As has been widely reported, the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip – which formally came to an end on August 26th – were met with sharp criticism by a significant number of famous people within the world of entertainment/the Arts, including notable members of the movie-community. For example, when Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of the ‘90s hit, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ was asked to share his thoughts about the conflict in an interview posted on the video-streaming network site, ‘HuffPost Live’ on July 22nd, he said, “I think about what we all think about – more than anything – first and foremost – all these innocent children being killed.” He went on, “I just can’t imagine how unbearable it must be to be a Palestinian living in Gaza – being invaded like this and seeing the children of your community lying dead in the sand.” A day earlier, Hollywood actor, Rob Schneider Tweeted, ‘to not be outraged at the killing of children is to risk your very soul. #Gaza.‘ On July 28th, an open-letter signed by Penelope Cruz and her husband, Javier Bardem was published in the Spanish Press condemning Israel’s heavy-handed stance. It reportedly stated, “Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air. Palestinians’ homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity (and) free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing.” In response to these events comes this post from ‘Conspiro Media.’ It almost wasn’t published actually due to the fact that most of it was written and prepared prior to the truce and, as such, was a reaction to circumstances that have now since passed. Whether or not to proceed with this blog-entry in the face of changing developments was a two-fold dilemma; Firstly, for it to be a reliable, concise and informed document detailing the backlash from well known TV, movie and music figures to the attacks on Gaza, it would have to, by necessity, provide accounts of some of the horrors that occurred in that region during the 50-day-long conflict that commenced on July 8th with the launching of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ However, the concern was, it would be unhelpful and/or insensitive to issue a post looking back on the death and destruction in the recent past given that a form of peace now prevails – or, to be exact – what is being referred to as “an open-ended ceasefire.” What justification is there for this site to revisit the reports that were circulating during those turbulent weeks and that told of the bombings, the shelling, and the senseless waste of human life? Isn’t it best to leave it be? At present – if we take a look around us – there’s an emphasis on the future and what can be achieved if the Israeli government and Gaza’s leaders go ahead with much-touted negotiations later this month. Why should ‘Conspiro Media’ deviate from that? Why post something that might not necessarily be viewed as constructive in the current atmosphere, although it must be noted that a number of those whose job it is to analyse such issues, and who have indeed been looking ahead, offer very little in the way of positivity. Tom Rayner, Middle East reporter for the UK-based ‘Sky News,’ stated in an article dated August 27th, “the phrase ‘open-ended ceasefire’ suggests a lasting end to the fighting in Gaza. But this is a truce, not a peace – and few would say with confidence this arrangement prevents, rather than simply delays, the next round of violence.“ The “arrangement,” which was brokered by Egypt and released directly after the ceasefire was called, is, reportedly, partly comprised of complex issues that both sides will begin to discuss sometime this month, as well as a number of steps to be implemented immediately including an agreement by Israel to open more of its border crossings with Gaza in order to allow the easier flow of goods such as humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment. It’s also agreed to extend the fishing limit off the Strip’s coastal waters to six miles from three with the possibility of widening it gradually if the truce holds. Sky’s Tom Rayner views these steps with scepticism. “These are all secondary to the thorny issues that will need addressing if another cycle of war is to be avoided,” he opines. “Hamas, and the wider Palestinian leadership, want an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza – the opening of border crossings so that Gazans may travel.” A statement issued by the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, makes the same observation, declaring that “any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence… the blockade of Gaza must end.” Almost a fortnight after details of the ceasefire agreement were unveiled, there came reports that all wasn’t going as first thought. The Dubai-based ‘Gulf News’ stated on September 6th that “nearly a week after a ceasefire agreement that was believed to include the partially lifting (sic) of the blockade on Gaza, no restrictions have been eased.” It went on, “Gaza has been under a sea and land blockade by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas group took power in 2007. Yet at the three main crossings – the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Israel and the Rafah border-post to Egypt – the previous policies have remained in place.” Maria Jose Torres, deputy-head of Office in the occupied Palestinian Territory branch of the UN ‘Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (‘OCHA‘) is quoted in the article as saying, “at both Erez and Kerem Shalom for now there hasn’t been any change in the regime allowing passage for people and goods. We were expecting that the agreement of the ceasefire would have some kind of timeline for easing and lifting the blockade but so far we have nothing publicly.” Fikr Shaltoot, director of programmes in Gaza for the British charity, ‘MAP’ (‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’) reportedly said, “we were hoping to see immediate change on all the crossings. So far I don’t see any kind of improvement on this… Even before the aggression, there were severe shortages of drugs – 28% of essential goods were at zero-stock. Now the situation is critical.” Political analyst and commentator on Middle East politics, Sharmine Narwani states in a September 3rd web-article for ‘Russia Today’ (not the most pro-Israeli of news-organisations, granted), “when did countless dozens of ceasefires ever end the siege of Gaza or end the occupation? Israel loves ceasefires. It is part of the occupation game. Every so often, Israel flexes its muscles and beats up Gaza. The trigger doesn’t even have to come from Gaza – the place is simply a convenient punching-bag and is easily justified by the ‘Hamas-terror’ language beamed through western media. The goal is always the same, regardless of what the Israelis publicly claim… to cripple Gaza enough to keep Palestinians busy rebuilding lives, but not fighting occupation. Palestinians in Gaza are naturally grateful for the lull in violence, international players pat themselves on the back for doing something about the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’… Until Israel decides Gaza needs another beating.” Israel has also been publicly criticised by the US in the wake of the truce. Just days after the ceasefire agreement was made public, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – whose Internal Security Minister, Yitzhak Aharonovich was reported to have said in a recent radio-interview that he wasn’t optimistic about the prospects of the oncoming peace-talks – announced plans to expropriate 400 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank. A Washington official was quoted as saying the move is “counterproductive” to relations in the region. Commenting on the issue some days later, a US State Department spokeswoman proclaimed, “we are deeply concerned about the declaration of a large area as ‘State land’ to be used for expanded settlement building. We call on the government of Israel to reverse this decision.” Given the oft-reported strength and influence of the Zionists within the halls of power (especially in North America), one should greet these words of criticism with a degree of suspicion, if not a pinch of salt maybe? For an alternative though, there’s one particular figure with a prominent public-stature whose forthright views on the Middle East do appear to be genuine, and his name is Roger Waters, the musician and founding-member of Pink Floyd. He is, without doubt, one of the most outspoken figures within the Arts to have come out in criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in recent years. He’s also an active campaigner having acted in support of the movement, ‘BDS’ (‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’). Furthermore, in November 2012, he gave a speech at the United Nations in front of the ’UN Committee on the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People.’ He was appearing there on behalf of the ‘Russell Tribunal,’ a “private court of the people” – so states its website – that’s “involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East.” One of his most scathing attacks against Israel came in a December 2013 interview. He said, “the situation in Israel/ Palestine, with the occupation, the ethnic cleansing and the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime is unacceptable. The parallels with what went on in the thirties in Germany are so crushingly obvious.” ‘Conspiro Media’ has been researching Waters for a future article. It’ll take a close and very in-depth look at his efforts to campaign on behalf of those who’ve suffered at the hands of the Zionist agenda in the Middle East (… ‘watch this space‘ as they say).
In the meantime, here’s some excerpts from a piece the musician composed for the British newspaper/website ’The Guardian’ in 2011. Titled, ‘Tear Down This Israeli Wall,’ he shares his views on the so-called ‘barrier’ built in and around the West Bank and where an estimated 2.6 – 2.7 million Palestinians reside. Constructed by Israel to supposedly ‘protect’ it from ‘terrorists,’ Ban Ki-moon stated in July this year that it goes “far beyond its legality.” Referring to it as “the wall,” he declared that it “severely restricts Palestinian movement and access throughout the West Bank, cuts off land and access to resources needed for Palestinian development, and continues to undermine agricultural and rural livelihoods throughout the West Bank.” In his ‘Guardian’ article, Waters makes note of the Gaza wall too (… oh! Sorry! “Barrier“):
In 1980, a song I wrote, ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,‘ was banned by the government of South Africa because it was being used by Black South African children to advocate their right to equal education. That apartheid government imposed a cultural blockade, so to speak, on certain songs, including mine.
Twenty-five years later, in 2005, Palestinian children participating in a West Bank festival used the song to protest against Israel’s wall around the West Bank. They sang: “We don’t need no occupation! We don’t need no racist wall!” At the time, I hadn’t seen firsthand what they were singing about.
The Palestinian advocates of a boycott asked that I visit the occupied Palestinian territory to see the wall for myself… Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that day. The wall is an appalling edifice to behold. It is policed by young Israeli soldiers who treated me, a casual observer from another world, with disdainful aggression.
A Palestinian woman walks past the wall on the Israeli side of East Jerusalem.
Sadly, in the intervening years the Israeli government has made no attempt to implement legislation that would grant rights to Israeli Arabs equal to those enjoyed by Israeli Jews, and the wall has grown, inexorably, illegally annexing more and more of the West Bank.
For the people of Gaza, locked in a virtual prison behind the wall of Israel’s illegal blockade, it means another set of injustices. It means that children go to sleep hungry, many chronically malnourished. It means that fathers and mothers, unable to work in a decimated economy, have no means to support their families. It means that university students with scholarships to study abroad must watch the opportunity of a lifetime slip away because they are not allowed to travel.
This brings us rather neatly to the second fold of the two-part dilemma regarding the publishing of this blog-piece…
Before the truce was called, this site was going to post a compilation of most – if not all – of the criticisms that were made in public by well known figures from the world of music, movies and TV during the conflict. This was thrown into question when the bombings stopped and a ceasefire was announced. After all, what relevance would there be in issuing a collection of celebrities’ quotes? Well, perhaps none if they only pertained to recent events in the region. But, the fact is, they don‘t. Much of what was being expressed was related to the treatment of Gazans and Palestinians in general and not only what was going on at that moment in time. Most significantly of all, the tide of criticism against Israel’s military offensive was, it must be noted, somewhat overwhelming for a number of reasons. Yes, it’s true, there’s been instances in the past when famous figures from the Arts have spoken out, but – up until now – these were, more often than not, isolated/one-off affairs, and usually instigated by a few of those well known for their geo-political-social activism. This time though, it was somewhat different. Actually, it’s perhaps fair to conclude that the level of protest was unprecedented in terms of its breadth and relentlessness. Almost on a daily basis, we saw the name of a famous musician, or singer, or actor, or director, or comedian, or television-personality stepping up to the plate. From Roxy Music legend and David Bowie collaborator, Brian Eno, to One Direction’s Zayn Malik, the response to this issue spanned generational and artistic boundaries too. Furthermore, the condemnation of Israel’s actions was delivered with a level of vehemence and candour rarely, if ever, witnessed to this degree. Why this is, who can say? Maybe the extent of the attacks on Gaza were too horrific and painful to ignore? Or perhaps it’s because we live in an age where the internet has slowly but surely provided us with views of the world that contradict those put across in the Zionist TV-media. It might be that people in the public-eye now feel compelled to comment on global events based on what they’ve gathered from this opposing perspective? Whatever – the significant nature of the protests, and the fact that much of them were based on seriously important issues that won’t be dealt with in future truce-talks thus sparking fears of a return to violence, is the reason why there is indeed some degree of value and relevance in the issuing of this blog-entry. It’s not what you’d commonly describe as an archetypal “article,” though – well, it certainly wasn’t devised with that in mind, any way. Instead, look at it as a post comprised of three sections, with the third housing a chronological timeline of events, listing all those famous figures who went public with their criticisms of Israel or support for Gaza and the Palestinians during the conflict. That segment is designed either to be read as a whole or – if you’re looking for something or someone specifically and don‘t want to get bogged down – in part. The second portion hones in on a couple of big names from the TV/comedy-circuit who’ve been hailed as ’voices for the voiceless.’ Question is though, what (or who) drives these particular public figures to speak out in a sympathetic tone for the underdog? Are they there to lead those of us who don’t subscribe to the mainstream paradigm (especially with regards to Israel) unwittingly down a route we wouldn’t knowingly want to go? We begin, though with the mystery surrounding the actions of two young music-stars who you perhaps wouldn’t expect to display support for the Palestinian/ cause, or indeed any cause of a seriously-delicate geo-political nature…
* 1: THE QUESTION OF TWO POP-STARS AND THE SOCIAL-MEDIA MUDDLE
On July 15th, the much maligned ‘princess of the Illuminati,’ Rihanna, Tweeted, “Free Palestine” but then deleted it only minutes later.
The celebrity-news website, TMZ quoted a ‘source’ close to the performer as saying that “she deleted it because it was never meant to be Tweeted. She didn’t even realise it was a Tweet until she started hearing from her fans.” The scrubbed Tweet was later replaced with a less inflammatory one…
The “source” is reported as claiming that Rihanna’s original Tweet was an accident that came as a result of her clicking on a link whilst reading about the Middle East conflict online. The next thing she knew – so we’re led to understand – she was receiving messages from fans asking her why she was pro-Palestine. However, TMZ states, “the explanation is obviously curious. In order to Tweet, someone would either have to type the message or cut and paste it, and then click the ‘Tweet’ button.” There could be any other number of reasons why it was rubbed out – one person’s guess is as good as another’s. Maybe she was told to take it down by her (Zionist?) handlers? Consider this; The label she records for, ‘Def Jam,’ is owned by the ‘Universal Music Group’ (‘UMG’). Its Chairman and CEO is Lucian Grainge. Back in 2011, he was one of a number of British business and media moguls who was reported to have pledged support for an initiative that sought, not only to raise money for the Israeli Olympic team in a bid to provide it with advanced training facilities ahead of the 2012 Games in London, but to enhance the Jewish State‘s image around the world as a result. The man in charge of the project, Ynon Kreiz, is the former head of ‘Endemol,’ the company that owns the rights to the UK’s ‘Big Brother’ TV format. He was quoted as saying, “as an Israeli living abroad for the past twenty years, it hurts me to always see Israel discussed in the context of wars and terror attacks. I wanted to shatter this distorted image.” He was also reported to have said that he hoped the Israeli athletes “could show Israel’s beautiful face” to the London 2012 audience. According to a 2011 article by ‘The Jewish Chronicle Online,’ the trustees of the fund’s committee (that included Grainge) would “also help to arrange the memorial service during the 2012 Games to mark forty years since the Munich Olympic tragedy, organised in conjunction with the Israeli embassy and the ‘London Olympic Jewish Organising Committee.’” This of course is in reference to the 1972 Games when members of the Israeli athletes’ team were taken hostage and killed. A group of Palestinians operating under the name ’Black September’ were blamed.
Lucian Grainge (left) with Rihanna at the Grammy’s after-party, 2013.
Calls for a moment of remembrance during the Opening Ceremony in London as a mark of respect for the victims of this incident were rejected by Jacques Rogge the head of the ‘International Olympics Committee’ despite a heavy backlash. He responded, “we feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.” Instead of this, he led a minute of silence during a commemoration that took place three days after the Games began. With regards to the project spearheaded by Ynon Kreiz which sought to participate in the arranging of a tribute to the victims of ’72 at London 2012, it’s perhaps worth naming some of the others who were reportedly trustees of that fund’s committee aside from Lucian Grainge; There’s Richard Desmond the owner of Britain’s ‘Channel 5’ TV-station, former ’MTV International’ head, Bill Roedy, ’Warner Music’ boss, Lior Cohen, ex-’NBC Universal’ chief-executive, Howard Shore, and banker, and Honorary President of the think-tank, the ‘Institute for Jewish Policy Research,’ Lord Jacob Rothschild. Of course, this last name in the list should come as no surprise to you if you’re aware of the instrumental role this man’s family have played in the formation of Israel. As it happens, there’s more about them a little further on in this article. In the meantime, in more recent news, Grainge was in the headlines last year after it was revealed he’d invited Justin Beiber to perform at his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah in London. The singer, whose recordings have been released through ’Island’ – yet another label under the ownership-umbrella of Universal Music Group – is perhaps almost as famous for the media-speculation surrounding his ongoing relations with former girlfriend, Selena Gomez. She’s a UMG artist too – which is interesting, if you take into account the fact that she recently experienced what some might perceive to be a ‘Rihanna moment’ after posting a message on ‘Instagram’ on July 18th with regards to the ongoing tragedy in Gaza… (Incidentally – don’t forget – for a closer look at the pictures, click to enlarge)…
Not long later – after reportedly receiving a negative response from some of her fans – the 22-year-old singer/actress added this:
What prompted her to add the second Instagram post? Well, as is the case with Rihanna, no comment has been forthcoming from her to date, so it‘s anyone‘s guess. There’s been all kinds of speculation as you might expect ranging from the abrasive (TMZ managing-editor and reporter, Harvey Levin – a reported Jew – postulated that her posts are the ramblings of a naïve, young starlet with no life-experience and no knowledge of world-affairs) to the less so (i.e. maybe the second Instagram post was a genuine attempt on her part to clarify her position on the current situation in the Middle East for those who wrongly perceive her to be pro-Palestine / anti-Israel). However, it’s also been suggested that she was perhaps pressured into watering down her stance over fears her Gaza comments might damage her fan-base, and, as a result, her highly profitable career. This is certainly the view that renowned Palestinian/American poet, writer and activist, Remi Kanazi puts across in an article he composed for the online news and entertainment website, ‘Salon.com.’
Selena Gomez, 2013.
