October 24, 2007

Israeli Reporters Lap Up Syrian Propaganda

Now that I'm briefly out of fresh material from Iraq (until I go back) I have a bit of time to return to one of my old beats. I start with the strange story of Israeli journalists repeating Syrian lies as possible fact in such reputable newspapers as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post. Read Syria's Useful Israeli Idiots over at the Commentary magazine Web site.

I'll publish more on this blog shortly.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 24, 2007 10:41 AM
Comments

Well, that didn't stop Walid and his boys from meeting some Israelis a few years ago:

http://www.meib.org/articles/0105_ld1.htm

Posted by: Edgar at October 24, 2007 12:27 PM

Edgar,

Sure, in 1982. Lots of Lebanese were on Israel's side then. Jumblatt, though, emphatically was not.

He still isn't really, at least not publicly.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 24, 2007 12:36 PM

MJT: Sure, in 1982.

And about two decades later. Read footnote #17 at the bottom of the page.

Meeting with Israelis doesn't have to mean you're on their side, by the way.

Anyway, I'm bringing this up not to annoy you with trivialities, but to point out that these Lebanese laws are really only enforced in certain cases; otherwise Jumblatt would be guilty of high treason for that meeting alone.

As for being on Israel's side. Well, if it ever was in Jumblatt's interest to befriend the Israelis, you can bet he'd start hosting seders in his house overnight and inviting Barak and his family to play Twister and Pictionary.

What a snake.

Posted by: Edgar at October 24, 2007 02:41 PM

I have been reading you for so long I don’t remember when I started. I only know that from the first sentence to the last I have been struck by the honest and open minded reporting you have done.
We are neighbors I think, since I live just north of Portland in the ‘couve’. When you come home you must let me buy you several rounds of your favorite beverage. If you need anything tended to while your out, feel free to drop a line.

Posted by: bcismar at October 24, 2007 03:21 PM

Edgar: Read footnote #17 at the bottom of the page.

Hmm, that is interesting.

For those of you who don't follow Edgar's link, Jumblatt apparently met with Israeli Druze and Arabs, not Jews. Certainly not the Israeli Defense Minister.

Meeting with Israelis doesn't have to mean you're on their side, by the way.

Of course. My point is to explain why the law exists, to prevent "collaboration."

I think Jumblatt should be at least somewhat sympathetic to Israel, but quietly. He probably is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 24, 2007 03:39 PM
This blog entry and the one in Commentary are not a correct description of the Haaretz article, and an unfounded derogation of its journalists. Your article implies that Haaretz journalists are too clueless to realize that it's illegal for Lebanese citizens to meet Israelis. But what the Haaretz article actually says is:
In the past, Jumblatt was harshly criticized in Lebanon for his meetings with senior Israeli officials while traveling abroad. Lebanese law forbids meetings with Israelis.
Was 1982 the last time that Jumblatt met Israelis? On the contrary, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky and Jumblatt were both at the meeting in Virginia that you linked. At this meeting Jumblatt "joked" that the US should send car bombs to Damascus. So if it's really any threat to Jumblatt to meet Israelis, he's already crossed the line. And he added alcohol to his reckless driving by "jokingly" asking for anti-Syrian terrorism. Haaretz hasn't put him in more danger. Nor did Haaretz expose any "conspiracy". All it said is that Jumblatt wants help from Israel to topple Syria. He implied that he wants exactly that help from the US, in the speech that you linked and in another speech at AEI. If he also wanted help from Israel for it, that would hardly be different. After all, he's wanted military help from Israel before.

But is Jumblatt worth protecting in the first place? When the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed, Jumblatt said "My joy was great because one of those killed was an Israeli astronaut." In the same speech, he described the US invasion of Iraq this way: "The oil axis is present in most of the U.S. administration, beginning with its president, vice-president and top advisers, including Rice, who is oil-colored, while the axis of Jews is present with Paul Wolfowitz, the leading hawk who is inciting (America) to occupy and destroy Iraq." Sweet. He sounds like the Thomas Jefferson of the Middle East.

