Supporters of the State of Israel will soon learn the answer to one of the most vexing questions that have been plaguing them since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada in September, 2000.
The question is: Why does the international media continue to misrepresent Israel and demonize it for a “harsh military occupation that is violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and establishing illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian lands?” In contrast, there is an outpouring of sympathy for the “poor, oppressed, disenfranchised Palestinians who are struggling for liberation from the lengthy Israeli occupation.”
The stories on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the international media have more spin on them than a Chanukah dreidl. The reasons for this will soon become evident at the upcoming conference of the Arab Thought Foundation in Dubai, UAE, on December 5, 2005 (www.arabandworldmedia.org). The conference will take place near the new, high-tech Dubai Media City (www.dubaimediacity.com).
What is Dubai?
Dubai is a coastal area on the Persian Gulf. It is one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates, which is located on the Gulf, between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The UAE is among the smaller Arab states. With an area of 83,000 sq. km, it is slightly smaller than the State of Maine but almost four times the size of the State of Israel. It’s population is only about 2.5 million, of which more than half are non-nationals. Three of the September 11 hijackers came from the UAE.
Though relatively small in size, the UAE is one of the wealthiest of the 22 Arab states. On February 7, 2005, FDI magazine, a publication of Financial Times in London, named Dubai the “Middle Eastern City of the Future.” The magazine noted that, “Major achievements include the creation of the largest man-made harbour in the world, a huge industrial complex, and the creation of a major air travel hub and financial services center for the entire region.” The article then went on to list “more than a dozen big investment projects scheduled for completion before 2010, representing investment of significantly more than $12 billion.”
In a lengthy article in its travel section on May 8, 2005, The New York Times called Dubai, “The Oz of the Middle East.” The article observed that Dubai’s Emirates Office Tower is the tallest building in the Middle East, about 25 meters shorter than the Empire State Building. Dubai is currently building what will be the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai. At close to 800 meters, the Burj Dubai will be more than twice the size of the Empire State Building. It will even dwarf the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and Taipei 101 in Taiwan.
What is the Arab Thought Foundation Conference?
According to its website, www.arabandworldmedia.org, “Top journalists and media executives from around the world will join their Arab colleagues at the invitational gathering in Dubai on the 5th and 6th of December 2005. Delegates will discuss changes in the Arab world, build relationships, validate assumptions, develop a deeper understanding of the region, and make sure they are Getting it Right (sic). The format will be highly interactive, led by provocative moderators, who will elicit candor, and manage debate about complex questions.”
There is a long list of speakers for the conference. The first of the Key Speakers is HRH Alwaleed bin Talal, who is described as a “tycoon prince for his very successful investment ventures. His portfolio is strong in media and entertainment companies, and he will share his insights on the best media investments today.”
The website for the Conference also acknowledged the assistance of the Arab Advisors Group, www.arabadvisors.com. This group contains a number of highly educated and experienced people in the area of Information Services. The president is Jawad Jalal Albassi, a telecommunications expert who was trained in Boston, Mass.
What is Dubai Media City?
According to its website, www.dubaimediacity.com, “Dubai Media City has grown into a bustling media community of more than 300 companies including CNN, Reuters, Sony Broadcast, and pan-Arabic broadcaster MBC. Dubai Internet City is a vibrant international community of global IT companies eager to take advantage of Dubai’s strategic position in the Middle East. HP, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and Canon are just a few of the companies already established in Dubai Internet City.” The website then goes on to boast about the high-tech equipment in Dubai Media City for satellite broadcasting services.
Samples of Information from UAE
The website, www.arabic2000.com, lists an enormous number of Arabic newspapers, magazines, internet guides, and websites. It would be beyond the scope of this article to review them. Instead, this section will focus only on the online newspapers from UAE that are listed in the website, www.onlinenewspapers.com. This website lists 12 online newspapers for UAE, some in Arabic and some in English.
On October 27, 2005, www.7days.ae, reported the Iranian president’s call for the destruction of Israel. One of the readers commented, “As 7 days frequently claims to report facts objectively, it seems like a glaring omission not to have mentioned the wholesale condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s proclamation. It is not only the Americans and the Israelis who have spoken out against him, but also many other countries and the Secretary General of the UN, but probably most significantly, the Palestinians themselves. Your objectivity is drawn into question by the facts you choose not to report.”
On November 4, 2005, www.gulf-news.com, published an article by Dr. Pascal Boniface that was highly critical of the comments by the Iranian president. This was followed by a rebuttal by staff writer, Manal Alafrangi, which excused Ahmadinejad and blamed “Israel’s actual behaviour against the Palestinians.”
On November 3, 2005, Gulf Today reported, “Palestinian resistance fighters shot dead an Israeli soldier on a raid…a day after an air strike killed two commanders of armed groups…later in the day, a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed in a West Bank gun battle.” Then it quoted a Hamas leader who said, “The quiet will end at the end of this year. The quiet is meaningless because Israel continues to kill.” The same day, gulfnews.com, reported the incident as follows, “On Tuesday, a Hamas activist and a top fugitive from another armed group were killed in an Israeli air strike in a Gaza refugee camp.”
Protracted Refugee Situations
The repeated references by Arab media to “Palestinian refugee camps” are a sham. On June 10, 2004, the UNHRC issued a report on “Protracted Refugee Situations.” The report cites the dimensions of the problem:
“Using a crude measure of refugee populations of 25,000 persons or more who have been in exile for five or more years in developing countries, and excluding Palestinian refugees who fall under the mandate of UNRWA, it is estimated that at the end of 2003, there were 38 different protracted situations in the world, accounting for some 6.2 million refugees in total.”
However, most of the world knows very little about all of these protracted refugees in Africa and Southeast Asia. That’s because they’re living in tents and don’t have what to eat. Unlike the Palestinians, they don’t have any websites, newspapers, and broadcast media to publicize their plight. It should be obvious that the “plight of the Palestinian refugees” is only a big hoax being perpetrated by the oil-rich Gulf States and their involvement with international broadcast, print, and online media.
The “plight of the Palestinian refugees” is an Arab creation that can easily be resolved with a little bit of the billions of dollars that the Gulf States are getting in oil revenues. All four million of the so-called “Palestinian refugees” can easily be resettled comfortably in the UAE or other sparsely populated oil-rich states. They would be eager to go there if offered decent living conditions and economic opportunities. Considering the rapid growth of Dubai and the UAE, that should not be a problem.
Dubai Media City has the potential to promote peace and prosperity in the Middle East. If it uses its resources instead to promote hatred and intolerance, then all of the billions of dollars invested will be wasted in the continued violence going on around the world.
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