Focus on Gaza: A Crime of War?

A Crime of War? is the first episode in a new weekly Al Jazeera series titled Focus on Gaza.  I’m pleased to hear Al Jazeera are going to dedicate more time to Gaza, they have done outstanding work already and, if you missed it, I recommend you to watch their Gaza documentary Reflections of War.

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Perils of Criticising Israel

This week the British Medical Journal has a feature on criticising Israel:

bmjIn 2004, the BMJ published an article criticising Israel, which provoked hundreds of hostile emails. Karl Sabbagh analyses responses sent directly to the editor and takes a broader look at what journalists and editors face when covering controversial issues. Michael O’Donnell thinks that the best way to blunt the effectiveness of orchestrated email campaigns is to expose them to public scrutiny. Jonathan Freedland suggests growing a thicker skin. And Mark Clarfield, a doctor at Sokora Hospital in Israel, is surprised at some of the responses to his blog on

Avoiding topics where medicine and politics collide is not an option for the BMJ, nor is this what our readers want, write editors Tony Delamothe and Fiona Godlee in an accompanying editorial. They decide to follow the advice of O’Donnell and Freedland and ignore future orchestrated email campaigns. And they suggest authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders do the same.

The Israeli paper the Jerusalem Post has a summary of the debate in an article titled ‘British Medical Journal’ complains of ‘obscene’ attacks by pro-Israel lobby.

The following is Karl Sabbagh’s analysis the Perils of Criticising Israel.  I’ll post a review of Jonathan Freedlands response soon.

The BMJ’s acting editor received 1000 emails after the journal published an article criticising Israel in 2004. Karl Sabbagh examined them and is reminded of what happened when the magazine World Medicine criticised Israel 27 years ago

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Ethnic Cleansing in East Jerusalem

Inside Story looks at the eviction of 1500 Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the prospect for peace under Netanyahu’s leadership.   Inside Story would have strengthend it’s argument had it mentioned that all Israeli settlements inside the West Bank were found illegal in 2004 by the Interntational Court of Justice.

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Should AIPAC Decide What’s Classified?

The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy yesterday published two articles: AIPAC Trade Secrets Leak Leading to $71 Billion Export Loss and the following below.

On Feb. 17, Judge T.S. Ellis added a new twist in the case of two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) executives indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act. In what the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Secrecy News describe as a major blow to the prosecution, Judge Ellis ruled [.pdf] that J. William Leonard can testify on behalf of the defendants when they go to trial on April 21, 2009.

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The Israel lobby and the fate of Palestine

alexander-cockburnAlexander Cockburn on the Israel lobby and the fate of Palestine recorded in San Francisco on September 29, 2002.

The Israel Lobby and the fate of Palestine (29:04): MP3

On May 2, 2002, barely two weeks after what has become widely described in the international press as a massacre in the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin, the US Congress took an extraordinary vote.

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Arundhati Roy on Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan’s Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner at the Oscars last night. Writer-activist Arundhati Roy was asked her opinion of the film’s global success about a week back, and here is what she had to say (see also this recent review):

People are selling India’s poverty big time both in literature and films. As they say, there is lots of money in poverty today. I am not against showing slums, but depicting them in a depoliticised manner, as has been done in the film, is quite unfortunate. Films do not show the real poor. Even if they are depicted, it’s not the true picture. The real poor are not shown in films because they are not attractive. Poverty sells but the poor do not. The film gives false hope to the poor that they too could become millionaires one day. Watching Slumdog Millionaire was like speeding on a highway with lots of potholes. The screenplay of the film is quite out of context and it feels as if a Harvard accent has been given to characters that are straight out of the Chicago black neighbourhood.

Palestinian NGO seeks UK human rights justice

Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO  with the help of the Gaza Legal Aid Fund (facebook), is to take UK Government officials to court over policy that assists Israel in its illegal activities in Gaza.

Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental organisation will tomorrow, Tuesday 24 February 2009 begin historical legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Milliband, Defence Secretary, John Hutton and Trade & Industry (now the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform), Peter Mandelson.

Al Haq are making an application for judicial review of a policy decision by the three Secretaries of State that they will not change their position with respect to the UK’s relations with Israel so that the UK Government is fully compliant with international law.
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Amnesty International Urges Immediate Arms Embargo on Israel

Amnesty International released a report today detailing the indiscriminate use of weapons by Israel in the latest war on Gaza. Having found undeniable evidence of the IDF’s use of US-made weapons against civilians – hence war crimes – it is calling on the new Obama administration and the UN Security Council to impose “an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo” on Israel and Hamas. Here is The Guardian‘s brief summary of the report.

Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel’s extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles.

In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel.

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Hollywood’s New Censors

John Pilger describes how censorship in Hollywood works in the age of the ‘war on terror’. Unlike the crude days of the cold war, it’s by omission and ‘introspective dross’.

When I returned from the war in Vietnam, I wrote a film script as an antidote to the myth that the war had been an ill-fated noble cause. The producer David Puttnam took the draft to Hollywood and offered it to the major studios, whose responses were favourable – well, almost. Each issued a report card in which the final category, “politics”, included comments such as: “This is real, but are the American people ready for it? Maybe they’ll never be.”

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