Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New York Times admits: Egypt’s Leader, Morsi, Made Anti-Jewish Slurs

The New York Times finally reports on something that has been circulating in the Jewish blogosphere since last week, and which Jeffrey Goldberg wrote about today in his blog for the Atlantic: Egypt’s Leader, Morsi, Made Anti-Jewish Slurs.
Nearly three years ago, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood delivered a speech urging Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview around that time, the same leader described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

That leader, Mohamed Morsi, is now president of Egypt — and his comments may be coming back to haunt him....

“When the leader of a country has a history of statements demonizing Jews, and he does not do anything to correct it, it makes sense that many people in Israel would conclude that he cannot be trusted as a partner for peace,” said Kenneth Jacobson, deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League....

As the chief of the Brotherhood’s political arm before becoming president, Mr. Morsi was one of the group’s most outspoken critics of Zionists and Israel. He sometimes referred to Zionists as “Draculas” or “vampires,” using demonizing language historically associated with anti-Semitism. Although he explicitly denigrates Jews in the recently exposed videos, Mr. Morsi and other political and Brotherhood leaders typically restrict their inflammatory comments to the more ambiguous category of “Zionists.”

The anti-Semitic statements that have come to light this month both date back to 2010, when anti-Israeli sentiment was running high after a three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza the previous year.

In the video footage first broadcast Friday on Mr. Youssef’s television program, Mr. Morsi addressed a rally in his hometown in the Nile Delta to denounce the Israeli blockade of Gaza. “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews,” Mr. Morsi declared. Egyptian children “must feed on hatred; hatred must continue,” he said. “The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him.”

“The land of Palestine will not be freed except through resistance,” he said, praising the militant group Hamas as an extension of the Brotherhood.

“Who is our enemy? The Zionists. Who occupies our land? The Zionists. Who hates us? The Zionists. Who destroys our lands? The Zionists,” Mr. Morsi added, lashing out at “America, France and Europe” as “Zionist” supporters.

“And the last of them is that Obama,” Mr. Morsi said. He called the American president a liar who promised the Arab world “empty meaningless words.”

The other video clip was a television interview from the same period unearthed last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based in Washington, which tracks anti-Semitic statements in the Arab world.

“These bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs,” Mr. Morsi declared, using a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world. Although he referred repeatedly to “Zionists” and never explicitly to Jews, Mr. Morsi echoed historic anti-Semitic themes: “They have been fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout their history. They are hostile by nature.” ....
Elder of Ziyon wrote about this yesterday: MSM gives Morsi a free pass for calling Jews "apes and pigs." He was quoting an article by Richard Behar, who writes for Forbes, on January 11: News Flash: Jews Are 'Apes And Pigs.' So Why Is Egypt's Morsi The Elephant In America's Newsrooms?
Last Friday, the sitting president of Egypt – the world’s 15th most populous nation — was exposed for calling Jews “apes and pigs.” And he did it in a TV interview (in Arabic) in 2010, less than two years before he took office.

Needless to say, this was HUGE NEWS for American mass media! Only it wasn’t. (Knock, knock, New York Times? Anybody home?) In fact, to be fair to the paper of record, not a single major outlet has covered it. Not AP or Reuters. Not CBS News or CNN. Not Time magazine or U.S. News & World Report. Not the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, or USA Today. Etcetera. And therein lies a story, which this column can only begin to skin open here.

Mohamed Morsi’s bizarre Apes-and-Pigs rant hit the Jerusalem Post’s homepage that same day (again, last Friday), as its lead story. Specifically, a prestigious U.S. organization named the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) — chaired by Oliver “Buck” Revell, a former deputy head of the FBI in charge of counter-terrorism – released it widely to the global media and posted it on YouTube.

Undoubtedly, the Cairo and Jerusalem bureaus of the big U.S. media outlets saw the story. But the news only found its way to certain American readers and viewers by getting picked up in Jewish and/or conservative forums over the following days.

Commentary magazine, American Thinker and Breitbart thoughtfully weighed in on the subject. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Jewish Talk Radio, and the Christian Broadcasting Network also saw value in covering it. So did – of all things — a prominent national stock-picking and finance newspaper, Investor’s Business Daily. Fox News entertainer Sean Hannity has been pouncing on it — no surprise there. (Do I really have to tune in to that unpleasant loudmouth if I want to be sure not to miss such newsworthy information?) UPI gave it some pickup, but that news service is only a shadow of its former great self. Once nearly equaling the size and reach of AP in the 1960s, it shrunk to a virtual carcass by 2000 — when it was sold to a company founded by Reverend Moon, the self-proclaimed messiah.

The Times of Israel ran a story about it, and added the fact that Morsi was captured three months ago by MEMRI on a different video. In that tape, he can be seen in fervent prayer at a mosque in western Egypt in October, mouthing the word “Amen” after the preacher urged Allah to “destroy the Jews and their supporters.” (Virtually every big media outlet in America ignored that, too.)

