A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter


I’m a journalist and I’m in the US State Department
Posted: 01 Feb 2011 03:56 PM PST

If more evidence was needed that the vast majority of US corporate media is in the service of US foreign policy, coverage of the anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt have often overlooked the rather important detail of Washington’s backing.
For example, here’s ABC‘s Christiane Amanpour:

The implications are really big because this is very fundamental. Egypt receives the most American aid, more than $1 billion a year. It has the same goals as the United States against radicalization and terrorism, pro the Israeli peace process. But the United States, many people are saying, needs to get ahead of the curve, because otherwise it might be left behind as the people demonstrate their will.

Thanks for the advice for the US, Christiane.


Majority Jewish Israelis loathe real democracy
Posted: 01 Feb 2011 04:40 AM PST


Fully 52 percent of Israeli Jews would be willing to limit the media’s freedom of expression if media reports damage the state’s image, while 64 percent would accept limits on freedom of expression in the event of a threat to national security, a poll has found.
Similar percentages would accept limits on professors’ academic freedom in those circumstances.
Asked whether current circumstances justify limiting freedom of expression, respondents were evenly divided: 35 percent said yes and 34 percent said no.
The poll found that 55 percent of Israeli Jews would accept limits on the right to oppose the government’s defense policy, while only 28 percent would not. 26 percent favored restricting the right to oppose the government’s foreign policy, while the figures for education, health and economic policy were 25, 18 and 16 percent, respectively. In contrast, 42 to 66 percent opposed restricting opposition to government policy in these fields.


Why al-Jazeera is a threat
Posted: 01 Feb 2011 01:54 AM PST

Jeremy Scahill is spot-on; the Arabic news channel does what the vast bulk of Western media refused to do since 9/11; remain unembedded with American foreign policy goals:

The real threat Al Jazeera poses to authoritarian regimes is in its unembedded journalism. That is why the Bush Administration viewed Al Jazeera as a threat, it is why Mubarak’s regime is trying to shut it down and that is why the network is so important to the unfolding revolutions in the Middle East. It is the same role the network plays in reporting on the disastrous US war in Afghanistan.
Part of why Al Jazeera has become acceptable is that, unlike throughout much of the Bush era, it now has a full 24-hour English language news channel filled with veteran reporters who came to the network from CNN, the BBC and other Western news outlets. When it was an Arabic language only network, it was a lot easier to demonize and malign because fact-checking US officials’ fabrications and pronouncements required a real effort.
At the end of the day, the real test of whether there is a substantive change in Washington’s stance toward independent, unembedded journalists and journalism will likely not involve Al Jazeera, but some other news outlet or journalist. And that test will be real only when that journalist or media outlets’ rights are in direct conflict with Washington’s agenda.


West Bank and Gaza Arabs likely to march in numbers, too?
Posted: 01 Feb 2011 01:32 AM PST

Amira Hass in Haaretz says it’s highly unlikely because Palestinians are exhausted and both live in police states. They wonder; what would it really gain?

On Thursday, January 20, a group of young people wanted to demonstrate their support for the Tunisians. As is customary nowadays, they organized themselves using Facebook and e-mail. And in accordance with Palestinian law, they informed the police 48 hours in advance of their intention to gather in Manara Square – only to learn that public demonstrations in support of the Tunisian people had been forbidden.
Some of the young people arrived at the square anyway, at the scheduled time. They were surprised to find that, completely by chance, another demonstration was taking place there at that time – to express solidarity with and concern for Haytham Salhiyeh, a prisoner in an Israeli jail against whom, prisoner organizations claim, an attempted poisoning took place.
The people who had shown up to support the revolt in Tunisia decided to join the other demonstration. But because one of them was still carrying a Tunisian flag, policemen rushed over and dispersed the crowd. It is superfluous to add that, a few days later, protests against Al Jazeera – which had leaked the so-called Palestine Papers – were held without disturbance.

Can one therefore conclude that the Hamas authorities in Gaza are allowing solidarity demonstrations to be staged (just as they permitted protests against the PA last week following Al Jazeera’s publication of the Palestine Papers )? On Saturday, a young woman went to the Gaza police where she, too, relying on the same law mentioned above, announced the intention of a group of youths to demonstrate support for the current uprisings in Arab countries. Forget it, they told her. In case anyone thought differently, Hamas is also afraid of the subversive potential and the messages of emancipation.
Both in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian authorities have already proven their excellent ability to suppress demonstrations. Is this what is preventing Palestinians from expressing solidarity with their Arab brethren, who for years were inspired by the scenes of the Palestinian intifada?
The fear that the protests will be suppressed is not the central reason, said a friend who is older than the young people who sought to demonstrate in Ramallah and Gaza.
“We instigated two intifadas and look what came of them – the situation only got worse,” he told me. “The first brought us the Palestinian Authority and then the expansion of the settlements; the second – destruction, Israeli repression that is worse than before, and the Hamas regime. People are depressed. They don’t see any point in protests. The hope that the dictatorship of occupation would fall if we took to the streets – like in Tunisia and Egypt – has evaporated.”


Neo-con tells Egyptians to think of Israel
Posted: 31 Jan 2011 09:13 PM PST

Lee Smith in Tablet shows why his ideology is about as relevant to the Arab world as rabies:

Maybe this should be one of the tests for Egypt’s democrats in the streets: Where do you stand on Israel? If they are really democrats, or just pragmatists, the young among them protesting for higher pay would answer that warmer relations with an advanced, European-style economy—like, say, Israel’s—would provide jobs for the millions of Egypt’s unemployed.


Female Egyptian voice from the heart of the Cairo protests
Posted: 31 Jan 2011 09:00 PM PST



How can one be non-partisan when discussing war crimes in Sri Lanka?
Posted: 31 Jan 2011 07:21 PM PST

Curator of the Galle Literary Festival, Shyam Selvadurai, answers a host of questions about the event. Once again, it’s clear that our boycott call has placed necessary focus on Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses:

Q: There were also reports of a panel on media freedom, which was eventually cancelled. What went wrong there?
A: We just couldn’t put it together. It was a last minute thing. It was just hard to find the panel we wanted because it has to be fair and balanced. You have to give voice to both sides, it’s very important we have to appear non partisan and impartial and we couldn’t find the panelists that we felt would reflect a balanced point of view.  We stand above all this partisan politics and it’s very important we keep that.

Q: Is it true that you were unable to find any government representatives who were willing to speak at the panel?
A: We looked. It was a bit hard. But at some point we just couldn’t, and you have to move on. At the end I wasn’t happy with what I had before me and as a curator you should always stand behind it. Being fair and balanced is very important for me.

Q: What are your opinions on freedom of expression in this country?
A: Well, I think it’s an ongoing problem that has to be addressed.


What, Tel Aviv can’t just survive with bribes?
Posted: 31 Jan 2011 07:13 PM PST

Gideon Levy in Haaretz:

The Egyptian regime became an ally of the Israeli occupation. The joint siege of Gaza is irrefutable proof of that. The Egyptian people didn’t like it. They never liked the peace agreement with Israel, in which Israel committed itself to “respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” but never kept its word. Instead, the people of Egypt got the scenes of Operation Cast Lead.
It is not enough to have a handful of embassies in order to be accepted in the region. There also have to be embassies of goodwill, a just image and a state that is not an occupier. Israel has to make its way into the hearts of the Arab peoples, who will never agree to the continued repression of their brothers, even if their intelligence ministers will continue to cooperate with Israel.


Wikileaks; is our government letting us down?
Posted: 31 Jan 2011 07:08 PM PST

I’ll be appearing at the following event next week in Sydney presented by the Australian Institute of International Affairs:

Hosted by: AIIA NSW
The event will start on: Tuesday, 08 February 2011 6:00 PM
And will end on: Tuesday, 08 February 2011 7:30 PM
At The Glover Cottages, Sydney
124 Kent Street , Sydney NSW
0280114728     [email protected]

Posted by: nsw

To discuss this critical aspect of democracy in international relations, the AIIA in NSW is privileged to bring to the Glover Cottages senior diplomats, journalists and lawyers. The discussion will be led by John McCarthy AO, national president of the AIIA, and former Australian envoy to India, Washington, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Mexico,  and Peter Kerr, executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, which published many of the WikiLeaks in Australia. They will be joined by a prominent lawyer, and by the writer Antony Loewenstein . The session will be moderated by Colin Chapman, whose extensive experience in international journalism includes senior editorial executive positions at the Financial Times, the London Sunday Times. The Australian and the BBC.

Why do many of those who lead Australia – and many other countries – so often present a misleading picture of international issues?  And when WikiLeaks publishes factual accounts of cables to the US State Department, why have there been calls for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to be punished?  Some in America have even suggested a trial followed by capital punishment. Julia Gillard has been ambivalent, and the attorney-general, Robert McClelland went so far as to suggest Mr Assange could lose his Australian citizenship.
At the other extreme, some have suggested that WikiLeaks could supplant modern journalism, thought to have fallen down on its task of providing accurate information and intelligent analysis on many international issues, including the war in Afghanistan.
Yet WikiLeaks had no role in the current wave of unrest in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt. Even social networks, characterised by some as being the catalyst for the turmoil, have failed to inform, leaving the public little option but to rely on old fashioned quality journalism.
In this brouhaha,  what has happened to Freedom of Information and pledges by governments to become more frank and open?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *