Curious Word Choice in the Washington Post

Washington Post correspondent Alan Sipress quoted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s speech to the summit of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference in an October 17 article headlined “Malaysian Calls on Muslims to Resist Jewish Influence“:

We are up against a people who think. They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong so that they can enjoy equal rights with others…With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they this tiny community, have become a world power.

Mahathir also charged that “The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”

Mahathir’s summary of 19th and 20th century antisemitic canards and conspiracy theories notwithstanding, The Post described him in more politically neutral terms. According to the paper, Mahathir is “an outspoken critic of Israel who has previously provoked criticism in Western countries with his harsh statements about Jews” and as someone who “has often gained international attention for his stinging generalizations about Jews, Americans and other Westerners.”

An Echo?

Two days later, in “Dean Greeted Warmly By Arab Americans; Group Appears to Back Democrats,” Post reporter and syndicated columnist David S. Broder covered Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean’s appearance before the Arab American Institute. Noting an apparent political shift from Republican to Democrat among Arab Americans, Broder paraphrases an AAI leader who claims that Arab Americans and other moderates face “an uphill struggle with conservatives who support the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act and align the U.S. government with the policies of the Israeli government.”

The paraphrase — “conservatives who … align the U.S. government with the policies of the Israeli government” — may accurately reflect the AAI leader cited by Broder. But it also uncritically if unconsciously reflects the worldview enunciated by Mahathir days earlier. The phrase — uncontested and unqualified — is especially disturbing given previous allegations, reported by The Post and the subject of Op-Ed columns — of undue pro-Israel influence by Jewish neo-conservatives in and out of the Bush administration.

And Curiouser

In the lead “Style” section article, “Mariane Pearl’s Determined Heart; Since Terrorists Killed Her Husband, She Has Sought Justice, and Peace,” October 21, Post staff writer Teresa Wiltz features the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Wiltz describes the mastermind of the kidnap-murder, Sheik Omar Saeed, as “a charming, well-educated British-born Islamic militant whose specialty was kidnapping Westerners.” Perhaps the “charming, well-educated” Saeed was influenced by Mahathir’s “stinging generalizations” or driven to “militancy” by “conservatives who support the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act and align the U.S. government with the policies of the Israeli government.”

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