Arab media dominated by gruesome Israeli aggression

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Muslim News" <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 4 May 2002 12:12:12 +0100

AMMAN, Jordan The explosion of Arab satellite television stations and Web sites 
has had a profound impact on Arab public opinion by showing live, nonstop 
images of the Israeli crackdown on Palestinians. These TV and e-mail images 
have fueled huge demonstrations across the Arab world, and in both Egypt and 
Bahrain protesters have been shot. Could this roiling Arab street topple a 
regime? No, none of the Arab regimes are in any danger right now. But Arab 
regimes' surviving or not is the wrong question. The right question is how they 
will survive. 

What many are having to do to survive is to slow down whatever modernization, 
globalization or democratization initiatives they were either pursuing or 
contemplating and to focus, at least rhetorically, on the old agenda of the 
Arab-Israeli conflict. 

The biggest victims of the West Bank war will not be Arab leaders, but Arab 
liberals - as fledgling democratic experiments are postponed, foreign 
investment is reduced, security services are given more leeway to crack down 
and all public discussion is dominated by the Palestine issue. 

King Abdullah of Jordan, one of the most progressive leaders in the Arab world 
today, told me: "I have no intention of putting Jordan's modernization program 
on hold. We are moving ahead, but I cannot do this by myself. I need the public 
with me." But keeping the public and politicians focused on modernization is 
not as easy as it was a year ago. Jordan, like other Arab countries, has been 
bombarded by independent Arab satellite television stations, which compete for 
audiences by showing gruesome, images of Israel brutalizing Palestinians. When 
I covered the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, it took hours or days for 
film footage to get out, and Arab regimes could tightly control what was shown. 
A few weeks ago, Arab News Network carried live, from a Palestinian village 
next to Jenin, a report from a family that had been locked into a room by 
Israeli forces who were sweeping the area. The mother, who had a cell phone, 
called ANN, pleading for help for her kids. The whole Arab world listened in - 

"You hear the screams," said a Jordanian editor. "It comes right into your 
bedroom. You go to bed seeing Palestinians killed and you wake up seeing them 
killed ... If you put anything else on the front page other than this, people 
will laugh at you." 

This was not the case a year ago, when Jordanian news was dominated by the 
king's innovative modernization program, which is supposed to kick off this 
year with a radical reform of the education system, connecting every Jordanian 
school to the Internet, and new investments in rural development. Once the 
initiative was running, the king was planning to hold elections in the fall for 
a new Parliament that would endorse this progressive agenda. 

As part of this whole push, Microsoft signaled its intent to invest $2 million 
in a creative Jordanian software firm. Microsoft conditioned its investment, 
though, on Jordan first amending its copyright, labor and company laws to bring 
them up to world standards. The cabinet amended the laws by fiat, but was 
hoping that a new Parliament would ratify them. 

But with the Jordanian population so inflamed about events in the West Bank - 
"The most popular TV program here now is Hezbollah television, can you believe 
that?" said a Jordanian businessman - ministers cannot talk publicly, the way 
they need to, about the domestic reform agenda, the press isn't interested and 
the palace is rethinking whether to hold elections. It is worried that in the 
current mood, Islamists could sweep the day instead of progressives. 
Source: The New York Times 

You can choose whether you prefer to receive regular emails or a weekly digest 
by visiting


You can subscribe by sending an email to request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
"subscribe" (without quotes) in the subject line, or by visiting

You can unsubscribe by sending an email to request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with the 
word "unsubscribe" (without quotes) in the subject line, or by visiting

You are welcome to submit any relevant news story to submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

For regular Islamic cultural articles by email, send email to 

Other related posts:

  • » Arab media dominated by gruesome Israeli aggression