25 April 2018



A Syrian poses as he gathers with his family in the Marjeh Square in Damascus on April 15. Syria’s President Bashar Assad spoke that day to a group of visiting Russian politicians, saying that a campaign of "lies" and misinformation in the U.N. Security Council accompanied Western missile strikes against his country. (Hassan Ammar / AP)
Editor’s note: Reports of a chemical attack in Syria have generated controversy and conflicting claims about what happened and who was responsible. The April 7 event is still under investigation. On Thursday, Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar wrote a column titled “Why Are Some on the Left Falling for Fake News on Syria?” Truthdig contributor Max Blumenthal questions her analysis.

 Below is his response. You can read Kolhatkar’s take here

This month, the United States, the United Kingdom and France launched airstrikes in Syria in flagrant violation of international law and entirely on the basis of images that had appeared on social media.

To date, no concrete evidence of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government in Douma has been produced to support the Trump administration’s justification for the allies’ bombing in response. The only sources of what State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described as “our own intelligence” on chemical warfare allegations were the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society.

The U.S. government has funded both groups, and they operate exclusively alongside Salafi-jihadi militants, including the local affiliate of al-Qaida and Islamic State. Both groups also are avowedly dedicated to stimulating support for a Western-led war of regime change against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Neither, therefore, can be considered credible sources of intelligence.

In 2007, journalist James Bamford recalled how Americans had been subjected to “a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq—the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media.” The dirty war on Syria represents an extension of that strategy, with the mainstream media operating hand in glove with insurgent-allied influence operations like the White Helmets to cultivate public support for another war of regime change.

As Adam Johnson demonstrated at the media monitoring outfit FAIR, not one editorial page of any major American newspaper opposed Donald Trump’s strike on Syria. And in the attack’s wake, the Western commentariat criticized Trump not for his illegal bombing campaign but for what was seen as the insufficient violence he displayed.

Having exposed itself once again as an eager channel for an outrageous series of pro-war deceptions, the Western media has forfeited the trust of the public and earned the extreme skepticism, if not the angry wrath, of those it claims to serve. As citizens turn in unprecedented numbers to alternative media sources, their governments have falsely labeled these sources as “Russian bots” and waged a campaign to suppress RT, perhaps the only international English-language network willing to provide a platform to critical voices on the recent events in Syria. When British Adm. Alan West questioned the official narrative on alleged Syrian chemical attacks during a recent BBC interview, his host essentially admonished him against thinking critically in public because “we’re in an information war with Russia on so many fronts.”

In this repressive atmosphere, as space for challenging pro-war narratives closes off like never before, Sonali Kolhatkar—the host of a leading public affairs radio program that has provided me and many other progressive journalists and activists with a friendly platform—attempted an unusual intervention. Instead of weighing in to defend alternative anti-war media, Kolhatkar lectured “some on the left” for their refusal to trust mainstream coverage of the incident in Douma. Posing as an opponent of bombing Syria, Kolhatkar assailed those who questioned the core rationale for the bombing, accusing them of having fallen for “fake news.”
Echoing The Intercept and Al-Jazeera pundit Mehdi Hasan, who recently ranted at an elusive mass of left-wing “Assadists,” Kolhatkar even accused anti-imperialist elements of secretly “desir[ing] glorification of leaders and strongmen.” In doing so, she not only assailed the process of intensive truth seeking that citizens should be encouraged to undertake in public debates over war, she gaslighted the truth seekers, casting them as authoritarian lunatics in need of reprogramming.

Kolhatkar took special aim at veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, who was able to enter Douma and produce testimony by a Syrian doctor that undercut insurgent claims of a chemical attack. To counter Fisk’s on-the-ground reporting, Kolhatkar cited an array of articles from The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, The Associated Press and The New York Times that mostly relied on correspondents outside Syria. Exhibiting a reflexive faith in the credibility of these established outlets, she neglected to examine their record of heinously biased coverage of Syria or the partisan sources they relied on in reporting on Douma.

