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Not Exactly A Collector’s Item, But…


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As noted here last week, the Monitor is coming up on its tenth anniversary as a weekly column. The very first Monitor ran the week of July 3, 1998, and on the chance that some (a few?) readers might be interested in what the maiden voyage looked like, it appears below.

From the beginning the Monitor decided on a Take No Prisoners approach, skewering the media – and, at times, politicians and other newsmakers – in quite unambiguous terms.

One note before we get to the actual column: The Monitor has no idea how Sue Simmons’s name got into the heading of the second item. The veteran news reader, still a fixture on WNBC here in New York, must have arched an eyebrow or pursed her lips in a manner the Monitor found most offensive shortly before the column went to press.

Fed Tabloid Slings It From The Left

Pop quiz: Which one of the following newspapers, in a front-page headline trumpeting the Israeli government’s decision to incorporate some (Jewish) suburban areas into Jerusalem proper, employed the deceptive – and politically loaded – term “land grab”?

A) The Village Voice
B) The Amsterdam News
C) Al-Ahran
D) The Jewish Week

The answer, sadly, is D, and is just the latest indication that the Federation-subsidized tabloid is in the midst of one of its politically-correct silly seasons, as when it farmed itself out earlier this year as the house organ of the Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy.

In addition to headlining the Jerusalem story with words that would have done Pravda proud, the Fed tabloid has in recent weeks assumed the role of counsel for the defense in the matter of John Roth, hired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to head its Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

Roth, whose past writings seem to equate the Israeli treatment of Palestinians with the Nazi treatment of Jews and the rise of Ronald Reagan with the rise of Adolf Hitler, has been on the receiving end of intense criticism since the nature of some of his views came to light.

However, in striking contrast to the English weekly Forward, which took the lead in reporting the story and publishing strongly-worded editorials on the subject, The Jewish Week not only came out in support of Roth, it went so far as to accuse Roth’s critic of “McCarthyism” – an epithet, like “land grab,” long favored on the Left.

Who says the alternative press is dead.

Who Needs Sue Simmons When There’s Al-Jazeera?

Of all the unexpected changes he’s instituted in the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s most lasting legacy may well be an independent all-news television station that is steadily picking up viewers from all over the region.

The station, al-Jazeera, has been in operation since November 1996 and is easily distinguishable from conventional television channels in the Arab world by its iconoclastic reporting and refusal to toe a particular party line.

With its coverage of imprisoned dissidents and exiled political figures, its free-for-all-debates (which have included bitter denunciations of Islam for holding back progress in Arab countries) and reports on widespread corruption in Arab governments, the station is creating something of a stir.

“Al-Jazeera has shaken Arab society,” the editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi told the Associated Press. “It is a political democratic earthquake; people love it and trust it.”

Naturally, al-Jazeera has its share of detractors, as does the Sheik himself, who overthrew his father in 1995 and in short order established commercial ties with Israel and abolished his state’s censorship agency.

A Saudi engineer quoted by the AP predicted that because of al-Jazeera, Arab governments soon will be dealing with a completely different mindset among their citizens: “People now look differently at the world around them. It has made a concept that is not part of our culture – debate – a part of our lives.”

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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