Middle Eastern Research Institute Reaches Out To Help Connect With International Audience

Find out how the Middle East Media Research Institute is fostering communications between the eastern and western hemisphere and leading the way towards global understanding

Today more than ever, cross-continent communication is imperative. Some of our greatest social problems—war, racism, misogyny—stem from a lack of dialogue between different groups of people. One of the greatest disconnects is between Eastern culture and the West’s perception of it. In North America, both on the streets and in the news we see and hear evidence of racism towards the east. We hear “Islamic” and we think “terrorist”—not because we want to, but because we’ve been conditioned to.

While some attribute this racism to 9/11, we can not point to the attacks on the twin towers as the starting point of the disconnect between the east in west. Instead, we must understand September 11th as one chapter in a lengthy narrative of miscommunication between east and west that has been unfolding for centuries.

Today, we have the possibility to write a new and potentially peaceful ending to that story. Today, we have the technology to speak to one another in a way that was never before possible, and— call me an idealist— I believe that social media can be a gateway to world peace.

Yes, I said it—World Peace. It’s that catchphrase that no one seems to talk about anymore save for the Green Peace activist or the crowned beauty queen. But I believe that social media makes global conversations possible, yet we still face our greatest obstacle yet: language.

While we may be able to reach our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, if we don’t speak their language, we’ll never understand their culture; for language is synonymous culture, as any linguist will tell you. Social change on a global level can only take place when there’s open dialogue between the East and West—a dialogue grounded in empathy and understanding rather than difference.

MEMRI (short for the Middle East Media Research Institute) is an organization committed to bridging the gap between the Middle East and the West.  By making Middle Eastern media available and accessible for English-speaking audiences, Westerners are better able to learn about the Middle East—about the complexities of their problems, the nature of their beliefs, and the media that circulates their culture.

Even as I write that last sentence, I’m troubled with my own use of pronouns. “Their” culture, and “their” problems. The truth is that we’re becoming a global culture, and the language of “us” and “them” is just as damaging as outward acts of racism and terror.

MEMRI recognizes that the problems of the east must be understood in a global context, and that communication is integral to the process of social understanding. They translate Eastern media—from news reports, to interviews, to talk shows—into English,acting as the modern-day Rosetta Stone for contemporary media.

Here’s my top five reasons why this organization should be a global priority for interested donors. Even if you don’t have the money, you can donate your translation services or media skills to take part in a project that is revolutionizing the relationship between east and west and leading the way to —yes, I’ll say it again—World Peace.

Reason #1: To Foster Accurate Cross-Continent Communication

MEMRI relies on public funding to build communications between the east and the west. This means that their translators, web specialists, and researchers are all funded by public investors. When it comes to global discourse, we should all want the best communications team possible—individuals who are trained not only in linguistics, but also invested in humanitarian ends. When funding falls short, we deprive MEMRI of the possibility of sustaining an accurate and empathetic team.

Reason #2: To Foster Meaningful Social Connections: