The Arab News has for just over a quarter century – since 1975 – been the first and foremost English-language daily in Saudi Arabia. It is not, technically, the official paper even in English – the Gazette (o shades of yearnings after British respectability!) serves that role, as do others in varying degrees and in other languages – but in the Arab world, face it, there’s no such thing as an unofficial paper. Saudi Arabia (a term I use purely for convenience) is a free country with a flourishing free press operating in a free society to about the same extent the Klan is a positive force for racial harmony, after all.
Hullo, Alice. Welcome to Looking-Glass Land. Your morning paper will assist you in believing any number of impossible things before breakfast.
The Arab News, its online edition (dear God. Surely you didn’t think I’ve been giving my good money to the House of Sod all this time in order to read the print edition) assures us, ‘serv[es] the interests of both the Saudis and a large expatriate community and in consequence introduce[s] them to each other. The challenge which is successfully accomplished each morning is meeting the needs of the different cultural communities which make up the diverse population of the Kingdom.’
Well, let’s take a look at that, shall we.
Among the ‘different cultural communities which make up the diverse population of the Kingdom’ are the worker bees, near-slaves from sub-Saharan Africa and the East Indies who are shipped by the cargo lot to do the menial labor required in ‘the Kingdom.’ Curiously, the Arab News has very little to report on their lot, or on such scandals as lawsuits in US courts against Princess This and Princess That for thinking they can with impunity wield the whip on their sla- um, maids on US soil they way they do At Home. No, the Arab News prefers to carry stories on new fiscal and cultural agreements with the governments of the home countries of these workers, there on the hypotenuse of the Saudi Triangle Trade.
But then, what’s to report? The Saudi Arabia presented in the Arab News is a paradise on earth, unless of course Jewish agents and Westerners have stirred up the womenfolk (uppity wenches) or introduced Demon Rum, Johnnie Walker – the whisky, not the traitor – and buggery into the pristine Kingdom. This sort of thing, presumably, was on Abdullah Bajubeer’s mind the other day when he penned his classic feature story, ‘Beware of Teenaged Lovers.’
With the Arab News, what may be most important is what’s not reported, and – as in today’s paper (‘“Misconceptions” Led to Scrapping of Visa Express’) – what’s spun and flat-out lied about.
On 23 June, for example, Prince Sultan bin Abd Al-Aziz, the Defence and Aviation Minister, whose son is the former media darling (temp. Gulf War I) Prince Bandar, Saudi Ambassador to the United States, dismissed Congressional criticism of the Saudis by claiming that Congress was full of yarmulke-wearing Jews. This was reported extensively in the Saudi press, including in al-Jazirah, but that was for domestic consumption. The Arab News carried only the portion of his remarks that concerned smuggling and that asserted that Saudi Arabia was not an al-Qaeda target. The next day’s paper also failed to carry the rest of the story, instead running such articles as ‘Urgent Appeal From Nablus’ and ‘The Anne Franks of Palestine.’
On 5 June, the Saudi Ambassador to the Court of St James’s (i.e., to the UK), Ghazi al-Qusaibi, talked about his poetic ode to female suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras, warned Israel that the Saudi ‘peace plan’ was Israel’s last chance, and expressed the pious hope – in which I expect we will all join, if for different reasons – that he might die as a ‘martyr.’
The, um, diplomat’s elegy to suicide bombing was published on 13 April. He was thitherto best known for a rather unbalanced outburst, on 9 August 2001, in which he went on at great length about George W. Bush’s ‘psychological complexes’ – and managed to work in a common obsession in the Arab press about Condi Rice’s legs (‘after which the war criminal Sharon shamelessly lusted.’ No, I’m serious. You couldn’t make this stuff up. You should see what they used to say about – no, really – Madeleine Albright’s sultry ways. I kid you not). This, in turn, was three days after his call to all Arabs ‘not to rule out war with Israel.’
Now, you might think these were newsworthy items. (You might also think that the Ambassador has been sacked by Our Friendly Allies in Riyadh. You might also think that the Saudi Ambassador to the UK makes the French Ambassador, who infamously referred to Israel as ‘that sh-tty little country,’ look slightly less repellent.) You would be wrong on the first two counts at least. The Arab News had not a word to say.
Oddly enough, these news items were carried by al-Sharq al-Awsat, which the Arab News calls its ‘sister daily,’ and which in fact was the paper that interviewed the Embarrassador. At least that’s what the Arab News called the London-based paper on 6 June, when they did find something newsworthy to report on the ambassadorial doings, namely, his claim – of which, he said, he ‘informed neither the Foreign Office in London nor the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh’ – that his son and four friends of the youth’s had been beaten severely in a London street by twenty Jews ‘with baseball bats, bottles, and Israeli flags.’ In this article, buried well below the lede, is the Arab News’s only known reference to the Ambassador’s ode to bombing and his martyr complex.
Let me say this. The Arab News is by no means the bottom of the barrel. The government-sponsored daily, al-Akhbar, put out by Our Other Friends and Allies the Egyptians, routinely denies the occurrence of the Holocaust, and has called SecState Colin Powell a bird-brained traitor to his race, an Uncle Tom who wishes to sacrifice the corpse of the Arab world in the Jewish Temple. The Saudi official paper, al-Watan, maintained that General Powell’s predecessor, Madeleine Albright, was part of the Great Jewish Conspiracy to Control the World. (It takes a great deal of, well, Christian charity, after reading the Arab press on any given day, not to regret the failure of the Crusades, among other emotions.)
Nonetheless, as a news periodical, the Arab News may be less ugly than some, but it is useless for anything short of lining cabinets. It’s a combination Jew-baiting broadsheet and propaganda vehicle for the Saudis, and between suppressing inconvenient truths and disseminating falsehoods, it has no energy left for actual journalism.
If the straight news situation is dire, though, the feature writing and opinion sections are simply stupefyingly offensive. They are where the mask falls off completely.
Again, let’s be clear on something. This is not a samizdat publication, nor is it a free paper in a free country. What the Arab News prints is what the House o’ Sod wants printed or will allow for its own purposes.
After all. Even though you’d never know it from the Arab News, the Saudi Ambassador to the Court of St James’s did write that ode to the memory of that female suicide bomber the other month, and is on record as hoping to die a martyr in the fight against Jewry. (Personally, I hope he gets his wish. Like, yesterday.) He has neither been disciplined nor disavowed (nor have HMG, under Tony Blair’s flaccid leadership, kicked the son of a b-tch out of the UK, for some reason). The Defence Minister did claim publicly that the US Congress was full of Jewish members wearing yarmulkes as they voted to criticize his country. When FDR met with ibn Saud – during the Second World War, mind you, with the Holocaust in progress – he had to listen to a longwinded lecture on how important it was to read and understand The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Most recently, on 10 March, 2002, the Saudi government daily al-Riyadh ran a lengthy article asserting as fact the blood libel, the claim that the Purim pastries (hamantaschen) require as a ritual ingredient the blood of slaughtered Gentiles. The article was written, I may add, by a tenured professor at King Faysal University.
To say that the Saudi state, government, society, and ‘royal’ house are a wee mite anti-Jewish is an understatement of such magnitude as to be at best a half-truth.
Is this reflected in the Arab News? You ain’t just a whistlin’ Dixie. The rag is full of ravings that would have made Streicher and Rosenberg blush.
Hell, they’re still claiming there was a ‘massacre’ at Jenin (in an op-ed today, raising hell about American indifference to the fate of the poor suffering killers in Hamas and Fatah). Even the PLO has given up trotting out the Jenin Massacre li(n)e.
And then there is ‘Israel Shamir.’ Who dat (as they ask in Baton Rouge)? That’s a damned good question.
He describes himself as a Jewish writer living in Israel, having emigrated from Russia. When he first appeared on the scene, his writings were embraced by the PLO and their shills and apologists with glad cries. Now even they are leery of the man. Why? Because even PLO flacks can recognize, sometimes, a situation that is going to, um, blow up in their faces.
The man may or may not be ethnically Jewish. His writings and his public statements during the brief period that the PLO was using their European aid monies to send him on the rubber-chicken lecture circuit may or may not indicate that he is nominally a Christian by religion, presumably Eastern Orthodox. As with many things about the man, the issue is as murky as stump-water.
What is not murky is that even some – a minority, alas – but, some ‘Palestinian’ frontmen have found that the parts of his CV that they can check, smell a bit too stout even for them – which is saying a good deal. In Russia, Shamir – if that is his name – seems to have written for the Jew-baiting scandal sheet Zavtra. This rag is published by Aleksandr Prokhanov, a raving nutcase who, in addition to calling for a return to Stalinism, is the man who brought David Duke to Russia to organize its po’ oppressed white folks. (I am not kidding, folks.)