Not. It is true that Syria is manipulative and murderous, but so is Walid Jumblatt. He's a maniac who bounces between several poles of belligerence. He issues racist, anti-Semitic condemnations of the US, then four years later he goes hat in hand to the think-tanks of the "axis of Jews" and the "oil-colored" Rice to ask the US to topple Syria. He wants to be another Ahmad Chalabi and we should hope that the White House will never do business with him.

Haaretz journalists, for their part, are not "useful idiots", they are not "clueless", and they do not "lap up" Syrian propaganda. They did not describe the alleged meeting between Jumblatt and Barak as anything more than Syria's claim. I don't see that we can know yet whether Syria is right, but their prediction does resemble true events. But let's suppose that Syria is full of crap about this. It still looks very bad to toss around insults so casually, especially if you have banned people from your blog comments for doing the same thing.

Posted by: Jim Harris at October 24, 2007 04:27 PM

Jim Harris: Haaretz journalists, for their part, are not "useful idiots"

Useless idiots?

Posted by: Edgar at October 24, 2007 05:21 PM

I would expect such useful idiocy from Haaretz (they are left leaning, after all), but not Jpost.

Posted by: Carlos at October 24, 2007 05:41 PM

I would expect such useful idiocy from Haaretz (they are left leaning, after all), but not Jpost.

Well, yes, Michael Totten's piece does smack of bashing the liberal media. But in this case, Haaretz gave a more careful account than the Post. Haaretz even sardonically called the Syrian site the "Sham Press".

Posted by: Jim Harris at October 24, 2007 05:50 PM

Michael - I will add $1 to the tip jar for every Jim Harris comment that is posted,to ease your pain just a tad.

Posted by: markytom at October 24, 2007 06:39 PM

I think Jumblatt should be at least somewhat sympathetic to Israel, but quietly. He probably is.

My admittedly limited knowledge of Lebanese politics makes me think that political alliances and sympathies change like the wind in Lebanon.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 24, 2007 09:02 PM

Jim Harris,
Please get your own blog so I can avoid you. Thanks.

Posted by: Keith at October 24, 2007 09:11 PM

Jim Harris,

It's great that the story in Haaretz was slightly less dumb than the one in the Jerusalem Post and Infolive TV, but that doesn't make it any less dumb to quote Cham Press as though it were some kind of authority.

It would be fine if Israeli newspapers cited Cham Press in a spirit of "look what the Syrian propaganda flacks are saying this week," but that is not what they did. You would miss the point if it stabbed you in the eye.

Yes, Jumblatt is a political snake (as well as a former warlord who ethnically cleansed the Chouf), but that doesn't mean it's okay to kill him or repeat fabrications by a regime even more snake-like than he is.

By the way, I know a lot more about Walid Jumblatt than you do. I know him personally and have been in his house. So you can stop lecturing me about him as though I'm an ignoramus.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 24, 2007 11:26 PM

Jim Harris: Well, yes, Michael Totten's piece does smack of bashing the liberal media.

You are completely wrong as usual. I criticized the Israeli media, including conservative Israeli media, while going out of my way to note that no Western media organization that I am aware of (liberal or otherwise ) had anything to do with this.

Stop projecting your partisan obsessions on me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 24, 2007 11:29 PM

like a bad penny......

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 24, 2007 11:42 PM

Yes, Jumblatt is a political snake (as well as a former warlord who ethnically cleansed the Chouf), but that doesn't mean it's okay to kill him or repeat fabrications by a regime even more snake-like than he is.

If he's a snake, a warlord, and an ethnic cleanser, then it's just between him and Syria if they trade car bombs. You're talking as if Haaretz libeled him and put him at risk, but that is a straw man. Their words don't hold a candle to what he has brought on to himself. Haaretz knows it and you know it. And Haaretz did not make any false claims. You're bashing them only for describing a rumor that may or may not be a fabrication, and is completely consistent with the real Walid Jumblatt.

It makes no sense to bash Haaretz in defense of Jumblatt. You didn't have room for even one unkind word for Jumblatt in that article in Commentary, or one kind word for Haaretz. That is both bizarre and unfair. Haaretz, after all, is written by law-abiding civilians, not warlords.

