Shorter Jerry Coyne: Whence moderate Islam?:
You’d think MEMRI’s archives would be a great place to find the “moderate” form of Islam in the Middle East, but all I get from the right-wing propaganda shop dedicated to putting “emphasis on the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel” are stories about how Muslims hate Jews and Israel.
If you are looking for moderate forms of Islam, perhaps it’s wisest not to turn to MEMRI, a group known for selectively quoting and translating their sources. As Laila Lalami wrote in The Nation:
MEMRI…consistently picks the most violent, hateful rubbish it can find, translates it and distributes it in e‑mail newsletters to media and members of Congress in Washington.
Or if that’s too lefty a source, perhaps you’ll listen to former CIA counterterrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro:
They are selective and act as propagandists for their political point of view, which is the extreme-right of Likud. They simply don’t present the whole picture.
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.”
For instance, they famously mistranslated a caller on a Palestinian TV show as saying, “We will annihilate the Jews.” The caller actually said, “The Jews are killing us.”