Pilger: War, Media and Wikileaks

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.

Curiosities Abound in Assange Case

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

John Pilger (Photo: AFP)

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.

Continue reading “Curiosities Abound in Assange Case”

Manufacturing Consent and Violence: Azadi, Arundhati, Hindutva Terror, and Indian Media

by Huma Dar

At a groundbreaking seminar, ‘Azadi: The Only Way,’ organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) in New Delhi, India, on October 21st, 2010, the minutes record that Arundhati Roy, the prize-winning author of The God of Small Things, asserted that

[Kashmir] has never been an integral part of India and the Indian government recognised it as a disputed territory and took it to the UN on its own accord. In 1947 we were told that India became a sovereign democracy. But it became a country as per the imagination of its colonizer, and continued to be a colonizer even after the British left the country. Indian state forcibly or deceitfully annexed the North-East, Goa, Junagarh, Telangana, etc… the Indian state has waged a protracted war against the people which it calls its own. Who are the people it has waged war against? The people of North-East, Kashmir, Punjab, etc. This is an upper caste Hindu state waging a continuing struggle against the people. Continue reading “Manufacturing Consent and Violence: Azadi, Arundhati, Hindutva Terror, and Indian Media”

A net loss of freedom

by David Miller

When the anger of a prominent young thinktanker causes one of the world’s largest web-hosting companies to shut down a site that monitors lobbying and transparency, it is time to start asking questions about online free speech and censorship.

Last week, as Hugh Muir reported in the Guardian diary, the website SpinProfiles was taken down by the domain name registrar, 1 & 1 Internet, following a complaint from Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, son of journalist Christopher.

SpinProfiles, run by sister organisation Spinwatch, aims to stitch together publicly available information to provide a detailed picture of who’s who in the shadowy world of lobbying. It features close to ten thousand profiles of think tanks, lobbying organisations and those associated with them.

The profile of Meleagrou-Hitchens, a 26-year old thinktanker and blogger, detailed his work for American and British rightwing and neoconservative thinktanks, blogs and magazines, and his particular interest in Islam. He is or has been associated with the UK-based neoconservative Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics and with the two leading UK-based conservative thinktanks, Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Cohesion.

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The Images Israel Doesn’t Want You To See

Cultures of Resistance filmmaker Iara Lee, who was on board the Mavi Marmara, has just released previously unseen footage of the massacre that took place on the ship. This is a 15-minute clip of an hour long tape she managed to smuggle out. (At about 05:10 you see the target list being carried by the Israeli soldiers)

Warning: video contains very disturbing images

Continue reading “The Images Israel Doesn’t Want You To See”

Al Jazeera’s Jamal ElShayyal Recounts Attack on the Mavi Marmara

An interview with Al Jazeera‘s Jamal Elshayyal, who was on board the Mavi Marmara and filed his last report as IDF commandos were descending onto to the deck of the ship, launching their murderous attack. Elshayyal debunks some of the falsehoods of the Israeli propaganda machine and recounts his (mis)treatment by IDF forces.

See also Mel Frykberg’s article about the censorship imposed by the IDF on journalists covering this story, who were systematically denied access to the passangers of the flotilla. Furthermore, many journalists who were on board the ships were subjected to inhumane treatment and denied consular access and legal representation, in clear violation of international law.

It is interesting to note that viewers are regularly informed about restrictions on media freedoms whenever the BBC and other western outlets report from countries such as Zimbabwe, Iran and other official enemies. Not so in the case of Israel, ‘the only democracy in the Middle East‘.

The Carnival at Novara and Unmasking of a Racist Regime

by Huma Dar

The police, in the northern Italian town of Novara, fined a 26-year-old Tunisian woman for wearing a black niqab; she was going to a mosque for the Friday prayers.  According to the New York Times she was fined about $650 under a regulation introduced in January 2010.  Apparently, Novara — a bastion of the xenophobic Northern League — “bans clothing in public that prevents identification by the police.”

Continue reading “The Carnival at Novara and Unmasking of a Racist Regime”

A Suitable Boy, “Decent” People, and Names that Pass (The King is Out: Part IV)

by Huma Dar

[read Part I Part II Part III]

Ripping Apart the King, Separating Him from Kajol

In the second half of the film, My Name is Khan (2010), Karan Johar shows that Rizwan Khan’s wife, Mandira (played by Kajol) is on a personal journey to obtain justice for her son and accountability from the perpetrators of a hate crime.  It is thus ironic that Mandira’s own negligence towards Rizwan Khan (played by SRK) and the lack of accountability for making him set off on an ostensibly unfeasible mission, albeit in a fit of grief and anger, is not problematized at all in the film.  A mission that might very well have remained unfulfilled but for Rizwan Khan’s Herculean efforts, his unusual talents and disabilities, and a string of exceptional circumstances.  Rizwan Khan, given his Asperger’s syndrome, “fear of new places,” and his Muslimness (actively practiced), would have been equally, if not more, susceptible to the kind of hate crime that victimized Mandira’s son.  After the initial outburst at the place of death, Mandira had had enough time to re-think  the consequences of her angry directive to Khan, yet she never apologizes to Khan.  Here too, the immediate context of Bollywood, the multiple Hindu-Muslim marriages amongst the stars of Bombay, and the general lack of acceptance of such marriages in mainstream India are crucial to keep in mind.

Continue reading “A Suitable Boy, “Decent” People, and Names that Pass (The King is Out: Part IV)”

Shahrukh Khan and the Pound of Flesh: the Cost of Stardom (The King is Out: Part II)

by Huma Dar

[read Part I]

Shahrukh Khan (SRK) has a long history of playing the fraught field (of the Indian context) with flawless diplomacy, perhaps even overplaying the field.  In early 2002, precisely during the days of the state-sponsored anti-Muslim pogroms in Indian Gujarat, the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, from BJP (a Hindu Nationalist party), released an MTV-esque album,Samvedna [Sensitivity]. Widely broadcast on Doordarshan, the State-owned television channel, as well as on Indian-American programs (at least in the San Francisco Bay Area), the video features Vajpayee reciting his Hindi poetry while Jagjit Singh, the ghazal singer, sings in tune.  The album is prefaced by the rhapsodizing words of Javed Akhtar — another famous Muslim from Bollywood, narrated by Amitabh Bachhan.

Continue reading “Shahrukh Khan and the Pound of Flesh: the Cost of Stardom (The King is Out: Part II)”

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