1. The ISI:
One major theme that readers have observed on this blog is that the Middle East landscape in general, and the quagmire of Israel and the Palestinians in particular, are usually captured through Israeli lenses and then framed and interpreted largely through an Israeli perspective in what is all too often inaccurately described as the “American” main-stream media.
This blog will also develop another closely related but nonetheless very different theme, a theme that so far has not been directly stated. An “American” industry has prospered in the United States in a sort of symbiotic relationship with the requirement that the Arab world must be viewed through the eyes of largely Ashkenazi Jews from Russia and Europe. This industry pervades American popular culture and helps create the backdrop into which the main-stream media can then drop pictures of unharmed Israeli civilians onto their front pages and their readers can then see why killing Palestinian children is necessary. This industry seeks to portray virtually any aspect of Islam as evil, perverted and ultimately out to destroy all that is good in the world. It has a host of purveyors and pimps in the media, publishing, in Hollywood, and in academia. They range from far-right so-called “patriots” to liberals to former Trotskyite Israeli-firsters imbedded in the US governmental fabric. Leading figures in what I call the ISI, the Islam Sucks Industry, are the likes of Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, and Craig Winn. But there are plenty out there because the industry has an excellent market and by joining it one is much more likely to get published and possibly prosper than by going against the grain which requires much more research and overcoming of obstacles.
2. False-Framing: Operationus Interruptus is Honor Lost
The book Honor Lost (sold outside the United States as Forbidden Love) by Norma Khouri was marketed as a true story depicting the brutality of the Arabs in Jordan who engage in honor killings and who just can’t help treating their women like shit.Norma, a good Christian girl, and her Muslim female friend, Dalia, opened up a unisex hair Salon in Jordan’s capital, Amman. Dalia, the oppressed Muslim woman, fell in love with a Christian named Michael and got stabbed to death as a result by her father. Michael helped smuggle poor little Norma out of Jordan, no doubt saving her life in the process.
Sound like a sure-fire formula for success? Sure does and it was as she sold over 250 thousand copies (and possibly more). She managed to get Random House to publish the book. Predictably, initial reviews were glowing such as this one at the National Review lovingly entitled “Death by Shari’ah.” Seth Mydans of the New York Times gave it a fawning review in an utterly obsequious interview which reveals every bit as much about him as it does her. I tell you, I’m in the wrong business.
Her book was a classic false-framing operation. Make up a story – doesn’t matter how ridiculous it is – and make sure it fits any and every conceivable stereotype about Arabs and Muslims and you’ll get accolades from the left and the right. No one even did any basic fact checking on this book at Random House. How can that be? Because they knew they could make money in the Islam Sucks Industry. Ask Kiefer Sutherland, it works.
As I suspected the first time I saw the book, the book is a complete fake. See here for more. It is not just that book was filled with errors – a women’s organization in Jordan found 73 of them and sent the documentation to Random House – it is rather that everything about her and her book is a lie and could have been easily detected by having anyone who knows anything about Jordan (and who isn’t part of the ISI) read it. Almost everything she was saying about herself, just about every single thing, was a lie. She did not grow up in Jordan, she grew up in Chicago having moved there from Jordan when she was three years old. She didn’t flee Jordan with her life at stake, she grew up like a very abnormal person in the Windy City. She also has a most interesting criminal background. More on that here. She even tried to cheat her own mother out of her mother’s house. It appears that by 1999 she was in so much trouble with the FBI that she and her likely criminal husband and her two children left the US (see previous links but don’t forget this one too.) Oh, did I mention that she said she had to leave Jordan because there was a fatwa calling for her head? Yes indeed, no Islam Sucks hoax is complete without at least one expression of fatwa-fetishism.But since she was just playing the game of Islam Sucks, no one cared to check.
But a women’s group in Jordan (no doubt mainy made up of Muslims) did. And so did Malcom Knox of the Sidney Morning Herald. He could not figure out why a woman who said she grew up in Jordan spoke English with a mid-western American accent and seemed to know almost no Arabic. So he poked around and found another fraud from Chicago. The links to his stories are in the paragraphs above.
There are plenty of Norma Khouri’s around. Readers of this blog know some of them.
Coming up next: False Framing in Tel Aviv. George Mitchell’s address to the (Israeli) Institute of National Securities Studies.