I'm not trying to educate you on any of these points. What I wrote is a straight rebuttal. If you know it all already, then that isn't better. It makes your original article look like studied half-truths.

Posted by: Jim Harris at October 24, 2007 11:49 PM

Jim Harris,

To you it's all about Haaretz. I would have written the exact same article if only the Jerusalem Post -- which has published my work, by the way -- were guilty of this.

Haaretz is a great newspaper. I tell my Lebanese friends that I think they should read it. Some of them do, and they agree with my characterization of it. The Jerusalem Post is also a great newspaper. They have published my work and may do so again. I would also be happy if Haaretz published my work. Cham Press will never publish my work, and it is not great or respectable in any way whatsoever.

I didn't have the space to write about what Walid Jumblatt did 25 years ago. It isn't related to this particular topic, and I went over my word limit as it is. Stop trying to tell me how to write. I am a professional. I know how to do my job. You do not. If you think you do -- tell me what my word limit is.

That is both bizarre and unfair. Haaretz, after all, is written by law-abiding civilians, not warlords

That does not mean that it's okay if Walid Jumblatt -- a law-abiding citizen and elected member of parliament now that the civil war is over -- is assassinated by a foreign dictatorship that wants to rule his country at gunpoint again.

Nor does it mean Haaretz is above criticism. I, too, am a law-abiding citizen, but that doesn't stop you from mouthing off in my comments box.

You're way over your head here. Every time you think you score a point you only make yourself look like an ass.

Learn from Glasnost and DPU. They know how to argue with me and earn some respect.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 12:12 AM

Will edit & write for food. Or just to piss people off.

Contact Jim Harris

-

Posted by: dajida at October 25, 2007 12:58 AM

To you it's all about Haaretz.

It's the more clear-cut case because their article explicitly said what you claimed they were too clueless to know. But you're right that you weren't particularly fair to the Post either.

Haaretz is a great newspaper.

Great newspapers are not written by idiots.

I didn't have the space to write about what Walid Jumblatt did 25 years ago.

Nor his comments about the "axis of Jews" and "oil-colored" African Americans four years ago.

That does not mean that it's okay if Walid Jumblatt -- a law-abiding citizen

How do you know that Walid Jumblatt is law-abiding? It's not as if the law in Lebanon is particularly functional. Besides, the stain of ethnic cleansing is forever. I'm no fan of the death penalty, but anyone who murders a thousand innocent people deserves life without parole. Nor would you expect any such person to become Mr. Clean in his later years.

...is assassinated by a foreign dictatorship that wants to rule his country at gunpoint again.

Either Syria wants to rub out Walid Jumblatt or it doesn't. It has nothing to do with any Israeli newspaper. On the contrary, when Jumblatt asks the US to send car bombs to Damascus, he's asking for trouble himself.

Nor does it mean Haaretz is above criticism.

Of course it's not above criticism. But it is miles above Walid Jumblatt. Does Haaretz call black Republicans "oil-colored"? Did it ever refer to Jewish Republicans as an "axis of Jews"?

Posted by: Jim Harris at October 25, 2007 06:53 AM

Michael - I will add $1 to the tip jar for every Jim Harris comment that is posted,to ease your pain just a tad.---markytom

Man, you must be getting a bit worried at this point.
Shades of Limbaugh and the Senate letter. Maybe you should clarify the time frame involved.

Just saying.

Posted by: dougf at October 25, 2007 08:11 AM

So I always thought that "Useful Idiots" came from Stalin... apparently however, there's no evidence that he ever said it. It appears rather that it was first used by Americans trying to slam other Americans.

Apparently, Stalin talked about fooling western media that might be sympathetic to socialist ideas... but doesn't seem to have applied it to fifth columnists. Rather, he appears to have been most interested in loyal Westerners that he could fool into seeing only some aspects of the USSR's government. Of course, today it gets used as often and as poorly as "Islamofacist" and other bullshit propaganda words.

Thanks MJT, for providing an example of correct meme usage as opposed to the usual drivel associated with the term. :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 25, 2007 08:30 AM

Jim Harris: His comments about the "axis of Jews" and "oil-colored" African Americans four years ago.

