Syria Speaks on Front Row

I spent the last eight days on tour with Syria’s greatest novelist Khaled Khalifa, artist Khalil Younis, and writers Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen. We were promoting the Syria Speaks book, a collection of art, cartoons, essays, short stories and novel extracts from revolutionary Syria. It felt useful to approach the subject through human stories rather than banging the head against the tired old political discourses. I’m writing about the tour and book for a piece which should be published next month. In the meantime, here on BBC Radio 4′s Front Row, Khaled, Malu and I discuss the new culture, Khaled’s experience under bombs, and the ISIS phenomenon.

The Cultural Cold War, Frances Saunders

cultural-cold-war-saundersFrances Saunders talked about how the Central Intelligence Agency created the Congress for Cultural Freedom in 1947 as a secret program of cultural propaganda in Western Europe. The program focused on creating and sponsoring pro-American arts and literature. Following her remarks she answered questions from the audience.

Frances Saunders is the author of The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, published by the New Press.

The article that first sparked Saunders’ interest in this subject can be read here: Abstract Expressionism, Weapon of the Cold War.

Click here to watch the lecture.

More on “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir”: India and Zubin Mehta’s Psyop Concert in Indian Occupied Kashmir

We appeal all sections of Kashmiri society to join the Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir event to express their solidarity with the resilience and suffering of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Live Aid, Live Ammo: India and Zubin Mehta's Psyop Concert in Kashmir
Live Aid, Live Ammo: India and Zubin Mehta’s Psyop Concert in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Organizing Committee, Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir

Press release, 5 September 2013

On 22 August 2013, the German Embassy, New Delhi, issued a press release that Zubin Mehta would be conducting an orchestra on 7 September 2013, at the Mughal Garden, Shalimar Bagh, in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. On 26 August 2013, civil society members of Jammu and Kashmir – from lawyers and businessmen to poets and scholars – registered a strong protest against the proposed concert and concerns were communicated to the German Embassy and the people of Germany – from political representatives to artists and activists.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir take immense pride in our rich history of resisting oppression. We also have historically cultivated a sublime tradition in, and love for, music. Music – which appeals to the higher values of love, justice, dignity, and peace; which genuinely acknowledges the long-suffering, yet bravely resisting, Kashmiris; and which is performed for the actual public – is wholeheartedly welcome.

However, legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented in history, is put to horrific use across the world. Art as propaganda in Jammu and Kashmir is unacceptable. The Zubin Mehta concert is organized and controlled by Government of India and the German Embassy, with extensive corporate sponsorship. It serves to build on the State narrative that seeks to dilute the reality of Jammu and Kashmir and peoples’ aspirations. It seeks to promote an image of a “peaceful” and “normal” Jammu and Kashmir. The pain, suffering, courage and bravery of the resistance will find no place in this concert. Indian State operations that seek to support the occupation must be resisted. To build this Statist narrative of Jammu and Kashmir, an estimated Rs.100 crores [INR 10 billion or USD 16 million] is reported to being spent, and invitations have been sent to corporate India (Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Bajajs, CII, FICCI..), the film world (Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Katrina Kaif…) and sportsmen (Sachin Tendulkar, Boris Becker…). It is most condemnable that the Government of Germany has chosen to be party to the Indian States’ continued political machinations in Jammu and Kashmir. So far Indian army and various Indian institutions have been organizing psychological operations which are termed by Indian military as Sadbhavana Operation. We protest German government’s joining the efforts of Indian army. It appears an attempt by the Indian State to outsource its military psychological operations to the international community. Continue reading “More on “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir”: India and Zubin Mehta’s Psyop Concert in Indian Occupied Kashmir”

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir [The Reality of Kashmir]: A Journey of Counter-Memory

On Sept 7, we invite EVERYONE to come join us at noon, at the Municipal Park (near GPO), Srinagar, as we mark the “dark times” of the military occupation, and commemorate the luminosity of AZADI: the light of faith, of freedom, of our blood-soaked struggle for justice, dignity, and true peace. Luminosity that cuts through the deep darkness of the “dark times” and reflects the resilience of human spirit in all its grace.

