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2002-06-24 12:25:00
Embassy Amman
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Tags:   KMDR  JO 
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UNCLAS AMMAN 003403 SIPDIS STATE FOR NEA/ARN, NEA/PA, NEA/AIA, INR/NESA, R/MR, I/GNEA, B/BXN, B/BRN, NEA/PPD, NEA/IPA FOR ALTERMAN USAID/ANE/MEA LONDON FOR GOLDRICH PARIS FOR O'FRIEL USCINCCENT//CCPA, USCENTCOM REAR MACDILL AFB FL STATE PASS TO AID E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KMDR JO SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION ON AL-QA'EDA AND RADIO `SAWA' Summary -- Lead stories today, June 24, highlight Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher's visit to Ramallah and his talks with Yaser Arafat. Reports portray story as furthering Jordan's support for the Palestinians and their cause. Another major story highlights the findings of a poll conducted by the local Center for Strategic Studies on Prime Minister Abul Ragheb and his government's performance. Editorial Commentary on Al-Qa'eda -- "Great evil" Daily columnist Musa Hawamdeh writes on the op-ed page of center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour 906/24): "If it is true what Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Bin Laden's spokesman, said about Al-Qa'eda being responsible for the bombing of the synagogue in Tunis, then it is a stupid thing to do by all accounts. Why would Al-Qa'eda attack a Jewish synagogue and why would it increase its enemies and win, even more, the enmity of the world, and moreover, defame Arabs and Muslim? Some may argue that Al-Qa'eda was attacking Jews and that it is our right to attack wherever they are. This is completely stupid, because Arabs and Muslims have always protected the People of the Book [followers of the Bible - Jews and Christians) and treated them decently and humanely. This has always been a point in favor of our religion and our humanity, at a time when Europe was swamped in darkness. Yet, up to this day, we have failed to differentiate between our enmity and complete resistance to Israel on the one hand and our position vis--vis Jews and Judaism as a religion. It would have been better for us to separate Israel, its aggression and our call for its destruction as an occupying and racist entity from our own stand vis-- vis Judaism as a religion." Editorial Commentary on Radio `Sawa' -- "Sawa won't do it" Centrist, influential among the elite English daily Jordan Times (06/24) editorializes: "Sawa is working. In a few months, the U.S. government-financed radio station has claimed a considerable percentage of radio listeners across the region. This new FM radio station has succeeded in working out just the right mix of Arabic and Western music and fast beat news that many find appealing. The audience is growing by the day. But Radio Sawa is an organ of the United d States government that seeks to promote American policies and counter attempts to spread anti-U.S. feelings. To many, it is a propaganda arm that wants to alter Arab peoples' opinions of the U.S. and its policies in the region. This is an enormous task. The initial performance of Sawa should not lead to the wrong conclusion. It is easy to win people's attention to hit songs and albums. But changing their political beliefs is a whole different story. Media can help. But it cannot do the job. Doing the job will require a deep assessment of American policy towards the Arab world. It also demands a complete reversal of the policies and actions of Israel, the U.S.' main ally in the region.. That, unfortunately is not happening. Sawa will succeed in no more than getting people to tune in to the sounds it offers. But the daily news of t he acts of an occupying power will have the biggest role in forming political views and attitudes. GNEHM