I don't think Walid's fear of Jewish control and contempt for black people is anything unusual in the Arab world.

Yes, he's a scumbag. (MJT, I didn't realize you "know him personally" but I suggest you get some better friends.)

But why are you insisting that MJT should have pointed it out in the article? That wasn't the point. The article was about how naive Haaretz reporters can be sometimes.

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 08:52 AM

While I'm not a big fan of "everything is relative", it does seem insane to hold an Arab leader to the same politically correct standard that PC America demands. I've met people that were nice, kind, friendly and still racist. Mostly, it seems, because they grew up in the deep south during the 40's and that's how they got programmed (or in another country and that's how they got programmed).

Heck, its only been 50 years or so, since Americans would allow someone like Rice anywhere near the government, let alone in a major position of power. So what if Walid Jumblatt has some racist tendencies... from what I've seen and heard, the vast majority of the planet (including many Americans) still have racist tendencies, if not outright racist positions.

Expecting everyone to behave per our standard, seems silly. Expecting anything close to perfection out of a politician seems absurd.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 25, 2007 09:14 AM

Expecting everyone to behave per our standard, seems silly. Expecting anything close to perfection out of a politician seems absurd.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree, with one minor issue.

Mostly, it seems, because they grew up in the deep south during the 40's and that's how they got programmed (or in another country and that's how they got programmed).

The south was no more racist than any other part of the nation. The old Confederate states were just foolish and defiant enough to codify their racism into law.
But you are definitely right Ratatosk. It is foolish to expect perfection of others while we ourselves lack. The requirements by Congress on the Iraqi government is proof. They expect cooperation between groups that have very little experience at cooperating, and they expected it yesterday.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 25, 2007 09:25 AM

Ratatosk: it does seem insane to hold an Arab leader to the same politically correct standard that PC America demands

No, I think it's insane to see Jews as evil powerful and black people as inferior.

There's no way should we give Arabs a special set of standards to live by. They should adapt to the norms of the civilized world (and disliking black people is definitely not one of them). There is no excuse nowadays for any reasonably educated person--or really anyone with access to books, magazines or the Interney-- to be anti-semitic or genuinely believe that blacks are a lower race.

Fuck double standards. And fuck Walid.

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 09:48 AM

The south was no more racist than any other part of the nation.

I agree. However, it does seem that many older individuals I've known from southern states were less likely to hide their views behind PC bullshit.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 25, 2007 09:48 AM

There is no excuse nowadays for any reasonably educated person--or really anyone with access to books, magazines or the Interney-- to be anti-semitic or genuinely believe that blacks are a lower race.

LOL, a Nobel winner, living in PC US, focused on genetics, just got fired for racist statements... and you think Wallid should know better?

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 25, 2007 09:51 AM

I agree. However, it does seem that many older individuals I've known from southern states were less likely to hide their views behind PC bullshit.

Absolutely. My dad is one of those not to hide behind PC.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 25, 2007 10:08 AM

Ratatosk: LOL, a Nobel winner, living in PC US, focused on genetics, just got fired for racist statements... and you think Wallid should know better?

Yes.

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 10:11 AM

Yes.

You display what appears to be a stunning ignorance of the human mind.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 25, 2007 10:21 AM

Edgar, here is MJT's interview with Walid J.

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001383.html

Knowing him personally is not the same as being friends and comrades. MJT knows plenty of nasty characters personally.

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001116.html

http://michaeltotten.blogspot.com/2003_02_16_michaeltotten_archive.html#90352562

entry for Thursday, February 20, 2003
6:26 PM

'The Terrorist I Know'

Posted by: lindsey at October 25, 2007 10:32 AM

Walid Jumblatt isn't a friend of mine. I know him as a journalist, which is different.

Of course his ideas about black people and Jews are retrograde, but also typical of the Middle East. If I were to make a big deal out of it and include his old nasty quotes every time I wrote about him I would have to do the same thing with just about everyone else I ever interview in the region, which would make me look hysterically PC and in over my head. No journalist in the Middle East does that. Thank God I don't take advice on how to do my job from Jim Harris.

