On +972 magazine, IPCRI’s Dan Goldenblatt has invited “anyone who has criticism of how we at IPCRI try to advance this goal to tell us so, engage and challenge us, and help us and others improve.” As a long-time critic of the “liberal left” “peace industry” (I thank Goldenblatt himself for the latter term), I’m taking him up on his invitation, picking up from where PACBI left off. To start off, I’ll wonder whether IPCRI “brought [themselves] together” with PACBI to “meet, discuss, argue, build, take apart, share and cooperate”? Or did Goldenblatt just write up his public response to PACBI’s engaging and challenging critique of the organization?
by Abbas Al Lawati
On August 19, the Israeli consulate in New York tweeted: #BBC “Panorama” presents arguably the most complete & thorough account of the #Flotilla.
The documentary has not received much endorsement elsewhere. Instead there have been loud protests of bias, especially among those aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest vessel in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli commandos raided on May 31, killing nine activists.
Recently aired, the Panorama documentary, entitled Death in the Med, was produced by the BBC’s veteran documentary maker Jane Corbin. It claims to investigate the “real agenda” of “those who call themselves peace activists”.
A close analysis of the documentary reveals a troubling lack of objectivity in trying to paint the activists, headed by the Turkish relief organisation IHH, as radical Islamists bent on waging violent jihad.
As you know Panorama aired ‘Death in the Med’ this week. Well Jane, I have been in the media game long enough to know that moral depravity and lack of integrity are qualities that are rewarded rather than discouraged in your field of work. With such experience it is impossible for me to take commitments from someone like yourself seriously, and that is why I recorded our conversation clandestinely, a conversation in which you confirmed the agreement that was made between the BBC and myself with yourself and Alys as BBC representatives. In that agreement it was clear that I would agree to the interview if only you included the fact that we let the commandos go. Knowing that was the agreement and anticipating that I was going to confirm it once more after the interview you said;
Well its the point about we didn’t kill the commandos, we had them in… that will be in there don’t worry. (laughing) That’s, that is important for us because obviously they would say they felt their lives were in danger, to which the corollary is, well their lives could have been in danger but we let them go. I think that’s a very strong point.
So, instead of your team honouring its commitment to me, you instead aired a farcical report with multitudes of half-truths, lies, omissions and importantly, Israeli commandos who escaped rather than being set free. Let us be frank Jane, the reason for that is because it is impossible to square the whole angle that we are “terrorists” and extremists” and killers, if we let them go. It just doesn’t fit. So for BBC in this case, when the facts do not work, you lie. In an attempt to justify this, the BBC has written an insulting letter in defence of your fallacious fairytale; this is due to the torrent of complaints that have resulted from Death in the Med.
Seumas Milne sums up well the reasons why some caution is necessary. ‘The turmoil in Tehran reflects a refusal to accept Amadinejad is popular and confusion about how to respond to the US’, he writes.
Also, it appears Robert Fisk can’t decide from one day to another where he stands. On his first day he had declared Ahmadinejad a winner because someone told him so. Now he is claiming, based on the photocopy of a forged letter being distributed at an opposition rally, that not only did Ahmadinejad lose, he lost by a margin of 4-to-1. Imagine that! And why would a veteran journalist suspend his skepticism to clutch at such an obviously bogus piece of propaganda? (which among other things also claims that Mehdi Karroubi — a man that independent polls showed receiving 2 percent, as opposed to AN’s 34 percent — won more than twice as many votes as Ahmadinejad). Look at the reasoning of this doyen of British journalism:
In a highly sophisticated society like Iran, forgery is as efficient as anywhere in the West and there are reasons for both distrusting and believing this document. But it divides the final vote between Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi in such a way that it would have forced a second run-off vote – scarcely something Mousavi’s camp would have wanted.
So Fisk first asserts that the reasons for believing a document with such outlandish claims inconsistent with any known independent polls and the dubious manner in which it was acquired are just as good as the reasons for doubting it. He then nudges the reader toward his implicit conclusion, that the document can’t be a forgery, since it does not give Mousavi outright victory. Who could argue with such impeccable deductive reasoning? This is not journalism, this is propaganda.