Referencing both Gomez and Rihanna, he states, “the reality is, celebrity brands are big business and a rush of criticism instantly catches the eye of the PR handlers and agents… simply saying ‘Free Palestine’ comes with repercussions. These celebrities, varying from concerned to downright outraged, posted their thoughts instinctively. In response, a small group of incensed fans went on the attack, including some who said they would unfollow Gomez in protest and one commenter who proclaimed, ‘I hope you burn in hell with cancer.’ Faced with such controversy, it’s safe to assume that these celebs’ handlers sprang into action… “ Maybe. What’s missing from Kanazi’s analysis though, is the very real possibility that Gomez was forced to amend her comments by the higher echelons of the entertainment-industry hierarchy which is notoriously aligned to the Israeli (Zionist) cause, especially in the US. Let’s take another look at UMG for example, the company that works intimately with ‘Hollywood Records,’ Selena’s label. It’s actually under the control of the multinational mass-media and telecommunication company, ‘Vivendi,’ whose supervisory board Chairman is Vincent Bolloré. He’s also head of the French investment and industrial holding giant, ‘Bolloré,’ which his great-grandfather is credited with creating in the 1800s although some sources state it was actually founded by an entrepreneur by the name of Nicholas Groom. Be that as it may, when this family-run firm, an early pioneer in the production of super-thin paper, was facing financial troubles in the 1970s, who should buy into it but a member of the Rothschilds. Business historian, Catherine Vuillermot, and sociologist, Michel Villette document how this came to be in their 2009 book, ‘From Predators to Icons: Exposing the Myth of the Business Hero.’ They also chart the rise of Vincent, whose climb up the corporate ladder was aided along by those within this notorious Jewish banking dynasty. “In 1975,” they write, when his father, Michel, was head of the company, he “started out in business.” At that time, “40% of the capital of the family company was in the hands of the American paper company, ‘Kimberly Clark.’ Not only had the family lost control of the company, but its financial resources were insufficient to change the situation. Moreover, Vincent did not have a degree from an elite school, did not belong to one of the high government services, and had no successful experience as a manager and no particular professional competence in industrial technology. In short, he was neither a manager, nor an innovator, nor a millionaire, but a young man from a good family and a law student.” However, a few short years later, he became head of ‘Bolloré,’ with a little help from Edmond de Rothschild and the industrialist, Baron Empain. To illustrate how this came to pass, Vuillermot and Villette quote the research of journalists, Nathalie Raulin and Renaud Lecadre who state, “in the course of the fall of 1975, Baron Empain officially bought the shares of Kimberly Clark (40%) and some of the shares belonging to (Vincent’s uncles) Gwen and René Bolloré (6%). But only for one hour… the uncles accepted the deal as long as a clause was added: Michel Bolloré, responsible in their view for the decline of the family fortunes, had to leave the management of the company. Giving in to their demands, he resigned from his positions, which he handed over to his two sons (Vincent and his brother, Michel-Yves). Sixty minutes later, then, Empain transferred his block of shares to Michel-Yves and Vincent Bolloré, who immediately turned over 68% (40+22+6) of the paper company now in their possession to a holding company, half of which Rothschild immediately bought for 16 million. The deal was done. Formally, the two brothers had taken control, on an equal footing with Edmond de Rothschild. Father had given them his shares; Edmond granted them extra shares… mother had loaned them the funds necessary to wrap up the deal: 1.5 million francs was the only price they paid.” Vuillermot and Villette add that “it seems to have been understood that the two brothers should not get involved in managing the company” though. “A professional manager was put in charge of restoring and transforming the company. Vincent, for his part, was hired by the Compagnie Financiére, ’Edmond de Rothschild’ to learn finance. Six years later, in 1981, the investment made by the Compagnie Financiére in the Bolloré paper business was still very disappointing. This provided the opportunity for the two brothers to take control of the family business at a bargain and at their own risk. ’I insisted that Edmond hold onto 10% of the capital,’ Vincent Bolloré asserted to Raulin and Lecadre. ’He was hesitant, he wanted his craft to have sailed far off when the company sank…’” Edmond de Rothschild kept the 10%, and, Vuillermot and Villette state, he also “felt obliged to grant the two brothers a loan of six million francs, ‘in settlement.’ At the time, ‘the company was losing a million a month,’ according to a former manager. ‘Rothschild gave us enough to hold out for six months, after which no one could lodge a claim against him in case of bankruptcy.’” The net worth of ‘Bolloré’ according to the reputable business website, ’Forbes’ (as of September 9th 2014), is $8.3 billion. Its portfolio includes interests in banking, rubber and oil palm plantations, media marketing, cinema distribution, video-game console accessories, and also a 5% stake in ‘Vivendi,’ the very company that influences (whether directly or indirectly and in whatever shape or form) the careers of Rihanna and Selena Gomez through UMG.
Just how deeply was Vincent Bolloré influenced by the Rothschilds during his time under their wing in the 1970s and early ‘80s, and to what extent does it impact on him today, especially with regards to his dealings in the music-business and the artists/performers within his jurisdiction? Before you ponder on that, take note of his rather intriguing family-tree – it might help you reach some answers; His maternal grandmother went by the name of Nicole Marie Goldschmidt. According to research conducted by ‘Conspiro Media,‘ her grandfather’s brother, Maximilian von Goldschmidt, an influential banker, married the daughter of the last remaining male in the Frankfurt House of Rothschild, Minna Caroline Baroness von Rothschild in 1878. They modified their name to Goldschmidt-Rothschild and subsequently had five children together. Their marriage is said to have helped him become the richest individual in the-then German Empire, even more wealthy than the emperor who ruled over it. As it turns out, the connections between these two families goes back further still, and, as you may be aware, this is a line of enquiry ‘Conspiro Media’ has followed before. In 1783, ninety-five years before Maximilian and Minna were married, Salomon Daniel Goldschmidt wed Gutelche, sister of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the man credited with founding the all-powerful dynasty. Just over a decade later, he arranged for his son, Amschel Mayer to tie the knot with Eva Hanau, daughter of Taubche Goldschmidt. The links don’t end there; Both sets of families established their fortunes in banking during the 16th and 18th century, and both hail from a ghetto-area situated in Frankfurt known as ‘Judengasse’ (‘Jew Alley’). Sometime during the earlier part of the 20th century, Maximilian’s nephew, Frank, a hotel-tycoon, lawyer and British Member of Parliament, changed the family name from the German ‘Goldschmidt’ to the English, ‘Goldsmith.’ His son, James, the notorious billionaire financier who died in 1997, was the father of Zac Goldsmith the UK Conservative MP and ‘environmentalist.’ In March last year, he wed his ex-sister-in-law, Alice Miranda Rothschild. It’s a marriage that would’ve been greeted with open arms by her long-gone ancestor, Mayer Amschel, who’s widely cited to have stipulated in his will that the family must intermarry with their own first and second cousins so that their fortune would be contained within. This idea is acknowledged in the 1980s book, ‘The World Order. A Study in the Hegemony of Parasitism,’ by well-known author and conspiracy analyst, Eustace Mullins. He quotes a paragraph reportedly taken from the ’New York Times’ newspaper in June 1879 about the then-recent death of Baron Lionel N. de Rothschild and the exploits of his father, Nathan. It reads, “his father came to the conclusion that in order to perpetuate the fame and power of the Rothschilds, which had already become worldwide, it was necessary that the family be kept together, and devoted to the common cause. In order to do this, he proposed that they should intermarry, and form no marital unions outside the family. A council of the heads of the Houses was called at Frankfurt in 1826, and the views of Baron Nathan were approved.” Perhaps some of this might help explain the rise to power of ‘Vivendi’ boss Vincent Bolloré and even the unexplained Tweeting/deleting behaviour of his artists? Maybe their controversial views were deemed to be detrimental to “the common cause”? Around the time of Lionel Rothschild’s death, the family was making noticeable moves within the Middle East. In the book, ‘Rothschild and Early Jewish Colonisation in Palestine,’ author, Ran Aharonson writes, “when James Jacob de Rothschild died in 1868, the financial affairs and management of the family bank were taken over by his eldest son, Alphonse; Edmond, the youngest son, and his brother Gustave were appointed advisers. When he (Edmond) married his cousin Adelaide Ada in 1877, a daughter of the Frankfurt Rothschilds known for their religiosity and patronage of Jewish causes, Edmond was appointed Chairman of the ‘Jewish Charity Committee of Paris’ (‘Comité de Bienfaisance de Paris’) which contributed vast sums to the needy Jews of France. Edmond’s work on behalf of the Jewish community gathered momentum at the end of 1881, when pogroms against the Jews in the Ukraine spread rapidly and brought about a mass exodus of Jews from the Russian Empire. Together with his brother Alphonse, Edmond was among the founders of the ‘Comité Général de Secours’ established to aid Jewish refugees… his activities from this point on seem to have assumed a broader radius, extending beyond French Jewry to involvement with Jewish affairs on a global scale. The Rothschilds were also known for their support of the ‘Old Yishuv’ in Eretz Israel (the Orthodox urban Jewish community). Their representative, Dr. Albert Cohn (who had been the young Edmond’s tutor) was sent there in 1854 to supervise the establishment of medical and educational institutions which were funded by the Rothschilds for many decades. The family archives contain documents which indicate that the Rothschilds were responsive to many direct appeals for assistance from the old Jewish communities in the Holy Land. Edmond’s interest in Jewish colonisation seems to have been influenced from the outset by three factors: his contacts with the ‘Alliance Israélite Universelle’ (‘AIU’), the leading international Jewish organisation of the time; his support of the Mikve Israel agricultural school, the first Jewish agricultural settlement in Eretz Israel established by the AIU in 1870; and his relationship with its founder, Carl (Ya’akov) Netter, who presided over the school during its first twelve years. Netter, another distinguished member of the French Jewish elite, probably met Edmond de Rothschild in early 1882, when he was appointed secretary of the Comité Général de Secours. In his correspondence with Samuel Hirsch, headmaster of Mikve Israel from 1879 to 1891, Rothschild mentions his talks with Carl Netter in the summer of 1882, prior to Netter’s departure for Eretz Israel on August 8th 1882. Contrary to popular belief, these talks were more than theoretical; they gave birth to a plan for settling Russian Jewish refugees in Eretz Israel which was soon to be implemented. On September 28th 1882… Baron de Rothschild met with a leader of the Hovevei Zion movement, Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer, who sought his help in resettling Russian Jews in Eretz Israel. Rothschild’s immediate response was to link this appeal with the enterprise envisaged by Carl Netter, thereby combining the resettlement of refugees with the establishment of a model colony run by qualified farmers. Although Netter died on October 2nd, only four days later, the project was not abandoned… a group of settlers was readied for the journey to Eretz Israel. Baron de Rothschild’s efforts on behalf of Jewish colonisation thus commenced with the Netter-Rothschild plan…”
Seeing as we’re on the subject of the Rothschilds and the Goldsmiths, let’s take a look now at Jemima Khan’s boyfriend, the much-trumpeted ‘people’s champion,’ Russell Brand…
* 2: KEEPERS AT THE GATES?…
Brand was speaking out in support of the victims of Gaza recently via his series of ‘YouTube’ bulletins titled, ‘The Trews’ which, according to its web-page, seeks to “unravel the matrix of modern media and reveal the gleaming reality beyond, connecting us all to each other through pure consciousness… true news. Trews.” On July 29th, the British comedian and sometime actor published the following video in which he criticises the aggressive stance of pro-Israeli ‘Fox News’ anchor, Sean Hannity and the despicable way in which he speaks to a guest on his show, the Palestinian/American writer and political analyst, Yousef Munayyer. Brand also accuses the TV-host of offering a one-sided view of the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict, deliberately making no reference to “the land… Palestine got taken away from ‘em… and the encroachment of territory… because, he’s not interested in truth”…
A day later, Hannity responded. Speaking in front of a caption that read, ‘Hamas & Hollywood,’ he called the comedian a “D-list actor better known for his failed marriage to Katy Perry.” He then went on to say he was also “ignorant,” “dumb,” and “thick.” A guest on his panel joined in exclaiming, “this guy’s got a skanky look. He looks like he cooks meth and sleeps in his car.”
Of the three guest-panellists on Hannity’s show during the debate, only one, fellow ‘Fox-News’ host Geraldo Rivera, had anything critical to say about the Israeli attacks on Gaza at the time. He said, “I think that there are two sides to the story that are not necessarily being told… 1300 dead civilians, 30/40% of them children, Sean. This is undermining Israel. This is the worst thing for Israel’s stature and standing in the world.” However, during the studio-exchange, the veteran-journalist did also proclaim, “we love Israel. We are Zionists.” So, it would appear that what was concerning him to some degree was the bad publicity that he feared his beloved Zionist cause was generating from the ongoing bombing campaign in Gaza, and not only the innocent loss of lives. Just a few days earlier (August 4th) during a debate on ’Fox News,’ he reiterated these points. Calling out Israel on its “grossly disproportionate” use of force, he added, “this is a travesty, it is hurting Israel on the world stage, it is undermining support of the Jewish State.” When fellow-host, Andrea Tantaros then accused him of being “an apologist” for Hamas, “a terrorist organisation,” he hit back, “you should be ashamed of yourself for saying that to me of all people. There’s a Jewish star tattooed on my hand. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Zionist. I would die for Israel!”
You can watch Hannity’s response to Brand below…
A couple of days after Hannity’s retort, Brand was back on ‘YouTube’ with a reply. In it, he once again picks away at the news-host’s view of the conflict accusing him of spreading “disinformation,” “vitriol,” “propaganda,” and “hysteria.” He also hones in on the ‘Fox’ presenter’s repeated use of the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” when referring to Hamas. He says, “during the time of the American revolution, the American revolutionaries that beat us – Britain – we regarded them as terrorists… they wanted to be independent, we regarded them as terrorists. ‘Terrorist’ is just a word.” He goes on, “any kind of colonialism, any kind of land-grab, any kind of control of resources – water, electricity, power – or to deny people their autonomy, is gonna be eventually met with some kind of violence and then be judged as terror because as long as they behave as aggressors, the situation can only be perpetuated unless you want to annihilate every single person in Gaza – wipe them from the face of the planet… that’s the other alternative I suppose.”
If you watch the above video, you’ll notice that Brand dubs the ‘Fox News’ host “mean-spirited” and ‘vindictive’ for opening his segment with a Katy Perry song and for describing him as ‘being most famous for his failed marriage‘ to her. The comedian slates him too for his ‘Hamas & Hollywood‘ caption which, he says, is “trivialising” a serious issue. Furthermore, commenting on the concluding scenes of the debate when Hannity picks up a football whilst his panellists laugh and joke, Brand says, “at the end of it, Sean picks up a football and starts sort of joshing and playing and that’s what I find most offensive about this, they begin it with a Pop song, they end it sort of joshing and mucking around and having a laugh… really serious, difficult issues – to them it’s just a game. To them it is just entertainment.” Yes, maybe so – but what about Brand? Is it really all “just a game” to him? ‘Conspiro Media’ has previously expressed doubts as to the motivation behind his recent metamorphosis from crude/rude television/radio-presenter into ‘Messiah’ of Truth. It was a transformation helped in part by his appearance last year on the BBC-TV current-affairs show, ’Newsnight,’ in which he (quite rightly) spoke out against “the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class” and the exploitation of poor people all over the world, but then expressed support for a “Socialist egalitarian system” and the introduction of “a centralised administrative” form of governance. Considering the fact that Brand was guest-editor at the time of the ’New Statesman,’ a political magazine founded in 1913 by the notorious British think-tank, the ’Fabian Society,’ and which many researchers and historians believe merely exists to bring about a collectivist One World State through covert Government-backed social-engineering programs, we should seriously question what it is exactly he’s advocating and why. Is he speaking out in genuine support of the common man, or is he a stage-managed gate-keeper under the control of the very figures he claims to oppose? Granted, the points he raises in his ’Trews’ reports with regards to Sean Hannity, the suffering in Gaza, and the “encroachment” of Palestinian territory will no doubt chime perfectly with those of us who abhor the dark Zionist agenda, and he may very well be sincere in his concern, but, it’s also worth being mindful of the fact that the associate editor of the ‘New Statesman,’ the magazine which helped re-launch him into the mainstream consciousness as a voice of the downtrodden, is none other than girlfriend, Jemima Khan (Goldsmith/Goldschmidt), an intimate Rothschild family insider who, it’s being reported, is set to tie the knot with him. It’s true, she did convert to Islam prior to marrying her first husband in 1995, the former cricket-star-turned prominent Pakistan politician, Imran Khan, and she has repeatedly defended the plight of the Palestinians in the Middle East, most controversially so in 2000 when she stated in an article for the British newspaper/website, ‘The Guardian’ that they were being misrepresented by the “one-sided western media,” notably in the US where “the Israel lobby… is rich and influential” and “the media” is “largely controlled by the Jews as is Hollywood.” But in the 1990s, when her then-husband entered the world of politics and formed his own Party, ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’ (‘PTI‘), she was openly accused of being part of a Zionist plot to take over that country.
(Left); Jemima Khan with Russell Brand, and (Right); with Imran Khan.
Similar allegations plague Imran too. He brushed these off in a 2012 interview, saying, “my critics in Pakistan say I am a Zionist agent. I must be doing something right.” A year later though he publicly announced that he was to file a libel lawsuit against Maulana Fazlur Rehman the prominent secretary-general of the Party, ‘Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’ (‘JUI-F’) after he called the former sportsman an “agent” of Americans and Jews “and a person of ill character.” A JUI-F spokesman later added, “he has offshore links with a Jewish network that supports the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.” Imran’s outspoken political nemesis continues to make the allegations, despite the legal threats.
So, in essence, what we mustn’t do is allow ourselves to be blinded by the charm of celebrity every time a well-known figure steps forward into the full glare of publicity and tells us what we want to hear, especially if, like Russell Brand, they come to us awash in messianic imagery and suggestion. Don’t discount the possibility that a number of them have been placed there to play games with our heads in order to lead us towards a dead-end. Take, for example, Jon Stewart, the host of ’The Daily Show.’ As far as ’Conspiro Media’ is aware, he was one of the first well-known names to make his voice heard on Israel’s disproportionate use of force in Gaza and the plight of the victims in the region. On the July 14th edition of his satirical news-programme, he said, “both sides are engaging in aerial bombardment, but one side appears to be bomb-better at it.” He went on, “most Hamas rockets are neutralised by Israel’s ‘Iron-Dome’ technology and Israeli citizens can even now download a warning app. So, Israelis seem to have a high-tech smart-phone alert system… How are the Gazans notified?… The Israeli military warns Gaza residents of imminent bombing… with a smaller ‘warning bombing.’ An ‘amuse-boom’ if you will. At that point, what are Gazans supposed to do?” A news-report is then shown of a female journalist talking to a man and a woman (presumably Gaza residents) who inform her that the Israeli military had telephoned their neighbour and told them to evacuate. Stewart asks, “evacuate to where?! Have you f*****g seen Gaza?! Israel blocked this border, Egypt blocked this border… What, are you supposed to swim for it?!”