Jumblatt's behavior during Lebanon's civil war was despicable, but so was everyone else's. That era is finished. People behave differently in peace time, and since Jumblatt's old Lebanese enemies have moved on, it would be pretty stupid if I weren't able to do it.

If Hassan Nasrallah ever decides to mellow out and act like Walid Jumblatt does today, I'll give him a break too. Walid Jumblatt is not the enemy. He is extremely liberal (today) by the standards of the Middle East. Back in the day he wasn't, but Lebanon was a different kind of place then.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 11:34 AM

Michael,

I thought we were ignoring Jim Harris for the good of the order? Edgar and the others are doing a fine job dismantling the dork from DU. I really doubt he's this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Harris_(politician)
or this guy: http://www.jimharrisart.com/
but who knows. Or cares?

His capacity for reasoning is excruciatingly bad to the point where arguing with him diminishes our rhetorical skill. We have no good reason to clog our gears grinding through his sludge.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at October 25, 2007 12:11 PM

Ratatosk: You display what appears to be a stunning ignorance of the human mind.

Ok, so please help a simpleton like me understand how it works.

A highly-educated Nobel Prize winner makes racist statements.

Walid Jumblatt makes racist statements.

Since somebody far more educated than Walid made a racist statement, we shouldn't fault Walid for doing so.

Did I understand correctly?

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 12:13 PM

Anyway Mike, I shouldn't have gotten off topic. I just have a strong personal dislike of Druze politicians.

Especially the oil-colored ones.

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 12:18 PM

Edgar,

Fault Walid all you want, but don't expect me to dig up ugly old quotes of his every time he appears in one of my articles.

Why do you dislike Druze politicians? I can guess, but I don't know.

The Druze are complicated and shifty, and that's because they're a religious minority in every country they live in. In order to survive they need to side with the majority and the "strong horse" even more than other Arabs do. It makes sense for Lebanese Druze to side with "March 14" and the United States, for Israeli Druze to side with the Jewish majority, and for Syrian Druze to side with the Baath Party.

The Lebanese have a saying: "Eat with the Druze, but sleep with the Christians." I get it. But I like the Druze. You probably would too if you lived in Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 12:27 PM

Mike,

That's what I meant by getting off topic. I wasn't suggesting that you should have began your article with:

"I hate those oil-colored Blacks" - Walid J.

It just got into that kind of discussion when Jimmy got into the mix.

BTW I've actually lived with Druze before (in the same house) and I like them a lot. But I don't think much of their political class, from the village elders to people like Walid. I know they need to survive; it's just hard to respect politicians that change their views virtually overnight (Druze politicians are the ultimate example of this).

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 12:33 PM

About meeting with Lebanese Israelis and Durzi people (the spel. is right). Azmi Besahara was talking with Leb. politicians before he left Israel. Also so I was told, and I do not know it to be a fact, that young Israeli Durzi go to their holly places in Lebanon every few years.
I slept in the same tent with durzi people and ate the same porcupine. They help their own, even more than Jews and never broke their word to me. As for proverbs; There is one saying "as cruel as a Durzi" and when need be they are.
And as for "eat with a Durzi sleep with a christian" it has, like most proverbs, a sub text. It is said by muslims on two minorities and it is mostely anti christian. It hints that they do not serve vistors well and it also say drogatorily that if you sleep as suggested you can get some thing from a female of the house. It is not advised to even think about such thing in a durzi house.

Posted by: Hazbani at October 25, 2007 01:08 PM

Hazbani: I slept in the same tent with durzi people and ate the same porcupine

Yeah, I remember that, too. Those crazy bastards swallow them whole.

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 01:21 PM

Michael, I'll be sure to let the Druze that I know personally know that you like each and every one of them, despite the fact that you find them universally "shifty."

Posted by: Ethan at October 25, 2007 01:41 PM

Ethan, Ethan, you never will grow up will you? Go drink yourself stupid in Gemmayze and stay off my blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 01:48 PM

Ethan: Michael, I'll be sure to let the Druze that I know personally know that you like each and every one of them, despite the fact that you find them universally "shifty."