Citing a Guardian report, Kolhatkar wrongly claimed that the article was written by “journalists on the ground.” The piece was actually datelined from Beirut and Istanbul and contained no on-the-ground reporting. (Kolhatkar’s false reference to “journalists on the ground” was removed with an acknowledgment at the end of the column after I alerted Truthdig editors to the error.) The article’s authors, Kareem Shaheen and Martin Chulov, relied on only one named “Syrian” source: Ghanem Tayara, a doctor based not in Syria but in Birmingham, England. Tayara, who has been agitating within the U.K. for a Western-led military intervention for several years, also was the main source asserting that his colleagues had been coerced into giving testimony that supported the government’s line.

Strangely, Kolhatkar scoffed at the notion that The Guardian could have been part of “some grand conspiracy” to stimulate support for regime change in Syria. She thus ignored the paper’s editorializing for military intervention in Syria, as well as the background of its Middle East correspondent: As I previously reported, Shaheen has promoted material spun out by The Syria Campaign, the PR firm representing the White Helmets, and has favorably quoted the spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham, a Turkish-backed Salafi militia implicated in an array of atrocities. Shaheen was, in fact, the first Western reporter allowed into insurgent-controlled Khan Sheikoun by Ahrar al-Sham after allegations of a chemical attack there in April 2017. Demonstrating his pro-opposition bent, he once tweeted a photo of a neighborhood that had been destroyed by al-Qaida and falsely described it as an exhibit of Assad’s brutality.

Turning to an Al-Jazeera report to undermine Fisk’s coverage from Douma, Kolhatkar openly wondered why any rational person might distrust this Qatari-backed news group’s coverage of Syria. She thus ignored the role of Al-Jazeera’s governmental parent as a top financial sponsor of both the White Helmets and Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, the Nusra Front. Al-Jazeera has been so dedicated to regime change in Syria that it partnered with Google and Hillary Clinton’s State Department in 2012 to encourage the defection of Syrian army officers to the CIA-backed armed opposition.

The network’s Arabic arm, meanwhile, has featured calls for the genocide of Syrian minority groups by one of its most popular hosts, Faisal Qasim. While promoting the White Helmets, Al-Jazeera’s viral site, AJ+, even appeared to justify the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey by a sympathizer of al-Qaida.

Al-Jazeera also has given its “personality of the week” award to one of al-Qaida’s most prominent media figures in Syria, Bilal Abdul Kareem.
While Al-Jazeera might play a valuable role in providing Westerners with a regular stream of information and opinions on the Middle East, it is about as far from an impartial source on Syria as a network can be. To cast it as an objective source, as Kolhatkar did, would probably qualify under the definition of what she called “fake news.”

Next, in her bid to discredit Fisk, Kolhatkar cited an Associated Press article by Bassem Mroue filed from Douma. However, she strangely omitted the following section, which undermined her case for accusing the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack by air:
Nuseir, 25, said he ran from the shelter to a nearby clinic and fainted. After he was revived, he returned to the shelter and found his wife and daughters dead, with foam coming from their mouths.
He and two other residents accused the rebel Army of Islam of carrying out the attack. [Emphasis added.] As they spoke, government troops were not far away but out of earshot. Nuseir said a gas cylinder was found leaking the poison gas, adding that he didn’t think it was dropped from the air because it still looked intact.
The most compelling reasons to doubt that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack in Douma lay not only in witness testimony but in a basic consideration of motivation and timing. The Syrian army had completely defeated the Jaysh al-Islam insurgents in eastern Ghouta and was on the precipice of destroying them in Douma when the chemical attack was alleged to have happened. From a military standpoint, the Syrian government had no need to deploy chemical weapons, as it had already achieved victory through conventional means. From a political perspective, a chemical attack was suicidal—guaranteed to trip the “red line” imposed by Western governments and immediately trigger military intervention.

