Thursday, October 03, 2019

03-Oct-19: What lies behind a decade of "progress" at an influential Jordanian graduate school

That's Princess Rym Ali in the center and special guest CNN's Richard Quest
on the left [Image Source]
The Arab world's most important and potentially most promising school of journalism studies is in the news this week - in Jordan, at least.

It gets a mention here because of what is not addressed at all in the coverage: the extraordinary act of self-identification by which its student body declared their professional role model to be a confessed killer of children.

We explain below who that killer is.

But first, the fluffy self-congratulatory side as reported by a government-controlled Jordanian news outlet yesterday:
HRH Princess Rym on Monday attended a celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the Jordan Media Institute’s (JMI) master’s programme in journalism and new media. The JMI is a not-for profit educational institution, founded by Princess Rym to develop the performance of journalists and media personnel in Jordan and the region... “The institute believes that journalism is not limited to defending freedom, rather building a culture of values and true democracy,” Princess Rym said. The Princess highlighted the importance of equipping journalists with skills needed to keep up with developments in communications, technology and the digital sphere... The princess shed light on various efforts to develop official media and the strides made in the field, reiterating the importance of these steps in creating an interactive environment that promotes dialogue and makes a change by relying on facts and eschewing false information... CNN's renowned business correspondent Richard Quest, the keynote speaker, highlighted his experience in presenting economic programmes on TV... [and] also referred to the results of a survey showing that "happiest countries in the world are those which have access to information." Dean of the JMI Bassem Tweissi said that “establishing the institute marked a turning point in journalism education in Jordan and the region and was a pioneering step that bridged a gap in the field of media education”.
["JMI marks 10th anniversary of master’s in journalism", Jordan Times, October 2, 2019 - archived]
There's a follow-on piece in today's newspaper of Jordanian record. In it, the founder of the JMI, Princess Rym Ali, a former on-camera news figure on CNN before her marrriage into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's royal family, is quoted enunciating some lofty and admirable ideals:
The Jordan Media Institute (JMI) trains its students to the highest possible standards and human values, fights hate speech and provides them with a space where freedom of expression and respect for others are not contradictory... She said, during the event that was also addressed by CNN’s Richard Quest, that the JMI believes that journalism education is not only about defending freedoms, but also about building a truly democratic culture... Quest, CNN’s anchor and business editor at large, stressed the importance of freedom as key to good press. He noted how press freedoms contribute to people’s prosperity and wellbeing. He added that people trained by the JMI will be the “backbone of society” and therefore must understand that there are two sides to each story with a few exceptions, and must ensure society has access to information. During his interactive remarks, Quest also addressed the issue of neutrality and noted that while journalists are entitled to their opinions, they must leave them outside the newsroom. They have to be objective about their coverage and how to tell the stories... The celebration also included testimonials by some alumni about their experience at the JMI. They are part of more than 260 graduates who have achieved 91 per cent employment rate in a highly competitive market, according to the statement. The JMI is a non-profit academic institution that has also provided training opportunities to more than 6,000 people... ["JMI trains students to highest standards, human values — Princess Rym', Jordan Times, October 3, 2019 - archived]
What's not to love? Who could be mean enough to criticize what they do? We'll get back to the Jordan Media Institute in a moment.


Jordan happens to be the home of one of the most monstrous journalists to ever claim media credentials. She's the savage of whom we wrote in this post: 05-May-13: Self-confessed jihadist murderer: "With my media card, I was able to enter back and forth, undetected..." She's also our child's killer.

