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Jewish World Review
July 29, 2004
/ 11 Menachem-Av 5764
Arab Guide to the 2004 Election
Some critical info to keep in mind before casting your ballot
The Arab and Iranian press have increasingly discussed the upcoming American presidential election. Most journalists are pulling for a Kerry victory. Other commentators have said that the choice between the two is like "choosing between cholera and the plague."
The Iranian press has been particularly active in monitoring the elections. The editor of the Egyptian Al-Gil newspaper, Nagi Al Shihabi, was interviewed by the Iranian Al-Alam TV on June 13, and said: "The U.S. wants to eradicate our religious and Islamic identity. Bush declared a Crusader war following the events of 9/11…The U.S. established its country over the body parts of 120 million Indians. We must first define the enemy. The no. 1 enemy of the Arab and Islamic peoples is the U.S. and not only Israel…Bush, Allah willing, will go to hell in this coming November."
During his Friday sermon in the city of Qom, broadcast by Channel 2 of Iranian TV on June 19, preacher Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli called on Americans to vote against Mr. Bush: "We advise the people of America not to continue to tolerate this oppressing, ignorant, pillaging, criminal, and discriminating administration. In the future, do not vote for Bush and his ilk."
Writing in the Tehran Times on June 17, Kian Nader Mokhtari praised Senator Kerry, and hoped that he would triumph over the "neo-Nazis" of the Bush administration: "It has long been a tradition in U.S. politics for irresponsible gun-toting Republican presidents to pass on unresolved dilemmas to their Democratic replacements, and Bush will be no exception…Kerry is exactly what the U.S. needs… Kerry's sensible and methodical approach will no doubt go some distance in solving the stinking heap of a mess left over by Bush and his neo-conservatives for a minute there I was going to type neo-Nazis!...He [Kerry] may be remembered as the president whose decisions saved the U.S..."
The Lebanese minister of information, Michael Samaha, also discussed the election on Syrian TV on March 30: "The most important thing that could happen in the coming American elections if Kerry wins is that the neo-conservatives leave. They have a complete ideology regarding their treatment of the world and specifically the Middle East and the Near East to which we belong. If they leave, the real American America will return."
In an article in Al-Ahram weekly on April 18, an Arab-Israeli member of Knesset, Azmi Bishara, called on Arab-Americans to "rethink their alliance with Bush" and "shift their votes from Bush to Kerry."
But not everyone in the Arab and Iranian press supports Mr. Kerry. In an interview with Al-Siyassah daily, Sheik Saud Al Nasser Al Sabah, who was Kuwait's ambassador to America from 1981 until 1992, said he hopes Republicans will stay in power: "If the American administration changes in November, it will be catastrophic…because those Democrats do not understand a thing about foreign policy, and they lack the determination to make decisions the way Bush made them in Iraq and elsewhere." He added, "Our only hope is that this administration will continue for the next few years..."
California State University professor Asad Abu Khalil was interviewed by the Iranian channel Al-Alam TV on June 23. The professor said: "I say that decision-making in American foreign policy is done by more than just one group. There is, of course, the neo-conservative group, but there is another group which is more important and that is the Christian fundamentalists the Christian Taliban, which is influential in the U.S., to which the American president belongs...The nature of the American empire may change under John Kerry, but we shouldn't do what some PLO representatives in Western capitals did, when they opened champagne bottles when the Labor party replaced the Likud…"
The Saudi-owned Iqra TV hosted a political debate on March 24. The moderator asked the panel their opinions on voting for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush, "Sir, do you believe the American voter will vote for Kerry as a reaction to the position of Bush junior, who always supports Sharon? "A Palestinian politician and writer, Abd Al-Qader Yassin, said: "We need to choose between cholera and the plague."
As November approaches, it is interesting to note that four years ago the Arab and Iranian press was giddy about a Governor Bush victory over Vice President Gore, which was seen as an end to the Clinton administration's Middle East policy. The same press is again calling for a change in the White House.
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Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.org). Click here to comment on this column.
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