May 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last Monday, on the 6th of May, Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided to approve the “Jenin Jenin Amendment” in a paramilitary hearing. The amendment [Hebrew] is an addition to the Israeli Defamation Law [Hebrew], stating that army personnel and the state can sue individuals, who expose army violence, for libel, without proving damages. The amendment comes as a reaction to Israel’s Supreme Court rejecting soldiers’ class action suit of defamation against actor/director Mohammad Bakri, for his documentary Jenin Jenin (watch it in full here), in which Palestinian testimonies describe their experiences of the 2002 massacre perpetrated by Israel’s army in the besieged refugee camp.
January 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
More than 7,000 internet sites went offline on Wednesday in a mass protest against the proposed US anti-piracy laws. Guests Wayne Rash, Julian Sanchez and Andreas Manak discuss whether such laws are compatible with internet freedoms.
August 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
by Amal Amireh
The new Syrian TV drama “In the Presence of Absence,” about the life of the poet Mahmoud Darwish, is giving some Palestinians an ulcer this Ramadan season. The series is being broadcast on several Arab satellite channels, including the Palestinian one. Some objected to the series before it was made because they thought those who were undertaking the project are doing it for profit and are not being faithful to the memory of Palestine’s national poet. Their effort to stop it didn’t pan out and now they are watching in horror as they see their beloved poet miscast, misrepresented, and twisted out of shape. The actor-criminal is one Firas Ibrahim that everyone seems to love to hate. Believe me, voodoo dolls of him will sell like hot qatayef in Rmallah.
They are lamenting that this great poet is being sacrificed on the altar of egos and art-for-profit. They are in a panic that the legacy of Darwish is in danger and that he is being mutilated for an audience that does not know much about him. Some of those objecting to this drama knew Darwish personally: they are friends, disciples, and colleagues. Some are readers who love the man for the poetry he wrote. I feel their pain!
But instead of using the occasion of a bad TV drama to celebrate the Darwish they love, to educate people about his poetry, to write articles that critique the drama they don’t approve of, I’m sad to report that two thousand Palestinian intellectuals are demanding taking the offensive drama off the air. They have even demonstrated in front of Palestine TV to that effect. In other words, they are calling for censorship. Their love for Darwish seems to have obscured their vision.*
June 19, 2011 § 2 Comments
In early June, ZCommunications received the following open letter from independent filmmaker and journalist John Pilger to Noam Chomsky and the general public. Pilger was to speak on 15 June at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe. See Patrick Lannan’s subsequent explanation for the cancellation here.
* * *
I am writing to you and a number of other friends mostly in the US to alert you to the extraordinary banning of my film on war and media, ‘The War You Don’t See’, and the abrupt cancellation of a major event at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe in which David Barsamian and I were to discuss free speech, US foreign policy and censorship in the media.
Lannan invited me and David over a year ago and welcomed my proposal that they also host the US premiere of ‘The War You Don’t See’, in which US and British broadcasters describe the often hidden part played by the media in the promotion of war, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film has been widely acclaimed in the UK and Australia; the trailer and reviews are on my website www.johnpilger.com.
The banning and cancellation, which have shocked David and me, are on the personal orders of Patrick Lannan, whose wealth funds the Lannan Foundation as a liberal centre of discussion of politics and the arts. Some of you will have been there and will know the Lannan Foundation as a valuable supporter of liberal causes. Indeed, I was invited in 2002 to present a Lannan award to the broadcaster Amy Goodman.
May 15, 2011 § 6 Comments
Like many activists, I get hoards of hate mail. As someone who’s committed to abolishing violence, whether it be peer-to-peer or on a global scale, I believe that none of us should fear exposing violence towards us, or our friends and loved ones, who don’t have the privilege to do so. In my case, I truly believe I have absolutely nothing to fear, and so I bring to you a “correspondence”, initiated by Jeffrey S Wiesenfeld, after I had sent a stencil letter to the CUNY Board of Trustees members, including himself, regarding the Tony Kushner affair. I believe this is called harassment.
April 15, 2011 § 13 Comments
By Huma Dar
Of Civilities and Dignities
On 22 June 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, asserted that burqas (or the burqa-clad?) are “not welcome” in France, adding that “[i]n our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity” and that “the veils reduced dignity.” France’s Muslim minority is Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, estimated at six-million-strong. And this is just an approximation, as the French Republic implicitly claims to be post-race and post-religion via a prohibition on any census that would take into account the race or religion of its citizens. (This anxiety mirrors the brouhaha in Indian media àpropos the much-contested enumeration of OBCs or Other Backward Castes in the Indian census surveys of 2011, or the urgency to declare some spaces post-caste, post-feminist, and post-racist while casteism, patriarchy and racism continue unabated.)
February 18, 2011 § 3 Comments
For the past seven months, US Army Private First Class Manning has been held in solitary confinement in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Twenty-five thousand other Americans are also in prolonged solitary confinement, but the conditions of Manning’s pre-trial detention have been sufficiently brutal for the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture to announce an investigation.
Pfc. Manning is alleged to have obtained documents, both classified and unclassified, from the Department of Defense and the State Department via the Internet and provided them to WikiLeaks. (That “alleged” is important because the federal informant who fingered Manning, Adrian Lamo, is a felon convicted of computer-hacking crimes. He was also involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution in the month before he levelled his accusation. All of this makes him a less than reliable witness.) At any rate, the records allegedly downloaded by Manning revealed clear instances of war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, widespread torture committed by the Iraqi authorities with the full knowledge of the U.S. military, previously unknown estimates of the number of Iraqi civilians killed at U.S. military checkpoints, and the massive Iraqi civilian death toll caused by the American invasion.
For bringing to light this critical but long-suppressed information, Pfc. Manning has been treated not as a whistleblower, but as a criminal and a spy. He is charged with violating not only Army regulations but also the Espionage Act of 1917, making him the fifth American to be charged under the act for leaking classified documents to the media. A court-martial will likely be convened in the spring or summer.
December 25, 2010 § 2 Comments
Filmmaker and journalist John Pilger discusses his latest film, The War You Don’t See, the media’s role in conflict and his defence of WikiLeaks on Al Jazeera’s Listening Post.
The rest of the show investigates the role of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the brainchild of a former Israeli intelligence officer and a US-based organisation that specialises in providing (mis)translations of Arabic-language broadcasts to American journalists and plays a central role in shaping the public’s (mis)perceptions of the Middle East.
December 18, 2010 § 1 Comment
Update: John Pilger writes in The Independent defending Assange against a defamatory piece published by the Guardian.
by Dennis Bernstein
An interview with John Pilger
Dennis Bernstein (DB): Let me get your overview here of Julian Assange and what is happening to him. How do you see this?
John Pilger (JP): Well, it’s a very complicated and very suspicious case, of course. Today [Thursday] we saw a pinch of justice, that’s all. But his bail is weighted down with conditions. He’s virtually under a kind of house arrest. Now if he wasn’t Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, none of this would have happened. I doubt whether there would be any prosecution, we’d be having this conversation.
And we learned today [Thursday] that the Swedes had not initiated this appeal against bail that was heard today in the London court. It was the British. Why were they doing it? Were they doing it on behalf of the U.S.? I don’t know the answer to those questions. But suspicions really do mount in this case.