View Full Version : Steve Jobs Takes On Islam (or something)

Nicholas Carey
10-11-2006, 05:25 PM

October 11, 2006 @ 9:27AM - posted by Charles Jade (jadespace@mac.com)
5th Avenue Apple Store "provokes" Muslims

As if Steve Jobs didn't have enough to worry about, what with a stock options scandal and a lack of a "true" video iPod for Christmas. Now he may have offended a billion Muslims. By way of Jason D. O'Grady at ZDNet (http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/index.php?p=305), there is an article from MEMRI, who is "bridging the gap between the Middle East and the West," though that gap appears to be more of a canyon.

http://origin.arstechnica.com/journals/apple.media/il_060518_cube.jpg http://origin.arstechnica.com/journals/apple.media/kaba.jpg

Citing an unnamed Islamic website, MEMRI (http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD131506) is reporting that at least a few people are upset about the glass cube outside the 5th Avenue Apple Store in New York. It turns out the cube looks a little too much like the Ka'ba (derived from the Arabic for cube). Located in Mecca, the Ka'ba is the holiest shrine in Islam.

MEMRI, which itself appears to be a legitimate organization, is reporting some Muslims are offended by this similarity, as well as the usage of the term "Apple Mecca" to describe it by Mac nerds in the West. They are also offended by the "fact" that the Apple Store contains a Genius Bar "selling alcoholic beverages," and that the store is open 24 hours a day, like the Ka'ba. The unnamed website being reported on also put out an alert yesterday, hoping that "Muslims will be able to stop the project." One also hopes this is just a hilarious joke, but at least we can be thankful the Think Different campaign is history. Imagine what kind of reaction a poster depicting Mohammed might generate.

FWIW, the "islamic" organisation appears to be run by Israeli intelligence officers with ties to right-wing neocons in the US: dedicated to putting Muslims in a bad light (http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,773258,00.html):
...Memri's purpose, according to its website, is to bridge the language gap between the west - where few speak Arabic - and the Middle East, by "providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media".

Despite these high-minded statements, several things make me uneasy whenever I'm asked to look at a story circulated by Memri. First of all, it's a rather mysterious organisation. Its website does not give the names of any people to contact, not even an office address.

The reason for this secrecy, according to a former employee, is that "they don't want suicide bombers walking through the door on Monday morning" (Washington Times, June 20).

This strikes me as a somewhat over-the-top precaution for an institute that simply wants to break down east-west language barriers.

The second thing that makes me uneasy is that the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease.

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Washington Times: "Memri's intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible."

Memri might, of course, argue that it is seeking to encourage moderation by highlighting the blatant examples of intolerance and extremism. But if so, one would expect it - for the sake of non-partisanship - t o publicise extremist articles in the Hebrew media too.

Although Memri claims that it does provide translations from Hebrew media, I can't recall receiving any.

Evidence from Memri's website also casts doubt on its non-partisan status. Besides supporting liberal democracy, civil society, and the free market, the institute also emphasises "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel".

That is what its website used to say, but the words about Zionism have now been deleted. The original page, however, can still be found in internet archives.

The reason for Memri's air of secrecy becomes clearer when we look at the people behind it. The co-founder and president of Memri, and the registered owner of its website, is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon.

Mr - or rather, Colonel - Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

Retrieving another now-deleted page from the archives of Memri's website also throws up a list of its staff. Of the six people named, three - including Col Carmon - are described as having worked for Israeli intelligence.

Among the other three, one served in the Israeli army's Northern Command Ordnance Corps, one has an academic background, and the sixth is a former stand-up comedian.

Col Carmon's co-founder at Memri is Meyrav Wurmser, who is also director of the centre for Middle East policy at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, which bills itself as "America's premier source of applied research on enduring policy challenges".

The ubiquitous Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's defence policy board, recently joined Hudson's board of trustees.