Shamir’s writings for Zavtra include a pæan to Fidel’s Cuba and such gems as ‘Acid Test Failed,’ in which he calls the IDF the ‘Jewish Sonderkommando.’ His vaunted connections and allies include the ‘Liberty Lobby,’ a morally (and now financially and literally) bankrupt crew obsessed with ‘the Zionist Israeli Lobby,’ the Bilderbergers and the Trilateralists and the UN and the whole sad litany of Ku Klux Kookiness that brought you Tim McVeigh. Holocaust denial is a major trope of the ‘Liberty Lobby.’
But then, it’s nothing new to Shamir. In 1998, he made the news by trying to sell purported Nazi archival documents, including what was claimed to be Himmler’s personal papers and Martin Bormann’s 1945 diary, to the repugnant Holocaust-denier and pretended historian David Irving. Even Irving wouldn’t deal with the man.
Others have been less picky: his Zavtra articles have been reprinted by the German-based Holocaust denial site Zündelsite, and Shamir himself denigrates the ‘Holocaust cult’ and praises ‘revisionists’ – in fact, Holocaust deniers – such as Roger Garaudy, the Lord Haw-Haw of Radio Islam and a convert to militant Islam himself.
Shamir’s writings – in passable English – are still available on the Net, other than through the online edition of the Arab News, at a site called ‘Media Monitors Network,’ a soi-disant ‘non-bias [sic], non-political platform’ for ‘the whole truth’ … as that truth is defined by its operator, one Muhammed Ali Khan, whose tastes run to articles on how the Jews control US foreign policy and whose recommended reading list is heavy on Edward Said and Ramsey Clark.
And is Mr Shamir a darling of the Arab News? You betcha. He’s a regular columnist. His recent hymn to raving nutter Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) – you remember her, the Congresswoman from the Planet Xeeblod who claims the Bush Administration knew of the impending attack on New York and Washington well before 11 September, and not only kept quiet, but in fact tacitly encouraged it ... so as to put money in the pockets of defense contractors and Big Oil. Shamir wrote an ‘Ode to Cynthia’ in which he compared her to Joan of Arc, the Stalinist ‘heroine’ La Pasionara (now, that I can believe), and Golda Meir. In fact, he says her actions were not only ‘manly,’ but damn ‘white’ of her (Representative McKinney is of course a vociferous member of the Congressional Black Caucus).
That fairly well triangulates Mr ‘Israel Shamir,’ I’d say. Which brings up the question, What sort of God-forsaken rag would have this wingnut as a correspondent / writer of op-ed thumbsuckers?
That the answer to that question is, Well, the Arab News would, says a goodish deal about Our Friends and Allies the Sods – er, Saudis.
But then, what reputable newspaper would carry unsigned, anonymous feature articles that compare the US news media (in all its Zionist-controlled glory, of course) to TASS, circa 1958?
What reputable newspaper – hell, what two-cent fish-wrap – would have as its ‘News Editor’ and Big Editorial Gun (having recently taken on the Wall Street Journal as a tool of the Jews and as having become ‘hysterical’ since 11 September) one John R. Bradley, who, the paper notes, ‘is News Editor at Arab News and author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Saudi Arabia.’ Look, I realize that resume-puffing is all the rage, but, well, there is no Lonely Planet Guide to Saudi Arabia. Never has been. There’s a Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit: Arab Gulf States: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates, in which Mr Bradley’s name is conspicuously absent and which bears the name of Gordon R. Robison through, no doubt, some ghastly oversight….
And this, mind you, is the comparatively ‘human face’ of the Arab press (try wading through the muck chronicled over at MEMRI if you don’t think it is).
Not since the late XVIIth and early XVIIIth Centuries, the days of Maria Monk and John Wilkes, have Anglo-American presses spewed this sort of thing. Not even the viperish partisan press of the Adams and Jefferson administrations stooped this low. The Arab News may be Arab, God help us, but news they ain’t. The Saudi Beobachter is a disreputable excuse for a paper, equal parts whitewash and propaganda, sycophantic to its masters and rabidly Jew-baiting. No one who doesn’t have a good ‘know thine enemy’ need to read it ought bother to do so.
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Describe the newspaper's political views: It is conservative