Amira Hass Eqbal Ahmad Memorial Lecture

The brave and gifted Israeli journalist Amira Hass, daughter of Nazi Holocaust survivors and a past resident of Gaza (she authored a book about Gaza in 2000), was a featured lecturer at this year’s Eqbal Ahmad Memorial hosted by Hampshire College.

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London Review of Books in the Israel Lobby’s crosshairs

If I had to rank the world’s best publications, I would put the London Review of Books on top. Unlike its progenitor, the NY Review of Books, it is edgier, more daring in its politics. It also has a generally-superior stable of writers. The late Edward Said was a frequent contributor, so is my friend Tariq Ali. Its Israel-Palestine beat is covered by critical voices like Rashid Khalidi, Yitzhak Laor, Ilan Pappe, Neve Gordon, Uri Avnery, Charles Glass, Henry Siegman, Alastair Crooke, Avi Shlaim, Sara Roy, Raja Shehadeh et al — writers you’ll never see in the NYRB or the New Yorker. And of course, in 2006 it did what no American publication dared do: it gave a platform to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

Unsurprisingly, it has been the target of the lobby’s wrath ever since. Earlier this year the neoconservative Standpoint magazine launched a campaign to have its (negligible) public funding revoked. It also smeared LRB editor Mary-Kay Wilmers. Now comes another salvo. Just Journalism — the UK counterpart to CAMERAhas published a ‘study’, now being publicized by the ADL, which claims to prove LRB’s anti-Israel bias (an allegation that has less sting in the UK than it does in the US). Just Journalism first tried to mask its Israel lobby origins by appointing the Egyptian-born Adel Darwish as its director. However, Darwish only lasted a few months, announcing his resignation in a rambling, semi-coherent post in which he warned that the overzealousness of the organization’s principals risked turning it into ‘a Maccarthist [sic] which-hunt of fellow journalists’. He also noted:

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A musical blast from the past

H/t to The Nation’s Greg Mitchell for finding this rare gem and posting it on Twitter.

This is from John Lennon’s documentary “Gimme Some Truth.”  It features a young Tariq Ali, Robin Blackburn, Regis Debray, and the legendary Miles Davis … shooting hoops with Lennon. Classic.


On Songs of Blood and Sword

by Saffi Ullah Ahmad

In her latest book, Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir, journalist Fatima Bhutto — better known as the niece of the late Benazir Bhutto — takes us through the dark history of one of the world’s best known political dynasties.

Fatima’s grandfather, founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, Zuliqar Ali Bhutto, was sent to the gallows (1979) following a military coup orchestrated by General Zia Ul-Haq based on what were concocted charges, despite appeals for mercy from across the diplomatic world. As Henry Kissinger had ominously threatened some years earlier, a ‘horrible example’ was made of Mr. Bhutto. As the book’s cover informs us, in the years since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s execution, all but one of his children have died; in circumstances mired in mystery, Shahnawaz Bhutto was poisoned in his flat in France (1985), Mir Murtaza Bhutto – Fatima’s father – was gunned down outside his home in Karachi (1996) and Benazir Bhutto was killed following a suicide attack in the garrison city, Rawalpindi (2007).

Above all, Songs of Blood and Sword is the tale of a grieving daughter’s frantic six year search for the truth surrounding her father’s life and death. Fatima describes a kind spirited and idealistic Murtaza, a man of the people, who had idolised Che Guevara in his youth, fittingly having adorned his bedroom walls with posters of the Cuban revolutionary. After completing studies at Harvard and an unsuccessful diplomatic battle to save his father’s life, Murtaza’s formation of a leftist guerrilla outfit bent on ousting General Zia earned him the title of a terrorist. Following the General’s own mysterious death (1988) and Benazir’s rise to power, Murtaza grew increasingly critical of his sister, who he felt had betrayed the socialist ideals upon which the PPP was founded. He eventually returned to Pakistan with political aspirations – having won a seat in a provincial assembly – only to face an uphill struggle against a hostile PPP government.

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Chalmers Johnson, RIP

Chalmers Johnson

The great Chalmers Johnson is no more. An examplary scholar, Johnson metamorphosed from a hardline Cold Warrior into one of the most formidable critics of the American Empire, mapping its ever expanding imperium of bases. His 2000 book Blowback was prophetic, and his subsequent books The Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis have been equally prescient. Each one is a must read.

Here is (to the best of my knowledge) the last recorded interview with Johnson in which he discusses his latest book, Dismantling the Empire, which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading yet:

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