About MidEastPress

In the past several years I’ve become concerned about the many varied ways in which Americans tend to misunderstand issues in or having to do with the Middle East. It seems to me that the American media tends to present news about Arabs and Muslims using a false dichotomy: East vs. West, or, more simply, Us vs. Them. It’s a dichotomy that implies that everything about the Middle East is fundamentally opposed to everything about the United States, and vice versa – a politically viable dichotomy that gets drawn frequently during wars.

No doubt Middle Eastern media uses the same dichotomy, and it’s problematic on both ends, but as an American I feel that the best way for me to address this gap in understanding is to address Americans about news in the Middle East, taking a few things into consideration that Americans often forget about, including

  • the history of Western interference in the region
  • the interaction of governments with the press
  • the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its current implications
  •  and maybe most importantly, the fact that the Middle East is not a monolith, but a region composed of many varied cultures, and that discussing it as a monolith is rarely conducive to understanding or productive dialogue.

The aim of MidEastPress is to foster understanding and productive dialogue.

Qualifications and Limitations
Courses relevant to the topic that I’ve taken include: Beginning and Intermediate Arabic (not enough to read Arabic-language newspapers, though), Arabic Literature in Translation, Middle Eastern Media, Arab and Islamic Feminisms, Introduction to Islam, History of the Middle East since 1800, Politics of the Middle East and North Africa — I think that’s it. I read a lot, too.

Limitations include: I speak Arabic much too poorly to read it in any kind of meaningful way, I speak absolutely no Farsi (although occasionally my best friend translates things for me), and while I have enough background to have a basic understanding of what I’m talking about, I am obviously not a scholar. Also, you should always keep in mind that I have never been to any of the places I’m talking about.

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One response

29 09 2007
update! « MidEastPress

[…] About MidEastPress […]

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