June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment
Claire Messud’s beautifully written and painfully evocative account of her visit to occupied Palestine where she was a featured writer at the Palestine Festival of Literature. It is also noteworthy that this article appears in the Boston Globe which is owned by the New York Times company. This is the power of culture, it can infiltrate territories otherwise proscribed for dissenting views.
I RECENTLY returned from a literary festival that was to have opened and closed in Jerusalem; but which, to our surprise, opened in France and closed in the United Kingdom.
Some 20-odd writers from the world over–including the popular British travel writer and comedian Michael Palin; Sweden’s preeminent thriller writer Henning Mankell; and Canada’s Giller Prize-winning M.G. Vassanji – found our events at Jerusalem’s Palestine National Theater shut down by machine-gun toting Israeli soldiers in flak jackets. On the first evening, with a Gallic flourish, Jean-Paul Ghoneim of the French Consulate opened the French Cultural Center impromptu, and hosted our event on nominally French soil: we paraded through the streets in our party clothes, bearing trays of canapés and looking, I’m sure, very threatening indeed.
June 30, 2009 § 2 Comments
Neil Clark has an article in The First Post warning of the neoconservative orientation of the inevitable Cameron led Tory government. The piece repeats similar arguments made by the author in the Guardian back in 2005. In my opinion Clark tends to overstate the neocon influence in the Conservative Party and exaggerate the divergence between the neocons and the more conventional right-wing Tories. After all, none of Cameron’s neocon friends have foreign policy related front bench posts, whilst those that do – William Hague and Liam Fox – are pro-war Atlanticists but not really neocons in the strict sense. Still it is worth reminding ourselves that the Henry Jackson Society neocons are as potentially dangerous as they are actually nauseating. Here is Clark’s article in full:
The Iraq war is widely discredited. George W Bush and Tony Blair are both out of office. Barack Obama has talked of a “new beginning” in his country’s relationship with the Islamic world. Surely it’s game over for the neocons, the small group of hardline hawks commonly held responsible for the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003?
Don’t bet on it. If, as bookmakers believe, an overall majority for the Conservatives in the next election is a racing certainty, then the proponents of ‘Shock and Awe’ will once again be back in the corridors of power in Britain.
To understand why the neocons would be in such a strong position if David Cameron does make it to Number 10, we need to go back to the autumn of 2005, the time of the last Conservative party leadership election.
June 30, 2009 § 1 Comment
From the Electronic Intifada, political officer for the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign David Morrison writes:
At a White House press conference on 18 May 2009, US President Barack Obama expressed “deepening concern” about “the potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran.” He continued:
Needless to say, the US/EU have ignored this proposal, which would have put Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities under a degree of international control. Perhaps, President Obama’s staff should draw this proposal to his attention.
“Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and a threat to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilizing in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
By his side was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the room with them, there was an elephant, a large and formidably destructive elephant, which they and the assembled press pretended not to see. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2009 § 12 Comments
Ishmael Reed ruminates on race, the mad dog DA and the mad dog media in the death of Michael Jackson.
Last Thursday, while working on some writing deadlines, I was switching channels on cable. On CNN they were promoting “Black In America”, an exercise meant to boost ratings by making whites feel good by making blacks look bad, the marketing strategy of the mass media since the 1830s, according to a useful book entitled The Showman and the Slave, by Benjamin Reiss. The early penny press sold a “whiteness” upgrade to newly arriving immigrants by depicting blacks in illicit situations. By doing so they were marketing an early version of a self-esteem boosting product. One of the initial sensational stories was about the autopsy of a black woman named Joice Heth, who claimed to be George Washington’s nurse and over one hundred years old. It was the O. J. story of the time. Circus master, P. T. Barnum, charged admission to her autopsy, which attracted the perverted in droves. And so, if the people broadcasting cable news appear to be inmates of a carnival, there is a connection since the early days of the mass media to that form of show business. According to Reiss, early newspapers were not only influenced by P. T. Barnum, but actually cooperated with him on some hoaxes and stunts.
June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Author Naomi Klein calls for boycott of Israel
AFP — Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters.
“It’s a boycott of Israeli institutions, it’s a boycott of the Israeli economy,” the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel’s controversial separation wall.
“Boycott is a tactic … we’re trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa,” said Klein, the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”
“It’s an extraordinarily important part of Israel’s identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy,” the Canadian writer and activist said.
“When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don’t come, when the symphonies don’t come, when a film you really want to see doesn’t play at the Jerusalem film festival… then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is.”
June 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, celebrating the
60th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
The following is an illuminating look at Canada where a perverse race to the bottom is taking place to gain Zionist electoral support. Apparently Michael Ignatieff is trying to out-Zion that staunch supporter of Israeli crimes Stephen Harper. Quite a task: one that has Ignatieff appologising for daring to call the bombing of civilians in Qana, Lebanon, 2006, a war-crime.
By Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press:
The fact Liberal MP Anita Neville is Jewish just didn’t seem to hold as much sway with her Winnipeg community last election.
Neville watched as some of her formerly faithful Jewish supporters left for the Conservative party, impressed by its unequivocal pro-Israel stance.
It was a phenomenon felt in other Liberal ridings with significant Jewish populations. One of those ridings actually went blue.
“I have some constituents who for them, (Israel) is the only issue, and they will vote based on that issue and we were not in a good place at that time and not clear in our responses,” Neville said of the period before the 2008 campaign.
June 29, 2009 § 2 Comments
Today the International Red Cross released a report detailing the catastrophic results of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza. As the siege which has crippled Gazans for the past two years continues, the Red Cross found seriously ill patients facing difficulty obtaining the treatment they needed; children suffering from deep psychological problems and people whose homes and belongings were destroyed during the conflict unable to recover.
The report in full reads:
During the 22 days of the Israeli military operation, nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians. Hospitals were overwhelmed with casualties, including small children, women and elderly people. Medical personnel showed incredible courage and determination, working around the clock to save lives in extremely difficult circumstances. Meanwhile, daily rocket attacks launched from Gaza put thousands of residents at risk in southern Israel. Medical workers in Israel provided care for the traumatized population and treated and evacuated casualties.
Many people in Gaza lost a child, a parent, another relative or a friend. Israel’s military operation left thousands of homes partly or totally destroyed. Whole neighbourhoods were turned into rubble. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals and fire and ambulance stations were damaged by shelling.
This small coastal strip is cut off from the outside world. Even before the latest hostilities, drastic restrictions on the movement of people and goods imposed by the Israeli authorities, particularly since October 2007, had led to worsening poverty, rising unemployment and deteriorating public services such as health care, water and sanitation. Insufficient cooperation between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas administration in Gaza had also hit the provision of essential services. As a result, the people of Gaza were already experiencing a major crisis affecting all aspects of daily life when hostilities intensified in late December. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 29, 2009 § 7 Comments
Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns are succeeding all around the world, and the boycott of Veolia is having an impact in France, the Netherlands and Sweden. Following on the heels of a successful four month campaign to boycott Connex as Melbourne’s rail provider in Australia, Ruth Tenne turns our attention to efforts to apply pressure on UK councils such as Camden to behave ethically and reject Veolia due to its direct involvement in building light-rail to link illegal Jewish settlements.
In his visit to Israel and the OPT in November 2008, the Foreign Secretary spoke out against settlement activity and has said on numerous occasions that continued settlement construction is an obstacle to peace. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office clearly states on its website that “The UK considers that Israeli settlement building anywhere in the OPTs is illegal under international law. This includes settlements in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank”. Yet, local authorities in Britain defy the declared policy of the FCO by employing Veolia – a multi-national French waste company. Veolia Environment is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium which is contracted to build a light rail tramway system linking Israel to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Journalist Chris Hedges writes of a Kafka-esque landscape in the world today where corporate advertising, lobbying and control of media fogs the distinction between lie and fact.
The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The pernicious idea that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the freedom to accumulate vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others has collapsed. The conflation of freedom with the free market has been exposed as a sham. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out and people get a taste of Bill Clinton’s draconian welfare reform. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism, is returning with a vengeance.
Our economic crisis—despite the corporate media circus around the death of Michael Jackson or Gov. Mark Sanford’s marital infidelity or the outfits of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest incarnation, Brüno—barrels forward. And this crisis will lead to a period of profound political turmoil and change. Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor must begin to mobilize quickly or we will lose our last opportunity to save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to demonize movements of social change and empower proto-fascist movements such as the Christian right. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 29, 2009 § 3 Comments
Elsewhere dubbed Obama’s First Coup D’Etat, the Guardian’s lead article on the military coup in Honduras that follows here makes scant mention of General Romeo Vásquez’s earlier training at the School of the Americas, and the curious headline ‘Hugo Chávez vows to ‘bring them down’ after seeing Honduran ally ousted in military coup‘ appears to make Chavez’s comment rather than the coup the news. It will be interesting to see if this receives nearly as much attention in western media as Iran has, which is fast becoming the comparison benchmark when we see the blatant double standards and dearth of similar coverage accorded to Palestine and Gaza in particular; have a look also at Johann Hari’s coverage of the important uprising in the Amazon. Venezuelanalysis and Eva Golinger’s blog have extensive updates on the situation in English and for those in New York there will be a gathering in front of the Honduran Mission to the United Nations, 866 UN Plaza, today, Monday 29th between 3 and 6pm.
The army in Honduras has ousted and exiled its leftist president, Manuel Zelaya, in Central America’s first military coup since the cold war, after he upset the army by trying to seek another term in office.
The US president, Barack Obama, and the EU expressed deep concern after troops came at dawn for Zelaya, an ally of the socialist Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, and took him away from his residence.