Here is Ahlam Tamimi, the first female terrorist in the history of Hamas, in her own boastful words. She's describing the life she led prior to masterminding and executing the blood-drenched human-bombing of Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria on August 9, 2001 and the resultant massacre:
I was a journalism student, in the political science track, and I was working in the media and the press. This allowed me to become a member of the Palestinian Journalists Union. The union card enabled me to enter Jerusalem in order to conduct interviews. This drew the attention of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades [of Hamas]. They realized that I could enter and leave Jerusalem, without the knowledge of the Zionists... This was one of God's miracles and facilitations. This made them ask me to join [Hamas - the first woman to do so] and I immediately accepted... I was assigned three missions. The first mission was to spot locations suitable for Jihadi operations. I would go to Jerusalem and walk around in the areas frequented by the Zionists... I would go around these areas, and as part of my first mission, I would surveil suitable locations, such as shops, malls, schools, and restaurants – any suitable target for a Jihadi operation. I would submit reports to the cell commander, and this report would be studied statistically: How many Israelis enter a certain location in one hour? I would sit there, look at my watch, and count the number of people who entered the place in an hour. I would calculate it and report that if the operation were to take place at a certain hour, the number of Israeli casualties would be at least 30 and could even reach 50, because during this specific hour, 70 Israelis entered the place. I would also check what the most suitable hours were. For example, a restaurant is frequented by Zionists mostly during lunchtime, a school in the morning... There was an optimal time to carry out the Jihadi operation, and I would write all of this in the report, which I sent to the cell commander [Abdullah Barghouti]... My second mission was to carry out Jihadi operations... [Source: MEMRI]
Ahlam Tamimi doesn't hide her responsibility for mass murder or the joy she derived from targeting and then murdering Jewish school-children who she says were her prime targets. To anyone following her, she's egregiously proud of what she did. If there was any tiny cloud to her happiness it was, unbelievably, that not enough innocents were killed: In her own words, "I admit that I was a bit disappointed because I had hoped for a larger toll."

Quickly removed (without explanation) after we published our critique,
the website of the JMI's privileged students of journalism
featured this tribute to Ahlam Tamimi as their "success model"
on every single page of the site. 
Guess who else shared her pride and satisfaction?
Visit the homepage of the JMI website and you see a button that links to a related website hosting the work-product of JMI’s own cadre of young journalists. It's in Arabic only, naturally enough; these contents are not meant for the Western sponsors and international partners. They're the work product of JMI's insiders... On every page of the site, under the headline Success Models, a journalist called Tamimi is profiled. She is the murderer of our daughter, Malki. They provide a large photograph of Tamimi and certain biographical details concerning her journalistic background. But important things about the “success model” offered up by this new centre of journalistic “excellence” are omitted: Tamimi brought a human bomb to the center of Jerusalem on August 9, 2001 to destroy the busy Sbarro pizzeria. She was instrumental in planning this major terrorist attack. Fifteen people were blown to pieces that day and 130 injured, many of them children and infants. The sixteenth victim – a young mother with her two year-old daughter – has never regained consciousness. The people traveling on the bus with Tamimi from Jerusalem to Ramallah in the hour after the explosion beamed with delight as the scale of the carnage was reported on the radio. Tamimi was barely able to contain her own happiness [video], the joy that came from secretly being the one responsible for the massacre and no one on the bus knew. Tamimi is a convicted killer, a psychopath who boasts on YouTube that she selected the site of her massacre so that the dead would include as many young religious Jews as possible. She famously smiled broadly with perverse pleasure [video] when informed of how many children’s lives were extinguished in the attack she masterminded. ["10-Dec-14: In the Arab world's most promising new journalism school, a passion for murder and hatred"]
It doesn't get much more shocking than this: a privileged group of the Arab world's best and brightest, nurtured in a Western-influenced environment that emphasizes excellence, the highest professional values, respect for other people's rights. And they choose, freely and under zero duress, to designate a Hamas terrorist, a woman who set out to murder as many Jewish children as she could, and succeeded, as their principal figure of adulation.

Think about the implications of that for a moment.

No less shocking is how our serious efforts to get into a dialogue with the management of the JMI to explain to them what a catastrophic mistake they had made were comprehensively rebuffed. With the exception of a single response to us, worded rudely and offensive in a silly way, they ignored everything we said or published. Never acknowledged our existence. Never dealt publicly at any stage, right up until today, with the fully substantiated claims we made widely. Simply denied and lied.

