Certainly the primary theme that has emerged from my reading of
the press from the Middle East (at least that which appears in English
on the internet) is that of universal condemnation of the 11 September
attacks. Iraq is the only country that has not officially done so.
The World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks are seen as a world
problem, not only a U.S. one. Muslim clerics and people on the street
have been unanimous in saying that terrorism is unacceptable in
Islam and that these attacks have nothing to do with their faith.
Words of sympathy and gestures of condolences to the people of the
United States by ordinary folks as well as by political and religious
leaders have been covered by the local media more extensively than
by the US media.
Across the region there is concern with how the United States
will respond. Although many countries have pledged their support
of U.S. retaliation, there are some common worries about the consequences.
By becoming actively supportive of U.S. actions, Middle Eastern
statesĒ diplomatic ties with countries that the U.S. considers sponsors
of terrorism (like Syria, Iraq, and Iran) will suffer. Since it
is still unclear who the U.S. intends to target, some countries
allied with the U.S. may find themselves behind an attack against
a state with whom they otherwise share important political and economic
ties. At the same time, becoming a closer ally with the United States
is commonly seen as tacit support of Israel. This is an extremely
sensitive issue since Israel maintains a military occupation over
the Palestinians which most other Middle Eastern countries oppose.
Many newspapers also report concerns that a military response
will not address the root cause of the attacks. There are calls
for the U.S., after the period of shock and mourning has passed,
to cultivate a better understanding of the Middle East region and
the social inequities and despair that breed terrorism. The message
is that U.S. foreign policy should be re-examined, especially the
strong economic, military and moral support of Israel. There is
certainly a range of opinion, but many people believe that Israel
exerts great influence over U.S. foreign policy at the very real
expense of Palestinian lives. Jordanian and Lebanese press reports
express the hope that the U.S. will not pull back from the Middle
East, but will become even more actively engaged in the attempt
to find peaceful and just solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Some press reports bring out country-specific issues. The Iran
Daily is critical of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and urges
a distinction be made between these rulers and the Afghani people
who deserve sympathy. Some opinion writers in Turkey are concerned
that the increased focus on terrorism and security issues will override
important gains made towards further democratization domestically.
The Jordan Times has criticized the U.S. media for emphasizing
the video footage of a small group of Palestinians celebrating the
attacks at the expense of the much more commonly expressed sentiment
of compassion and grief.
Note: I used the various Middle Eastern news websites listed
below to compile this general summary of opinions.
Middle East (in English) News Sites
Most have opinion pieces and editorials which illuminate the Arab
and Middle East perspective, some will also summarize the Arabic
press. Many have reports that do not get picked up by the U.S. media.
Historical and Cultural Information on the Middle East
of Texas at Austin - Middle East Network Information Center
Immense amount of information that can be viewed by country or
by subject (including news and media, arts and humanities, cultures
and groups, government and politics, religion, society, ancient
history). Also includes resources for K-12 educators, databases,
community organizations as well as a statement about the September
11 attacks and additional resources on Islam and other links.
- Afghanistan Maps Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas at Austin
- Middle East Research and Information
MERIP is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in
Washington, D.C. A completely independent organization, it has
no links to any religious, educational or political organizations
in the U.S. or elsewhere. Their magazine Middle East Report has
provided information and analysis from a critical and progressive
perspective for 30 years. Contents include a primer about the
current Palestinian uprising, with detailed background information,
explanations of key players and of the Israeli settlements. Another
primer on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, over the long term,
includes information on history since the British Mandate period,
Palestinian refugees, Zionism, Camp David I, the PLO, the Oslo
accords, and the role of the UN. Their Press Information Notes
(PIN) regularly analyze current events as part of MERIPĒs Media
Outreach and Policy Analysis Project. Anyone may sign-up to receive
these by email or you can read them online.
- Al Mashriq
"The Levant: Cultural Riches from the Countries of the Eastern
Mediterranean" full of interesting information about culture,
society and politics in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine,
Egypt, and Turkey photos, audio, video clips.
Middle Eastern Journeys: 16 Years of Photojournalism from the
Photos and stories from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine about contemporary
life and culture from the perspective of an Arab-American photojournalist.
World and Islamic Resources and School Services (AWAIR)
This site has not been updated since 1998, but has well
developed resources for K-12 educators, including lesson plans,
that can be purchased from their office in Berkeley, California.
- American Arab Anti-Discrimination
of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG)
"To develop, foster, and promote educational and cultural
information and activities on the Arab World and the Arab-American
community." "Academics such as Edward Said and Ibrahim Abu-Lughod
were among the founders of the AAUG in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The need for academics of their caliber and depth are still needed
to bridge the immense information gap between the Arab world and
the American people."
Analysis of media coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict.
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