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir: The Reality of Kashmir
Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir: The Reality of Kashmir

A Cultural Aesthetic Tribute to the Resilience and Struggle of the People of Jammu & Kashmir

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
~ Bertolt Brecht

On Sept 7, we invite EVERYONE — and not just a handpicked 1500 — to come join us at noon, at the Municipal Park (near GPO), Srinagar, as we mark the “dark times” of the military occupation, and commemorate the luminosity of AZADI: the light of faith, of freedom, of our blood-soaked struggle for justice, dignity, and true peace. Luminosity that cuts through the deep darkness of the “dark times” and reflects the resilience of human spirit in all its grace.

We invite EVERYONE to send in cultural aesthetic texts: poetry, paintings, photographs, multimedia, performance art, songs, et cetera on the ABOVE THEME to haqeeqatekashmir@gmail.com

Continue reading “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir [The Reality of Kashmir]: A Journey of Counter-Memory”

Creative Community for Peace in Letter to Jose Feliciano: Healing with Music in Colonial Times, Building Bridges Over the Bodies of the Oppressed

Right: Jose Feliciano Left: Steve Schnur

Jose Feliciano is scheduled to perform in apartheid Israel on October 10, at Nokia Stadium. Already he’s being sent messages professing liberal language of equality and harmony for all, by that elite club for the endless cycle of war profiteering, whitewashing and violence, otherwise known as “Creative Community for Peace” (CCfP). Creative Community for Peace is a specialist in apartheid PR. They’re mere existence is about diverting attention from Israel’s systematic daily war crimes against the Palestinian population under its control, by abusing the word “Peace” and shooting the messenger- Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists (BDS), who connect the dots between Israel’s image of itself and the reality of its erasure of the Palestinian narrative and people.

Unfortunately, Jose Feliciano, for the time being, endorses the “Creative Community for Peace” statement that has been sent to him, and has posted it on the website. Continue reading “Creative Community for Peace in Letter to Jose Feliciano: Healing with Music in Colonial Times, Building Bridges Over the Bodies of the Oppressed”

Rihanna, Get on the Virtual Tour-Bus: From Yarkon Park Tel Aviv, Around the World, to Occupied Palestine!

At the hight of the campaign to urge Alicia Keys to cancel her performance in apartheid Israel, the Jerusalem Post excitedly announced that “despite the bad investment” Israel is willing to “invest” in Forbes’ fourth most powerful celebrity of 2012, Rihanna. The mega-celebrity, holding the formidable position of most popular person on Facebook, 4th most followed on Twitter, and most viewed and subscribed musician on YouTube, is returning to Israel for a second time, on October 22.

Rihanna Unlike Alicia Keys, Rihanna is quite reachable, so make sure to go to her page at http://www.rihannanow.com/contact/ and respectfully explain why she should cancel her performance in Israel.

Since Rihanna is returning for a second time, it seems to me she may have missed the official celebrity tour by the Tourism Ministry. So I’d like to guide Rihanna on a virtual journey, from Yarkon Park Tel Aviv to occupied Palestine.

Continue reading “Rihanna, Get on the Virtual Tour-Bus: From Yarkon Park Tel Aviv, Around the World, to Occupied Palestine!”

The Jenin Jenin Amendment: Israel from Ethnocracy to Fascism

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.

Continue reading “The Jenin Jenin Amendment: Israel from Ethnocracy to Fascism”

A Response to Jacky Terrasson’s Agent, Christophe Deghelt, about the Red Sea Jazz Festival

Note: I don’t speak French, I’m responding to a Google Translate version of the original post, so I’ll refrain from my usual special attention to semantics, in order not to dwell on what may be a technical mistake in translation.

Jacky terrasson with manneger Christophe Deghelt
Jacky terrasson with manneger Christophe Deghelt

Last Wednesday, Jacky Terrasson’s agent, Christophe Deghelt, responded to the massive campaign to boycott the Israel state sponsored Red Sea Jazz Festival (more details on the government and corporate connections of the festival in this article). Since thought did actually go into this post, I think we in the BDS movement should respond. So here it is, point-by-point. I hope this furthers public discussion, as BDS so often does, because just like Christophe Deghelt, this is a “debate that I hold dear”.

On Notions of  War, Peace, and Popular Struggle

Continue reading “A Response to Jacky Terrasson’s Agent, Christophe Deghelt, about the Red Sea Jazz Festival”

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