Email exchanges between Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, Rebecca O’Brien and the Melbourne Film Festival organizers

Rebecca O'Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis and Leslaw Zurek at the Venice Film Festival 2007
Rebecca O'Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis and Leslaw Zurek at the Venice Film Festival 2007

PULSE Exclusive

As you may have heard by now, British film legend Ken Loach has pulled out of the Melbourne Film Festival because the organizers’ refusal to observe the cultural boycott of Israel. Following is an exchange of letters that took place between Loach, long-time co-writer Paul Laverty, co-producer Rebecca O’Brien and Richard Moore, the director of the MFF. Recall that earlier Ken Loach had drawn hysterical responses from the media when he pressured the Edinburgh Film Festival to return the funding they had received from the Israeli embassy.

Letter to the Director of Melbourne Film Festival 2009
13th July 2009

Dear Richard Moore

Sadly, we learn that your festival is sponsored in part by the State of Israel.

As you are no doubt aware, many Palestinians, including artists and academics, have called for a boycott of events supported by Israel. There are many reasons for this; the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods, the massacres in Gaza, all are part of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.

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The Violence of Illusion

Amartya Sen on Identity and Violence. In his otherwise thought provoking lecture, Sen appears to assume that identities are only determined, discovered or assumed. He overlooks the fact that sometimes they are imposed. He also appears to overlook the relations of power which accentuate identity, or for that matter the functional, defensive necessity of identity as a means of resisting domination. (thanks Eric)

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is widely recognized for his ability to join economics and philosophy, reflected in his work through ethics and a sense of common humanity. In this Hitchcock Lecture from UC Berkeley he explores the violence of illusion.

Obama’s War

Tariq Ali in the London Review of Books on the North-West Frontier.

PAKISTAN/
These women and children have rights, too.

June is never a good month on the plains. It was 46ºC in Fortress Islamabad a fortnight ago. The hundreds of security guards manning roadblocks and barriers were wilting, sweat pouring down their faces as they waved cars and motorbikes through. The evening breeze brought no respite. It, too, was unpleasantly warm, and it was difficult not to sympathise with those who, defying the law, jumped into the Rawal Lake, the city’s main reservoir, in an attempt to cool down. Further south in Lahore it was even hotter, and there were demonstrations when the generator at Mangla that sporadically supplies the city with electricity collapsed completely.

As far as the political temperature goes there is never a good month in Pakistan. This is a country whose fate is no longer in its own hands. I have never known things so bad. The chief problems are the United States and its requirements, the religious extremists, the military high command, and corruption, not just on the part of President Zardari and his main rivals, but spreading well beyond them.

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PULSE Announcement

Friends,

radio_microphonePULSE is maintaining a different posting schedule in the coming months. While for the past seven months we have been daily posting both original material from our contributing editors as well as aggregating press picks, our focus for the remainder of the year, before we make a decision about migrating to a self-hosted CMS site, will be on original material and less frequent commentary, perhaps on a weekly basis.

As we have found — with many of our valued contributors completing books and doctoral theses — a website that maintains a regular daily posting schedule like this requires time and resources. While it costs little to run the platform itself, it does take time away from employment which sustains us. If you like what you see and might suggest funding options to be able to provide a more full-time service, we’d be interested in hearing from you.

Thanks for supporting PULSE, and we look forward to bringing you more great reading.

How to Write about Africa

Kenyan literary critic Binyavanga Wainaina offers some handy tips for all would-be saviours of Africa.

UNICEF does more good

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

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John Mearsheimer on Israel National Radio

John Mearsheimer
John Mearsheimer

John Mearsheimer, during his 2008 visit to Israel, interviewed on Arutz Sheva‘s Israel National Radio show.

John does a great job arguing for his positions yet his extremist pro-settlement hosts seem determined to paint him as an anti-Semite. All Mearsheimer really argues is that he wants it to be possible to criticise Israel’s bad policies in the United States – it’s difficult to see why any sensible person could have a problem with this.

Toward the end, after they’ve ditched John, they even claim the next Holocaust will be in America and that it’s being brought about by a new sophisticated anti-Semitism, contained in Mearsheimers & Walt’s book The Israel Lobby, and this new anti-Semitism is the “most dangerous thing on the market today.”

Mearsheimer on Israel National Radio (48:31) | MP3

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