The insurgents, however, had every reason to allege that a chemical attack had taken place, as stimulating Western intervention has been their only hope for achieving the objective of regime change.

Kolhatkar attempted to turn this obvious logic on its head, wondering without any apparent sign of irony, “Why would rebels frame Assad only to leave their stronghold right afterward?”

Perhaps the Syrian government was stupid enough to use chemical weapons when it had every motive not to do so. And maybe it was so stupid that it has used them over and over again, flagrantly daring the West to intervene.
Someday, Western governments might be able to produce enough evidence to demonstrate that this was the case. But so far, they have been unable to do so.

What’s more, they have failed to convince their citizens that another war of regime change against a formerly stable post-colonial Arab state was necessary.

Despite being subjected to a tidal wave of deceptions and a campaign of pro-war perception management of unprecedented scale, the Western public has managed to maintain an attitude of healthy distrust toward its media establishment. The everyday skeptics deserve our congratulations, not condescending lectures and elitist contempt.

Max Blumenthal
Max Blumenthal is the editor of the GrayzoneProject.com and the co-host of the podcast Moderate Rebels. He is an award-winning journalist and the author of books, including the best-selling "Republican…

22 April 2018


The UK parliamentarians who love Israel for one reason only are the anti-semites in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. It really is a bit rich for any UK parliamentarian to accuse Corbyn of anti-semitism when anti-semitism is in the DNA of most people in the UK dating back some few hundred years. Remember the play by Shakespeare called "The Merchant of Venice"?

A little later, chronologically, my ancestors who arrived in the UK  in places which were then called England and Scotland from central Europe, probably Germany and the Netherlands most of whom didn't like the Jews either, settled in the late 1700s and, after experiencing the anti-semitism of the day, changed their names from Ezekiel to Eskell and Isaacs/De Saxe. Lyons in Edinburgh must also have been something else in Germany. De Saxes and Eskells in 2018 are, around the world, mostly no longer Jewish and haven't been for almost the last 200 years. However, also most when they were/are Jewish did not go and live in zionist apartheid Israel.

One of my other families came from Lithuania, then under Russian rule in the late 1800s and settled in South Africa. They fled the pogroms in Lithuania, only to find ant-semitism in all its glory in South Africa. Many of them changed the spelling of their surname from Kuper to Cooper to enable them to obtain employment, which was more difficult with a very Jewish name and accent from Eastern Europe. Later some of them became zionists but did not go and live in apartheid Israel, having lived in white apartheid South Africa until its end in 1994.

Just  after the second world war I went to England as a pupil graduate engineer to work in Newcastle on Tyne for two years from 1950 to 1952. One weekend in about 1951 I was out walking with another graduate apprentice from Scotland, who didn't know I was Jewish, although I never hid it and it was generally no secret, and he said to me, "the trouble with Hitler was that he never finished the job." Of course I was left speechless and never spoke to him again. One of our fellow students told him later I was Jewish.

Jeremy Corbyn is a thorn in all their sides because he supports the Palestinians and their right to their own country and statehood, and not the dregs offered by apartheid zionist Israel and the rest of the world who have helped with, and connived at, the theft of Palestine from the Palestinians and since when the Palestinians are treated as people to do genocide against so that they would never trouble the world again. And the rest of the world supports them!

The problem in the UK at its basis is that having started in the late 19th century with a plan to get rid of the Jews from the whole UK by stating that Jerusalem is where the Jews belong and the whole area of Palestine was where the Jews came from, they had politicians even before Balfour conniving with the parliament of the day to support all those advocating for the Jews to have a homeland in Palestine. That is their homeland!! This tissue of lies from A to Z is proudly supported by the zionists in Israel  - who want the Jews to get out of whatever countries they are currently domiciled in to move to Israel to boost the falling numbers of Israelis because so many have emigrated to other countries, probably to get away from the violence perpetrated by the Israeli government and its supporters in the USA and around the world, who all want the Jews out of their countries and into Israel to have got them out of their hair.

