MEMRI Back Online After YouTube Backtracks

Middle East Media Research Institute was accused of incitement by opponents who claim that it prefers to highlight extremist positions rather than more moderate ones.

YouTube screenshot from MEMRI clip
A YouTube screenshot from a MEMRI clip on Arab anti-Semitism.

YouTube temporarily closed the account of the Middle East Media Research Institute this week due to complaints filed against it.

According to MEMRI’s founder and president, Yigal Carmon, the channel was taken down after YouTube was flooded with complaints by the institute’s opponents.

MEMRI monitors the Arabic and Farsi media, and its YouTube channel features clips from Arabic or Farsi television channels along with translations in English, Hebrew, French and other languages.

During the time it was down, the deleted channel bore Google’s standard message, stating that the account was closed due to “repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines and/or claims of copyright infringement.”

Carmon said the complaints accused the channel of incitement. YouTube’s policy is that the third time surfers flag a channel for broadcasting incitement, the channel is automatically taken down.

“This isn’t because of claims of copyright infringement,” Carmon said. “It’s because of something bizarre and ridiculous. This is a tactic that certain people are taking against us. This is the third time they’ve reported that we’re inciting ... People flag our material as if we were the ones inciting.”

Carmon said that YouTube has unblocked the channel after similar incidents in the past, but this time, he has raised the issue with higher-level company officials in the hope of preventing the problem from recurring.

MEMRI’s English-language website says its goal is to “explore the Middle East and South Asia through their media” and “bridge the language gap between the West and the Middle East and South Asia.” The Hebrew-language site expounds on this theme, saying, “We believe that to get to know our neighbors, it’s necessary to understand the positions of Arab leaders as they are stated to their own people and to listen not just to spokesmen for the regimes, but also to liberal individuals and groups that are fighting for freedom and democracy.

“MEMRI’s activity is meant to prepare the ground for an honest and sincere dialogue between peoples,” the Hebrew-language site continues. “Presenting a broad, credible picture of reality can aid in understanding the foundations for a stable peace between Israel and the Palestinian people and the Arab world.”

Nevertheless, the institute is considered to lean right, and its work has been criticized in the past. Researchers and journalists have claimed that it prefers to highlight extremist positions rather than more moderate ones.