Here’s Milne’s corrective:
‘They have elected a Labour government,” a Savoy diner famously declared on the night of Britain’s election landslide in 1945. “The country will never stand for it.” From the evidence so far coming out of Iran, something similar seems to be happening on the streets of Tehran – and in the western capitals just as desperate to see the back of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Of course the movement behind opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi spreads far beyond the capital’s elite, as did the supporters of Winston Churchill against Clement Attlee. In Iran, it includes large sections of the middle class, students and the secular. But a similar misreading of their own social circles for the country at large appears to have convinced the opposition’s supporters that it can only have lost last Friday’s election through fraud.
Christopher Hitchens used to be an intrepid muckraker of the Left. He used to be friends with the likes of Edward Said, Chomsky, Tariq Ali et al; and he used to take on people like Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and assorted pundits of the Right. Since 9/11 he made his peace with power, and turned the crosshairs 180 degrees to people already targets of the right’s vast army of character assassins. He valiantly used perches provided by Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Blackt to assault the likes of Howard Zinn, Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, and, in the most dastardly act of his career, he attacked Edward Said when his health was in terminal decline, and again in his obituary. Last month karma caught up with him when he was turned into a punching bag by members of the SSNP in Lebanon for desecrating the memorial of a martyr from the 1982 war against Israel. This odious creature who once used to wow notoriously Anglophile American audiences with his Oxbridge accent feigning high birth (he actually comes from a rather undistinguished stock) it appears is now trying to prolong his declining career by appealing to the Jackass generation. He has event adopted its juvenile lingo, renaming his column ‘Hitch-Bitch’, appropriately adorned with an image of him doing a mook-on-steroids expression for the camera. At this rate I suspect we’ll soon be hearing that his obesity is nothing more than an Awesum Xperiment in XTREEEEEMMME health!
This reminded me of an excellent interview with Benjamin Barber on his last book Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, where he speaks about this very phenomena.
Gore Vidal once said of Truman Capote that his death was a good career move. I suspect that for the same reason Rory Carroll wishes deep inside that his encounter with the Mahdi Army in Iraq had also been fatal. That way, at least he would still have a reputation, since most people tend to instinctively assume the best of the departed.
This clown has been redeployed to Venezuela, and as is the wont of every tabloid hack who through whatever stroke of luck graduates to a putatively respectable publication, he appears to conflate the country with its leading demonized figure, in this case the person of Hugo Chavez. In his tortured attempts to make the Venezuelan leader appear buffoonish (no mean feat for someone who comes from a place which thrice elected Tony Blair its Grand Ayatullah), he invariably ends up making himself look ridiculous. For the past few days he has been running silly reports about how the name of a new affordable mobile phone produced indigenously may be a slang reference to a penis. I felt compelled to send him this email:
I am moved by the fact that you offer your readers some modest amusement in these hard times by making public your fascination with male genitalia . But you must take into account the possibility that some of your readers may have already entered their teens and expect that a reporter covering a country of 28 million people and nearly a million square kilometers would have more significant things to report than real or imagined penis references made by its leader. Besides, tautology is not good form; there is already a dick in the byline.
Don’t hesitate to convey your displeasure: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Tomasky isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. Sources tell me that the Guardian hired him because they were looking for a US commentator on the cheap, and he was all they could afford. The analysis as you can see is mediocre, and frankly quite worthless. You never get anything better than a diluted summary of the conventional wisdom in Washington, i.e., the accumulated inanity of the windbags that constitute the US punditocracy. See for example this piece on Paul Krugman’s critique of Obama’s economic policy. Strike that. The piece doesn’t say anything about Paul Krugman’s critique; this glorified gossip columnist reduces it to a personal feud. But more egregiously, see this report on Obama’s handshake with Chavez. The liberal realist that he is, he ridicules the tantrums of the extremists on Fox News etc to defend Obama. He does so however on the grounds that past presidents have shaken hands with bad people too! Not content with taking cheap swipes at Hugo Chavez, he then goes on to disparage his choice of a gift for the US president. He divines Obama’s inner feelings about the gift, telling us he was ‘not too happy’, because ‘We all know who Eduardo Galeano is, and what kind of books he writes’. As a matter of fact we do: he writes Great Books. Books of the kind that the Tomasky’s of the world will probably never read because they will remind them of their own inadequacies. Or perhaps simply because they are just too illiterate. That’s why the Guardian got him for a discount.
Here are ‘the kinds of things [Galeano] writes‘.