The Middle East Media Research Institute reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Middle East Media Research Institute

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The Middle East Media Research Institute (German name identical, Hebrew name המכון לחקר התקשורת המזרח התיכון, abbreviated ממר"י), or MEMRI for short, is a organization headquartered in Washington, DC, with branch offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, and London, and a Media Center in Jerusalem.

It was established in February 1998; its objective (as stated by its website) was then 'to study and analyze Middle East intellectual developments and politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict, with particular emphasis on its Israeli-Palestinian dimension', and is now to 'inform the debate over U.S policy in the Middle East.' It describes itself as an 'independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501 (c)3 organization'. Originally, it also said that "In its research, the institute puts emphasizes (sic) the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel" (sentence removed from its site on November 5, 2001.) It was cofounded by Col. (Res.) Yigal Carmon (יגאל כרמון), its president, and Dr. Meyrav Wurmser.

MEMRI is one of the few sources of English language translations of material published in Arabic and Persian; it thus provides a view into Arab and Iranian media that is often otherwise unavailable to English speakers who are not literate in those languages. The technical accuracy of its translations is rarely disputed. The extent to which its selection is contextual or representative of Arab/Iranian media is very often disputed, particularly in view of its alleged ties with Israel and, in some cases, with Israeli intelligence. It became more prominent after the September 11, 2001 attacks, due to increased Western public interest in Arab and Iranian affairs. At that time, it expanded its staff considerably, setting up new branches abroad in early 2002, and became regularly quoted by major American newspapers, including The New York Times, The New Yorker (magazine), the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and British ones including The Guardian.

Table of contents
1 MEMRI Staff
2 MEMRI Funders
3 MEMRI Projects
4 Accuracy
5 Selectivity
6 External links

MEMRI Staff

In its original website of 1998, MEMRI listed 6 staff members: its President and cofounder Yigal Carmon, cofounder Dr. Meyrav Wurmser (Executive Director), Aaron Mannes (Director of Research), Yotam Feldner (Director of Media Analysis), Stacey Lakind (Research Associate), and Aluma Solnick (Research Associate). Stacey Lakind left in late 1998, and Aaron Mannes in early 2001; the others were still MEMRI staff as of October 5, 2001, when MEMRI stopped listing its employees on its website. Dr. Meyrav Wurmser left in early 2002 to join the Hudson Institute; she was replaced as Executive Director by Steven Stalinsky.

It now has a much larger number of employees ("17, plus translators" in January 2002[1], "over 30" in August 2002 of which 20 translators, current number unknown); citing bomb threats, it provides no information on their identities, beyond stating that they are "of different nationalities" and sometimes including by-lines on reports.

The domain names contacts for its site are Shmuel Segev and Noga Feldner of Amutat Yesodot Shalom (Organization for the Foundations of Peace).

List of MEMRI staff (incomplete; readers are urged to add to the list if new information becomes available):
NamePositionBranchYears at MEMRICitizenship
Yigal CarmonPresidentWashington1998-presentIsraeli
Dr. Meyrav WurmserExecutive DirectorWashington1998-2002American & Israeli
Steven StalinskyExecutive Director[1]Washington2001-present
Aaron MannesDirector of ResearchWashington1998-2001
Yotam FeldnerDirector of Media AnalysisWashington
Jerusalem[1]
1998-presentIsraeli
Stacey LakindResearch AssociateWashington1998American
Aluma Solnick/Aluma Dankowitz1Research Associate
Director of MEMRI's Reform Projectclass="external">[1
1998-presentIsraeli
B. ChernitskyResearch Fellow[1](2003)
Allan PolakDirector of Communications[1]Washington(2002, 2003)
Jan CleaverWashington[1](2002)
Dr. Nimrod RaphaeliChief Analyst[1]Jerusalem2001-presentIsraeli
Ayelet SavyonDirector of Iranian Media Project[1](2001)-present
Ronen SebagResearch Associate[1](2001)Israeli
Eli CarmeliResearch Associate[1](2001)-2004
Miriam PosnerAssociate Director of Communications and Special Projects(till recently)[1]
Jess SadickWashington[1]1998American
"Adam Pashut"2Research Fellow(2004)
Dr. Jochen MüllerBranch Director[1]Berlin(2004)
Goetz NordbruchResearch Fellowclass="external">[1Berlin2001-2002
Mirjam GläserBerlin[1](2002)-present
Yael YehoshuaResearch Fellow[1]Jerusalem(2003)
Ezra DalumiJerusalem(2004)[1]Israeli
Angi JacobsJerusalem[1](2002)
Prof. Menahem MilsonAcademic Advisor[1]JerusalemIsraeli
Shmuel Segevdomain name contactJerusalem
Noga Feldnerdomain name contactJerusalem

Notes:

  1. Aluma Solnick appears to have married and hence changed her name to Aluma Dankowitz.
  2. "Adam Pashut" means "simple person" in Hebrew, and is presumably a pseudonym.

Staff backgrounds

According to MEMRI's original (1998) site, the backgrounds of some of its higher-ranking staff are as following:

Col. (Res.) Yigal Carmon is MEMRIÒs President. He served in the IDF/Intelligence Branch from 1968 to 1988. From 1977 to 1982 he was the Acting Head of Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria and the Advisor on Arab Affairs to the Civil Administration. Following Col. CarmonÒs retirement from the IDF he was Advisor to Premiers Shamir and Rabin for Countering Terrorism from 1988 to 1993. In 1991 and 1992 he was a senior member of the Israeli Delegation to peace negotiations with Syria in Madrid and Washington.

Dr. Meyrav Wurmser is MEMRIÒs Executive Director. She received her Ph.D. from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where she wrote on Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement. She has taught at John Hopkins University and the United States Naval Academy. She has written numerous articles about Israel, the Arab World, and Zionism. Her most recent article on the status of women in the Palestinian Authority was published in Middle East Insight.

Aaron Mannes is MEMRIÒs Director of Research. In 1997, he earned an MA in Liberal Arts from St. JohnÒs College in Annapolis, MD. His undergraduate degree, earned in 1992 from Emerson College in Boston, is a BS in Speech. He has been a stand-up comedian, an Equal Employment Opportunity Investigator, and an Associate Writer for The Hotline.

Yotam Feldner is MEMRIÒs Director of Media Analysis. He was born in Kibbutz Gazit, Israel and served in the IDF in Military Intelligence where he acquired fluency in Arabic and familiarity with Arab media. He earned a BA in History and English Language and Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Aluma Solnick is a Research Associate with MEMRI. She was born in Jerusalem and served in the IDF in Military Intelligence. She earned a BA in Arabic Language and the History of the Middle East from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is presently completing her MA in Arab Language and Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Dr. Meyrav Wurmser is also a "Contributing Expert" for Ariel Center for Policy Research, an organization dedicated, according to its website[1], to "stimulating and informing the national and international debates concerning all aspects of security policy - notably those policies which are an outcome of the political process started in Oslo and subsequently called the Peace Process" and "help(ing) crystallize a strategic design for the State of Israel", and according to which "A peace which will force Israel to its pre-1967 borders... will not be but a recipe for war.").

Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, Chief Analyst, is an Iraqi-born Israeli and former World Bank employee. He is described by the Middle East Review of International Affairs (September 2003[1]) as:

Nimrod Raphaeli received his Ph.D. in development planning from the University of Michigan. He has spent most of his professional career at the World Bank. Since his retirement from the bank, he has served as an occasional consultant to both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Dr. Raphaeli joined the Middle Media Research Institute (MEMRI) as a senior analyst in 2001.

Prof. Menahem Milson (Academic Advisor[1]), a professor at Hebrew University, is described by the World Jewish Congress as follows:

Menahem Milson is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has been teaching Arabic literature there since 1963. He has also served as head of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature and as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities. Professor Milson is the academic adviser of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). He has published extensively on modern Egyptian writers. His book on Egypt's great humanist, Najib Mahfuz Ö Najib Mahfuz: The Novelist-Philosopher of Cairo Ö appeared in 1998.

MEMRI Funders

MEMRI says that it is funded exclusively by private money from some 250 donors, including various foundations[1]. Notable among these is the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation, which has donated at least $100,000 dollars[1]. Smaller funders include the Ronald & Mary Ann Lachman Foundation, which has donated a total of $7,500[1].

MEMRI Projects

MEMRI runs several press monitoring projects on specific topics. Its currently ongoing projects are called: "Arab Anti-Semitism Documentation Project", "Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project", "US and the Middle East", "Reform in the Arab and Muslim World", "Arab-Israeli Conflict" (all since 1998), "Inter-Arab Relations" (since 1999), "Economic Studies" (since 2001). In 2004, it is launching the "Arab TV Monitoring Project".

In addition to press translations, it regularly publishes media analyses and "in-depth studies" relating to Middle Eastern affairs. It "distributes them, free of charge, by fax and email" (current site) to (according to its 1998 website) "Congresspersons, congressional staffers, policy makers, journalists, academics, and interested parties."

Accuracy

The accuracy of MEMRI's translations is rarely disputed, even by its critics; for example, the blogger "Abu Aardvark" says "They generally don't mistranslate - I haven't seen any instances of that - but their selections and emphases give a misleading picture of the state of Arab public debate."

Selectivity

MEMRI has often been accused of selecting only the very worst of the Arabic press, thus showing the Arab media in a far worse light than a broader sample would reveal. For example, Tim Cavanaugh notes "That MEMRI has a bias against Arab societies can hardly be disputed... The picture of Arab media presented by MEMRI is a slanted, ridiculous cartoon", despite adding that "they're providing a pretty valuable service in the process", and Palestinian Media Watch describes it as a "propaganda arm of the Israeli PR machine", noting its founder's background in Israeli intelligence. The blogger "Abu Aardvark" (link below) gives a sample day's headlines and compares them to MEMRI's, suggesting that, of this "diverse grab bag", "the rest of the much more interesting debate just disappears out the window - not because it isn't important to Arabs, but because it doesn't serve the goals of MEMRI." MEMRI has made no claim that its translations are a representative selection of Arabic media coverage; its project list gives some idea of what it looks for. It does claim that its critics are playing down the extent to which its coverage is representative. Exact statistics are unavailable.

External links


MEMRI also refers to the Michigan Electronic Medical Record Initiative ([1]).