Camel dung and Arab media

One of the most effective propaganda techniques around is to keep repeating the most extreme exaggerations and outrageous falsehoods imaginable about your enemy; the reader applies a reasonable discount and assumes that maybe 25% of what you say is true. Of course, the real percentage is close to zero.

This works especially well if your enemy is more or less truthful. Then the reader is inclined to split the difference, and believes 50% of your rubbish.

Ami Isseroff has written a colorful description of much of the Arab media, with examples:

I am tired of being inundated with the flood of intellectual effluvia that spews forth from the sewers of official Arab world publications. These concoctions often have what can be politely described as “authentic Middle Eastern flavor.” Middle Eastern food is famously redolent of savory flavors and exquisite odors: mint and sesame, hel and kusbarah, garlic and onion, the smoke of open fires, and occasionally, though less discussed in polite company, camel and donkey excrement and similar odors…

The flavor and aroma of Middle Eastern journalism, too often tends in the direction of the camel dung, bad sanitation, rotten eggs and spoiled meat of racism and xenophobia, rather than the kusbarah and hel and fresh ground Turkish coffee of original and imaginative thought.

Read the article and note the examples. We can laugh at the crazy rantings that pass for ‘news’ and ‘analysis’ in the Arab world, but the fact is that it is highly effective, especially with people who read only Arabic (or who are illiterate and learn their facts from TV and radio). In that case, the believability factor is not 25% or 50% but approaches 100%.

It can be argued that this phenomenon — much more than differences in the concrete interests of the parties — is a major motivator of terrorism, and perhaps even the single most important factor preventing real peace settlements between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab nations.

If you want to know who desires peace and who doesn’t, just ask “who sponsors the incitement”?

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