Yeah, and they're not pleased from what I hear.

I talked to some of them on the phone and it was hard to make out what they were saying amid all the curse words. It was something about how Mike should expect to get "PWNED" next time he visits the Chouf mountains.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 02:22 PM

Edgar: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Ethan is an American teenager who lives (or lived) in Beirut.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 02:30 PM

MJT: Ethan is an American teenager who lives (or lived) in Beirut.

Yeah, I know. I played mini-golf with him last week in Jounieh, actually. He got pretty hammered and ended up breaking off one of the windmills. Then when we got outside he completely trashed a nearby felafel cart and poured the burning-hot oil over some potted plants.

Yeah, quite a character.

But anyway, are you worried about visiting the Chouf now? And what does "PWNED" mean?

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 02:45 PM

Edgar,

Wikipedia can explain PWNED much better than I can.

See here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 03:30 PM

So I guess the Druze aren't so happy.

Well, on the plus side, you won't get invited to eat porcupine with them anymore.

PS - Ha'aretz is now reporting that Walid Jumblatt is planning to meet with Ethan to get to the bottom of allegations of anti-Druze comments on this blog.

Posted by: Edgar at October 25, 2007 04:30 PM

We like the Druze on this blog. Walid Bek has more importand things to worry about, and Ethan should just stick to video games.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 05:01 PM

Michael:
Sounds good. See you there.

And thanks for the multiple suggestions that I am indeed still young at heart.

Edgar:
My comment was intended to be a harmless jab referencing both (a) Michael's broad generalization of Druze and (b) his previous statement re: Jumblatt that amounted to "I personally know X therefore anything I have to say on the topic of X is beyond reproach." It was not, as you seem to have inferred, intended to be ominous in any way.

---

Anyhow, I'm glad that I could provoke such colorful discussion. See you next year.

Posted by: Ethan at October 25, 2007 06:32 PM

Ethan: And thanks for the multiple suggestions that I am indeed still young at heart.

And of mind.

The funny thing about generalizations is that they're generally true even though they don't apply to every single last individual. The idea may be offensive to college freshmen, but the rest of us can handle it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 25, 2007 06:44 PM

"The Druze are complicated and shifty, and that's because they're a religious minority in every country they live in. In order to survive they need to side with the majority and the "strong horse" even more than other Arabs do. It makes sense for Lebanese Druze to side with "March 14" and the United States, for Israeli Druze to side with the Jewish majority, and for Syrian Druze to side with the Baath Party."

I have never met a single Druze (that I know of) but I find this statement correct because it was always true for Jews (especially before 1948). Being one I can relate to that very closely.

Posted by: leo at October 26, 2007 05:33 AM

The idea of excusing what Jumblatt said as Arab upbringing is a crock. He was denouncing the US invasion of Iraq as a Jewish conspiracy and an oil conspiracy. The real explanation is that Jumblatt is trying to play to both sides. When he speaks in Arabic to Arabs who hate the US and Israel, then he hates the US and Israel too. When he speaks in English to Iraq war fans, then he wants the US to liberate the Middle East too.

Jumblatt is treacherous and his speeches at AEI and the Washington Institute are an invitation to disaster. Hopefully the crazies won't listen to him. That is the real story of the month about Walid Jumblatt. Not whether Israeli newspapers peed on his shoes.

Also there is one particular aspect of the accusations against Haaretz and the Post that hasn't been acknowledged. Namely, whether or not Jumblatt meets Barak, he already did meet another Israeli official at the Washington Institute.

Meanwhile this statement is also a crock:

Don't expect me to dig up ugly old quotes of his every time he appears in one of my articles.

It's not that you should always bring up Walid Jumblatt's ugly side in your articles, it's that you never have. You played him up as a noble victim of Syria in a 4000-word interview, but then too you didn't have space for even one serious criticism. Like that he's a war criminal.

No, it really looks like you have decided to be pro-Walid-Jumblatt. More broadly, because you seem to be arguing that the US should topple Syria. Well, one reason that the Iraq war is a train wreck is that from the beginning, the US signed up with back-stabbers and America-haters. With friends like that, they don't need enemies. We can only hope that they don't make the same mistake in Syria.