One or two journalists have suggested it was Stewart’s July 14th comments that opened the way for others in the ‘business of show’ to express their views on this highly controversial and provocative issue, an issue they might‘ve otherwise shied away from for fear of repercussions. That might very well be the case – however – those who applaud and credit him for making all this possible, would do well to tread carefully in case of traps. For example, at least one former ‘Daily Show’ writer, Kevin Bleyer, has not only penned speeches for President Obama, but is reportedly a member of the ’Council on Foreign Relations.’ Then there’s the issue of 9/11, which is often held up as a litmus-test of sorts when it comes to judging the credibility of those in the public arena who are deemed to be ‘voices of the people.’ As far as Stewart is concerned, it’s clear which side of the fence he’s chosen to be seen on with regards to this subject…
In 2010, a man who quizzed Stewart about 9/11 during a speaking-event in a New York bookstore, was allegedly punched in the face sometime afterwards by Rory Albanese, a then-executive-producer and writer for ‘The Daily Show.’ Making his way inside the venue and standing at the back of a fully-seated audience, Jon Meyer, a reporter for the ‘Alternative’ news-provider, ‘We Are Change,‘ asked the satirist why he and the so-called “Conservative” TV and radio-presenter, Glenn Beck “mock the 9/11 Truth movement,” to which he sarcastically replied, “because I think it was done by Al Qaeda?” You can view moments from this in the video below. Incidentally, if you do choose to watch it, you’ll see that Stewart is approached with this question on two separate occasions during the event. Before you check it out though, here’s how Meyer described the incident in a subsequent article:
On the evening of September 27th 2010, I left work and headed alone to the Manhattan bookstore where Jon and the ‘Daily Show’ writers were signing their new book. I happened to run into Luke Rudkowski and some other fellow members of ‘We Are Change NYC’ in the bookstore, also hoping to question Jon. When I got the opportunity I asked Jon a polite, albeit unpopular question about his take on 9/11 truth. He and the crowd mocked me and I left, heading down the escalator and outside the store. Some We Are Change NYC acquaintances and I were outside the store, hoping to ask Jon Stewart a follow up question. Instead, The Daily Show staff and writers came out before Jon. The executive-producer of ‘The Daily Show,’ Rory Albanese, was belligerent and taunted us. He immediately used a common tactic of those who want to defeat the 9/11 truth argument without actually using facts – he used emotional appeal, telling us that we were disrespecting the victims’ families. Like many who use this ad hominem approach he ignored the fact that 9/11 victims’ families started the 9/11 truth movement. It is important to note that Albanese put his hands on me twice by this point, lightly shoving my body as well as my hand holding a camera. He stated that he would put his hands on me if he so chose. He was also looking to fight with others, and mentioned that he wanted to punch a We Are Change member’s face because of his ‘knowledge.’ Soon after, another writer for the show, named J.R. Havlan, was engaged in a heated exchange with another We Are Change member, Matt Lepacek. I was videotaping with my handheld camera as Havlan suddenly reached past two people to grab it – and proceeded to press and twist the viewfinder. He succeeded in damaging the camera, so I repeatedly asked him why he did it and suggested that he might have to pay for the damaged property. He walked briskly away.
Believing that the camera was irreparably broken, I put it in my pocket. Luke and the others with cameras had not made their way down the block just yet. I was walking along with Havlan and a few other writers as we all made our way down the sidewalk. There was some general body-bumping made towards me by some of the staff and writers, telling me to ‘just walk away.’ Once again, the aforementioned Rory Albanese was before me, blocking my path as Havlan crossed the street. I did nudge him out of my personal space without much force, as I reached into my pocket to once again inspect my camera and see if I could use it. Without warning Albanese landed a right-handed, closed-fist to the side of my face, which I did not see coming. By all definitions it was a ‘sucker punch.’ I was stunned momentarily and when I came to, he had moved down the block, about twenty feet away. I did react defensively at first and did suggest that I was going to hit him back, but Jon Stewart’s security guard ‘Brian’ grabbed me in a bear-hug from behind. I threw him off and he grabbed me again, ripping my shirt in the front. Two other men stood between me and Albanese telling me to ‘just walk away.‘ At this point Luke arrived, helped calm me down and urged me to not hit Albanese, which I agreed to. As I saw Albanese making his way around the corner I told an acquaintance to call the cops to report the assault, which was done.
My face was bruised and cut and I had a scratch on my nose. Albanese, I was told, made his way to a local bar. A while later he returned, right before the cops arrived. We both approached the police – reporting different stories. His consisted of me pushing him with two hands for no reason, when the reality was that he had already put his hands on me, had been harassing me, was blocking my path so his fellow ‘Daily Show’ writer could leave, invaded my personal space, and then sucker-punched me before taking off. Albanese was put in handcuffs and brought to the 14th street precinct. I was brought separately, where I gave my statement and a photo of my wounds was taken. Although I was told I would hear from the D.A. I never did.
One month later my cuts and bruises have healed, and I have realised it would be fruitless and a waste of time and money to pursue the matter. The important fact was that this incident was documented…”
Here’s some more information to mull over; Stewart, a Jew, born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, was, during his student years in university, a member of the (Freemasonic-flavoured) college fraternity, ’Pi Kappa Alpha‘ although he reportedly left after six months because he thought it ‘pointless.’ The ‘Comedy Network,’ the channel that broadcasts ‘The Daily Show,’ is under the control of the global mass-media company, ’Viacom’ which is run by Sumner Redstone. According to his own website, the 91-year-old entrepreneur “served in the Military Intelligence Division during World War II,“ and “while a student at Harvard… was selected to join a special intelligence group whose mission was to break Japan’s high-level military and diplomatic codes.” He was born to a Jewish family under the surname, ’Rothstein’ in 1923. His father changed this to ’Redstone’ in 1940.
Of course, this information, when added-up, isn’t proof-positive that Stewart and his ‘Daily Show’ vehicle is some form of shill-operation, but it’s all worth noting and filing away in the memory-bank for future reference should the need arise. In his 2010 article composed shortly after his altercation with Rory Albanese, Jon Meyer argued, “’The Daily Show’ actually employs angry, sometimes violent, anti-American radicals and globalists who peddle the REAL conspiracy theories concerning U.S. domestic and foreign policy, geopolitics and science. Their conspiracy theories are then given a humorous spin and represented by funny pictures or captions on ‘The Daily Show.’ These ‘funny’ graphics are then placed next to Jon Stewart’s face so he can proceed to mug, smirk and feign outrage, ultimately resulting in applause and laughter from his obedient audience. But in the end it’s not real news, it’s not fake news, it’s propaganda peppered with jokes.”
None of this means we should disregard or discredit the very idea of a famous name making his or her voice heard on topics that affect humanity – far from it. The more of them who stand up to be counted the better for the obvious reason a celebrity’s high-profile can help push deadly serious issues and concerns normally confined within or near the fringes, out into the glare of the mainstream – and that’s what we want, right? It’s just that we must remember to adopt a certain degree of vigilance at all times and never to hear or see at face-value. Below – as promised – is a list of the famous/respected figures encompassing the length and breadth of the Arts who came out publicly during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in support of the victims of Gaza and in condemnation/criticism of the Israeli war machine and the State’s policies toward the Palestinian people in general.
* 3: TIMELINE OF EVENTS
The first entrant in the list is a bit of a mystery…
*July 8th (or thereabouts) 2014:
US R&B singer and movie-actor, Tyrese Gibson (otherwise known simply as, ‘Tyrese’) is said to have revealed his thoughts on the most recent events in Gaza via his ‘FaceBook’ page on or around this date, expressing sympathy for the victims of the region and opposition to the Israeli attacks. However, all of this has since disappeared it seems – reportedly ‘deleted.’
Evidence to suggest that the ’Fast & Furious’ star did indeed post the above comments and photos to FaceBook, are to be found on the pages of others who went on to share them. For example:
In fact, a significant enough number of FaceBook observers claim to have seen the posts, and they aren’t happy to find them gone, whilst others declare that the photos he uploaded are not from Gaza in 2014, or any other year for that matter (perhaps this explains the apparent ‘deletion‘?).
Here’s just a small collection of those posters’ comments…
*July 11th 2014
Madonna Tweets for ‘peace in the Middle East.’
Back in 2012 during one of her concerts, she reportedly told the audience, “you can’t be a fan of mine and not want peace in the world. We all bleed the same colour. If we can all rise above our egos and our titles and the names of our countries and our religions, and treat everyone around us with dignity and respect, then we are on the road to peace. If there is peace… in the Middle East, there can be peace in the whole world.” Fact is though, she’s said to have made this declaration at a gig staged in Tel Aviv. Just days before it was set to take place, an open-letter from ‘BOYCOTT!’ (‘www.boycottisrael.info’), stated that by going ahead with it, she was “choosing to disregard many calls made by Palestinians, Israelis and internationals asking her to… refrain from performing” there. “Madonna does not only keep silent about the elementary demand for Palestinian rights,” it went on. “She instead sides with the oppressor in her explicit support of the Israeli regime.” What? Is this a slight reference to the two hours she spent with Benjamin Netanyahu at his home in 2009 when she was in Israel to perform in Tel Aviv during her ‘Sticky & Sweet‘ world tour (and when she draped an Israeli flag around her shoulders whilst on stage, incidentally)? The veteran-performer, a long-time devotee and advocate of Kabbalah, is said have joined the Prime Minister and his wife, Sara in the lighting of Sabbath candles during her visit to their residence. Or perhaps the open-letter is referring in some way shape or form to an earlier trip to the region when she was seen literally rubbing shoulders with the Jewish State’s then-President, Shimon Peres? She was quoted as saying he was “the man I admire and love.” She was reportedly heard to have also said during her meeting with him, “I am an ambassador for Judaism.” Yes. Her very public association with Kabbalah has helped make it known across the world, but not every one dedicated to it has welcomed this with open arms. In 2004, the American Orthodox rabbi and author, Shmuel ‘Shmuley’ Boteach reportedly stated, “you know your religion is up a creek when… the most famous representative of your mystical tradition is simulating lesbian sex with scantily-clad… dancers.” He also made an appeal to the now-deceased Philip S. Berg, the then-head of the ‘Kabbalah Centre’: “Earth to Philip Berg: Do us all a favour and dump Madonna as your principal spokesperson. Sorry to be so crass, but Madonna is a slut. Yes, she may sing, and she may dance. But she is famous for being a slut. And no religion dare have a slut as its principal representative. I realise that Madonna has brought the Kabbalah Centre great notoriety and is, according to reports, a contributor to the tune of millions of dollars. But is the Kabbalah Centre really so desperate that it is prepared to promote itself through a vulgarian whose main contribution to the culture is porn Rock?”
(Top left); Madonna with Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, (Top right); Madonna draped in Israeli flag, Tel Aviv, September 2009, (Bottom); with Shimon Peres in Jerusalem (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
Born and raised as a Roman Catholic, Madonna embraced Kabbalah in 1996 whilst in her late-thirties because, she said in 2002, “I was looking for something. I mean, I’d begun practising yoga, and, you know, I was looking to the answers to life. Why am I here? What am I doing here? What is my purpose? How do I fit into the big picture? I know there’s more to life than making lots of money and being successful and even getting married and having a family.” During her life, she says she’s also studied Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism, and last year, she stated in an article she penned for the long-running American women’s fashion magazine/website, ‘Harper’s Bazaar,’ that she was studying the Qu’ran. This sparked a minor-media storm and all kinds of speculation with it; Was she ditching Kabbalah for Islam? Maybe it was another of her artistic/image re-inventions? Or was it a cheap publicity stunt? “I think it is important to study all the holy books,“ she wrote. “As my friend Yaman always tells me, a good Muslim is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian, and so forth. I couldn’t agree more. To some people this is a very daring thought.” Yes, well, Madonna’s famous for being “daring,” and its brought her more than her fair share of controversy over the decades, especially with regards to religion of course. “I have a funny relationship with religion,” she wrote in ‘Harper’s Bazaar.’ “I‘m a big believer in ritualistic behaviour as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. But I’m not a big fan of rules. And yet we cannot live in a world without order. But for me, there is a difference between rules and order. Rules people follow without question. Order is what happens when words and actions bring people together, not tear them apart. Yes, I like to provoke; it’s in my DNA. But nine times out of 10, there’s a reason for it.” In August 2006, just days before she was due to appear in concert in Rome during a world tour, a Vatican official labelled her live-show “the absurdity of evil” after learning of a section in it where she donned a crown of thorns and hung from a cross. Bishop Velasio De Paolis was quoted as saying, “wizards and Satanists use religious objects for black masses and she is simply following them.” More recently, similar allegations were levelled against her following her ‘Baphomet-invoking’ performance at the 2012 Superbowl halftime show after which she was labelled a ‘high Pop priestess of the Illuminati.’ So, it’s no surprise then that there’s always a cloud of suspicion hanging over her for whatever reason. The motivations behind her calls for ‘peace in the Middle East‘ have been met with doubt as a result, further exacerbated by her very public displays of affection towards Israel and its leaders, as well as her refusals to heed the requests of pro-Palestinian boycotters. Take a look at the screen-cap below as an example. It’s lifted from her Instagram page which is linked to her Tweet entry. Note the comments from posters…
During a Pearl Jam gig in the UK on this day, the band’s front-man, Eddie Vedder launches into an anti-war outburst which is taken to be a criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He tells his audience, “I swear to f**king God, there’s some people out there who are looking for a reason to kill. They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them and they should get the f**k out, mind their own f**king business!”
Watch it here…
A letter mailed to the ‘The Guardian’ by legendary English record-producer, musician, and seasoned activist, Brian Eno is published. He criticises the BBC’s bias against Palestinians in its news-coverage:
I’ve been an active and vocal supporter of the BBC for the whole of my adult life, admiring its courage and commitment to the values of fairness that we in England claim to cherish. The BBC’s famous impartiality made it a global standard of honest journalism. But now that reputation is being eroded. It’s a drift I started to notice a few years ago, and which I think has become very obvious.
The most recent incident concerns the killing of three Israeli teenagers in Hebron. This admittedly disgusting crime has received an entirely disproportionate treatment: listening to the BBC one would be left with the impression that killing children had never happened in Israel before. But it has. And it happens with monotonous regularity. Not, by and large, to Israeli children, but to Palestinians. And not only killing, but imprisonment and torture and day-to-day harassment and brutality. This goes on all the time – and I see little reaction to it from the international media. Unfortunately, that increasingly includes the BBC, which now, like many others, seems to regard Palestinian lives as less valuable, less newsworthy.
The following is taken from the recent UN general assembly security council report A/68/878-S/2014/339 – Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children: “In 2013, eight Palestinian children were killed by Israelis, and no Israeli children were killed by Palestinians” – p17/50; “1,265 Palestinian children were injured by Israelis, and eight Israeli children were injured by Palestinians” – p17/50.
“1,004 Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli security forces, with 107 of them (including five children under the age of 12) reporting cruel and degrading ill-treatment by the Israel Defence Forces and the Israeli police, including painful restraint, blindfolding, strip-searching, verbal and physical abuse, solitary confinement and threats of violence” – p18/50
There were 58 education-related incidents affecting over 11,000 Palestinian children, with 41 of them involving Israeli security forces operations near or inside schools, forced entry without forewarning, the firing of tear gas canisters and sound bombs into school yards and, in some cases, structural damage to schools. In 15 of the incidents, Israeli security forces fired tear gas canisters into schools run by the ‘United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’ (‘UNRWA‘), some during class hours, without forewarning – p19/50
Can the BBC honestly say its recent coverage reflects this balance of events?
In 2006, Eno co-signed an open-letter in conjunction with the ‘Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel’ (‘PACBI’), a group calling on film-makers and artists to boycott the Jewish State in a year which saw it launch military strikes against Lebanon and invade Gaza. It read:
UN resolutions are flouted, human rights violated as Palestinian land is stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as for the Jewish former ‘ANC’ (‘African National Congress’) military commander now South African minister of security, Ronnie Kasrils, the situation of the Palestinians is worse than that of black South Africans under apartheid.
Meanwhile, western governments refer to Israel’s legitimate right of self-defence, and continue to supply weaponry. The challenge of apartheid was fought better. The non-violent international response to apartheid was a campaign of boycott, divestment and UN-imposed sanctions which enabled the regime to change without bloodshed.
Today, Palestinians teachers, writers, film-makers and non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable academic and cultural boycott of Israel as offering another path to a just peace. This call has been endorsed internationally by university teachers in many European countries, by film-makers and architects, and by some brave Israeli dissidents.
Read the letter in full here:
In 2009, he attacked Israeli Government policy in an opinion-piece for political magazine/website, ’CounterPunch’ titled, ‘Stealing Gaza‘…
It’s a tragedy that the Israelis – a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression – are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked “everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it’s the Palestinians.” By creating a Middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they’ve forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians – with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers – and themselves – with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world – they sacrifice all credibility.
The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.
Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly…and, surprise, surprise – they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?
Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now ‘under attack’ you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gun-ships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian State still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist State, a State with which you couldn’t possibly reach an accommodation.
And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.
*July 12th 2014
Madonna Tweets on the Middle East again…
American rapper, Waka Flocka Flame meanwhile, Tweets in support of Palestine…
The following Tweet from the rapper comes with three links…
Check out the links, and these are what you get:
*July 13th 2014:
Waka Flocka Flame has more to share with regards to current world events…
Fellow American rapper, French Montana keeps it plain…
Meanwhile, Grammy Award-winning US rapper/producer, Swizz Beatz enters the fray…
He follows this up with a succession of Gaza-related Tweets…
*July 15th 2014:
British-born Jewish comedian and author, Alexei Sayle likens Israel to Jimmy Savile in an interview published on the website of the advocacy-group, ’Caabu’ (’Council for Arab-British Understanding’). He says, “I always try and think of the psychology of the nation and the psychology of the people behind it… thinking about it, you could… say that Israel is the kind of Jimmy Savile of nation States, it clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children, it thinks that everybody else is in the wrong, and it is endlessly in the right, and also it’s a State that’s endlessly again indulged by the power, by the western powers, by governments everywhere because they’re frightened of it, they’re frightened of it physically in some ways, they’re frightened of its kind of anger and they’re frightened of the power that it wields and its influence.”
Sayle, who first garnered widespread national attention in the early ‘80s in the groundbreaking British sitcom, ’The Young Ones,’ has been a critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its actions in Gaza for a number of years. In 2007 he said, “I think it’s very important that Jews in the entertainment-business, in the media, voice their opposition to the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.” He’s a signatory of the interest-group, ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ which, according to its website, “is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not” who “oppose Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people.”
