Following the lead of Elvis Costello against Israel
 03 Jul 2010

Canadian film-maker and activist John Greyson recently made a short film to urge Elton John to cancel his show in Israel (he refused).
Now Greyson is back with another clever video that combines the World Cup with the necessary cultural boycott of the Jewish state: 
Vuvuzela from John Greyson on Vimeo.


Fundamentalist Jews run riot in Jerusalem
 02 Jul 2010

Tensions in Silwan in Jerusalem are growing, not least because Israel continues to expand settlements in complete violation of international law.
So much for a settlement freeze.
Protests against the latest moves are growing but why aren’t such reports in the international media?

Another night sets in on Silwan. Just two days ago, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators marched together along the narrow streets of the neighborhood, to support the local residents, facing the municipality’s plan to demolish 22 houses. But here, as anywhere in east Jerusalem, happenings do not cease for a moment.
In previous weeks, more and more appeals to the solidarity activists of Sheikh Jarrah  came in from the residents of Silwan. In view of our successful campaign, more and more Palestinians have been trying to find a way for Arab-Jewish cooperation. During recent tours in Silwan, we all had a sense of urgency and shared destiny. We must act, and act fast, before catastrophe hits us, before the abyss becomes too deep and wide to bridge. And we must act together, against all the risks and against all the suspicion which has built up here over the years.
And now we are here, climbing up the narrow alleys, together with the locals. Just one hour ago, tens of private security guards, escorted by border policemen, entered Palestinian homes around “Beit Hadvash” (house of honey in Hebrew…) and “Beit Yehonatan”. The settlers have only managed to seize two houses in this area, but this is enough to bring the place to the brink of eruption. Nightly border police patrols, private security personnel, armed with guns, undercover policemen and “Mistaarvim” (Israeli soldiers disguised as Arabs) have turned the place into a war zone.
This alley is narrow, dark. Tens of meters above us, shots are being fired and explosions can be heard. A helicopter is hovering above us, projecting rays of light onto alleys where the municipality has never thought of installing street lights. Twenty activists cling to the walls, and keep going forward.
All of a sudden the alley comes to an end, and a battlefield lies ahead of us. The small street around Beit Hadvash is all strewn with rifle bullet casings, unexploded grenades and the parts of destroyed cars. The soldiers are standing in groups at the entrances to houses and on the balconies, shooting into the houses around them. Our group disperses immediately into various houses, among groups of locals gazing with despair at what is happening around them. I run after a Palestinian paramedic into one of the houses. Soldiers are hiding in the stairway, blocking us, and trying to prevent us from progressing. Eventually they let us pass, and we reach the wounded. The three storey house is full of tear gas. The windows are all shattered, their frames lying on the floor. We go up, floor by floor, scanning the apartments. In most of them, we find families huddled together, scared people, little children, women, and wounded people lying on the floor. In the living room of one apartment, a young girl is lying on a stretcher. For two hours she has been waiting to be evacuated, after the soldiers had prevented ambulances from moving in. And in the next room I can see a few little children sitting in front of the computer. That’s just the way it is here. Apartments, families, a life that has suddenly become hell. But some of those living here insist on going on with their lives.
The wounded are taken down, one by one, on stretchers, into the street. From here one still has to run quickly, a few hundred meters along the alleys, towards the ambulances on standby. During one of the “heats”, I fall behind, momentarily fearing the race between the gas grenades and the rubber bullets. And staying alone here is bad. I try to stay close to the wall, but it doesn’t seem to help. Two gas grenades land next to me. Godammit, they could have seen me just a second ago, they knew I was trying to evacuate the wounded. Not that it matters. Luckily, a few locals rescue me from that alley. After one hour, it’s all over. The soldiers withdraw towards the outskirts of the neighborhood, leaving behind a trail of devastation. A leaking water pipe, cars smashed by military jeeps and shooting, shattered windows and five wounded people. And tens of families who are about to sleep outside their tear gas flooded apartments, tonight too. And all this in the name of defending a house where nobody has ever lived, a house which, according to the owner’s claim, the settlers simply took over one day.


