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Rumsfeld and al-Jazeera: the wrong target?
Last uploaded : Sunday 19th Jun 2005 at 19:13
Contributed by : Carol Gould



I have been thinking about what the United States Defence Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld has said in an interview with British television personality Sir David Frost about the dangers of al Jazeera Television and web magazine.

The fundamental problem is that in the USA nobody, not even the most erudite and highly placed, understands that it is NOT just al Jazeera that is affecting world and Muslim opinion but the British and European news media, who powerfully influence the 15-odd million highly literate Muslims living in the UK and continental Europe. What, one may ask, does an irate columnist in a London tabloid have to say that could inspire an otherwise rational young man or woman to strap themselves with explosives or arm themselves with box cutters bent on bombing or hijacking Americans and Jews?

For the past five years in the UK AN Wilson; Brian Sewell; Polly Toynbee, the 'Daily Mirror' and its own John Pilger; 'The New Statesman' of 'Kosher Conpsiracy' fame; Margaret Drabble; Richard Ingrams; Robert Fisk, Sir David Hare; Ahdaf Soueif; Faisal Bodi and many others including Kate Adie of BBC Radio 4 and Jon Snow of Channel Four have waged a biased and often vituperative campaign of journalistic vilification of the USA, Israel and the 'Zionist cabal' running America. Often their content is distorted and flawed; one fears the exaggerated claims of Zionist and American imperialism being promulgated across Britain and Europe by these journalists does indeed have a profound effect on impressionable young minds across the globe. I believe that a group of young Muslims -- we have already seen this in Brixton-based Richard Reid and Zaccarious Moussaoui -- being fed a daily dose of invective about Jews, Israelis and evil Americans will eventually commit acts to express their outrage.

The world wide web enables anyone to click onto a piece that suggests the United States is a rogue state (John Pilger in the July 4th 2002 edition of ?The Daily Mirror?) and to an editorial by Faisal Bodi in ?The Guardian? (January 2001) that exhorts ?Israel Simply Has no Right to Exist.? Virtually every day and evening, someone from an angry Muslim sect or pressure group is on TV or radio in the UK and Europe hosted by a grovelling anchor, ranting about American genocide and oppression and about the 'soiling' of Muslim lands when Americans set foot there. Very rarely do moderate Muslims, or those like Walid Shoebat, who admire the way Israel has risen form the ashes of Auschwitz to be a beacon of advancement and culture in the desert, have a voice in an increasingly anti-American and anti-Jewish Europe.

Four years ago an elderly war veteran wandered onto the forecourt of a Bradford mosque and was promptly beaten nearly to death by young men reported to be the 'guardians' of the grounds. This event sparked riots and equally appalling house-burnings in North Yorskhire perpetrated by right-wing white youths that carried over into the cricket season where violence was seen for the first time in British cricket history. England cricket captain Nasser Hussain beseeched English Muslim fans to support England and not Pakistan, but only 'rage' was expressed by British-born Pakistani youngsters who felt Britain had become beholden to Zionists.

I had to laugh when I saw a CSpan programme here in the USA with John Conyers hosting a panel of left-wing writers complaining bitterly about the 'right wing bias' of US TV. Oh, if only even the most moderate conservative could be given a voice on European TV without being shouted down and foot-stomped by the studio audience. Even Philip Lader, a Clinton-era US Ambassador to the Court of St James, was reduced to tears on 13 September 2001 when a hostile, anti-American-to-the-extreme studio audience heckled and foot-pounded him on BBC ?Question Time.?

The head of Scotland Yard has expressed his despair that he believes 100 al Qaeda operatives are flourishing in Britain. I have met white, well-heeled citizens who have expressed enthusiasm for Hamas and who have said they wish more Jews and Americans would die in the next terror attacks. One somehow feels Tony Blair no longer possesses the power to deal with this situation, as an entire generation of young Muslims and indeed young Britons is being force-fed one viewpoint about the evil empire USA and its Zionist-apartheid supporters. The United States is not without flaws and dark episodes in its history. The present situation in Iraq is worrying and is becoming a blot on what could have been a worthy campaign for liberation and democracy. What is disturbing is the highly embellished rhetoric being used about the loathsome, greedy, vulgar and expansionist American bogeyman. One could also argue (this is another editorial) that the American media cover so little of any importance in the news that when events like 9/11 happen the public is dumbfounded. There is no doubt the American news media need a massive shake-up to explain to their huge audience why there is phenomenal turbulence in the rest of the world.

What strikes me most since my travels to the USA after so many years away is the overwhelming affection every American holds in his or heart for the United Kingdom and for everything British. If American fans of Harold Pinter could hear his venom about the United States and Israel when he is interviewed at home in London, they would be stunned that such a lack of generosity of spirit flows from a man whom two generations of theatregoing Americans have so taken to their collective literary hearts.

My journalist colleague Oriana Fallaci is being prosecuted for 'racial incitement' for writing in Italy about the threat to Europe of Islamic extremism. Brian Sewell refers to the Manchester Jewish community's plans for a Holocaust Museum as 'greedy'; Richard Ingrams of 'The Observer' tells the world that he does not open envelopes with Jewish-sounding names on them, and Tam Dalyell MP accuses Blair and Bush of being driven by a Zionist cabal, but this is not racial incitement.

What I find most disturbing about what is happening in Britain is that fine MPs like Oona King, who is half African-American and half English-Jewish, are defeated at the polls by the rabble-rousing extremist anti-Zionist US-bashing George Galloway. There is an atmosphere of intense anti-Jewish feeling in the UK these days and severe anti-Americanism fuelled by the relentless stream of invective in the daily papers, on TV and radio and even on morning kids' TV.

Recently in New Jersey it was reported that at a friendly soccer match staged between England and Colombia, anger ensued over a bizarre omission. The acting Governor of New Jersey was enraged when the Star Spangled Banner was not played at the opening ceremony. Although most international sport fans will concur that only the anthems of the teams competing are played at friendly matches, this was not the reason for the omission. Apparently the England team representative had requested that the United States National Anthem not be played.

Could anyone reading this article ever imagine by the wildest stretches of fancy any American team refusing to listen to ?God Save the Queen?? I put at the feet of the British media this irrational and deeply hurtful and disturbing hatred of America that goes well beyond distaste for the Bush doctrine. Before 9/11 I wrote that the inflammatory language about Israel and America in some British and world newspapers could lead to Arab rage and I was accused of being paranoid. The huge amount of attention given to the Israeli and American battles against terrorists, which is invariably turned about into an accusation of 'genocide' by the attacked rather than the attacker, is dangerous and inflammatory. Balance should return to journalism, and I beseech my colleagues in the industry to see the American and Israeli point of view before a generation is saturated with hate.
Photograph of US Defence Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld by Carol Gould/5 May 2005.


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