*July 17th 2014:
American actor, Mark Ruffalo, famous for his role as the ‘Marvel Comics’ character, The Hulk in the ‘Avengers’ movies, Tweets a link to an article from the news-site, ’Mondoweiss.’ It details the witness-accounts of Basman Alashi, the director of the ’el-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital’ in the Gaza Strip, which, he says has been “destroyed” by the Israeli army.
According to the report, “the Israeli military began striking the building around 8 p.m. this evening and within two hours all hospital staff and patients had evacuated the only rehabilitation centre in the Gaza Strip. As they departed what remained intact from the medical centre burned to the ground. ‘It’s already destroyed,’ said Basman Alashi… ‘… we have evacuated all of our patients. We lost power, there was a fire in the building… I left the hospital at seven and within two hours they had bombed the hospital.’ Shells hit every floor of the building, and a fire spread throughout. After the Israeli army began striking the hospital, Alashi and el-Wafa’s 25 nurses made desperate arrangements to relocate the last 17 patients. Many of those in el-Wafa’s care are paralysed and are connected to oxygen support. Some of the nurses left the building to seek help, braving Israeli fire on the streets in order to track down an ambulance with an oxygen tank. ‘My nurses were unable to stand on their feet because of the smoke and the heat,’ said Alashi. El-Wafa’s staff managed to evacuate all of the patients to a nearby medical clinic inside of a hotel. ‘The ones who could stay, stayed, but the ones who lost consciousness and lost control, we moved,’ he continued. Only after the facility was under heavy fire and in the process of being abandoned did Alashi receive a phone call from the ‘International Committee for the Red Cross’ (‘ICRC‘) relaying a message from the Israeli army. A women who identified herself as a delegate of the ICRC said, ‘the Israelis asked how much time do you need to evacuate,’ said Alashi, answering ‘two hours.‘ However, within an hour when the woman called back and said the Israeli army ‘will halt the bombings, and not bomb the hospital any more,’ the facility was already in rubble. Alashi responded, ‘are you joking, are you making a mockery of me? I told her it’s too late they have already destroyed it. I said that the Red Cross is cooperating with the Israelis to destroy the hospital,’ Alashi continued, recounting his earlier conversation with the representative from the ICRC. ‘I’m going to take you, the Red Cross and the Israelis to the International Criminal Court,’ he announced before hanging up the telephone.”
You can read the Mondoweiss article in full here:
After receiving a negative response to his Tweet by a fellow-poster going by the name of Joel Holloman@JoelakaYaki, Ruffalo replies.
Ruffalo is one of the few Hollywood actors to have publicly questioned the official story behind 9/11. Speaking to ‘We Are Change’ in 2007 he said, with regards to the collapse of the World Trade Centre buildings, “I saw the way they all came down… and I, I’m baffled. My first reaction is that buildings don’t fall down like that.” He’s also an energetic anti-fracking campaigner.
*July 18th 2014
Hollywood actor, John Cusack challenges Israeli Government policy towards Gaza…
Cusack, perhaps best known for his roles in the movies, ‘The Grifters,’ and ‘Grosse Pointe Blank,’ is also a political commentator having contributed articles for the ‘Huffington Post’ in which he’s criticised George W. Bush’s so-called ‘War on Terror,’ and the torture of detainees by the US army and intel services at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere across the world. He’s also spoken out against NSA surveillance, and is a director on the board of the ‘Freedom of the Press Foundation’ alongside Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg among others.
Besides Cusack’s Tweet, an open-letter calling for a world military embargo on Israel is published via ’The Guardian’ on this day. Joining the multitude of co-signees that include authors, playwrights, painters, politicians, academics, and journalists, are Brian Eno, Roger Waters, and the British film-maker, Ken Loach.
Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression. Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world. Over the period 2008-19, the US is set to provide military aid to Israel worth $30bn, while Israeli annual military exports to the world have reached billions of dollars.
In recent years, European countries have exported billions of euros’ worth of weapons to Israel, and the EU has furnished Israeli military companies with research grants worth hundreds of millions. Emerging economies such as India, Brazil and Chile are rapidly increasing their military trade and cooperation with Israel, despite their stated support for Palestinian rights. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Israel’s military technology is marketed as “field-tested” and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel’s system of occupation, colonisation and systematic denial of Palestinian rights. We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid.
To see the full list of co-signees, follow this link:
One name you might recognise if you read from the link above is that of Mike Leigh. The British director is perhaps best known for the 1970s TV-play, ‘Abigail’s Party’ and the 1996 movie, ‘Secrets and Lies.’
In October 2010 he pulled out of a trip to Israel where he was set to take part in a teaching-program at a film and television school in Jerusalem, reportedly saying, “when the time comes that Israel behaves respectably, and when there is a just peace for the Palestinians, and when Gaza is returned to humanity, then I will be first in line to go and share anything that anyone wants with my colleagues, the Israeli film-makers and other artists. But until that happens I think it’s appropriate for all of us to leave a very clear message that we shouldn’t and can’t do that.” Born in 1943, the director’s grandfather, Meyer Lieberman, was a Yiddish-speaking Jew who arrived in Britain from what is now Belarus. The family surname was later changed to ‘Leigh.’ Mike’s parents met during the 1930s through the Labour Zionist youth movement, ‘Habonim,’ which he too joined travelling with the group to Israel on a ship as a teenager. However, “I walked away from the Jewish world at 17,” he said in a 2008 interview. “I couldn’t wait. I was eating bacon and pork at an early age; I lived a completely secular existence.” Indeed, it would appear that he had no interest in making a return trip to the Jewish State either. Finally though, in 1991, he went back, but, it’s said, purely because his then-wife, the actress, Alison Steadman, was invited to the Jerusalem Film Festival. “I haven’t been since, and on the whole I‘m not motivated to go,” he stated in 2006.
*July 20th 2014:
American actor and comedian, Rob Schneider Tweets, “the ugly inhuman siege of Gaza has had it’s deadliest day today.” He’s most likely referring to news-media reports which state that somewhere around 100 Palestinians had been killed over a 24 hour period during the weekend just passed.
Musician and activist, Krist Novoselic publicly declares his support for Eddie Vedder following his recent comments at a UK gig. The Pearl Jam star has reportedly been heavily criticised for what he’s said. One blogger for example, has labelled him an “anti-Semitic fool” and the newspaper/website, the ‘Jerusalem Post’ has dubbed him “anti-Israeli,” despite the fact that he didn’t actually refer to the Jewish State in name during his onstage outburst. In a self-penned online piece titled, ’Standing With Eddie Vedder and the Real Possibility of Peace,’ former Nirvana bassist, Novoselic states:
Thank you Eddie Vedder for speaking up for peace in our world. Eddie has gotten some criticism over comments he made about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. That situation has been messed up for so long, it is no wonder that even mentioning it is toxic. Let’s face it, the relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a disaster! I don’t know how many times I have heard the same explanations and excuses and it matters not, there is a continuing catastrophe between those two peoples.
Our world is connected as never before. People from all corners of the planet share culture and commerce at the click of a mouse. In contrast to this great convergence of humanity, Israel is building tall concrete walls while Palestinians fire rockets over them. There’s a shared recent history between these people, and I think there could be a shared future that’s more in tune with what’s going on with our ever-connected universe.
Hamas’s policy of not recognising Israel is a dead-end. All our lives are a result of the course of history. In other words, one thing leads to another, and our circumstances bring us to where we are. Israel has been a state for over 50 years, and has grown to seven million citizens. Furthermore, Israel is an inclusive democracy with universal human rights. In fact, Arab Israelis, like all its citizens, can vote for parties who hold seats in the Knesset, the national legislature.
However, if there is to be recognition of the course of history, we cannot forget the demographic changes the idea of Israel has created over 50 years. The influx of people into Israel – mostly Europeans – has displaced some four million Palestinians. You can give any anecdote you want about how small Israel is in comparison to the rest of the Middle East but the sentiment is still there – Palestinians feel that their land was taken away.
The region is host to the convergence of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It’s where these religions started, and the region’s extensive history draws from all three of these Abrahamic faiths. Radicals hold eschatological beliefs that, if manifested, could set off a major religious conflict in the region and world. You have to credit Israel for keeping a lid on this dynamic while at the same time granting religious freedom.
As we’ve seen with other conflicts, things do and can change. The “troubles” in Northern Ireland were a result of events a century ago, and after a proactive effort, peace has taken hold. Yugoslavia was another 19th century idea that when put into practice caused much controversy and conflict. Today we find the south Slavs working to come together in the European Union. In both these cases, a resolution of the conflict was buttressed by the promise of the stability needed for prosperity to happen.
The people of Palestine and Israel deserve peace and prosperity. It is time to stop repeating the same old arguments, dogma and hate speech. It is the knuckleheads on both sides that should be criticised and not the singer from a Rock band. In addition, both sides need to make hard decisions about finding a settlement to the catastrophe that is Israel/ Palestine.
Thanks Eddie for sharing your feelings. I stand with you my friend!!!
While British group, Massive Attack performs at the music-festival, ’Longitude’ in Dublin, Ireland, a black screen situated at the back of the stage beams out messages on the plight of the Gazan people…
Massive Attack front-man, Robert Del Naja has been a long-time critic of Israeli policies. In a 2010 interview, he said, “we were asked to play Israel and we refused. The question was asked: ‘If you don’t play there, how can you go there and change things?’ I said, ‘listen, I can’t play in Israel when the Palestinians have no access to the same fundamental benefits that the Israelis do.’ I think the best approach is to boycott a government that seems hell-bent on very destructive policies. And it’s sad, because we’ve met some great people in Israel, and it’s a difficult decision to have to make. The boycott is not an act of aggression towards the Israeli people, it’s towards the government and its policies. Everyone needs to be reminded of this because it’s very easy to be accused of being anti-Semitic, and that’s not what this is about.” He also said, “I think musicians have a major role to play. I find the more I get involved, the more the movement becomes something tangible.” For sure, Del Naja has got “involved” over the years, making his views known on a number of pressing global issues. In 2002 – prior to the 2003 US/UK-led invasion of Iraq – he designed and funded a series of anti-war ads along with Blur and Gorillaz front-man, Damon Albarn aimed at raising awareness of opposition to any British involvement in the conflict. Furthermore, in January 2003, the two musicians joined thousands of demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in protest against military action in the region which was then – sadly – just months away from taking place. In 2007, they both teamed up again to campaign against the renewal of the UK Trident nuclear weapon system based in Scotland. Del Naja has also expressed his concerns over the use of torture on prisoners, and has helped raise money for a number of causes including efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil-spill disaster of 2010.
*July 21st 2014:
Music-star and long-established activist, Annie Lennox posts her views on Gaza via her blog and shares it on Twitter and FaceBook too…(click to enlarge, of course)…
This is nothing new. Back in December 2008, she took to her blog in response to the short but bloody military campaign that was taking place in Gaza at the time named ‘Operation Cast Lead.’ She wrote, “I have to say that I feel deeply upset and affected by the recent bombings on Gaza. The Israeli army says they are justified by taking this action, in retaliation for the shelling by Hamas, but it seems to me that this level of violence will only escalate into more horror and killings… How can it not??? It’s utterly atrocious to see people suffering like this… A pornography of destruction.” A report by the human rights organisation, ‘Amnesty International’ titled, ‘Israel / Gaza. ‘Operation Cast Lead’: 22 Days of Death and Destruction,’ stated, “at 11:30 a.m. on December 27th 2008, without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating bombing-campaign on the Gaza Strip… Its stated aim was to end rocket attacks into Israel by armed groups affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian factions. By January 18th 2009, when unilateral ceasefires were announced by both Israel and Hamas, some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed, including some 300 children and hundreds of unarmed civilians, and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins. Much of the destruction was wanton and resulted from direct attacks on civilian objects as well as indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilian objects. Such attacks violated fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law… Hundreds of civilians were killed in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons – air-delivered bombs and missiles and tank-shells. Others, including women and children, were shot at short-range when posing no threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers. Children playing on the roofs of their homes or in the street and other civilians going about their daily business, as well as medical staff attending the wounded were killed in broad daylight by Hellfire and other highly accurate missiles launched from helicopters and unmanned vehicles (UAVs), or drones, and by precision projectiles fired from tanks. Scores of civilians were also killed and injured by less precise weapons, such as artillery-shells and mortars, and flechette tank-shells, which can be accurately aimed but which disperse thousands of deadly metal darts at great velocity over a large area. White phosphorus, a highly incendiary substance, was repeatedly fired indiscriminately over densely-populated residential areas killing and wounding civilians and destroying civilian property. It was often launched from artillery-shells in air-burst mode, which aggravated the already devastating consequences of the attacks. Each shell ejected over a hundred felt wedges impregnated with highly incendiary white phosphorus, which rained down over houses and streets, igniting on exposure to oxygen and setting fire to people and property. Once their incendiary content had been discharged, the artillery-shells often crashed into buildings causing further deaths and injuries. The scale and the intensity of the attacks were unprecedented, even in the context of the increasingly lethal Israeli military campaigns in Gaza in previous years. More Palestinians were killed and more were destroyed in the 22-day military campaign than in any previous Israeli offensive.” In early January 2009, prior to the ceasefire, two Gaza rallies in condemnation of the Israeli attacks were held in London. The first took place on the 3rd of that month, the next on the 10th. Lennox addressed the crowds at both. At the second event, which is said to have attracted an estimated 100,000 demonstrators, she took to the podium and said, “I wish I didn’t have to be here today, but I have to be here today.” She was there, she said, “on behalf of the children who now have no voices.” She then held up a sheet of card showing pictures of dead children… “This is what they look like,” she exclaimed…
Brian Eno also spoke at the January 3rd rally…
He also attended the January 10th protest where he once again spoke. Before taking to the mic to address the crowds, a number of children read out the names of Palestinian youngsters below the age of 18 who’d been killed…
Alexei Sayle spoke at the January 3rd rally too. He said, “I’ve always felt, as a Jew myself, that Israel purports to speak in our name… Israel always says that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Well, whatever else I am, I cannot be an anti-Semite. Criticism of Israel is criticism of Israel. I want to be proud… of my people. At the moment, I’m ashamed”…
In a Press-conference prior to the rally, Sayle told reporters, “I think that Israel has an idea of itself as being noble – Israeli people have an idea of themselves as being noble. When you attack somebody but you have this idea of yourself that you’re the good guy and you think, ‘well, how can this be? I’m the good guy and I’m killing these people,’ and what you do is you blame the people that you killed and you hear all the time from Israeli spokespeople that they are angry with the people that they have murdered for making them murder them. And it is the foulest kind of – it is the psychology of the murderer, it’s the psychology of the rapist, it’s the psychology of the bully – that’s what Israel is in this situation.” Sayle also attended the ’Remember Gaza’ march in London in May 2009 which called for a stop to the Israeli blockade/siege on the region. A UN report published in August that year stated, “following the Hamas take-over of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel has imposed an unprecedented blockade on all border-crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip. The blockade has ‘locked in’ 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely-populated areas on Earth, triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences. At the heart of the crisis is the degradation in the living conditions of the population, caused by the erosion of livelihoods and the gradual decline in the state of infrastructure, and the quality of vital services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education. The blockade, now in its third year, has taken place alongside recurrent cycles of violence and human rights violations, stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Hamas’s rule over Gaza. The denial of Palestinians’ right to leave Gaza, or to move freely to the West Bank, particularly when their lives, physical integrity, or basic freedoms are under threat, is another key component of the current human dignity crisis. This denial had a devastating impact during Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ military offensive, launched on December 27th 2008, contributing to the significant loss of civilian life and the large number of seriously injured and traumatised people as a result. The three week-long Israeli offensive also involved the widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure, and productive assets. The ongoing restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through the crossings has limited the ability of all relevant actors to address the immense needs and challenges that emerged as a result of the most recent military offensive. This blockade has been characterised by the UN’s most senior humanitarian official, John Holmes, as a form of collective punishment on the entire Gazan population.” At the march in London, which not only called for a stop to the siege, but also for a free Palestine, and an end to Israeli occupation and the arms trade, Sayle spoke to the crowd…
*July 22nd 2014:
Mia Farrow, the veteran Hollywood actress, and ‘UNICEF’ Goodwill Ambassador who earlier this year hit the headlines after she alleged that ex-boyfriend Woody Allen is to all intents and purposes a paedophile, Tweets her views on the Gaza tragedy…
As noted at the very beginning of this article, an interview with Oscar-winning director, Jonathan Demme is posted on the video-streaming network site, ‘HuffPost Live’ on this day and in which he shares his thoughts on the current goings-on in Gaza. Watch it in the link below:
Annie Lennox, meanwhile, is sharing more thoughts on Gaza via social-media…
*July 23rd 2014:
Reportedly in response to a backlash from many who took objection to the above Tweet and Instagram link, Madonna follows it up with this a bit later:
It seems that John Cusack has also been compelled to Tweet in defence of his earlier comments on the violence in Gaza…
*July 25th 2014:
An interview with Jonathan Demme is published on the website, ‘The Daily Beast.’ He’s asked about his views on the current situation in Gaza and his recent comments on ‘HuffPost Live’ when he called Israel’s offensive “a horrendous use of force.”
He replies, “I think there is no more important subject in the world than the need for a two-state solution to what’s going on there. We Americans are so woefully unaware when it comes to the history, and the specifics. The media has not done a great job in fulfilling their role – journalism’s role in a democracy is to provide information on profoundly important subjects so we’re an informed citizenry. Especially after the Twin Towers, we’re so terrified of ‘Arabic’ people. And talk about stereotypical negative portrayals of people of certain groups, if you look at the portrayal of Arabic people in Hollywood films, it’s just appalling. They’ve always been just the easiest of targets – along with native Africans, and what have you. They’re just portrayed as the ‘other,’ so it’s OK to kill them and it’s OK to take their land.” He goes on, “I feel that the wall is illegal. The occupied territories and the movement of settlements – moving people today off of their property and claiming it – is illegal.”