Who wants to see Gillard as pro-Israel and anti-Islam?
 02 Jul 2010

A regular reader of this site sent this on, exact source unknown, but certainly speaks for itself.


Making Palestinians central to journalism is still a while off
02 Jul 2010

The lack of representative Palestinian journalists in the corporate press is addressed by one of the best in the business:

Taghreed El-Khodary, formerly the New York Times correspondent in Gaza, spoke recently at an event organized by the Palestine Center (6/23/10). She shared some interesting observations–the first being that her revelation that she left Gaza after the controversy erupted over Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner’s son joining the Israeli Defense Forces:
“I’m sorry that I left Gaza, but my bureau chief’s son joined the Israeli army and I felt like it’s not wise of me.  I don’t want to risk losing my sources that I have been establishing for many, many years. It’s a very sensitive issue, as you all know; not only that, but it’s also risky, and you have many small groups who would like revenge and I can be a great person to get a hold of. It’s very sensitive, and I was really disappointed that they took this decision, but they understand why I left.”

Elsewhere she indicates that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian journalists posed other difficulties:

“Imagine you are a Gazan journalist and you are just based in Gaza and you cannot see the other story that is the West Bank. And of course the Israelis don’t let someone like me, who worked for the New York Times, [to] even work. They gave me a hard time and that’s also another challenge. Being a Palestinian journalist, even if you work for Reuters or AP or the New York Times, Israel will never give you access to the West Bank or to Israel.”
She also discussed the need for a certain type of  ”balance” in every story out of Gaza:
“The issue is even if you write a feature, if you write anything; you need the Israeli narrative in the story. You need to balance and that’s why you need the space. That’s the story here.  You have to be politically correct.   You have to have the Israeli narrative, even if you are working in a feature. So that’s how it goes, and I think you need to understand also how the Israelis are looking at things. What’s disturbing here is watching your TV.  I cannot watch CNN domestic.  They treat me like a stupid person, like a stupid audience. I really stopped watching it, because it’s so different from the CNN International.  I’m here and I’m really not watching your Fox [News] or your CNN.  It’s scary.”
When asked to evaluate the Times‘ reporting on Israel/Palestine, she does not exactly give a ringing endorsement:
“I think the New York Times is doing a good job, if I compare it to others–if you want me to compare it to CNNFox.  I’m sorry, but when it comes to European media, it’s completely different, I would say.


British looks back into history and misses the good old days
 02 Jul 2010

Just what the world needs; an invigorated, more interventionist British empire:

William Hague has outlined the Government’s vision of Britain’s role in the world, promising a sweeping overhaul of foreign policy aimed at expanding the country’s influence to every inhabited continent.
In his first major speech as Foreign Secretary Mr Hague stressed that while he wanted to maintain the strong relationship with the United States, it should “solid not slavish”. There was a need for greater influence inside the EU and especially for closer alliances with its smaller, often overlooked member states. He stressed the importance of forming closer ties with “new and emerging powers” like India, China and Brazil and seeking new relationships with countries in Latin America.


Gillard is like Rudd and that’s just fine
02 Jul 2010

One of the few senior Australian academics with a public profile actually not in thrall to the American and Israeli lobbies is Scott Burchill.
This is spot on:

You can’t get closer to the centre of mainstream foreign policy analysis than [Lowy Institute’s] Michael Fullilove. He’s not one to frighten the horses.

He supports the Afghanistan war, which he claims is being “fought for honourable ends” (though the Australian people strongly disagree), thinks “Labor prime ministers always need to project themselves as reliable allies [to the US]” (because from the far right they still all look like communists), believes Julia Gillard “has set out to locate herself in the mainstream of Australian politics and that Australian diplomatic tradition with her visits to the United States and Israel” (didn’t that guided tour to Israel last June pay off in Dubai), and that her “most important [foreign policy] theme would be continuity.”

Wow. In other words, don’t change a thing, don’t think afresh about any policies, even a futile war – everything is going swimmingly. Foreign policy analysis and commentary at its most profound.

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