A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blind Lead Blind; Sensationally Unreliable Quote Sensationally Unreliable

Here's an opportunity to link to two sites I never link to, mostly because I'll bet they've never linked to each other before. But it's fun to see the sensational propagandists of utterly different ideologies quoting one another. One is the Israeli site DEBKA, which purports to convey inside intelligence information about the Middle East. It's often sensational; more to the point it's quite frequently dead wrong. They even have a subscription service, but don't bother: if Israeli intelligence was this bad they'd be out of business. Recently they had a piece about how Qadhafi is still in charge pretty much everywhere except in Tripoli and Benghazi, and how he has the solid support of the Tuareg (a small minority now fleeing into Niger and Algeria). Not, in short, what the international TV crews are seeing on the ground.

Well, now a website known as Mathaba has picked up and reproduced the story as "Gaddafi in Full Control — Has Support of Saharan and Tuareg tribes.".

While acknowledging DEBKA as the source, they don't identify its Israeli identity. And who is "Mathaba.net"? As they put it:

MATHABA is the world's leading independent news agency and a major online news network. We have the most advanced and effective news distribution . . . Founded in 1999, MATHABA became the first stateless news organization in history. 
Really?  Oh, and they too have a paid service available. A little searching finds a reference to them at greencharters.com which oddly enough also offers on its website a work known as The Green Book (hint: it's not about environmentalism). (If you've never read it go ahead and click. It's about to be a historical artifact anyway.)

Yes indeed. the last-ditch Qadhafi website is quoting a hardline rightwing Israeli propaganda website.

Everything that's loony must converge.

On the other hand, I think the "Gaddafi in Full Control" headline requires, as I would tell an author whose article I was editing, rather better sourcing.


The Familiar Strange said...

Wait, DEBKA is a real website? I thought it was Israel's answer to The Onion!

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Their humor is unintentional, I fear.