Mark Ruffalo meanwhile posts a link to a piece on the American political website, ’Daily Kos’ titled, ’empathising w/ Gaza does NOT make me anti-Semitic, nor pro-Hamas or anti-Israel. It makes me human.’ This is (perhaps?) in response to the negative feedback he’s received from one or two Tweeters for his sympathetic stance towards the victims of Israeli strikes in Gaza (see July 17th 2014). The article states, “on the ground in Gaza, Israel’s war against Hamas has been devastating. Online and in the public sphere, a different sort of war has been taking place – a broad initiative to de-legitimise those who raise questions about and critique Israel’s actions. This initiative is being carried out both by so-called ‘pro-Israel’ individuals as well as student volunteers enlisted by Israel’s government in its ‘social media war.‘ The result: those who merely express empathy for the suffering in Gaza, where over 800 people have been killed and 5,000 injured, are tainted as anti-Semitic or pro-Hamas, and those who offer dissenting opinions are labelled as enemies who seek Israel’s destruction. The goal is to shut down dialogue and debate… it seems to be affecting everyone who publicly offers critical opinions about Israel’s Gaza offensive, whether celebrities, journalists or anonymous individuals.”
Read the ‘Daily Kos’ article in full here:
He also Tweets a link from another ‘Daily Kos’ post which itself is taken from a ‘FaceBook’ entry by the best-selling, Jewish-born American author and activist, Naomi Wolf.
In the ‘Daily Kos’ post, Wolf is quoted as stating:
Okay, so I was challenged below: “Read the Bible! God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people.” So….I may get crucified for this but I have started to say it — most recently (terrified, trembling) to warm welcome in a synagogue in LA: Actually if you read Genesis Exodus and Deuteronomy in Hebrew — as I do — you see that God did not “give” Israel to the Jews/Israelites. We as Jews are raised with the creed that “God gave us the land of Israel” in Genesis — and that ethnically ‘we are the chosen people.” But actually — and I could not believe my eyes when I saw this, I checked my reading with major scholars and they confirmed it — actually God’s “covenant” in Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy with the Jewish people is NOT ABOUT AN ETHNICITY AND NOT ABOUT A CONTRACT. IT IS ABOUT A WAY OF BEHAVING.
Again and again in the “covenant” language He never says: “I will give you, ethnic Israelites, the land of Israel.” Rather He says something far more radical – far more subversive — far more Godlike in my view. He says: IF you visit those imprisoned…act mercifully to the widow and the orphan…welcome the stranger in your midst…tend the sick…do justice and love mercy ….and perform various other tasks…THEN YOU WILL BE MY PEOPLE AND THIS LAND WILL BE YOUR LAND. So “my people” is not ethnic — it is transactional. We are God’s people not by birth but by a way of behaving, that is ethical, kind and just. And we STOP being “God’s people” when we are not ethical, kind and just. And ANYONE who is ethical, kind and just is, according to God in Genesis, “God’s people.” And the “contract” to “give” us Israel is conditional — we can live in God’s land IF we are “God’s people” in this way — just, merciful, compassionate. AND — it never ever says, it is ONLY your land. Even when passages spell out geographical “boundaries” as if God does such a thing, it never says this is exclusively your land. It never says I will give this land JUST to you. Remember these were homeless nomads who had left slavery in Egypt and were wandering around in the desert; at most these passages say, settle here, but they do not say, settle here exclusively. Indeed again and again it talks about welcoming “zarim” — translated as “strangers” but can also be translated as “people/tribes who are not you” — in your midst. Blew my mind, hope it blows yours.
Elsewhere, an open-statement composed by Oscar-winning Spanish actor, Javier Bardem is published. In it, he condemns the Israeli “barbarism” in Gaza and labels the killings of the occupants there, “genocide.” The Hollywood star, who’s married to actress, Penelope Cruz, and who’s famous for his role as the James Bond ‘baddie’ in the 007 movie ‘Skyfall’ from 2012, also states that the conflict in the region is “a war of extermination waged against occupation.” His strong-worded critique is released via ‘el diaro.es,’ a news/politics website based in Spain. You can read it below. Incidentally, please note that it’s an English translation of the Spanish text as originally published (courtesy of ‘Google Translate’), so do be mindful of the odd mispronunciation here and there…
The horror (that) is happening in Gaza should be NO neutrality or equidistance. It is a war of occupation and extermination against a people without means, confined to a minimum territory without water and where hospitals, ambulances and children are white and suspected terrorists. Difficult to understand and impossible to justify. And shameful stance of western international community to grant such genocide.
I do not understand this barbarism that horrible history of the Jewish people become even more cruelly incomprehensible. Only geopolitical alliances, the hypocritical mask of business-for example, the sale of weapons-explain the shameful position of the USA, the EU and Spain.
I know that always would reject my opinion right to personal issues, so I want to clarify the following points:
Yes, my son was born in a Jewish hospital because I have very dear and close people who are Jewish and that being Jewish is not synonymous with support this slaughter, like being Jewish is not the same as being a Zionist and being Palestinian is not being a Hamas terrorist. That’s as absurd as saying that German will be akin to Nazism.
Yes, I also work in the USA where I have Jewish friends and acquaintances who reject such interventions and policies of aggression. “You can not invoke self-defence as he murdered children,” one of them told me by phone yesterday. And others that I discuss openly about our positions found.
Yes, I’m European and I am ashamed to say represent a community with its silence and no shame.
Yes, I live in Spain paying my taxes and do not want my money to finance policies that support this barbarism and arms trade with other countries that are enriched killing innocent children.
Yes, I am disgusted, embarrassed and hurt by so much injustice and murder of human beings. These children are our children. It is the horror. Hopefully you have compassion in the hearts of those who kill and clear this poison murderer only creates more hatred and violence. Let those Israelis and Palestinians who only dream of peace and coexistence may one day share your solution.
In the horror happening in Gaza right now there is NO place for distance or neutrality. It’s a war of extermination waged against occupation and to People with no means, confined in a minimum territory, with no water, and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targets and presumed to be terrorists. It’s hard to understand and impossible to justify. And it’s disgraceful that western country clubs are permitting such genocide. I can not understand this barbarism, even more vicious and incomprehensible considering all of the awful things the Jewish People have gone through in the past. Only geopolitical alliances, that hypocritical mask of business for example, the sale of weapons explains the shameful position taken by the US, the EU and Spain. I Know That uncertain people will discredit my right to express my personal view, which is why I would like to clarify the following points: Yes, my son was born in a Jewish hospital because I have very dear close friends who are Jewish and being Jewish does not mean you support automatically this massacre, just like being Hebrew does not mean you are a Zionist, just like being Palestinian does not automatically make you a Hamas terrorist. That’s just as absurd as saying being German makes you Nazi. Yes, I also work in the US where I have a lot of Jewish friends and acquaintances who reject such interventions and the politics of aggression. “You can not call it self-defence while you’re murdering children,” one of them said to me on the phone yesterday. Yes, I’m European and I’m ashamed of the European community to represent me with its silence and its utter shamelessness. Yes, I live in Spain and I pay my taxes and I do not want my money to finance policies that support this barbarism and the arms industry along with other country clubs that get rich murdering innocent children. Yes, I’m outraged, ashamed and hurt by all of this injustice and human beings getting killed . Those children are our children. It’s horrendous. I can only hope That those who kill will find it in their hearts to show compassion and be cured of this murderous poison which only breeds more hate and violence. That Israelis and Palestinians and those who only dream of peace and coexistence can some day find a solution together.
In Britain meanwhile, a letter signed by a reported 21,000 people and which demands an immediate halt to the arms-trade between the UK and Israel is delivered to Prime Minister, David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street by film-maker, Ken Loach and three British Members of Parliament.
Dear Prime Minister
The world is following developments in Israel’s war on Gaza with growing concern and disbelief. At the time of writing, the number of deaths has surpassed 700, 78% of whom are civilians. One in five of the dead are children and entire families have been killed in their homes. Patients have been killed in direct strikes on hospitals. On the 20th of July, Israel shelled the Al-Shuja’iyeh area of Gaza City, resulting in more than 70 deaths, overwhelmingly civilians. Medical teams were stopped from reaching the casualties, resulting in more unnecessary deaths. The number of those injured has surpassed 4,000 and more than 2,200 homes have been destroyed. The electricity, water supply and sewage treatment facilities have been further damaged.
We are deeply alarmed by the British Government’s lack of response to the developing crisis and – in particular – the situation for Palestinian civilians. They are entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law more broadly, which makes clear that civilians and civilian objects may not be the target of military attack. As a member-state and High Contracting Party to the Convention, Britain has a responsibility to ensure that this protection is achieved.
On the 19th of July, British people of all faiths and ages came out in their tens of thousands in London and around the country to demand action to stop Israel’s attack on Gaza. They also demonstrated to ensure the underlying reasons that led to this are tackled, namely the illegal, military occupation of Palestine and the siege on Gaza.
We demand that the British Government calls for an immediate end to Israel’s action – which is fundamentally based on the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Further we demand Britain informs Israel that it has completely broken the basic principles of international law with its attack on the civilian population of Gaza, which is unacceptable, and that unless it ends this bloody campaign the UK will move to impose sanctions on it until it adheres to international law. In particular, we demand that Britain will not buy or supply military equipment that has, or could be, used or tested as part of Israel’s illegal occupation or as part of its collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Other well-known figures from the world of the Arts/entertainment who’ve signed the letter besides Loach include, comedian, Alexei Sayle, English actor, David Morrissey, Brian Eno, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, and founder-member of the Rock-group, Genesis, Peter Gabriel. Bryan Adams is also a signee. Born in Canada in 1959, the music-star, perhaps best-known for his annoyingly long-standing 1990s Number One single, ‘Everything I do (I Do It for You),’ grew up in various parts of the world as a result of his father, a former military-man who then went to work for the UN. The family spent time living in Japan, Portugal, Britain, Korea, and Israel too.
In 2006, the singer formed ‘The Bryan Adams Foundation,’ which, according to its website, “aims to improve the quality of people’s lives around the world by providing financial help and support to those people who are committed to bettering the lives of their people, by providing grants to finance specific projects.” Furthermore, “the Foundation seeks to protect the most vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals in society.” In January 2009, it contributed to the ’Emergency Appeal of the Welfare Association’ and the ’Palestine Red Crescent Society’ for the provision of emergency relief in Gaza. That very same month, the musician was a co-signee of an open-statement that called “for an immediate end to the Israeli attack on the citizens and civic institutions of Gaza; for an opening to all crossings points into Gaza; and for an end to the siege and blockade of Gaza. We insist upon hope for the children of Gaza, and the children of Palestine wherever they live in refugee camps across the Middle East, so that they can live in freedom from injustice, war, and military occupation.” This was in response to the-then ongoing Israeli military-strikes on Gaza during the 22-day-long ’Operation Cast Lead’ offensive. The statement also expressed ’shock’ over “the bombing of three UNRWA (’United Nations Relief and Works Agency’) schools in Gaza where families have taken refuge, killing so many of them, and by the deaths of dozens of children this past week. We demand immediate action from our political leaders, and the leaders of Europe, who under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law have a responsibility to stop the continuing assault, and who have not done enough to ensure a ceasefire.” The statement was released by the ‘Hoping’ foundation (‘Hope and Optimism for Palestinians in the Next Generation’) and was also signed by Bobby Gillespie, the front-man of the British group, Primal Scream. He’s another one of the 21,000 names on the Downing Street letter. Over the last decade, he and his band have played a number of one-off multi-act UK benefit-gigs in aid of Palestinian children.
In a 2004 guest-column for ‘The Guardian,’ he stated, “it is often said that the Palestinian issue is so difficult and sensitive that it’s better not to get involved. But the truth is, it’s not. It’s easy.” The concerts, which – as it happens – have featured Bryan Adams on the bill, raise money for the ‘Hoping’ foundation. However, “it’s not just a question of giving them money,” Gillespie has insisted. “One reason we have got involved with the Hoping foundation is that it supports Palestinian children in the refugee camps. Generation after generation has been there since 1948, scattered all over: Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and in occupied Palestine. From Shatila to Gaza, it is these kids I see when I think of Palestine. They have been ignored and excluded, growing up without any hope. We want to tell them we are with them, that they are not alone.” In 2005, the singer infamously defaced a banner at that year’s Glastonbury Festival which read: ‘Make Poverty History’ by scrubbing out the last word and replacing it with ‘Israel.’ When this incident was mentioned during a 2006 interview with the long-running music-magazine the ‘NME’ (‘New Musical Express’), he was asked whether it concerned him that this might be perceived as ‘anti-Semitic.’ He replied, “there’s Israeli and Jewish people who support the Palestinian cause as well. To say we’re anti-Semitic is a smear, so you’d better watch what you’re saying. Because you oppose one country’s government’s policies doesn’t mean to say that you hate all the people from that country. I don’t like Bush or Putin or Tony Blair, but I don’t hate American, Russian or British people. Most people are just trying hard to get by.”
*July 26th 2014:
Somewhere between 45,000 – 100,000 demonstrators (depending whose estimates you believe) turn up in London to protest against Israel’s military action in Gaza. A number of well-known figures speak to the crowds, including Brian Eno…
The guitarist, David Randall, who’s played with a number of acts including Tom Jones, Sinead O’Connor and British Electronica / Techno band, Faithless also speaks to the protestors, reportedly saying, “the last time Faithless was on a world tour, we heeded the cultural boycott of Israel. I’m very pleased to see that my colleague and fellow singer, Sinead O’Connor, has also this week said she will boycott Israel. My message to my fellow artists is to join the cultural boycott of Israel. Do not entertain apartheid Israel.”
In 2011, the musician wrote a piece for the South African national newspaper and website, ’The New Age’ detailing the circumstances that led to Faithless calling it quits on any more gigs in Israel. He also made note of ‘BDS‘ (’Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions‘), the movement which is there, so states its website, “to strengthen and spread the culture of boycott as a central form of civil resistance to Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid”:
Israel is the regional centre for all things cool, sexy and western – or so its government PR machine would like the world to think.
Tel Aviv is promoted as a hedonistic, libertarian party city, frequented by many of the world’s best known bands and DJs. This manufactured image matters to Israel.
The implicit message is that the country is liberal and progressive. Music-fans can dance, drink and pop pills long into the night, blissfully distracted from the immeasurable suffering endured by Palestinians living just 40km down the road in Gaza.
In effect, music helps to drown out the cries of the oppressed in a society wilfully in denial of its role as oppressor. International DJs and musicians should no longer be complicit in this crime.
Faithless last performed in Israel in June 2005. I invited my friend, Palestinian producer and rapper Jad Abbas (aka Boikutt), to be my guest at the gig. He declined, explaining that Israeli checkpoints meant the short journey to the venue from his home in Ramallah would be almost impossible.
He added that, as a supporter of the cultural boycott of Israel, he would prefer it if our gig wasn’t happening at all. At the time, I knew of no western bands who had joined the boycott.
Since then, awareness of the true face of Israel and the suffering and humiliation to which Palestinians are subjected has become far more widespread, particularly in the wake of the siege of Gaza.
Significantly, people are coming to the realisation that Israel is an apartheid state.
As the Jewish South African political activist Ronnie Kasrils wrote last year: “Every day structural racism and oppression imposed by Israel constitutes a regime of apartheid and settler colonialism similar to the one that shaped our lives in South Africa.”
The equivalence was even recognised by the architect of apartheid, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, who stated admiringly in November 1960, “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”
But there is a key difference between the apartheid regime of South Africa and that in Israel. While the South African economy relied on the exploitation of non-white labour, Palestinians are largely excluded from the Israeli economy.
The strikes that shook the regime in South Africa in the ’80s are not an option for Palestinians. Therefore, the actions of those of us outside Israel are all the more critical. In recognition of this, Palestinian civil society has issued an urgent call for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel.
Those of us who are serious about engaging in the struggle for a better world need good strategies and tactics. The tactic of cultural boycott isn’t always a good one.
I am opposed to the occupation of Afghanistan by coalition forces, but to ask my colleagues to boycott Afghanistan, Britain, or the US would be meaningless. You cannot effectively boycott somewhere you never go to (Afghanistan), somewhere you have to go to (Britain), or somewhere with such a big domestic music industry that your decision would go completely unnoticed (the US).
That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of other things musicians can do – and have done – to support the Stop the War movement, but boycott is not one of them.
Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, by contrast, is one example of a situation where the cultural boycott – as part of the wider strategy of BDS – is the right tactic.
Of course, many musicians explicitly talk about political change when onstage in Israel. And some think that the boycott punishes the wrong people. Music fans, they argue, are among those most likely to oppose their government’s policies. But bands, including Faithless, have been visiting Israel and singing about peace and unity for more than a decade.
In June 2011, Randall amassed together a selection of music-artists to record a track he’d written titled, ‘Freedom for Palestine.’ Released under the group-collective moniker, ‘OneWorld,’ he was joined by the Durban Gospel Choir, Maxi Jazz from Faithless, 1 Giant Leap’s Jamie Catto, singers, Harry Collier (formerly of British outfit, Kubb) and Andrea Britton, and musicians Sudha Kheterpal, Attab Haddad, Joelle Barker, and Tony Reed. In the accompanying video (which you can hear and see below) there are fleeting appearances from UK rapper, Lowkey, comedian/activist, Mark Thomas, and children’s poet and author, Michael Rosen. Randall is in there too of course. He reportedly said in 2011, “this song is my small attempt to show solidarity with Palestinians. I suppose I became interested in what was going on in Palestine when I first visited Gaza over ten years ago. I was actually on tour with Faithless, the band I’ve been working with. We were playing in Tel Aviv, and I had a day off, and I thought rather (than) going to (the) beach and look(ing) around the shops in Tel Aviv, I thought to myself I am going to go to Gaza to see what life is like in Gaza. I think you see with your own eyes the way life is made so difficult by the Israeli government and army, and subsequently I went to the West Bank, I’ve been to the West Bank three or four times. When you see how the Israeli occupation affects Palestinians lives, I think you want to do whatever you can to try to change that situation. In my case, because I am a musician, the best what I could offer is music. I persuaded Faithless that they should join the boycott of Israel, and they did join the cultural boycott last year and around the same time I decided to start working on this song. The more the song had a feeling of internationalism, which is a political idea that I strongly agree with, the idea that no matter which country you are from; we are all brothers and sisters. The most exciting recording session of all was the one we did in South Africa with the choir, The Durban Gospel choir, because there are a lot of Black South Africans and White South Africans who remember the struggle against the racist apartheid in South Africa and feel a desire to help Palestinians with their struggle against apartheid and the activities of the Israeli state; they understand the type of oppression that is going on in Palestine. I have always loved the songs which bring different influences together. With this song I thought it is important that the Arabic musical world was referenced… It is the sense of internationalism I referred to earlier, it was great that we were able to get the South African influence in the song as well as the Arabic influence and the London electronic influence. As it is something I love doing musically any way, it is important that different musical worlds co-existed on this song.”
