Selective MEMRI

"For some time now, I have been receiving small gifts from a generous institute in the United States. The gifts are high-quality translations of articles from Arabic newspapers which the institute sends to me by email every few days, entirely free-of-charge," the Guardian's Brian Whitaker writes. The emails come from the Washington DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Looking more closely at the free emails that also go to other journalist, politicians, and academics, Whitaker finds an organization not too keen on disclosing information about itself and a pattern of stories that either "reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel." Whitaker located now-deleted pages from MEMRI's website which reveal that "besides supporting liberal democracy, civil society, and the free market, the institute also emphasises the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel.'" On another deleted webpage, Whitaker discovers that three out of six of the MEMRI staff members listed had worked for Israeli intelligence. Of the other three, "one served in the Israeli army's Northern Command Ordnance Corps, one has an academic background, and the sixth is a former stand-up comedian," Whitaker reports.