What they did do, from the highest level within the JMI on down, was to engage in a series of calculated and deceptive misrepresentations to their various local and foreign stake-holders, including claiming that the JMI students' website had been suffering from unspecified technical problems necessitating that it be taken down, giving them a chance to hide the evidence - which we have of course archived. And claiming that whatever narrow and technical problems may have been behind Ahlam Tamimi being named their elite students' role model, they were now fixed, of no significance, never to return.

JMI management quickly (meaning after we publicized this and began letting some of the relevant people know) took care to erase the tribute to Tamimi without a word of public explanation or acknowledgement. As far as we know, they never addressed the serious matter with anyone - not their students, not their funders, not the government of Jordan, not their academic staff or international partners - in terms of what had actually happened.

The evidence was simply swept under the carpet. 

They published and distributed to their foreign funders and backers a lame pseudo-retraction which we dissected here. In fact, they did whatever they could without even once dealing with the disturbing issues head on. If you want to ensure a sociopathy that has invaded your organization remains active and viable, that's probably the most effective way to do it. But it's immoral, dishonest, dangerous and completely misleading.

We soon approached their corporate, non-Arab funders and persuaded almost a third of them to stop backing the JMI. We don't apologize for wishing we had managed to shut them down altogether.

We invested considerable effort in approaching several Amman-based foreign embassies to support our efforts. We were rebuffed by most, though not by all. We documented some of this (certainly not all) in a string of posts:
JMI claim numerous prominent entities as their parners, supporters and donors. They're listed here on their website. It's somewhat surprising - given the Ahlam Tamimi connection, the open adulation of murderous terrorism, the way Jordan flagrantly breaches its 1995 Extradition Treaty with the US in order to safeguard her - that these generous friends include the US Embassy in Amman and the US Agency for International Development, or USAID.

We're incapable of understanding how this can possibly be.

Other named donors and partners, according to the JMI website this morning, include the BBC, Australian Aid, UNESCO, The Swedish Institute, the German embassy in Jordan, and Reporters Without Borders. It would be convenient to assume they're unaware of the problematic nature of the Jordan Media Institute and have never heard of Tamimi or the Sbarro pizzeria massacre. But the truth is we have been in dialogue with most of them; we have explained the background and the Tamimi involvement. While it's clear we and they see life differently, there's no doubt at all that they are fully aware of the facts. It's a puzzle.

But here's the thing: In a kingdom whose news industry is tightly controlled, among the least free in the entire world even today, you can invent realities at will and never have to deal with the consequences of your own deceptions.

For instance, you can say that your extradition treaty with the United States, executed and ratified and fully implemented again and again in the years since it was signed in 1995, is invalid. That it breaches your constitution and therefore Ahlam Tamimi cannot lawfully be sent to trial in Washington for her crimes. That the US/Jordan treaty was drafted by the man in the moon.

But at the end of the day Jordan is a tiny place, of marginal significance from almost any perspective. On the other hand, from what we have learned after frustrating years of pressing its absolute ruler to extradite our child's killer, today's Jordan and its systematic deceptions and fabrications provides insight into deadly serious problems that are not uniquely Jordanian.

What we have learned about the real Jordan Media Institute - the one that's not conjured up in press releases and a captive media totally controlled by the royal family - is an ongoing scandal. It's compounded by an inexplicable cover-up by major foreign governments, by the complicity of some of the world's most important NGOs, and - to their shame - by the lack of spine demonstrated by many members of the mainstream media.

Anyone offended by our saying this is cordially invited to let us know where the factual mis-statements are. We of course won't be holding our breaths while we wait.

The scandal touches on multiple issues (funding, development, journalism, media duplicity, government among others). But on none more sensitive or dangerous than terrorism which is nurtured, encouraged and active in today's Jordan notwithstanding the pompous statements to the contrary.

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