*July 27th 2014:
One Direction’s Zayn Malik also makes his view known:
*July 28th 2014:
Mia Farrow Tweets a link to a ‘YouTube‘ video of a speech made by veteran US Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Chris Hedges in 2009. In it, he says, “the incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket-fire into Israel. It is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenceless civilian population, is the final phase in the decades-long campaign to ethnically-cleanse Palestinians. The assault on Gaza is about creating squalid, lawless, and impoverished ghettoes in the West Bank and Gaza where life for Palestinians will be barely sustainable. Israel uses sophisticated attack-jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee-camps, schools, apartment-blocks, mosques, and slums – to attack a population that has no air-force, no air-defence, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery-units, no mechanised armour, no command and control, no army – and calls it a war. It is not a war. It is murder.” In a career spanning over thirty years, Hedges has worked for the ‘New York Times’ as a foreign correspondent, and has reported from Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He’s currently a columnist for the news-site, ’Truthdig.’ You can watch the ’YouTube’ video Tweeted by Farrow, below:
Mia follows this up later with…
A video appears on ‘YouTube’ titled ‘Freedom for Palestine: #GazaNames Project.’ Almost four minutes-long in total, it features a number of celebrities, artists, and activists, including Jonathan Demme, fellow director, Ken Loach, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, South African activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and musicians, Brian Eno and Roger Waters holding up signs featuring the names and the ages of Palestinian civilians killed recently in Gaza. It’s narrated by US playwright, Wallace Shawn who’s perhaps best known for his acting roles, most notably in the movies, ‘Clueless,’ Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan,’ and the TV-comedy, ‘Gossip Girl.’
The video was released by ‘Freedom4Palestine.org’ in conjunction with ‘Jewish Voice for Peace,’ which, according to its official site, “is a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. ‘JVP’ opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.”
In the link below, is a list of the well-known figures who’ve taken part in the ‘GazaNames’ video:
An open-letter condemning the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and co-signed by a group of Spanish musicians, writers, movie-directors and film-stars including Hollywood actress, Penelope Cruz and husband, Javier Bardem is published in Spain’s print-media on this day also. According to online reports, it states, “Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air. Palestinians’ homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing.” Israel “humiliates, detains, and tramples on the rights of the Palestinian population in all of the West Bank every day, also causing many deaths.” The letter calls for a “lift” to “the blockade, which the Gaza Strip has suffered for more than a decade,” also adding that the country should “open border crossings to facilitate the mobility of the population, the entry of medical equipment, medicines and food.”
David Byrne, meanwhile, a founder-member of the group, Talking Heads, posts an e-mail on his website sent to him a few days earlier by his friend, Brian Eno:
Dear All of You:
I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.
Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4-years-old.
I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.
Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.
What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC (the ‘American Israel Public Affairs Committee‘)… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.
The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered? How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ‘America’? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?
I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for ‘UNWRA’ (‘United Nations Relief and Works Agency’) in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing s**t and p**s and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”.
As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While ‘the process’ is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ (whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way. By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re ‘right of return’ Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that ‘Arab’ equates with ‘vermin’ – straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the Klan.
But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents ‘The West’. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see – but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian ‘Realpolitik’ sense; it just makes us look bad.
I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did.
Posted below the e-mail, is a response from his friend, Peter Schwartz. Said to have been born in a refugee-camp outside Stuttgart, Germany in 1946 to ’Holocaust’ survivors, he’s an American futurist, author, public-speaker, and business-strategist. If his online career-bio is anything to go by, then he’s a man to be met with a degree of suspicion. It states that “he specialises in scenario-planning, working with corporations, governments, and institutions to create alternative perspectives of the future and develop robust strategies for a changing and uncertain world. His research and scenario work encompasses the fast-moving world of connected business, energy resources and the environment, technology, telecommunications, media and entertainment, aerospace, and national security. He also co-authored the Pentagon’s ‘An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.’” He cut his teeth as a futurist from 1972, when he joined the notorious ‘Stanford Research Institute,’ now known as ‘SRI International’ (if you’re unaware of this organisation’s shady history, then just type the name of it into a search-engine and you’ll find more than enough data to satisfy your curiosity). During his tenure there, he eventually rose to the position of director of the Strategic Environment Centre.
His reply to Eno reads:
Dear Brian and friends,
I am writing to respond to your note about Gaza and how America is responding. It deserves a response. My feelings and the actual realities are complex on several levels; the realities of the Arab-Israeli history and conflicts, global politics and modern American history/demographics. All three levels interact to create the current situation. And to understand the US posture you have to consider the history. Let me say, that, as you know I am an immigrant and child of Holocaust survivors. I am culturally Jewish, but with no religious or spiritual inclinations, an atheist. And I believe that creating the Jewish state of Israel was a historic mistake that is likely to destroy the religion behind it. The actions nation states take to assure their survival are usually in contradiction to any moral values that a religion might espouse. And that contradiction is now very evident in Israel’s behaviour. Israel will destroy Judaism.
First, the history has two important intersecting threads, Zionism and the end of the Ottoman Empire. Zionism began near the end of the nineteenth century as a response to a millennium of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. An end to the diaspora and a return to the biblical homeland were seen as the only hope of escaping the persistent repression of places like Hungary, the Ukraine, Russia, etc. The British government with its Balfour declaration (1917) and the League of Nations Palestine Mandate (1922) gave impetus to that hope. And of course WWII and the Holocaust sealed the deal. The murder of 6 million Jews was seen as sufficient reason to pursue a Jewish state and the UN granted that wish with the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab States in 1947. The seven Arab states declared war and urged the Palestinians to flee. After defeating the Arab armies Israel made it very hard for them return. Hence we ended up with a large Palestinian refugee population.
Those Arab states themselves were the result of a combination of British/French artistry in drawing the maps of the post Ottoman world as well as the subsequent tribal military campaigns that left the Saudis in charge of the Arabian peninsula (vast oil wealth soon to be found) and the Hashemites driven up into Trans Jordan. Other than the war with Israel, the conflicts and rivalries among the various Arab and Persian factions have shaped Middle Eastern and North African politics ever since then.
Over the subsequent decades following the 1948 war there was a persistent Arab bombing campaign and two more large scale Arab attacks on Israel, 1967 and 1973. Until the mid seventies Israel was seen as having the moral high ground based on the holocaust and Arab behaviour. But beginning with the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in the early 80s that moral position began to erode. Israel’s behaviour in Lebanon was the first major example of aggressive action and attacks against vulnerable populations. Israel began to develop a more right wing and aggressive political faction of which Netanyahu is the worst current example. The settlements in Arab territory in the West Bank are the direct result of that evolution. (And of course the mass migration of the 1990s mainly from Russia) Suicide bombings and missile attacks were the Arab response. Walling themselves in was yet another ironic Israeli response. Today’s horrors are a continuing extension of those conflicts following a ceasefire of a few years.
Once Israel declared itself a Jewish state in 1948 the Palestinians had only three options; accept a division of the land into two States, accept being second-class citizens in the Israeli State or perpetual conflict because they could not win. The Arab States chose the third option because it is in their interest to maintain unity against their common enemy, Israel. They could even share a common enemy with the hated Persian Shiites in Iran. So rather than helping the Palestinians develop by investing in education, health-care, jobs, infrastructure etc. the Arab States, especially Saudi Arabia help keep them poor but well armed. Palestinian refugees would remain a festering sore in the Middle East to remind the world of Israel’s perfidy. And of course any aid that did come ended up in corrupt pockets not in helping development. The obvious counter-example was Jordan, which developed itself, with little help from their Arab brethren and eventually made grudging peace with Israel. The difference in Jordan was good Arab leadership that recognized that Israel was not going way and war forever was not a good development policy.
At the geopolitical level several threads played out. The UN became a place where the Israel and Arab conflicts became a symbolic pawn in the Cold War, especially in the Security Council with the US on the Israeli side and the USSR on the Arab side (with exceptions i.e. the Saudis). That hardened the US position and associated in American minds Israel with our side and the Arabs with the other guys.
Even though I have no support for the Israeli position I find the opposition to Israel questionable in its failure to be similarly outraged by a vast number of other moral horrors in the recent past and currently active. Just to name a few; Cambodia, Tibet, Sudan, Somalia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina, Liberia, Central African Republic, Uganda, North Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Venezuela, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Zimbabwe and especially right now Nigeria. The Arab Spring ,which has become a dark winter for most Arabs and the large scale slaughter now underway along the borders of Iraq and Syria are good examples of what they do to themselves. And our nations, the US, the Brits, the Dutch, the Russians and the French have all played their parts in these other moral outrages. The gruesome body count and social destruction left behind dwarfs anything that the Israelis have done. The only difference with the Israeli’s is their claim to a moral high ground, which they long ago left behind in the refugee camps of Lebanon. They are now just a nation, like any other, trying to survive in a hostile sea of hate.
We should be clear, that given the opportunity, the Arabs would drive the Jews into the sea and that was true from day one. There was no way back from war once a religious State was declared. So Israel, once committed to a nation State in that location and granted that right by other nations have had no choice but to fight. In my view therefore, neither side has any shred of moral standing left, nor have the nations that supported both sides.
So now let’s at look at why the US behaves as it does with a nearly uncritical support of Israel. You are right to criticise our media in so many ways, but that only makes things worse it does not really explain why. They are simply doing what they think their audiences want to hear. And they are mostly right.
Part of it has to do with post-war American evolution and perceptions of Israel and the Arabs. When I was a boy in the fifties, through my teenage years anti-Semitism was still common in America. If you were Jewish you did not go to work for IBM or GE. You did not join the Navy. You did not go to Harvard, Princeton or Yale. I could not play tennis at my local country club. I regularly heard derisive, anti-Semitic comments from some of my classmates. But by the mid-sixties along with the civil rights movement, toleration in general increased and anti-Semitism declined, almost vanishing. Support of Israel was part of that tolerance and was seen as a noble response to the Holocaust. The Arabs were seen as the oppressors and enemies of the US. That perception was given particular impetus by the oil embargo of 1973 and of course the Iranian revolution, even though it was Persians not Arabs, because Americans don’t see that distinction. (We should never forget that we have a Republican dominated Congress, half of whom do not own a Passport and see ignorance as a virtue.) The Israelis were seen as innovative and benign, people who made the desert bloom. To this was added the growing and ironic support from the US religious Right who saw the route to salvation as the Israeli defeat of the Arabs leading to a second coming of Christ. (Of course, we Jews would have to convert to Christianity to survive the second coming.) 9/11 amplified the American antipathy to the Arab world. Seeing the delight throughout the Arab world at the fall of the Twin Towers did not endear the Arabs to the American people. We can add Saddam, Khaddafi and Osama Bin Laden to the pantheon of iconic American villains. The UN is no longer seen as legitimate and almost always acting against US interests.
So my generation and most of today’s American leadership grew up with the Israelis as heroic good guys and Arabs/Persians as greedy bad guys. The younger generation, my son Ben’s age (24) have a much more balanced view. Israel’s behaviour in their youth, the last two decades, has destroyed whatever moral standing the Israelis had with them. In addition the pro-Israeli lobby in America has been very effective in the political arena and their Arab counterparts have been counter productive. So our leaders who group-up with noble Israel and evil Arabs and supported by Jewish political contributions are unequivocally pro Israeli while young people are more divided as is at least some of the Jewish community. Eventually demography will win out as a new more skeptical generation comes to power, a generation for whom Israel will not carry the same moral weight as it did for their parents.
I don’t think there is any honour to go around here. Israel has lost its way and commits horrors in the interest of their own survival. And the Arabs and Persians perpetuate a conflict ridden neighbourhood with almost no exceptions, fighting against each other and with hate of Israel the only thing that they share.
It is also worth noting that the largest Muslim populations are not Arab and the largest, Indonesia is fairly peaceful. So it is not about religion. The Arabs have been engaged in tribal conflicts for centuries that have been from time to time quelled by Imperial powers like the Ottomans and strong men like Saddam and Ibn Saud. And in those wars they have committed horrors on their own people. Observe the genocidal destruction of Homs by Hafez Assad just to point to a recent example. The Zionists brought another tribe to the war. It is of course a tribe that is also divided, like the Arabs, in to factions, some of which are fanatical and war like and others more moderate. The comments about the racism of the Zionists are fair, but the Arab world does not lack for similar attitudes. One need only see how the vast number of South Asian, Philippine and African near slaves are treated even in the more benign countries like the UAE.
So given that history and current reality and even though I believe the creation of Israel was a historic disaster, I am a member of the tribe, (perhaps its more pacifist, atheist wing) I find objectionable the unique singling out of Israel for condemnation. So if we are prepared to boycott, condemn, shame, etc, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Iranians, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Russians, the Nigerians, the Taliban, the Venezuelans, the Zimbabweans, the Sudanese, the south Sudanese, the Central African Republicans, and let’s not forget the Americans and the British, all of whom are as guilty as Israel, then I will join the demonstration. (Two small things that might help would be if the rich Arab states provided some funding and development assistance for the Palestinians and if the Palestinian government didn’t steal all the aid.)
We find ourselves at a historic impasse. There is no way back. Israel will do whatever it takes to survive. They will not leave. And the Arab identity has become opposition to Israel. It will be centuries, if ever, before they accept the existence of Israel. So both sides will always rightly feel threatened. There will be no other state there but perpetual tribal war with an occasional truce. And in that perpetual state of tribal war there be ample opportunity for horrors on both sides. We can only hope to lower the level of violence, but true peace will remain illusive.
Fast-forward to August 5th, and Eno’s reply to this is published on the ‘Stop the War’ website:
Reading your letter I very much appreciated the historical summary. There are a few places where I don’t agree, but they’re not important enough to make this letter even longer than it already threatens to be.
It seems we’re in accord about how awful the situation and the government in Israel is, and I’m with you pretty much all of the way until you ask: ‘Why single out Israel? In a world of horrors, why pick on this one?’
And I think that veils another concern: ‘Is this some new form of anti-Semitism, another stick with which to beat the Jews?’ Given their history, that’s a fair enough question.
I’m aware that there are those who actually welcome the Gaza disaster for that very reason. They’re fundamentally anti-Jewish and this is an acceptable way for them to say that in polite company. To the rest of us, these people are fatal – because they give the apologists for Israel the perfect let-out: “See? It’s just anti-Semitism..” There’s always a contingent of them turning up at demos and wanting to speak. Needless to say, they aren’t given the microphone.
So I’d like to let you know that I didn’t ‘single out’ Israel. In my lifetime, I’ve been active in several movements that involved events in other nations: Vietnam, South Africa, Bosnia, Iraq and now Israel. In each case my government was actively involved, but the policies it was pursuing struck me as idiotic and immoral. In each case also there were those who asked me the same question: why single them out?
Well, part of my answer is that above: we’re already involved, but I think we’re involved in the wrong way. So this is my general answer: it isn’t just about Israel for me, but about what my government is doing in my name. The money we pay in taxes is helping to support this situation. I can see all the reasons you’ve listed as to why our respective governments have ended up with the stances they have, but understanding isn’t the same as condoning. I want to make it clear to them that “a lot of your citizens don’t support you”. This is what I understand as democratic participation, civic responsibility.
The other cases you mentioned: the Saudis, the Qataris, the Iranians, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Russians, the Nigerians, the Taliban, the Venzuelans, the Zimbabweans, the Sudanese, the south Sudanese, the Central African Republicans… frankly, what do they have to do with me? I don’t understand them, and I don’t know that my government has any particular role within them. If I were suddenly to become involved with, say, Sudanese politics I would feel that your question ‘Why Single Them out?” had validity.
But my main point is to pick the fights you can win. Whereas I don’t have any instruments at all with which to affect Sudanese politics (even if I wanted to), I do have some power to change the way that Britain relates to Israel.
Why would I want to do that? Because unlike you, I don’t see the Middle East as a lost cause. Israel, unlike the other countries you mention, claims to be like us, part of the Western First World, part of the same set of moral assumptions – and many Israelis (though apparently not the ones in government) are.
Despite the haze of nationalistic propaganda there’s a committed Jewish counterculture in Israel which, along with the Palestinians, is appealing to us for help. They know they can’t change it working only from the inside and they want support – as indeed South African trade unions asked the outside world for support in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and Bosnians did in the ‘90s. These aren’t people who want to destroy Israel: they want to save it from a course which they see as taking it further and further from the ideals on which it was founded.
There’s something else as well which makes Israel a particularly sore issue for the British: we had a big hand in creating the problem by cavalierly ‘giving’ the Jews Palestine and turning a blind eye when that generation of settlers drove Arabs off their land, as we turned a blind eye to what the Arab nations were doing. In the grand imperial tradition of ‘Make a mess and then pull out’ we left behind a palpably unworkable arrangement. And just to make the problem really intractable, Israel was founded (as it happens, on the day I was born – 15 May 1948) as a specifically Jewish, and therefore religious, State.
To create a State that specifically, and from the very beginning, excluded so many of its extant inhabitants from participation was a terrible move. I have enormous sympathy for anyone trying to make sensible decisions in the wake of World War 2, and I’m sure there were many good intentions paving the road to this particular hell, but it was that thoughtless and arbitrary (and British) partition that kick-started the whole thing.
My penultimate point is that this is about more than Israel – in my mind anyway. I touched on this in the letter: how do you think it looks to the rest of the world when they see Israel mincing the Palestinians in Gaza and then discover that America is (still) giving them about 18 million dollars in military aid each day – while righteously proclaiming about Human Rights?
And how do they feel when they see Tony Blair receiving a $1 million dollar Peace Prize from some Israeli institution presumably for managing to remain completely unresponsive to the Palestinians?
It looks terrible – sheer, unvarnished hypocrisy. It makes you understand why Arabs can hate us (though I’m continually surprised by how few do). One of the reasons I want to demonstrate is to say “Don’t judge us by our governments” – which is one of the things that Israeli Jews say to me. You probably think it hopelessly idealistic, but I think it does make a difference when people see that the other people – the ones they’re supposed to hate – are objecting to what is being done in their names.
I remember speaking to a Palestinian taxi driver in Israel. It was shortly after that Raving Nazi Anti-Semite Jimmy Carter – I took that description of him from Israeli Press reports – had just published his book where he suggested that Israel was becoming an apartheid State. The driver said to me wearily: ‘why do they always realise this just after they have lost the power to do anything?’