Posted by: Jim Harris at October 26, 2007 07:11 AM

jewelry

Posted by: jewelry at October 26, 2007 09:05 AM

Jim Harris: No, it really looks like you have decided to be pro-Walid-Jumblatt.

More like pro-not making more powerful enemies in Lebanon.

Posted by: Edgar at October 26, 2007 09:08 AM

A question that often arises for journalists is whether to publish things that they know to be untrue. Sometimes they will do so, carefully attributing what they write to whoever originated the untruth, and trust their readers to judge for themselves where the truth lies.

Often, the fact that someone is stating an untruth has news-value in itself. The Jumblatt-Barak meeting report is surely a good example. The mere fact that the Syrians are spreading this story is interesting, irrespective of whether it is true or not.

Israeli journalists tend to be overly cynical rather than naive. Like other journalists, though, (MJT excepted) they are also prone to laziness and as a consequence can be ignorant about what they write. At least they don't drink...

Posted by: Moshe at October 26, 2007 10:03 PM

Mr Harris, was your original post meant to be a rebuttal? You claim - and post a link presumbly to back it up - that Jumblatt met Kaplinsky in this conference in Virgina. If you were a little bit more alert, you'll notice the article says nothing of the sort. Not only did Kaplinsky NOT meet Jumblatt but Kaplinsky wasn't even in the US let alone the conference.

Most people when they claim "rebuttals" usually mean they have spotted some errors and hopefully posted some facts. Not spotting errors and posting lies doesn't usually fall under the rubric of rebuttal.

PS If mr totten were to make comments about every person's beliefs about oil conspiracy and Jewish responsiblity for the Iraq War he'd be very, very busy. In case you haven't noticed there is a current bestseller in the US which claims just that.

Posted by: Danny at October 27, 2007 12:38 PM

Hazbani About Porcupines and Edgar.
Probably no body will read it but for the record. All my life I wondered why people who know something think they know every thing.
What was called porcupine is in the books: Indian crested porcupine. Scientific name: Hysterix cristata. It gets to 1 meter length and weigh, undressed, 10-17 kg. That is about 20 to 30 lb. It is hunted for food all over the ME and has become an endangered species. I will quote one book of many "near Beit Sahur (Palestine) I (the author)obtained a skull from scraps left from preparing a meal (Qumsiyeh, M. B. 1996. Animals of the Holy Land. Texas Tech. U. Press. p.313.
They are vegeterians rather harmless and can be killed with a stick. I my self dont hunt them any more, it is illegal and they are realy nice animals. But in the 50th 60th Soldiers and rural people generally went readily go after them. You cook them in the field by interning them in hot ashes after some cleaning. In a kitchen you can clean and skin them and also cook them in "Tabikh". Egdgar befor mocking people ask any rural old timer in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.

Posted by: Hazbani at October 28, 2007 11:53 AM

When growing up in Michigan, I've killed, skinned, dressed, cooked and ate Porcupine. Wasn't very good. (no, it did not taste like chicken). Skinning does need to be done carefully.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at October 29, 2007 04:34 AM

Michael, you cannot say "I am a professional" being a journalist or "I know him personally, I have been visiting his house". Such sentences are utterly meaningless.

A professional journalist does not run any risk of misjudgment. His work is dry and conveys little. You do run the risk and it is good so. You make mistakes and it is just our debate which helps a lot. I am against double standards too. By double standards mentioned above we create "privilidged inferior classes" of people we pity and treat with regards like being sort of handicapped.

I know the effect of "meating nice people" we know nothing about. It is really charming. But nothing more. And it is part of your job. Unfortunately.

Posted by: Czechmade at October 29, 2007 10:38 AM

Sorry for my spelling.
The pressure in avoiding double standards is vital. It is hard not to cede to social pressure which is much bigger outside Europe/North America. Clans, big or joint families, tribes etc. Yes. But we should not collaborate with this mindset, becoming slowly part of the problem. And getting some idiotic love for the same from the perpetrators.

Posted by: Czechmade at October 29, 2007 10:49 AM

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