I studied the Pigs-and-Apes story’s journey and trajectory through America over the past week with Sue Radlauer, the Director of Research Services here at Forbes. We gave it seven days to see if any of the so-called “mainstream media” — a pejorative phrase that too-often obscures more than it reveals — bestowed the hate speech even a few sentences of back-page ink. Nothing.

Of course, the demonization of Jews is commonplace and de rigueur in the Arab media (although most Americans wouldn’t know that because they are not being made aware of it). But what makes this omission in Big Media especially egregious is that Morsi–sometimes spelled Morsy or Mursi– went even further than genetically pairing Jews with lower beasts. As you can see and hear for yourself in the Morsi Tapes, he called for an end to any and all negotiations for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians – droning on that all the land belongs to the latter. He called for a boycott of American goods because of its support for Israel. (Of course, he didn’t bother mentioning that American taxpayers have provided nearly $70 billion of aid to Egypt, since it made peace with Israel in 1979, and the spigot continues for now.) He even went so far as to label the Palestinian Authority an entity “created by the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people and its interests.”

Apes and pigs aside, Morsi also warned his TV listeners that Jews have never been nice people. “They have been fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout history,” he oozed. “They are hostile by nature.” (One can almost see comedian Jon Stewart’s frozen eyes right about now, before he says something like, “A holiday in Luxor, anyone?”)

If that’s not enough to make the Morsi Tapes even a little newsworthy, consider that Egypt’s economy is on the brink of collapse, with its government desperate for a $4.8 billion IMF loan. Meanwhile, plans have long been underway for the first official visit by the Egyptian president to Washington this March, where he’ll dine with President Obama. So far, the U.S. State Department hasn’t issued a peep of dismay about the tapes. And yet this is arguably the time to do so — before (not after) the huge checks are cut.

So what’s going on here? On Monday, I raised the topic of Morsi’s 2010 language with Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. “Well, they [Muslim Brotherhood] certainly don’t have a monopoly over anti-Semitic comments in the Middle East,” said Oren, who was born and raised in America, and who has written best-selling books on Middle Eastern history. “These comments were alarming, intolerant, and cause for serious concern. Still, we want to distinguish between what they say and what they do. We expect people to act in a responsible and accountable way. That Morsi and his government today played a constructive role in reaching a ceasefire [with Hamas in November], that’s more important – because it actually saved lives.”

Fair enough. But major, seasoned reporters still need to hold Morsi’s feet to fire over such comments – if not by asking him directly about them, then at least by reporting that he uttered them. Surely, if the president of virtually any other country in the world had defamed an entire people in such a way — only a couple years before they got the top job, to boot — it would have at least gotten a few column-inches. Yet Morsi gets a free pass.

“In my view, it’s important to know just how extreme this important man really is, especially because [Leon] Panetta and [Hillary] Clinton after visits there made statements suggesting otherwise,” says MEMRI board director Elliott Abrams, who served in top policy positions under Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush. “You’re right that if such a tape by Putin or [Turkey's] Erdogan or [Argentina's] Kirchner, etc., etc., was discovered, it would be big news. If it isn’t, is the MSM saying, ‘Well, hell, we know all Muslims have a fanatical hatred of Jews, so no big deal?’”

On Sunday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer spent an hour with Morsi in Cairo in what the network billed as an exclusive interview. It was a fine conversation, and he’s doing an hour-long special this weekend about his hour-long interview and visit to Egypt. Blitzer is one of my favorite TV anchors today. (He plays it straight, if sometimes dull, and doesn’t condescend to viewers. I never feel like he’s trying to drag me with a rope through my television set.)

But Wolf could have tossed a few Ape-and-Pig hardballs in Morsi’s direction — given that his reporting staff surely must have been aware of the tapes from the Jerusalem Post piece, if from nowhere else. Why not ask the anthropologist-in-chief: “Do you still believe that Jews are pigs? Invoking Koranic scripture, you claimed that Zionists descend from pigs, but since Zionists weren’t around at the time of your prophet, does this mean all Jews come from pigs, or just certain ones? Do you still believe that America should be boycotted? And does that include American cash? Or should your whole diatribe be disregarded as merely the kooky, carefree views from one’s youth – uhhh…TWO YEARS AGO?”

For several days, I attempted to speak with Blitzer about the good, the bad and the ugly of media coverage of the Middle East. But his publicist says he’s too busy – even to consider responding to a single email question prior to my publishing.

The New York Times rarely touches this stuff. In fact, a harshly critical mega-report about the newspaper’s Middle East coverage was recently released by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). The Times can’t be too happy about it. “The failure of the New York Times to cover the hate indoctrination leads the pack, in a way,” CAMERA’s head Andrea Levin told me yesterday. “The fact that they deem it to be so unimportant helps to lay down that news decision for others as well. And, to us, it’s one of the greatest derelictions in current news coverage of the conflict.”......
One wonders if this Forbes article provoked the Times into publishing their article tonight about Morsi's comments. The Forbes article is much better than the Times article - more in depth, interviews Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren, better analysis - and especially because it's not hobbled by the attitude that there must always be balance in an article.

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