I thought about that a lot. Of course, while they’re in power they’re effectively neutralised. Without a HUGE popular mandate – huge enough to offset the lobbies and the news-channels and the weapons companies and the general apathy – people in power won’t – or can’t – do anything. With enough people behind them, they might. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s book is about this, about the moment when a society changes from applauding something to finding it shameful. The American Civil Rights movement is a stellar example.
It can happen very quickly, and I think it could do so in Israel if she weren’t pumped up with US supplied testosterone. But it depends on people in government being able to cover themselves by saying “I had no choice – those bloody voters forced my hand.” And it depends on something similar happening in the Arab world too…which might be at the point when they stop being important enough to our energy supplies for us to stop kissing their arses. But you know much more about that subject than me.
Last point (phew!), about singling-out. In this recent crisis Israel has bombed or shelled about 120 UN buildings in Gaza. Mary’s sister Rachel tells me that the UN sends precise coordinates of all its buildings to the Israelis, so these attacks are unlikely to be mistakes. 70 of those buildings were schools or hospitals, some of them occupied at the time. Can you think of any other country that could get away with this? That’s another kind of singling-out.
*July 29th 2014:
Referring to the recent military attacks on Gaza during an interview with news-agency, ‘AFP’ whilst backstage at a Massive Attack gig in the city of Byblos, Lebanon, Robert Del Naja says, “this bombardment of an area that is one of the most densely-populated on Earth, where civilians aren’t allowed to leave, is just beyond belief.” With regards to Israel, he states, “in order to protect yourself, do you really want to massacre another people? In the 21st century, it’s beyond belief.” Furthermore, “the politicians, they stay silent. It’s perverse, it almost suggests they’re not fit for office.”
Robert Del Naja.
During the concert, the band make use once again of black-screen technology to highlight the plight of Gaza victims. As they play their classic, ’Unfinished Sympathy,’ messages flash behind them reading, ‘Gaza has been occupied or under restrictions since 1948,’ and, ‘Population of Gaza: 1,816,000. Israeli death toll 60. Civilians 7. Palestinian dead 1,200. Civilians 864.’ It’s estimated that Lebanon is home to nearly half a million Palestinian refugees.
Meanwhile, on Twitter…
US singer, John Legend Tweets in criticism of recent efforts by US Secretary of State, John Kerry to broker a ceasefire…
And then he Tweets the following, just to clarify his position…
If you look through Legend’s Twitter page, you’ll notice he has plenty of views to share on a wide-range of social/political issues from ‘ObamaCare,‘ to the controversy surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown, and the “pointlessness” of the US war on marijuana by the ‘DEA‘ (’Drug Enforcement Agency’). Furthermore, he sits on the National Board of Directors for the organisations, ‘Teach for America,’ (which, its website states, works “to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education”), ’Stand for Children’ (that claims to “ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high-school prepared for, and with access to, a college education”), and the ‘Education Equality Project.’
He’s also vice-chairman of ‘Harlem Village Academies,’ “a community of educators in Harlem working to revolutionise public education in our nation,” so states its website. Of course, none of this necessarily means the guy is working to shape the world in a way that those of us with an ’Alternative’ point of view would agree with. In fact, if you check out some of the above institutions in greater detail – such as the wording and terminology used in their literature, and also some of the individuals involved – you might come away from the experience somewhat suspicious. Also note that in 2012, Legend was selected to become what’s called ‘a young global leader’ for the notoriously-shady non-profit foundation, ‘The World Economic Forum.’ Not altogether reassuring – however – on the other hand, not convincing enough information to categorically label him a knowing and willing participator in a dark globalist ’Illuminati’-type agenda either. Be aware too of the fact that his recent Gaza Tweets aren’t the first time he’s expressed sympathy and support for the Palestinians. In May this year, weeks before tensions in the region flared-up, he gave a 19-minute-plus speech themed on love at a ceremony for graduates at the University of Pennsylvania. “I know it’s not easy to go all-in on love,” he said to them. “I’m 35 and I’m married, and I’m still learning how to do this completely. But I’ve found someone who makes me want to try. Someone who makes me want to take that risk. And it’s made all the difference… love changes the world. There are seven billion other people out there. Seven billion strangers. I want you to consider what it means to love them too. What does it mean to love people we don’t know? To see the value in every single person’s life. Think about that. It’s a pretty radical notion. It means your daughter or son, your neighbour’s daughter or son and the daughters and sons of people who live thousands of miles away, all deserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It means we let go of fear and we see each other’s humanity. It means we don’t see Trayvon Martin as a walking stereotype, a weaponised human. We see him as a boy who deserves the chance to grow into a man, even if he makes boyish mistakes along the way. It means that American lives don’t count more than Iraqi lives. It means we see a young Palestinian kid not as a future security threat or demographic challenge, but as a future father, mother and lover. It’s actually quite a challenge for me and quite a challenge for you to love humankind in this way.” In an article for the Palestinian-leaning online news and analysis site, ‘Electric Infitada,’ Professor Steven Salaita, the author of the books, ’Israel’s Dead Soul,’ and ’Anti-Arab Racism in America’ (to name but two), went as far as to opine that “Legend… did something nearly unprecedented among celebrity commenters: he urged his audience to humanise Palestinians. Legend’s mention of Palestinians might not seem like a big deal, one line out of hundreds, ten seconds of twenty minutes. It is consequential, though. It requires courage for a high-earner to humanise Palestinians, especially in the rarefied domain of the Ivy League. In the United States, as elsewhere, a simple rule prevails: the more elite the community, the more languid the discourse. Legend included Palestinians in an uncomplicated appeal to universal justice. In terms of the historical (and contemporaneous) volatility of Palestine in public discourse, Legend’s single sentence represented an important symbolic moment.”
*July 30th 2014:
Madonna Tweets for a ceasefire, and also includes a link to ‘anera.org’ (the website of the NGO, ’American Near East Refugee Aid‘)…
‘ANERA,’ according to its website, “advances the well-being of people in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. Through partnerships and close consultation with local groups and communities, ANERA responds to economic, health and educational needs with sustainable solutions and also delivers humanitarian aid during emergencies. Incorporated in 1968 to help ease the suffering of Palestinian refugees after the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, ANERA is non-political and non-religious and is one of the largest American non-profits working solely in the Middle East for 40 years. ANERA helps local institutions become more self-sufficient and effective in serving their communities. Every project is planned in consultation with the communities that ultimately benefit – an approach that ensures relevancy and commitment, and secures the long-term viability of the projects.” The fact that this organisation is openly endorsed by Madonna – a known schmoozer with Israeli leaders/warmongers – is ample-enough reason for a closer inspection into its workings in case of any potentially incriminating information… Can it be trusted?… Well – by the looks of it… no, perhaps not. Just a cursory glance at the website’s ‘donors and partners’ page is enough to perk-up the goose-bumps. There in the list is ‘AmeriCares,’ the so-called “relief and humanitarian-aid organisation.” It was founded in 1982 by businessman, Bob Macauley, a World War II veteran who’s said to have shared a room with George Bush sr. at Yale. He’s also documented as having been an integral member of the CIA (which, of course, his former co-lodger was Director of for a time). In a 2004 article, the journalist and author, W.E. Gutman suggested there was evidence to show that both men were part of “a political ’fifth column‘” that “had taken root in the US.“ Furthermore, “credible sources that spoke on condition of anonymity added convincing evidence to rumours that politicians, intelligence-agencies, religious leaders, charitable organisations and multinational corporations were engaged in a hemispheric cabal aimed at harmonising global evangelical interests with US foreign policy objectives. AmeriCares, whose declared mission is to offer worldwide relief ‘regardless of Race, religion or political persuasion,’ has funded and taken part in US-engineered armed conflicts and routinely flew its armada into ideological battlefields directly linked to US strategic interests. It steadfastly withheld disaster relief to nations it deemed not sufficiently pro-American.” A further perusal of the ANERA ‘donors and partners’ page merely reinforces suspicions that all is not necessarily what it might seem. Also listed, for example, is ‘OPEC’ (‘Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’), and others, including the notorious government agency, ’USAID’ (’United States Agency for International Development’) which, according to its site, “works to end extreme global poverty.” Earlier this year, its central involvement in a secret scheme during 2009-2012 to topple Castro’s Communist government was revealed in mainstream-media reports. The plan was, to foment unrest and, ultimately, spark a ‘Cuban Spring’ via social-media with the creation of ‘ZunZuneo,’ a text-phone Twitter-like network. The fact is, USAID’s reputation had been tainted long before that. In an April 2014 article, William Blum, former US State Department employee, now author and historian, wrote, “the grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honourable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated, ‘at one time, many USAID field-offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.’ On June 21st 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member-countries, ‘due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.’ USAID, the CIA… together or singly, continue to be present at regime-changes, or attempts at same, favourable to Washington, from ‘colour revolutions’ to ‘spring’ uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering…” With regards to USAID’s involvement in the Middle East, back in 2006, it led a Bush administration-backed $2 million initiative to increase the popularity of the-then ruling Party, the Palestinian Authority in elections against Hamas. According to reports by the ‘Washington Post’ at the time, “elements of the US-funded program” included “a street-cleaning campaign… donating computers to community-centres, and sponsoring a national youth soccer tournament.” However, none of these projects showed any evidence of American involvement. The reason for this, US officials were quoted as saying, was “to ensure that the Palestinian Authority receives public credit…“ Furthermore, “US officials said the goal of limiting Hamas’s influence in the next Palestinian government overshadowed concerns about the decision not to disclose the US government’s role in the campaign.” Ismail Haniyeh, a senior political leader of Hamas who would go on to become Prime Minister following the elections, was reported as saying at the time, the USAID program in that region was “a blatant interference in Palestinian internal affairs.”
*July 31st 2014
*August 1st 2014
Madonna’s Tweet (below) is no doubt in reference to a 72-hour ceasefire that goes into effect on this day…
Unfortunately, within the matter of hours, the ceasefire is no more.
On this day also, British movie and TV-director, Ken Loach is interviewed on the front-lawn of the BBC’s offices in the English city of Bristol. Demonstrators have occupied it for over a week so far, pitching tents and displaying banners in protest against the corporation’s coverage of recent events in Gaza, which they believe, is biased in favour of Israel. The film-maker says, “we should note that many at the BBC, including senior staff, are embarrassed by the broadcaster’s coverage that has an obvious pro-Israel bias. They don’t put the views of Palestinians to the Israelis during interviews, while the use of language about Gazans is pejorative and the war crimes being committed against them ignored. They’re not ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists,’ they’re ‘resistance fighters.’ On the one side innocent people are being massacred, while the other are setting off a few fireworks. It’s the BBC, we own it, so it should be answerable.”
Loach, who’s directed a string of movies and television-dramas dealing in social and political issues such as the 1966 BBC TV-play ‘Cathy Come Home’ and the films, ‘Kes’ (1970), and ’Hidden Agenda’ (1990), has been a long-time opponent of Israel, including its actions in Gaza. For example, in 2009, he was reported to have said with regards to the supposed rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the wake of ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ “if there has been a rise I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism. When history comes to be written, I think this will be seen as one of the great crimes of the past decades because of the cold-blooded massacre that we witnessed. Unless we take a stand against it, we are complicit.” In May that year, Loach issued an open-letter shortly after calling for a boycott of that year’s ‘Edinburgh International Film Festival’ (’EIFF’) upon learning that the organisers had accepted money (£300) from the Israeli embassy to the UK in order to fund the travelling expenses of Tel Aviv University graduate, Tali Shalom Ezer so that she could attend the screening of her movie-short, ‘Surrogate’ at the event in Scotland. “I’m sure many film-makers will be as horrified as I am to learn the Edinburgh International Film Festival is accepting money from Israel,” Loach reportedly stated. “The massacres and State terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable. With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away.” Not long later, the festival’s organisers decided to return the money to the Israeli embassy reportedly stating, “although the festival is considered wholly cultural and apolitical, we consider the opinions of the film industry as a whole and, as such, accept that one film-maker’s recent statement speaks on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli embassy.” However, one particular member of the aforementioned “film community” who openly refused to be included in this decision was British-born / Jewish-raised movie-director, producer and former Edinburgh Festival winner, Gary Sinyor. In a column for the UK newspaper/website, ‘The Independent,’ he stated, “I am writing to the Edinburgh Film Festival and asking for my name to be taken off their records. I am removing ‘Winner, Best British Film, Edinburgh 1992’ from my CV. If I could cut the award in half and send half back I would. Ken Loach took it upon himself publicly to endorse the boycott of the entire Edinburgh Film Festival. And hey presto! The EIFF suddenly decided to give the money back to the Israeli embassy. I’ve tried making sense of that but I can’t. It’s possible that Ken was speaking on behalf of all film directors/writers and producers worldwide, but my phone never rang so at best it would be the entire global film community minus one. It’s a shame that Ken feels particularly strongly about not having anything to do with Israel or Israeli money. The charge of extremism, whether extreme anti-Zionism or extreme anti-Semitism, for it makes zero difference, must be firmly laid at the door of those who single out Israel as the global pariah state. Loach’s argument ignores the fact that Israel is a country. Like Britain, it’s a modern democracy that suffers from political corruption. Like Britain, a country that can dazzle across the spectrum of human achievement. Like Britain, a country of rich and poor. Like Britain, a country that can be very tolerant of diversity and yet still harbours its fair share of racism. Like Britain, it has gone to war of late, with superior firepower to the enemy – although one could argue that Hamas is more of a direct threat to Israelis than Saddam ever was to the UK. To repress the freedom of a film festival, to blackmail it, because it has accepted £300 from a government body to fly over a film-maker is petty and outrageous. Ken may as well call for Heathrow to be closed because British Airways flies to Tel Aviv.” In an open-letter to Loach published directly in the wake of the festival‘s decision to back the director, Tali Shalom Ezer stated:
In the past 24 hours, I have been asked repeatedly to comment on your statement demanding to return Israel ‘s grant to our embassy in Edinburgh. I admit to have mixed feelings about your statement and all that it implies. As I have indicated in previous occasions, I have always been a member of the Israeli peace camp. Contrary to common perceptions in the media, ours is a large, strong camp – as I’d like to believe is the case amongst Palestinians.
I oppose, with all my heart, the Israeli occupation and settlements; I oppose an automatic resort to military solutions in times of conflict. I appreciate the wish to change the world by shunning what is perceived as an act of injustice, but I feel that what may seem right in theory, may be extremely wrong in practice.
In my opinion, every time a nation is subjected to a cultural boycott – be it a film or a lecture by an Israeli professor abroad – there is a tendency amongst its subjects to draw closer to more nationalistic elements; every time this happens, peace is farther away. Every time this happens, the concept of “A People that Dwells Alone” gathers more believers, and the conviction that the only way to survive is by strengthening the state’s military power, is reinforced. Every time this happens, moderate voices are hushed, art is weakened.
I do not know if you are aware of this fact, but ‘Surrogate’ was filmed by Radek Ladczuk, a talented Polish cinematographer. For 21 years, Israel and Poland had no diplomatic relations; all I knew about the country came from the media and history lessons about WWII.
I approached Radek from purely artistic considerations. Our work, despite difficulties in verbal communication, has proven to me once more the power of art and the many points of similarity which join people together, everywhere. I have no doubt that collaborations of this kind promote dialogue and lessen prejudice.
Tali Shalom Ezer
Dear Tali Shalom Ezer,
From the beginning, Israel and its supporters have attacked their critics as anti-Semites or racists. It is a tactic to undermine rational debate.
To be crystal clear: as a film-maker you will receive a warm welcome in Edinburgh. You are not censored or rejected. The opposition was to the Festival’s taking money from the Israeli state.
The call for a boycott of Israeli cultural institutions comes from many Palestinians: writers, artists, journalists, lawyers, academics, trades unionists, teachers. They see it as ‘a contribution to the struggle to end Israel ’s occupation, colonisation and system of apartheid.’ Who are we, that we should not heed their call? Your counter-arguments were used against the South African boycott yet that proved eventually to be successful.
We remember that the Palestinians have been dispossessed for sixty years, houses destroyed, communities wrecked. Israel ignores international law, the Geneva Convention and many UN resolutions.
We saw with horror the recent massacres in Gaza , how the Israeli army used phosphorous bombs in populated areas, how UN food stores and shelters were destroyed. The Red Cross described strikes on medical crews and the injured denied attention…
Please stand with the oppressed against the oppressor. I hope you enjoy the Festival.
*August 2nd 2014
Loach speaks at a peace-rally in Bristol. According to local media reports, an estimated 700 people take part.
Meanwhile, Annie Lennox is posting again…
*August 3rd 2014:
*August 4th 2014:
Canadian-born Bryan Adams Tweets on Gaza…
Meanwhile, Rob Schneider’s Tweet (featured below) is most likely a reaction to Jon Voight’s August 4th guest-column piece for the ’Hollywood Reporter’ in which the Oscar-winning actor and fervent pro-Israeli criticises Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem for signing the open-letter that condemns the military action against Gaza and the treatment of Palestinians.
In his guest-column, Voight – perhaps best known for his role in the 1969 movie ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (and for being Angelina Jolie’s dad) – addresses Cruz, Bardem, and others who signed the open-letter, personally. “You should hang your heads in shame,” he writes, “and ask forgiveness from the suffering people of Israel.”
My name is Jon Voight and I am more than angry, I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.
They are obviously ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth, when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921, and the Arab Palestinians were offered the other half. The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea. But the Israelis won. The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday. Each time the Jews prevailed but not without great loss of life. And when Israel was not fighting a major war, it was defending itself against terrorist campaigns.
And yet Israel has always laboured for a peaceful relation with its Arab neighbours. It voluntarily returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace, and gave the Palestinians all of Gaza as a peace gesture. What was the response? The Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organisation, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.
After years of trying to make peace, the wars they had to fight, being attacked by their enemies, and still being attacked, and finally after years of running into bomb shelters and having hundreds of civilians killed by suicide bombers, civilians being killed in their sleep, stabbed to pieces, finding enough is enough and finally retaliating, instead of my peers sticking up for the only democratic country in that region, they go and take out poison letters against them.
You have forgotten how this war started. Did Hamas not kidnap and kill three young teenagers for the sake of killing, and celebrated after the killing? What a travesty of justice.
I am asking all my peers who signed that poison letter against Israel to examine their motives. Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?
