית
    הסבר והבהר, שמא לא נבין איש את רעהו

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Dissinformation and the Hammas Charter

    In covering the elections in Palestine and the subsequent victory of Hamas many commentators have identified as a founding principle of Hamas the "obliteration" of the State of Israel, and some have alluded to the 1988 Hamas Covenant in support of this.

    We thought it a good idea to draw everyone's attention to the text itself, and in as reliable a format as we think available. Please find the link below to an English translation of the Hamas Covenant available at the open source site 'Wikisource'.


    It should be noted that the quotation mentioning the "obliteration" of Israel is a quotation from a Imam Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Mulsim Brotherhood, not of Hamas. While the distinction is small, Hamas states clearly at Article 2 that it considers itself an armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is notable. More importantly, this quotation is not contained in the body of the text of the Covenant (it does not appear in any of the Articles). The significance of this is to be debated, and perhaps only becoming clear when we see the actions of the Hamas leadership over the coming months.

    The Government of the State of Israel, in the run-up to the elections in Palestine, released a statement containing the following:

    "Hamas' charter states clearly that "It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine ... Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it." (Art. 6)"

    The manner of presenting this quotation is at best inaccurate. As you will see, it takes the wording of Article 6 "It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine ..." and joins it with the quotation from the prologue to the Covenant set out above. It then attributes the whole quote to Article 6.

    Nothing said here goes to deny the various statements of Sheikh Yassin and Rantissi indisputably supporting and / or inciting the destruction of Israel, or indeed that there are sections of the Covanent that call for armed "jihad" against "Jews" (Article 7, Article 15). We just thought that on the "obliteration" point, the misquoters should be put right.


    Richard Yorke, Policy Advocate
    The Next Century Foundation