Amnesty International: Do the Media Aid Israel?

May 27, 2011 § 7 Comments

The following series of talks, on media coverage of Israel, was hosted by Amnesty International, who came under pressure to cancel the event. It was surprising to see reports that the Jewish division of the EDL had shown up at the meeting as I thought they’d been ejected from that noxious organisation for being too extreme. Perhaps they’ll set up there own Israeli Defence League instead: which would probably be more honest, and would cause less confusion about what to call them now.

The concerted Zionist campaign to smear the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) failed dismally last night as the two groups co-hosted one of their most successful public events to date. The topic up for discussion was “Complicity in Oppression – Does the Media Aid Israel?” The panellists consisted of Prof. Greg Philo who discussed his new book “More Bad News from Israel” (an excellent academic analysis of the media’s skewed coverage of news coming out of Palestine-Israel); Tim Llewellyn, former BBC Middle East correspondent, and Abdel Barri Atwan, expert Palestinian commentator on the Middle East. The discussion was chaired by Victoria Brittain, former associate foreign editor of the Guardian.

Prof. Greg Philo, co-author of Bad News from Israel and More Bad News from Israel

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Absolute Power

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Part of Al Jazeera’s The Arab Awakening series.

As revolution shakes the Arab world, a series of films explore the roots of the uprisings and ask ‘what next’? Those in a position to know reveal the ‘tricks of the trade’ of Arab dictatorship.

Why I disrupted Benjamin Netanyahu

May 27, 2011 § 2 Comments


Rae Abileah in her own words (crossposted from Mondoweiss).

Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke in the Capital on Tuesday, May 24? I couldn’t watch this hero’s welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won’t lift the siege of Gaza and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, when Netanyahu was praising young people rising up for democracy in the Middle East, and I took my cue to stand up from my seat in the Capital Gallery, unfurl a banner, and shout, “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!”

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Ellsberg: I’m not a traitor… nor is Manning

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Daniel Ellsberg, former U.S. military analyst who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 weighs in on if he thinks this has been a good or bad year for journalism.

‘WikiSecrets’ Julian Assange full interview footage

May 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

PBS Frontline has just aired a documentary “WikiSecrets” — I’ve seen the first few minutes, and already it comes across as a hatchet job. In the interest of transparency, Wikileaks has released the full video of Martin Smith’s interview with Julian Assange because it predicted that the film would distort reality. This is a very interesting interview, so don’t miss.

On 24 May, 2011, 9pm EST, PBS-Frontline will air a documentary “WikiSecrets”. WikiLeaks has had intelligence for some time that the program is hostile and misrepresents WikiLeaks’ views and tries to build an “espionage” case against its founder, Julian Assange, and also the young soldier, Bradley Manning.

In accordance with our tradition of “scientific journalism” (full primary sources) we release here our, behind the scenes, interview tape between Julian Assange & PBS Frontline’s Martin Smith which was recorded on 4/4/2011. In the tape, Assange scolds Martin Smith for his previous coverage of Bradley Manning and addresses a number of issues surrounding the 1917 Espionage Act investigation into WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning.

The Frontline documentary will include footage of a number of individuals who have a collective, and very dirty personal vendetta, against the organization. These include David Leigh, Adrian Lamo, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Eric Schmitt and Kim Zetter. While the program filmed other sources, such as Vaughan Smith who provided a counter-narrative, these more credible voices have been excluded from the program presented to the US public.

David Bromwich on Obama’s Middle East Rhetoric

May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

David Bromwich, one of PULSE’s top 10 intellectuals for 2010, is a highly astute political analyst, with an extraordinary capacity for parsing the nuances of language and character. He has must-read essay in the New York Review of Books on the gap between Obama’s Middle East rhetoric and reality.

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office at the White House, Friday, May 20, 2011.

Being president of the world has sometimes seemed a job more agreeable to Barack Obama than being president of the United States. The Cairo speech of June 2009 was his first performance in that role, and he said many things surprising to hear from an American leader—among them, the statement that “it is time for [Israeli] settlements to stop.” But as is now widely understood, the aftermath of Cairo was not properly planned for. Though Obama had called on Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the expansion of settlements, he never backed his demand with a specific sanction or the threat of a loss of favor. His contact with peaceful dissidents in the Arab world remained invisible and was clearly not a major concern of his foreign policy. Soon after the Cairo speech, the Afghan war and drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal regions took center stage.

Yet Obama has always preferred the symbolic authority of the grand utterance to the actual authority of a directed policy—a policy fought for in particulars, carefully sustained, and traceable to his own intentions. The command to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and the attempt to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike, which closely followed the bin Laden success, are the exceptions that prove the rule: actions of a moment, decided and triggered by the president alone. His new Middle East speech, at the State Department on May 19, was in this sense a return to a favorite genre.

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Register AIPAC as a Foreign Agent – Picket @ DOJ

May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

May 24, 2011 Move Over AIPAC picket at the US Department of Justice.

Geoffrey Wawro on the US in the Middle East

May 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

In the following audio, Jeff Blankfort interviews Prof. Geoffrey Wawro, author of Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East, (Penguin, 2010) with a focus on US support for Israel, the pro-Israel lobby and whether Israel is a strategic asset or liability.

Geoffrey Wawro on the US in the Middle East: MP3

Move Over AIPAC Flashmob (D.C. Union Station)

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Regime Versus Alawis

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Amid debate with Joshua Landis in the comments section of the previous post, I wrote this:

Another point about sectarianism. Remember the fight bewtween Alawis and Ismailis some years ago in Masyaf (was it Masyaf?). There was a good piece about it on Syria Comment. Somebody at the time (perhaps Joshua) pointed out that the fight wouldn’t have reached the proportions it did if there had been respected civil society figures who could have knocked the young men’s heads together. But there weren’t any such figures, because any natural authority figure was perceived as a threat by the regime and had been removed. Masyaf is a microcosm of Syria.

Then a visitor called AK posted the following comment, which is very worth reading.

Syrians lived together even before the arrival of Al Assad family to power. Mind you, majority of Alawii are poorer now than forty years ago. You just need to visit any Alawii village (including Kurdaha) to establish that yourself..

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