You have been able to become famous and have all your monetary gains because you are in a democratic country: America. Do you think you would have been able to accomplish this in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, et cetera? You had a great responsibility to use your celebrity for good. Instead, you have defamed the only democratic country of goodwill in the Middle East: Israel.
You should hang your heads in shame. You should all come forth with deep regrets for what you did, and ask forgiveness from the suffering people in Israel.
This isn’t the first time Voight has hit out in criticism at his fellow actors over Israel and Gaza. In September 2009, he accused movie-actress, Jane Fonda of “aiding and abetting those who seek the destruction of Israel,” after she signed her name to an open-letter of protest against the annual Toronto International Film Festival (‘TIFF’) for selecting Tel Aviv as the focus of its ’City to City’ program that year, a program, which its website states, brings “international cities to Toronto audiences.” Other signees included ’Lethal Weapon’ actor, Danny Glover, journalist, John Pilger, musician, David Byrne, and director, Ken Loach.
Part of the open-letter reads:
We are deeply disturbed by the Toronto International Film Festival’s decision to host a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv. We protest that TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.
In 2008, the Israeli government and Canadian partners Sidney Greenberg of ‘Astral Media,’ David Asper of ‘Canwest Global Communications’ and Joel Reitman of ‘MIJO Corporation’ launched ‘Brand Israel,’ a million-dollar media and advertising campaign aimed at changing Canadian perceptions of Israel. Brand Israel would take the focus off Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its aggressive wars, and refocus it on achievements in medicine, science and culture. An article in ‘Canadian Jewish News’ quotes Israeli consul general Amir Gissin as saying that Toronto would be the test city for a promotion that could then be deployed around the world.
In 2009, TIFF announced that it would inaugurate its new City to City program with a focus on Tel Aviv. According to program notes by Festival co-director and City to City programmer Cameron Bailey, ‘The ten films in this year’s City to City programme will showcase the complex currents running through today’s Tel Aviv. Celebrating its 100th birthday in 2009, Tel Aviv is a young, dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates its diversity.’
The emphasis on ‘diversity’ in City to City is empty given the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program. Furthermore, what this description does not say is that Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population. This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries, including Canada. Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodising about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in White-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding Black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.
Read the letter in full here:
The letter came just days after Canadian film-maker, John Greyson withdrew his movie-short, ‘Covered’ from the festival in protest at TIFF’s decision to choose Tel Aviv for specific focus in 2009. He stated, “this past year has… seen: the devastating Gaza massacre of eight months ago, resulting in over 1,000 civilian deaths; the election of a Prime Minister accused of war crimes; the aggressive extension of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands; the accelerated destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards; the viral growth of the totalitarian security wall, and the further enshrining of the check-point system. Your TIFF program book may describe Tel Aviv as a ‘vibrant young city… of beaches, cafes and cultural ferment… that celebrates its diversity,‘ but it’s also been called ‘a kind of alter-Gaza, the smiling face of Israeli apartheid’ (Canadian author, Naomi Klein) and ‘the only city in the west without Arab residents’ (Tel Aviv film-maker, Udi Aloni).” Voight, who co-starred with Jane Fonda in ’Coming Home,’ a 1978 movie which won him his Oscar for ‘Best Actor,’ composed a letter of his own in which he criticised the actress. “I accuse Jane Fonda, and all those who signed the letter with her, of aiding and abetting those who seek the destruction of Israel,” he stated. “After six million people were brutally slaughtered in the Holocaust, the Jewish people took a barren desert and cultivated it into a magnificent oasis. Time and again, they offered the Palestinians land. The Palestinians always refused. They don’t want a piece of the pie; they want the whole pie. They will not be happy until they see Israel in the sea. People like Jane Fonda and all the people whose names are on that letter are assisting the Palestinian propagandists against the State of Israel. Tell me, my Canadian and American friends, would you give up land you lived in for 3,500 years, just because someone decided they want it? She is getting into the mix of a very serious situation that many Israelis have given their lives for. Her whole idea of the ‘poor Palestinians’ and ‘look how many Palestinians the Israelis killed in Gaza’ is misguided. Does she not remember what actually took place in Gaza? Did Israel not give the Palestinians of Gaza the hope that there could be peace? In response, did Hamas not launch rockets from Gaza into Israel, killing many innocent people? I was in Israel. I saw the rockets coming down… and visited many families who lost their loved ones. How long can a democratic country keep from defending itself?”
*August 9th 2014:
Schneider’s Tweet (above) is in response to an outburst by Joan Rivers a few days earlier. The US comedienne and chat-show host (born Joan Alexandra Molinsky to Jewish/Russian immigrants) was approached on the street by a TMZ on-camera reporter who proceeded to tell her that almost 2,000 Palestinians were dead. She cut him off at that point mid-sentence with her hands on her face in shock horror and exclaimed, “oh my God! Oh my God, tell that to the people in Hiroshima,” to which he replied, “that’s almost 100,000,” before she once again interrupted and declared, “good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead. You deserve to be dead. You started it. You started it. Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that.” She then went on to label Hamas “terrorists.” The TMZ reporter responded, “they were democratically elected.” Rivers hit back, “they were re-elected by a lot of very stupid people who don’t even own a pencil.”
Read more about this (and see the video of the outburst) in the following link:
Bryan Adams also takes to Twitter again to air his views on Gaza…
So does Annie Lennox…
If you follow the link posted in her Tweet, you’ll find more details on a Gaza crisis appeal organised by the ‘Disasters Emergency Committee’ (‘DEC’) which, according to its website, “brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ‘Action Aid,’ ‘Age International,’ ‘British Red Cross,’ ‘CAFOD,’ ‘Care International,’ ‘Christian Aid,’ ‘Concern Worldwide,’ ‘Islamic Relief,’ ‘Oxfam,’ ‘Plan UK,’ ‘Save the Children‘, ‘Tearfund’ and ‘World Vision‘; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.”
*August 10th 2014:
*August 11th 2014:
*August 13th 2014:
Russell Brand posts another Gaza-related edition of ‘The Trews.’ This time, he calls on viewers to sign an online petition that puts pressure on computer company ‘HP’ (‘Hewlett Packard’), security-firm ‘G4S,’ pension-fund ‘Associated British Ports’ (‘ABP’), and heavy-machinery manufacturer, ‘Caterpillar’ (‘Cat’) to rethink their Israeli investments. ‘Barclays’ is also on the hit-list, and this is what the comedian hones in on in his video. “They manage the portfolios of an Israeli company called ‘Elbit.’ Elbit make the drones that bomb Gaza,” he says. On August 24th, the bank posted a denial of the allegations on FaceBook with an accompanying link to a page that stated, “allegations that Barclays is an investor in the defence industry are simply untrue. Barclays is not an investor in the defence industry. These allegations may stem from our historic ownership of a business formerly called ‘BGI’ (‘Barclays Global Investors‘), an asset manager which did have significant investment positions in defence companies. Barclays sold this company in 2009, and has no on-going interest, financial or otherwise, in BGI. Specific claims that Barclays is an investor in a defence company called Elbit Systems Ltd are also untrue. Barclays is not an investor in Elbit Systems Ltd.” Alright then. A baseless allegation, maybe? A misunderstanding, perhaps?… Hold on… wait a minute. There’s more. The statement continues, “despite this fact, Barclays’ name may appear on the share-register of this company. Barclays holds a very small number of shares in Elbit Systems Ltd on behalf of clients and to hedge exposure against customer facing transactions. Currently such holdings amount to less than 0.2% of the total shares in that company.” Oh! Phew! No worries! ‘Only’ “less than 0.2%”!(?). (Are you kidding??!!). Facebook posters were having none of this. One commenter stated, “given Elbit Systems has a market capitalisation of 2.71 billion dollars, Barclay’s stated 0.2% shareholding amounts to 5.42 million dollars. I’d call that an investment in the company. Your Orwellian doublespeak on the issue is utterly transparent.” Another exclaimed, “Barclays… Stop churning out nonsense. I’m quoting from your own statement: ‘Barclays holds a very small number of shares in Elbit Systems Ltd on behalf of clients.’ Are we living on the same planet? It’s quite simple really, you hold shares in a company as an investment. Not rocket science. And a bank is made up by clients, without them a bank ceases to exist. So, as a bank, when you invest your clients’ money (on their behalf as you say) you are therefore investing in and supporting a company.. IT THEREFORE FOLLOWS THAT BY HOLDING SHARES IN EL-BIT BARCLAYS IS INVESTING IN EL-BIT AND IS THEREFORE SUPPORTING THE VIOLENCE IN GAZA. Come on guys, you can do better than that.”
In his video, Brand says he’s working in conjunction with ‘Avaaz,’ the campaigning website, in a bid to “aggravate” Barclays and the other aforementioned companies into withdrawing their involvement with those “that support and facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza.” He goes on, “like we know that money’s behind everything… if we affect the money, we can affect the outcome. Also, Avaaz, they’re cool. They’re involved in really cool stuff.” Yes indeed. ‘they’re involved’ in “stuff” alright. But it don‘t look “cool.” So, before you heed Brand’s invitation in taking a look at the Avaaz page that asks for your e-mail address in support of this campaign, be aware (if you weren’t already) of who/what you’re potentially handing your personal details over to. According to its own website, “Avaaz.org was co-founded by ’Res Publica,’ a civic advocacy group, and ’MoveOn.org,’ an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.” A 2004 Washington Post report stated that financier, George Soros (a notorious front-man of the so-called ‘global elite‘) donated $1.46 million to MoveOn.org. Furthermore, IRS documents (‘990 Form‘) dated from 2009 show that his grant-making network, the ‘Open Society Foundation’ (‘OSF’) gave the Brand-endorsed campaign-site a total of $600,000 via Res Publica; $300,000 for “general support to Avaaz.org” and $300,000 for “Avaaz.org’s work on climate change.” See for yourself in the link (it’s on page 88, where you’ll also see an entry citing an undisclosed donation to the ‘Rockefeller Family Fund’)…
“A check into OSF 990s for 2010 or 2011 show no grants to Avaaz nor Res Publica,” reports the website, ‘NGO Monitor’ in an article from March 2013. “Avaaz.org claims it is ‘wholly member-funded,‘” it continues. “Avaaz does not publish a detailed list of donors on its website or 990 Forms, and therefore this claim cannot be verified independently.”
The reason why a character such as Soros would want to invest in Avaaz, a group that, in its seven-year history, has issued petitions for the ‘good’ of “pro-democracy protestors” in Burma, and “support” for those living in Mubarak-era Egypt and/or Gadaffi-era Libya during “their struggle for liberation,” is obvious. It compliments the dark ‘One World’ agenda he’s said to be working to. This man, through the OSF, has been linked to a series of so-called ’colour revolutions’ in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. That in itself doesn’t necessarily mark him out as a highly suspect globalist. However, when you’re aware of the fact that this is the man who, in a 2009 interview with the ‘Financial Times,’ called for China to be brought into the creation of “a New World Order – (a) financial World Order… where you would have… co-ordinated policies” and where “you could internationally create a currency,“ you have to seriously question the motives behind his efforts to shape world events, as well as those of Brand’s of course, a ’spokesperson of the people’ who promotes a group with a trail of money that’s been traced back to this individual.
*August 18th 2014:
*August 25th 2014:
Roger Waters airs his views in a specially-composed piece for ‘Salon.com.’ Written shortly after the collapse of yet another short-lived ceasefire, he criticises US politicians and the media in their unflinching support of Israel. He also makes note of the ‘BDS’ (‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’), a movement he’s worked closely with over the years. He closes with a poem he’s written titled ‘Crystal Clear Brooks,’ which, he states, makes him think of four Palestinian children killed a month earlier by a shell-attack in Gaza as they played by the beach. According to officials, the youngsters were cousins belonging to the extended Bakr family and were aged between nine and eleven. A statement reportedly released by the ‘IDF’ (‘Israeli Defence Force’) claimed the strikes were aimed at “Hamas terrorist operatives.”
The carnage in Gaza continues after the latest collapse of ceasefire talks and over four weeks of asymmetrical bombardment by Israel. With the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, the complicity of the American government has been exposed to the world as never before. Yet the mantra repeated ad nauseam by the US government and media alike remains the same: Israel has a right to defend itself.
The moral perversity of the US position is stunning. How can the US government ask Israel to be more careful about civilian lives while simultaneously arming and then rearming the IDF so it can more effectively inflict such devastation on an imprisoned and occupied people?
The US could act to stop the senseless slaughter but it won’t. Instead, it’s cheerleading. Members of Congress are mindlessly parroting Israeli talking points without a thought given to the Palestinian perspective or to preserving human life. Brimming with righteousness, they argue for turning Israel loose and invoke Israel’s right to self-defence, despite the fact that, as the occupying power, Israel has an obligation to protect the Palestinians it rules, not massacre them.
Do congressional leaders ever stop to wonder what they would do if they were born Palestinian, had their homes and private property stolen from them, and were forced to live without freedom under an illegal Israeli occupation for 47 years? Do they know what it means to be on the receiving end of Israel’s barbaric “mow the lawn” euphemism? Scarcely a word is said about the rights of Palestinians who are being pummelled from the sky and shot dead in their neighbourhoods by the region’s most powerful military. What, I wonder, would Americans do if it were their neighbourhoods being invaded and if they were the ones living under siege? I think it’s safe to say Americans wouldn’t stand for it.
Despite these realities, it’s far more advantageous in Washington to come down like a ton of bricks on the Palestinians and maintain that they are the cause of their own suffering. No politician’s career has ever been hurt by blaming Palestinians or by applauding Israel’s illegal occupation, colonization and war crimes.
Pressure on American politicians to conform to the Party line is abetted by skewed media coverage. For instance, CNN, while purporting to be a news-channel, relentlessly churns out Israeli propaganda.
It is easy for those of us who do not live under the tyranny of the occupation to condemn the military wing of Hamas for using randomly fired rockets that might cause civilian casualties in neighbouring Israel, and I do unreservedly condemn it. Having said that, an occupied population has the legal right to resist the military of the occupier. The occupier has a legal obligation to protect the occupied. Under these circumstances the reporting on CNN is biased beyond all belief.
Numerically, one can readily see the bias. Far more pro-Israel guests than pro-Palestinian experts are invited on air to make their case.
An exception to that general rule, and obviously not on CNN, is Henry Siegman, a prominent Jewish voice and a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, who recently got the opportunity to expose the shortcomings of Israeli talking points. Siegman was interviewed fairly and in depth by Amy Goodman on ‘Democracy Now!‘ Sadly Democracy Now! is not mainstream media. If only it were!
Contrast that appearance with the reception Yousef Munayyer received during an extraordinarily “unfair” Fox News interview by the execrable Sean Hannity. Actually, to dignify Hannity’s rude and infantile shouting and finger pointing as an “interview” would be wrong.
If only CNN – or Fox, for that matter – would sometimes rely for their analyses on someone as intelligent and humane as Siegman. Unfortunately, however, CNN persisted for weeks with the extremely biased analysis of Israel’s former ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. Even CNN appears to have recognised how biased a contributor Oren was as it recently changed his title from CNN analyst to former ambassador.
Staunchly pro-Israel voices like Oren’s have resoundingly proclaimed: Any resistance, violent or non-violent, in fact any criticism of Israeli colonisation and denial of Palestinian rights, is off limits. What they are advocating, in essence, is perpetual armed conflict until greater Israel is a fait accompli, and complete Israeli domination over any surviving Palestinians is accepted as a reasonable status quo. Commentators such as Oren feign interest in a two-State peaceful solution but they and the State they represent resist all attempts to implement such a plan.
On a positive note, I take heart from the fact that support for Jewish Voice for Peace has skyrocketed over the last month as members of the American Jewish community, appalled at Israel’s actions, have looked for a place to register their concern. JVP advocates for an end to occupation and the siege on Gaza, for Palestinian rights – as dictated by international law – and peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike. It primarily does so by educating people with basic facts and by using the tools of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions to apply pressure on Israel to cease its human rights abuses.
Additionally, we welcome Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz to the swelling ranks of celebrity dissenters. Their courageous stand is a beacon to us all. We need many more like them if we are to shift the discourse and persuade the American and Israeli governments to adopt more realistic, humane and hopefully fruitful policies. To paraphrase Siegman, “If you want to stop the rockets, end the siege of Gaza and the occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank.” He sounds like a sage but this is just common sense. If I might stick in my two pennies’ worth, why not then engage in serious conversations with the Unity Palestinian Government, which up to now Israel has seemed determined to destroy.
The US Congress, far too beholden to the Right-wing Israel lobby, will be the last to figure out this tragic jigsaw puzzle and human catastrophe and grasp the critical need for a political solution. And mainstream media, if unchallenged, will continue to distort reality and embolden the counterproductive, AIPAC-driven unrealistic position that it portrays as fact.
On a personal note, I am pro-human rights for all peoples all over the world. I am pro-peace for all Israelis and Palestinians. I am not singling out Israel. I deplore all abuses and violence, whether in Syria, China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, England, the USA, Egypt, Libya, wherever. That said, international law was designed to protect against such human rights violations and should be applied fairly to all.
In the case of Israel/Palestine, legal channels have yet to be seriously pursued. Consequently, change will continue to be led by popular efforts. Specifically, the growing non-violent BDS campaign offers the best chance of successfully pressuring Israel to alter its ways and allow for Palestinian freedom and rights. Despite major efforts to destroy it, more and more people are joining the BDS movement. It is this growing momentum that gives me hope that, together, the people of the world will eventually help deliver what governments have been unwilling to secure: justice and a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
I wrote a short poem a few days ago that I have been encouraged to append here.
It is called ‘Crystal Clear Brooks.’ Although it expresses my feelings, I cannot but think that the children in Gaza would give anything but their birthright and their pride and their basic human rights for a glass of crystal clear water. And, I think too, of the Bakr children the sons of fishermen, who were slain while playing on a Gaza beach.
Crystal clear brooks
When the time comes
And the last day dawns
And the air of the piper warms
The high crags of the old country
When the holy writ blows
Like burned paper away
And wise men concede
That there’s more than one way
More than one path
More than one book
More than one fisherman
More than one hook
When the cats have been skinned
And the fish have been hooked
When the masters of war
Are our masters no more
When old friends take their whiskey
Outside on the porch
We will have done well
If we’re able to say
As the sun settles down
On that final day
That we never gave in
That we did all we could
So the kids could go fishing
In crystal clear brooks.
* SECTION 3: