Ich habe meine Erkenntnisse zu Hossein Derakhshan (alias Hoder) nicht fuer mich behalten: Gestern schickte ich e-mails an die Redaktionen von Ha’aretz und Jerusalem Post und bat um Weiterleitung an die Journalisten, Meron Rappaport bzw. Abrahm Rabinovich. Von da habe ich seither nichts gehoert.
Ich schrieb auch an Prof. Yoram Meital, der die Konferenz „Reform, Resistance and Conflicts in the Middle East“ organisiert hatte, machte ihn auf meine Erkenntnisse aufmerksam und frage, ob der Hintergrund von Hossein Derakhshan eigentlich geprueft worden waere, bevor man ihn zur Konferenz einlud.
Seine Antwort kam umgehend und ueberraschte mich etwas:
Thanks for taking the time and sharing all this with me. Hossein might be a controversial persona among some blogers, but this non of my business. He was invited to deliver a lecture in my conference and his presentation was found by most participants useful for understanding political blogoshere in the Middle East. I am truly do not interested in most of ‚domestic‘ fights between blogers. Only recently I have became familiar with the role of the personal context of most of the comments sent to me. I was disappointed by this.
Thanks again, and I look forward to seeing you in our future events,
Ich fragte nach, auf welcher Grundlage er zu einer Diagnose einer persoenlichen Feindschaft zwischen Bloggern gekommen sei, da ja meine Bedenken alle auf Texte zurueckgehen, die nachpruefbar auf Hoder’s eigenem Blog veroeffentlicht sind. Ich bekam nur noch
Ruth, thanks again for sharing all this with me. I have nothing to add.
zur Antwort, worauf ich ihm auch einen schoenen Tag wuenschte.
Von ihr erhielt ich folgende Auskunft (sie hat mir ausdruecklich die Erlaubnis erteilt, sie zu zitieren):
The story of how Hossein was invited to the conference is quite banal, and rather typical of academic conferences: Mike Dahan, a professor at Sapir College, met Hossein at a conference in Cairo that was held on 26 July 2006. Mike and I do not know each other, although we have mutual acquaintances. I understand that he was fired from more than one university for poor research; via Google, you will discover that he has been accused of plagiarism; he also writes for Counterpunch, which should tell you all you need to know about his worldview and intellect. Mike Dahan recommended Hossein to Prof. Yoram Meital, who chaired the conference.
I spoke with Prof. Meital on the phone shortly before the conference; he told me that he knew nothing about Hossein, and that he had based his decision to invite him solely on „the recommendation of colleagues.“ When I asked if he was aware that Hossein has zero credibility in the Persian blogosphere, that he has written extensively in defense of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and that he has systematically attacked Iranian intellectuals who were jailed and tortured for speaking out against the regime, Prof. Meital told me that he neither knew nor cared about these things – Hossein had been invited to talk about the Iranian blogosphere, and that was what he would talk about; his political opinions were irrelevant. Although our conversation ended cordially, Prof. Meital accused me at the beginning of nursing a personal antipathy toward Hossein, even though I gave him a factual account of Hossein’s background, together with specific examples of articles he has written for the Washington Post blog and Open Democracy.
My friend Carmel wrote a short piece about the conference for Nana (link here); she also posted a video recording of excerpts from each of the three panelists‘ talks. As you will see, each of the panelists spread disinformation – whether intentionally or not.
Hossein claimed that there are about 700,000 Iranian blogs, when in fact less than 10 percent of them are active; he also said that the Internet in Iran is far more open than it actually is – for example, he did not mention that a recently passed law requires Iranians to register their blog with the government (link to BBC article here).
The Egyptian speaker , Mohamed Abdel Aziz, made the outrageous claim that there are only about 100 bloggers in his country, that they all belong to the Cairo elite and that he knows them all. Iin fact there are more than 6,000, they are spread all over the country and come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, and only one of them knows the Egyptian speaker. I translated the article for a friend who is a prominent Egyptian blogger – he exposed the story on his blog and started a petition that was signed by a number of Egyptian bloggers (links here, here and here; the third link includes an apology from Prof. Meital).
Mike Dahan pompously stated that most Israeli blogs were personal diaries by 14 year-olds. I don’t know how he even dared to make this preposterous statement – but there it is, he did. Anyone with basic intelligence and minimal Internet skills can prove the fallacy of that statement with about 10 minutes of online research.
So what does this all mean? Nothing new, I think: a group of narcissistic, pompous, ignorant men thought it would be a great idea to invite one another to a conference, where they would proceed to talk nonsense to a small audience – in exchange for a little funding, fawning attention and some free meals. The saddest thing is that all this could have been avoided if Prof. Meital had just taken the time to consult with a couple of female academics at Ben Gurion University who wrote their PhD dissertations on Internet community building and the blogosphere. But he did not even know they existed.
Mein Eindruck ist, dass Lisas Einschaetzung zutrifft, wobei ich einschraenken muss, dass die Blogger natuerlich nur ein kleiner Teil des ganzen Programms darstellten und dieser Teil vielleicht auch, weil er als nebensaechlich betrachtet wurde, nachlaessig vorbereitet wurde.