Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Beautiful Article on Arab Coverage in Haaretz

An article in Haaretz titled "Nasrallah and Me" about broadcaster Zvi Yehezkeli really warmed my heart. It's realistic, beautiful, and culturally open-minded. It's funny, sometimes - some media outlets in Israel, the country with the most strife with the Arab World, often portrays the Arab World much better than American media, which only focuses on Arab "radical Islamic terrorists" and how America will be affected, i.e. the rising price of oil. (Not that some of the Arab stations are very good in their coverage of Israel and the U.S.) A quote:

On the show, "London and Kirschenbaum" [Zvi Yehezkeli] has a daily spot that is also broadcast during these days of fighting and covers the Arab world from diverse angles. "From the gyms in Dubai to the ringtones in mosques in Damascus and single women in Saudi Arabia," he says and quickly explains: "It's just as important to show the faces behind Assad or Mubarak. I say, 'these are people just like you. Let's take a look at them.' We have prompted a revolution in this regard."
That's how it should be. After reading the article, I wanted to give Yehezkeli a big hug and some kisses on the cheek. More journalists, in all countries, should be like him. Another quote:

During his three years on the job he managed to sneak into the Jericho prison to interview the murderers of Rehavam Ze'evi. He had exclusive interviews with the wanted man Zakaria Zubeidi and with Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and Arafat.

Of course, presenting the residents of Arab countries, including those that are hostile to Israel, with all their human diversity, is an ideological matter. Yehezkeli shows how similar they are to the audience here ("how much we're like them," he corrects himself)

Yehezkeli did not vote in the last elections. "I didn't find any party that would represent me. All of them are short-sighted when it comes to Arab affairs," he says. "The political division between left and right is stupid. I also want to pull the rug out from under that."
There's also a bit of the gay in the article, so it's quite germane to this site:

"I explain the Arabs differently," he says. "They are always treated as political entities. For me, there are more colors, scents and sounds. Two days before the attack in Beirut I spoke about a play showing there, 'Women's Dialogue,' a sort of Lebanese version of 'The Vagina Monologues.' We did a report on a cell of wanted terrorists in the West Bank. How they have shirts with logos. Someone who has a Nike logo, that says something about him, doesn't it?" Another report he did covered sex change operations in Iran. "They do seven times more of them in Iran than anywhere else in the Western world," he says. "Khomeini once said 'if you have an obstacle in life, find a way around it.' That is how they cope with homosexuality. Obviously I'll also include the most recent dispute among the different sects in Iraq. I'll always deal with politics. But I have no sources in Military Intelligence. I don't need them to tell me what Arabs are thinking. I live there."
It's an interesting way to put the Islamic view on how to deal homosexuality. It's not perfect, but it's close.

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