Sunday, April 18, 2010

If You Join the Circus You’ll End Up As a Clown: Why You Won’t Be Seeing Me on Al-Jazira

Note: I wouldn't mind appearing with a Fatah official or a Palestinian academic--and have done so--to discuss the issues of the conflict but there's an important difference between a debate with someone serious and a media circus where the topic is fixed deliberately to set up a propaganda exercise.

By Barry Rubin

(name of sender removed)
[To Barry Rubin]

Good morning, Professor Levin [sic].

Would you be interested in appearing on The Riz Khan Show this coming Tuesday to debate the topic "Is the Is there [sic] a partner for peace in Israel?" and more generally, the topics of the upcoming Israeli elections [there are no upcoming elections. BR], the Obama Nuclear Summit and US-Israeli relations. Uri Davis, Israeli professor who is a on the Fatah Revolutionary Council, will be the other guest.

The Riz Khan show is an interactive half-hour interview program that airs live at 12:30pm NY time / 17:30 London time from studios in Washington, DC. It is the flagship show for evening prime time in South Asia and the Middle East….

Response: Dear Ms…

First of all my name is Rubin, not Levin.

Second, if you were going to do a serious program to discuss an important issue, I would be happy to appear. But since you are having on Uri Davis, an ultra-extremist who is not a serious scholar or analyst but a propagandist—by the way, he is not a professor but a lecturer, and not at all an academic.

It is something like asking an American professor to appear on a show with Adam Gadahn of al-Qaida to discuss the topic of whether America is a terrorist state. By having such a person on you are signaling to me that the show is going to be a circus rather than a sophisticated discussion of important issues. In such an atmosphere it would be impossible to do anything but refute the outrageous statements that he would make.

In addition by having Davis, defined as an "Israeli," you no doubt wish to imply that he might actually represent some perspective from within the country or someone who is well-informed on Israel. This is also not true.

Finally, by setting the topic as whether Israel is a partner for peace, you obviously wish to foreclose discussion of whether the Palestinian Authority is a partner for peace. You are clearly taking that as a given when, in fact, I would argue that is precisely the key issue.

Thus, the program is rigged to facilitate the bashing of Israel both in topic and in composition. If in future you wish to invite me for a proper program on these issues I would be delighted to participate.

Incidentally, by doing things like this you are not enhancing the credibility of your program nor increasing the respect that it might otherwise merit.

Sincerely, Barry Rubin (not Levin)

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