Judging the Judge

by Jamie Stern-Weiner | published July 16, 2014 - 10:17am

On July 2, 16-year old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted, beaten and burned alive, apparently by a group of Jewish Israelis. News of this “torture and murder by fire,” prominent American commentator Jeffrey Goldberg confesses, “initially prompted in me a desire to say, ‘But.’” Alas, his considered response was scarcely more enlightened.

Please Explain This Map

by Chris Toensing | published May 24, 2014 - 11:54am

In early May the website Vox made a small splash on the Internet with “40 Maps That Explain the Middle East.”

Stay Off the Street

by Jillian Schwedler | published May 21, 2014 - 8:31am

In a recent Slate article, Anne Applebaum makes the case that Egypt’s presumptive president-to-be ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi should look to India, Brazil or South Africa, rather than the United States or other industrialized states, for examples of how to “do” democracy. She rightly notes that Sisi’s argument that Egypt isn’t ready for democracy is an old standby for authoritarian regimes.

"You Can Watch the Circus from Your Couch"

by Sheila Carapico | published May 6, 2014 - 9:36am

Wael Eskandar is an independent journalist and blogger based in Cairo. He writes for al-Ahram Online, al-Monitor, Jadaliyya and other outlets. Sheila Carapico interviewed him by e-mail about the political and media atmosphere as Egypt prepares for the May 26-27 presidential election that is expected to anoint ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, the former field marshal and defense minister, as chief executive.

Vercellin, Crime de Silence

by Fred Halliday
published in MER141

Giorgio Vercellin, Crime de Silence et Crime de Tapage: Panorama des lectures sur l'Afghanistan contemporain (Naples: Institute Universitario Orientale, 1985).


Giorgio Vercellin, of the University of Venice, has undertaken the unusual and difficult task of reviewing the mass of recent published material on Afghanistan in Western European languages and critiquing the ways in which that country has been presented. The title of his study is almost untranslatable—Crime of Silence and Crime of Blather would be a rough rendition. The point he is making, though, is extremely clear and direct: a lot of the recent writing on Afghanistan has been so strident and partisan as to tell us very little about the country itself.

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Bull About Kabul

by Jonathan Steele
published in MER141

Most British correspondents covering the Falklands war were indignant at the way the Ministry of Defense fed them selected and one-sided reports of the fighting. Supported by colleagues from other countries, they vowed they would never be “used” this way in a war again.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER141

Governments are fond of small, manageable wars, where victory is assured—such as the invasion of Grenada and the bombing of Libya. Such adventures are ideal for revving up enthusiastic media support for its policies. Some “wars” have the added advantage of never being over. The so-called wars on drugs and on terrorism, for instance, are available to justify any manner of intervention. In late July, the Reagan administration dispatched a large contingent of US military to Bolivia, purportedly to smash that country’s cocaine production facilities.

Thought Control in the US

The Media and the "Peace Process"

published in MER143

From a comparative perspective, the United States is unusual if not unique in the lack of restraints on freedom of expression. It is also unusual in the range and effectiveness of the methods employed to restrain freedom of thought. The two phenomena are related. Liberal democratic theorists have long noted that in a society where the voice of the people is heard, elite groups must insure that that voice says the right things. The less the state is able to employ violence in defense of the interests of elite groups that effectively dominate it, the more it becomes necessary to devise techniques of “manufacture of consent,” in the words of Walter Lippmann over 60 years ago.

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Covering the Christians of the Holy Land

by Amahl Bishara
published in MER267

Every year around Christmas and Easter, a kind of meta-ritual takes place in which American journalists describe how these holidays are celebrated in the “Holy Land.” It is a long-running story, never stripped of politics. In 1923, for example, the New York Times published a classically Orientalist opposition of here and there, us and them. Easter in Jerusalem was a “frenzy of devotion,” “an annual release of the entire community, such as you and I in New York know nothing of. Somewhere in the centuries during which our ancestors were moving westward from the Middle East we have lost the gift of it and we have never recaptured it.” [1]

Dorman and Farhang, The US Press and Iran

by Ervand Abrahamian
published in MER153

William Dorman and Mansour Farhang, The US Press and Iran: Foreign Policy and the Journalism of Deference (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987).