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Let’s say Al Jazeera goes south, then what?
The Arabic-language satellite channel from Qatar has changed the way people receive information, especially in the Middle East, and it has changed the way information is fashioned and perceived. So if Al-Jazeera goes on the block and new owners take over, which now appears likely, or if it simply goes dark, which is unlikely but one never knows, things will never be the same. Like him or not, the Emir of Qatar, who came up with the idea, has Chutzpah. Okay, let’s call it that vision thing.
I’ve spent a day here in the suburbs of Los Angeles talking about the Middle East with students and faculty at my alma mater, Pomona College. The really interesting thing is that while I came to talk about Iraq, I keep getting asked about Israel and the Palestinians. Add in Monday’s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Iraq, the constant topic of the last two years, seems to have vanished from the agenda, at least for a moment.
Although there's no hint of it in the President's budget to the U.S. Congress, Hollywood has come to the Potomac, and bearing gifts, no less. This may be another example of how numbers can be misleading.
So I spend three weeks on the road, nearly half that time in the snowy mountains of Italy and Austria. I get home late last night, rise early this morning, look out the window… and it’s snowing.
This is not utterly unknown here in Jordan, it happens roughly once each winter. Last year’s ‘storm’ (I use this word generously. Today’s snow virtually shut down the city but would barely have qualified as a flurry in Vermont, where I grew up) left me stranded in Baghdad for two days because the plane scheduled to bring me home was unable to leave Amman.
I have spent the weekend here at a conference entitled “Broadcast Media in the 21st Century: Engaging the World”. The Salzburg Seminar and Washington DC’s Center for Strategic and International Studies brought together about 35 Arab and western journalists for a long weekend of discussions about how we perceive the world, the Middle East, our profession and each other. There were a smattering of people from outside either broadcasting or the media, but it was mostly television people and mostly Americans and Arabs.
Washington, Feb. 4, 2005 -- There are those who -- no doubt -- were disappointed that President Bush did not mention public diplomacy per se in his State of the Union address. But others heard it by association:
There can be no denying that Sunday’s Iraqi elections went better than expected. I honestly did not think I’d be saying this, but the vote, whatever the final tally may prove to be, was something of which both Iraqis and Americans can be proud. Even the death of an estimated 36 people in election-related violence was, in the twisted logic of today’s Iraq, a relief: the sad fact is that many Iraq-watchers, myself included, would not have been surprised by a body count ten times that size.