NBC dares to show Gaza

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

A mainstream American TV report on life in Gaza. A rarity:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rules of the cyberjihad

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

In my book The Blogging Revolution I examine Tehran’s various methods of censoring the web and torturing online dissidents.

That campaign is only getting worse and Western firms are complicit:

Iran’s mullahcracy inevitably recalls the latter days of the Soviet Union. But — at least until the very end — the Soviet censors could clamp down with brute force on the spread of information so that foreign journalists simply didn’t know what was happening behind the Iron Curtain. They had it easy: no Internet. The journalism-hunters in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran must cope with a world in which information spreads freely, where satellite dishes are everywhere and more than 22 million Iranians use the Internet. To keep up, the embattled government has done everything in its power over the last year first to stanch the flow of stories and then to make the stories that inevitably leak out impossible for outsiders to verify. It has managed to erect, if not a sturdy, leak-proof wall like its Soviet forebears, at least a confusing and ever-adapting smokescreen.

ran employs a vast and sometimes invisible army of paid minions and ideological myrmidons to help frame every question in the public domain — and even manufacture convenient “facts” to fit its claims. A major element of this is a massive and largely unreported initiative, which the government — increasingly obsessed with fighting what the political organ of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Sobhe Sadeq, calls America’s “soft power” — refers to as the “Cyberjihad.” The Iranian government has reportedly deployed 10,000 members of the Basij, its thuggish militia, in service of this “jihad.” Western companies like Nokia Siemens have been selling Iran the technologies and the know-how needed to censor and control the Internet. The government’s allies have carried out successful hacks on sites close to the opposition, including opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s site Kaleme, the site linked to reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi, and dozens belonging to key dissidents in exile.

The Iranian government trains its cyberjihadists in everything from how to influence chat rooms to the “semiotics of cyberspace,” according to a curriculum sent to me by a disgruntled regime member. The IRGC site Gerdab.ir features photos of demonstrators, seeking in effect to crowd-source surveillance. Since September, the IRGC has owned the telecommunications giant that controls all Internet access, cell phones, and social networking sites in Iran. But the story of Iran’s cyberjihad has gone almost entirely unremarked in the Western media, despite its massive scale and relative effectiveness.

Perhaps somebody should tell Tel Aviv that there’s something called the web

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough explains the ways in which the Israelis tried to manipulate the image:

Well, before they came on the ship, we were able to do our jobs as our contracts require of us. We were filing regular reports. We had satellites. We had handheld sat phones. We had computers that linked into those satellite phones. We had Kate’s very expensive cameras. Anywhere between $60,000 and $80,000 worth of equipment was confiscated from us, and we have not seen it. We were not given receipts for it.

But the thing that—talking to people who were on all of the boats, while we were in detention, the systematic attempt and very deliberate first priority for the Israeli soldiers as they came on the ships was to shut down the story, to confiscate all cameras, to shut down satellites, to smash the CCTV cameras that were on the Mavi Marmara, to make sure that nothing was going out. They were hellbent on controlling the story. If you go back to the Dubai disaster, where the story played so badly for the Israelis in January with the murder of the Hamas operative, they are so concerned and so aware of the importance of controlling the narrative at any volatile point in the crisis that their first priority was, as I said, to shut down any other story.

It’s clearly alright to harass Arab women

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

Hanin Zoabi, Palestinian member of the Knesset currently facing a hate campaign by mad Zionists, recalls the behaviour of Jewish parliamentarians after her detention near Gaza last week:

During the first meeting, there was a hard aggression, and they called me “traitor” and “terrorist.” “Where are the knives? Where do you hide the knives?” You see, and even sexual—even sexual remarks, even things related to my age, even things related to the fact that I’m a single, I’m not a married woman. They said to me, “Go to Gaza. You are thirty-eight years old. Go, and we will see if you will manage to be in Gaza and to live in Gaza as a single woman, thirty-eight years old.” It was below any level. It was below not just unethical remarks and not just unhuman remarks. It was something that I never imagined to be in the Parliament. It was something unbelievable.

Repeat after me; no Twitter explosion in the Islamic Republic

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

I’ve written before about the hyped media campaign last year that falsely claimed the civil unrest in Iran was a Twitter Revolution. In fact, many of the Iranian Twitter accounts were being run from inside the US.

So how many hacks will read this?

But it is time to get Twitter’s role in the events in Iran right. Simply put: There was no Twitter Revolution inside Iran. As Mehdi Yahyanejad, the manager of “Balatarin,” one of the Internet’s most popular Farsi-language websites, told the Washington Post last June, Twitter’s impact inside Iran is nil. “Here [in the United States], there is lots of buzz,” he said. “But once you look, you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.”

