Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From Cairo to Bet Shemesh

Chadash Asur has been getting a number of hits from readers in Lebanon and Egypt. I welcome attention from the dubious and nascent democracies to our north and west (respectively). This post is dedicated to you, whomever you may be and whichever shady Muchabarat organization you may be working for.

A recurring Chadash Asur theme has been the dichotomy between a purportedly objective media and an unwavering monolithic social environment. This problem is usually solved by reporting only what fits the dictated world view, as ridiculous as it might seem at the time. But imagine the predicament of an aspiring haredi politician-slash-editor, or lehavdil, an aspriring Egyptian politician-slash-editor, when cracks appear in the monolith and conflicting interests compete for the stage.

Time now for the first ever comparative review of Chadash of Bet Shemesh and Al-Ahram newspaper of Cairo, featuring the rise of an Israeli police academy and the demise of the Egyptian National Democratic Party's secret police.

I. Cairo ק"ק

AlAhram (literally "The Pyramids") is Egypt's largest newspaper, and (according to Wikipedia) is majority-owned by the Egyptian government. As one would imagine, the newspaper was, until recently, rather uncritical of President Mubarak and his regime. In fact, last October the newspaper famously photoshopped a picture of President Obama and a group of Middle East statesmen, so that Mubarak would be seen leading the group rather than trailing after it (like what little Joey said to Kareem in Airplane – "you don't even run down the court, and you don't really try... except during the playoffs"). Have a look at the before and after shots:

Obama leads, Mubarak trails:

And...Hosny leads (the headline reads "the Road to Sharm e-Shaikh", but Mubarak had no idea at the time that he would be hiding out there a few weeks later after being deposed):

Hard to imagine a parallel in the Israeli press, apart from the occasional inking out of a female likeness (saw this once in an illustrated shtetl chasuna scene in Yated).

Suddenly, surprising politicians, demonstrators and the Mossad alike, the January 25 protest movement exploded in Egypt. You can imagine the dialogue at Al-Ahram:

Osama (actually the editor's name, not that other guy): Look Abdul, I don't care what our orders are, we can't ignore this, everyone in Mitzroyim can see the mobs burning stuff in the street and getting shot by the police.

Abdul Muneim: Yeah, but who gives when it's your head and mine when this all quiets down and Gamal [Mubarak] comes by wanting to know what in gahanam we were doing inciting the peasants against his dad. Remember what happened when that idiotic magnoon from the photography dept forgot to erase the zit from Gamal's wife's forehead in the Mubarak family portrait we put on the first page on Republic day? When the security services were finished with his own face, even Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended couldn't help. Masha'allah we were able to place all the blame on his poor soul...

Osama: Fine, I see your point. Uh, what else is happening in the world that we can feature on the front page……Here! Lebanon! Never a dull moment. Looks like Hezbollah forgot to take their medication again and sent the government packing, all because of some assassination, not that anyone expects a Lebanese government to stick around for more than a few years. Anyway, let's get a nice violent picture from Beirut with some eye-catching flames to cover most of the page. Then, under the item about free trade agreement with the US and the piece about the interview with the interior minister, just visible above the crease, we can put something tame about what is happening around here, without mentioning the armored personnel carriers… hey, do you smell that smoke? OK, let's go with this language, Gamal shouldn't mind and inshaallah we won’t look like total jackasses to everyone else:

Abdul Muneim: Alhamdulillah, I have taught you well.

AlAhram January 26, 2011

Main headline: Widespread Unrest and Rioting in

Far lower left: Mass Protests in Cairo and the Districts; Martyring of a Security Forces Conscript in Cairo and Two Youths in Suez[Ministry of the] Interior Calls for a Cessation of Gatherings

Skip two weeks later, and Mubarak is on a helicopter on the way to his Sinai retreat, Egyptians are tearing though government ministries, and it is clear to even the most loyal cog in the Egyptian bureaucracy that a new dawn has risen over Goshen, even if the army was behind the revolution from the beginning.

Abdul Muneim: Ya Osama, chabib 'albi! It is our dream come true! The people have finally demanded their rights! Pharaoh is gone! We are free!

Osama: What have you been putting in your narghila? Aren't you the one who taught me that the Ra'is is always right, and it is our job to bring his message to the ignorant masses?

Abdul Muneim: Wallahi, you need to learn to adapt to the times. You know that before I took up Nasr's cause I was employed by King Farouk, even though I don't like to talk about it....  Keep this up and you will be standing on the Corniche skipping stones into the Nile instead of running a newspaper. Listen to Uncle Abdul and you will be fine. Today's edition of AlAhram is something the glorious freedom movement will never forget. Look at this!

Osama: (speechless)

Abdul Muneim: Don't just stand there, get to work on blaming all of Mubarak's crimes on the Israelis!

AlAhram February 12, 2011

Big red headline: The Nation has Brought Down the Regime

Second red headline: The Youth Revolution Prevailed on Mubarak to Leave

Even more: Egyptians celebrate until morning, joyous at the victory in the first popular revolution in their modern history

II. Bet Shemesh ק"ק

A similar dialogue took place last week at Chadash headquarters in Ramat Bet Shemesh, when an order came in from the municipality for another mayoral love-fest article. This time, Mayor Moshe Abutbul was to be praised to shomayim for bringing a new sprawling police academy to the outskirts of Bet Shemesh. CAMH's sources report that the mayor's PR guy threw together 500 words about how great this would be for Bet Shemesh, and emailed it to Chadash minutes before the edition went to press.

Yisroel: Oh, CRAP, look at this time bomb we just got from Abutbul. Doesn't he understand that he can speak all he wants with the Tzioynishe politicians, but he shouldn't ask for a photospread? And now he's bringing 20,000 Cossack kalgasim and, R"L, kalgasiot right into Bet Shemesh, and he's proud of it! Of what? Our readership doesn't need the thousands of new jobs. Our readership won't vote for him next time unless he spends all his time making sure they won't have to see any more Medinoh uniforms than they already do. I tell you, if he keeps this up, Chadash will go the same way as Vois Iz Neias and we will all have to go back to, uh, learning full time. My shver will NOT be happy.

Dovid: Oy, Yisroel, don't run around like a headless chicken erev yom kippur. Think damage control. First, we give the byline to Chaim Lazerson whose children's shidduchim chances are shot anyway because they have a distant relative who is not only Lubavitch but also taught public school in Buffalo and had the bad sense to write a book about it. Second, just put a few paragraphs in the article about some geonim being concerned about the alien influences that the police school will bring to our pure shtetl. You know, before I became baal teshuva I saw, er, a series of documentaries about the police training process and I can tell exactly how bad it can be for pure Heimish souls.

Yisroel: But how? We go to press in 4 minutes, and you know as well as I that we can't change even one word of the text they sent us. Not to mention that there is no time to call the askanim to procure a gaonic comment.

Dovid: You are nothing but a naïve FFB, my friend. You need to learn the old Yiddish art of keeping everyone happy all the time. Don't change the text, and don't get an actual quote from the gaon. Put a little blurb on the side, and just type some vague words about people being concerned and stuff. Don't actually quote anyone by name because after all it's just you and me covering our tukheses. But find some way not to blame Abutbul, or the permit for expanding my kids' school building might be held up again.

Yisroel: Like this?

Dovid: Yup, no time to fix your usual 2nd grade grammar, let's stick it on the page and go to press: You will thank me next time Ehrenreich gets his people to accuse us and the mayor of not being frum enough. 

HT: RafiG


brooklyn refugee shaygetz said...

you see. the folks that took out a court injunction against the winner of the tender are tzaddikim who are contributing to the hard atmosphere of beit shemesh

brooklyn refugee shaygetz said...

naturally I meant "haredi atmosphere"
chalk it up to less that satisfactory mobile devices...