I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
So, amongst the small slew of hate mail and spectacular volume of spam my Guardian piece on travel to Palestine has inspired, today I got this interesting little email:
There are some factual errors in your piece entitled 10 Things to Do in Palestine.
Also, out of curiosity, are you of the opinion that Gaza is occupied?
Now, assuming (and there seems little reason to think otherwise) that the source of this is the most obvious Matthew Mainen, it derives from this guy, whose profile on the website of The Institute for Gulf Affairs reads as follows:
Matthew Mainen is a policy analyst at the Institute for Gulf Affairs, where he has been an associate since 2005. During this period, he has worked on numerous projects including IGA’s groundbreaking analysis of Saudi Arabia’s educational system. Matthew has published op-eds in many leading papers and online periodicals including the New York Times, the New York Post and the Hill. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UMBC with a degree in political science and is currently pursuing a masters in international conflict resolution at Tel Aviv University.
The Institute for Gulf Affairs is one of those innocuous, academic-sounding American organisations which seem to have a scary level of influence in US policymaking. Scary because, taking the IGA as an example:
— it/its staff have some deeply unpleasant friends and colleagues, especially at Benador Associates and other right-wing Republican lobby firms in the Benador family;
— it’s unsurprising to find it funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, one of the USA’s ‘soft’ foreign policy organisations which, under the guise of being an independent civil-libs organisation, gets to make the CIA’s job easier for it…
‘Angry Arab’ rarely anyone’s fool or whitewasher, has some characteristically pithy things to say about IGA. And a quick glance at Mainen’s own blog shows that he spends a lot of his time trying to take down those such as Ben White and Ali Abunimah who devote their time and energy to speaking truth to power.
Of course, it’s also rather entertaining to see someone who claims to be a specialist analyst of the Middle East seeking to correct anyone else’s facts by using the website of CAMERA as a source. CAMERA is the Campaign for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (itself a choice of name which would be hilarious if it weren’t so bitter), which exists to attack anyone and everyone who questions the State of Israel’s human rights record and its occupation of Palestinian land. If I ever found a fact lurking on its website it definitely got in there by accident.