A number of opposition activists have told me they used text messages, email, and blog posts to publicize protest actions. However, good old-fashioned word of mouth was by far the most influential medium used to shape the postelection opposition activity. There is still a lively discussion happening on Facebook about how the activists spread information, but Twitter was definitely not a major communications tool for activists on the ground in Iran.

Splitting Palestine in two

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

As usual, Amira Hass in Haaretz hits the point in one swoop:

The achievement of the failed flotilla to Gaza – mainly, it must be conceded, by its dead – is that the demand is being heard from everywhere that Israel halt its policy of siege. The government of Israel was not willing to listen to the desperate supplications of John Ging, the head of UNRWA in Gaza. Now it must heed French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But unknowingly, this flotilla, like its predecessors and the ones still to come, serves the Israeli goal, which is to complete the process of separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. The process, it will be said here for the millionth time, started in 1991 and not after the rise of Hamas rule. It’s purpose was to thwart the two-state solution, which the world understood at that time as based on all of Gaza and the West Bank, and the link between them.

Throwing money to Abbas won’t halt the dogs of war

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

The startling ineptitude and chosen powerlessness of Barack Obama, after speaking in Washington to Palestinian puppet leader Mahmoud Abbas:

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday called on Israel to work with all parties to find a solution for Gaza and offered the Palestinians $400 million in new aid as Washington sought to contain the fallout from Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

In remarks made as he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama urged Israel to curb settlement activity and called on the Palestinians to prevent any actions that could incite confrontation.

Obama called on Israel to reassess its blockade on the Gaza Strip – but said the best guarantee of a solution was an independent Palestinian state.

“There should be means by which we will be able to stop flow of arms that endanger Israel’s security,” Obama said.

“If we can get a new conceptual framework, we should be able to take what is a tragedy and create an opportunity so the lives of people of Gaza are improved. But in the long run the way to solve this problem is creation of the Palestinian state and ensuring Israel’s security.”

Now those Turks can go to hell

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

Jewish blogger Realistic Peace has a pithy way of getting straight to the point (see his post on the Gaza flotilla).

His latest highlights the hypocrisy of the American Zionist lobby:

Spencer Ackerman has an excellent and succinct post on the hypocrisy abounding now that the American Jewish leadership has decided Turkey is an enemy, so they have stopped lobbying against recognition of the Armenian genocide.

He’s nicer about it than I am.

This has long been something I’ve found truly disgusting, and an example of how when it comes to a choice between being a Jew and marching lock-step with Israel, the pro-Israel Jewish forces don’t even blink and abandon Judaism, our community and our heritage without a second thought.


And can anyone seriously doubt that such is exactly what happened?

This hypocrisy is not merely academic, now that AIPAC’s dissembling on behalf of Turkey has come to an end. It is that same trait that is on display on a daily basis in the denial of suffering in Gaza.

Today, Israel let snack foods and soda into Gaza. What, is there suddenly nothing to fear from Hamas’ deadly Pringles and Coke Bomb? I mean, seriously, if this is not petty cruelty beyond belief, what is? Or maybe it was that a leading Senator had to scream to force Israel to allow pasta into Gaza last year or that such things as lentils, packaged hummus and cinnamon are still items of controversy.

It isn’t only that racists like Caroline Glick are laughing about the suffering of innocents in Gaza. No, in a much more concrete way, it is that Israel and those here that oppose de facto the two-state solution (despite their claims to the contrary, which generally have as much substance as their former defense of Turkey’s action nearly a century ago did) are ona  campaign of denial of suffering.

There is the convenience of the term “humanitarian crisis” which generally conjures images of mass starvation and high death tolls. Since that’s not happening in Gaza, this allows Israel to deny with a certain technical validity. But, as I and many other have detailed, there’s a huge amount of suffering, and it is being accompanied by a campaign of denial.

The same kind these same people once waged on behalf of the Turks.

How to define collective punishment

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

Israel now permits, over the last week, soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy, into Gaza.

Australian Jewish students can’t handle posters that support Palestine

Posted: 09 Jun 2010

The Australian Jewish News now runs an online TV channel. So what are they producing? Videos such as this, where students at UNSW talk about the supposed anti-Israel sentiment in the wake of the Gaza flotilla. Perhaps the most tragic part of this is one Jewish ‘leader’ showing the camera where on a map of the university pro-Palestinian flyers are being placed.

So it’s now intimidating for poor, Jewish students simply having pro-Palestinian flyers and speakers appearing on a lawn outside a campus library? I guess critical voices of Israel should just keep quiet.

Just remember this when the media is filled with articles about the “rise in anti-Semitism”:

See: www.antonylowenstein.com

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