Across the Bay

Friday, May 14, 2004

Rejoinder on Arab Media and Berg's Slaughter

The NYT Abeer Allam reported on the Arab media's handling of Berg's murder. Once again, nothing different from what I found. Only she didn't really evaluate the content of the reports.

For instance, The Daily Star today reported (from AFP) that Jean Obeid, the Baath's willing servant, said in reaction to the murder:

"The slaughtering of the American national is as ugly, criminal and ignoble as the abuse of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison by US soldiers. ... It even covers the despicable American acts and turns eyes away from them."

So Obeid equates the scandal of Abu Ghraib to the carving out of Berg's head and its ripping from his body! Charles Paul Freund's piece on "comparative atrocities" handled it best. Obviously, Obeid has no clue, and the difference between his reaction to that crime and the Americans' reaction to Abu Ghraib says it all.

Better still, he went on casting doubt, in typical Arab conspiratorial fashion, on the perpetrators of the murder:

"We denounce this ignoble and shameful act and consider it a blow perpetrated by ignorant, criminal or suspicious people."

The report also repeats Hizbullah's statements that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and I'm not sure if they were in fact picked up from there, as it once again question the "timing" of the act.

Charles Paul Freund also commented on Hizbullah's (and Hamas') reaction in a Reason Hit & Run post:

"True, both organizations use terms like "grisly" and "brutal." Still, Hezbollah added that, "By its suspicious actions and links, this group belongs to the Pentagon school — the school of killings, occupation, crime, torture and immoral practices as exposed by the big scandal in the occupation prisons." As for Hamas, its man in Beirut, Osama Hamdan, told AP that "U.S. President George Bush and [Berg's] killers are equally responsible."

Then there's the "militant" group Islamic Jihad. According to AP reporter Hussein Dakroub, Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Imad Rifai "said he couldn't be sure Berg was dead."

Rifai explained that "I didn't see the man's body."

I would venture to say that the reaction in the Arab world (as reflected in its media of course) has been uniform, and in its uniformity it's been pathetic. That's the real difference: the conscience collective.