06 August 2013

Nothing as open as Open Zion or Ali Gharib for Hassan Rouhani

This worthwhile enterprise by The Daily Beast is indeed presenting a whole gamut of opinions. From a refreshing look at our stagnant swamp of prejudice and mutual distrust, such as the article Netanyahu on 'Final Resolution': Not 'A Single Arab On Our Lands' by Gil Troy, one of the Open Zion editors (a worthy read, I can assure you) to a pure distilled example of malicious inanity like Why The Prisoner Release Reinforces The Occupied/Occupier Relationship by Emily Hauser - a worthy read too, in a way - if you need a contrasting point for orientation, the Open Zion will cater to any political stance you may care to choose for yourself. Which is good, in my humble: we need to be open to other views.

Of course, the founder of Open Zion, Peter Beinart, set the goals of this venue in a suspiciously familiar way:

Open Zion will foster an open and unafraid conversation about Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish future.
Like many other seekers of their 15 minutes, Peter Beinart couldn't resist hinting at some dark forces that make the potential participants in the conversation about Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish future afraid. Or, in the accepted progressive lingo - "muzzled", let's be frank. But it's something that he should square with his own conscience, methinks.

Speaking about other views - one of these other views was recently presented by Ali Gharib (senior editor of Open Zion), in his article Netanyahu Sticks By Rowhani Misquote To Build Hawkish Case Against Iran. An good opportunity for an easy fisk, I have to say. So let's go. The article starts with the following observation:
Well, of course Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't think Iran's president-elect, Hassan Rowhani, is a "moderate." He—and his right-wing supporters—have been mocking the term from the get-go, often putting in square quotes, as if "moderate" wasn't, by definition, a relative term.
Moderation as a relative term is a cool start, and I fully share the opinion. If, for example, one person threatens to dismember and eat me while another is ready to restrain himself to shooting me in the head, isn't it clear where my heart should lead me? So there. Oh, and by the way, the previous sentence totally describes the situation with Mr Rowhani/Rouhani.

To make his point(s), Ali Gharib doesn't bulk at using the most primitive visual aids, witness this:

Cheap? Yes. Effective? Undoubtedly, and Gharib uses the crude trick* repeatedly when Iran comes up as a subject. That smiley face of Mr Rouhani is yet to become a symbol for progressive Western journos pining for a friendly dialog with the "new" Iranian regime.

The point of the article is, in fact, the apparent mistranslation of the Rouhani reference to Middle East in general and the Zionist Entity in particular. The whole brouhaha started with the Iranian official outlet, Mehr, as Gharib himself confirms:
The misquote, as reported in Mehr, a state-run outlet, initially read: "Israel is a wound on the body of the world of Islam that must be destroyed" (alternatively translated as "should be removed").
Of course, Bibi's office responded. Then, as it frequently happens with Iranian official outbursts, a mistranslation was claimed, and the new version of this part of Rouhani's speech is now:
Quds day, which is in memorial of Imam [Khomeini], is a day that people present the unity of Islam against any type of oppression or aggression," it reads, in part. "And in any case, in our region, it is an old wound that has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world, in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds.
Now, do you remember what I've said above about the subject of moderation being a "relative term", according to Ali Gharib? The point is that the difference between "a wound on the body of the world of Islam that must be destroyed" and the "occupation of the holy land of Palestine" is very close to the difference between being dismembered and being shot in the head. In all Muslim sources "the holy land of Palestine" means, in fact, everything between the Jordan river and the sea.

Of course, Ali Gharib goes through a series of verbal contortions to introduce a shadow of doubt into the above reading. Just read the paragraph following the above quote. Pathetic really. The man is simply aching to find some redeeming qualities in the new Iranian president. Unfortunately, anyone who read the illustrious bio of the gentleman, would be hard put to discover such qualities. The man is as loyal to the regime as the previous puppet of Ayatollahs, and, speaking of puppets, the role of Iranian president is exactly that: a public figure that does exactly as the current top dog in the religious hierarchy bids. And the top dog is still the same dear Ayatollah Khamenei, who, according to Ali Gharib himself, "has final say on matters of state and has an unambiguous record of anti-Semitic statements".

So why should Bibi's office (notoriously mismanaged, it's true, but that's another matter) rush in with reversing that statement? Just because one Hassan Rouhani, in his newly discovered presidential wisdom, decided to replace that "wound on the body of the world of Islam" by "occupation of the holy land of Palestine"? Should the Israeli kids run out of their classrooms** crying hosannas to the Iranian president?

For dessert I would like you to decipher for yourself the following statement, hastily written by Ali Gharib in his drive to sweeten the image of his main protagonist:
...it's getting hard to deny that Rowhani isn't making a play for real reform in Iran, on a number of fronts.
The considerable mental contortions experienced by Ali Gharib earlier in his article apparently had their impact on the rest of it... too bad.

As for that concluding advice by Mr Gharib: "Netanyahu should dispense with his never-back-down rhetoric" - maybe Mr Gharib and his likes could trade their predilection for wishful thinking and spreading thoughtless crapola for Bibi's rhetoric? Could be a worthwhile deal all around.

P.S. And, since I've stated that Open Zion offers all kinds of opinions, here is a less enamored view of Mr Rouhani in particular and Iran in general: an article Rowhani's Empty Victory by Andrew Apostolou.

(*) To use the same visual technique Ali Gharib favors, here is his picture:

I hope that the point is made sufficiently clear to Mr Gharib now...

(**) A reliable source told me that the kids are on their summer vacation now, though, so no disturbances at schools  are expected. Go figure...


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Indeed, the choice of photos can reveal one's bias rather well if one is not careful. Or doesn't care to be. The Beast, after all, is owned by the lefty rag Newsweak, sold for a buck, as I recall, by its parent money-loser the equally left WaPo. Which has now, ahem, sold at an estimated 13 percent of its value just ten years ago. Oh, there's bitter woe in lefty land.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Moderation, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Have patience, Snoopy, who knows, maybe in a decade or so an Iranian President will say the equivalent of wanting to shoot Israel in both legs! Now that would be progress! (not!)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

The Daily Beast usually publishes better columns than this nonsense by Ali Gharib.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I agree, it gets better with time. Or maybe we are getting used to it...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I think that they are a mixed bunch - a bit of everything.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, I didn't know about that chain of ownership. Thanks for the tip.