Corbyn is a thorn in their sides of course for a multitude of reasons, one of which is his enormous appeal to younger voters in the UK who are sick of the conservatism and lies of the major political parties - including the bulk of the Labour Party parliamentarians who hate Corbyn because he is anti-zionist and for a multitude of other reasons. He brought a breath of fresh air into the Labour Party and parliament after years of Blair and his ultra-right-wing politics and policies and his aftermath which still clings in a foul way to the Labour Party.

20 April 2018


Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy

Photo by Swithun Crowe | CC BY 2.0

The term ‘media bias’ does not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality. It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians.

The current disgraceful coverage of Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing the truth on Palestine, at any cost and by any means.

Political symbiosis, cultural affinity, Hollywood, the outreaching influence of pro-Israel and Zionist groups within the political and media circles, are some of the explanations many of us have offered as to why Israel is often viewed with sympathetic eyes and Palestinians and Arabs condemned.

But such explanations should hardly suffice. Nowadays, there are numerous media outlets that are trying to offset some of the imbalance, many of them emanating from the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. Palestinian and Arab journalists, intellectuals and cultural representatives are more present on a global stage than ever before and are more than capable of facing off, if not defeating, the pro-Israeli media discourse.

However, they are largely invisible to western media; it is the Israeli spokesperson who continues to occupy the center stage, speaking, shouting, theorizing and demonizing as he pleases.

It is, then, not a matter of media ignorance, but policy.

Even before March 30, when scores of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and thousands wounded, the US and British media, for example, should have, at least, questioned why hundreds of Israeli snipers and army tanks were ordered to deploy at the Gaza border to face-off Palestinian protesters.

Instead, they referred to ‘clashes’ between Gaza youth and the snipers, as if they are equal forces in an equivalent battle.

Western media is not blind. If ordinary people are increasingly able to see the truth regarding the situation in Palestine, experienced western journalists cannot possibly be blind to the truth. They know, but they choose to remain silent.

 The maxim that official Israeli propaganda or ‘hasbara’ is too savvy no longer suffices. In fact, it is hardly true.

Where is the ingenuity in the way the Israeli army explained the killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza?

“Yesterday we saw 30,000 people,” the Israeli army tweeted on March 31. “We arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

If that is not bad enough, Israel’s ultra-nationalist Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, followed that self-indictment by declaring there are “no innocent people in Gaza”; thus, legitimizing the targeting of any Gazan within the besieged Strip.

Unfair media coverage is not fueled by the simplistic notion of ‘clever Israel, imprudent Arabs’. Western media is actively involved in shielding Israel and enhancing its diminishing brand, while painstakingly demolishing the image of Israel’s enemies.

Take for example, Israel’s unfounded propaganda that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza journalist who was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, was a member of Hamas.

First, ‘unnamed officials’ in Israel claimed that Yasser is ‘a member of the Hamas security apparatus.’ Then, Lieberman offered more (fabricated) details that Yasser was on Hamas’ payroll since 2011 and ‘held a rank similar to a captain.’ Many journalists took these statements and ran with them, constantly associating any news coverage of Yasser’s death with Hamas.

It turned out that, according to the US State Department, Yasser’s start-up media company in Gaza had actually received a small grant from USAID, which subjected Yasser’s company to a rigorous vetting process.

More still, a report by the International Federation of Journalist claimed that Yasser was actually detained and beaten by the Gaza police in 2015, and that Israel’s Defense Minister is engineering a cover-up.

Judging by this, Israel’s media apparatus is as erratic and self-defeating as North Korea; but this is hardly the image conveyed by western media, because it insists on placing Israel on a moral pedestal while misrepresenting Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.

But there is more to western media’s approach to Palestine and Israel than shielding and elevating Israel, while demonizing Palestinians. Oftentimes, the media works to distract from the issues altogether, as is the case in Britain today, where Israel’s image is rapidly deteriorating.

To disrupt the conversation on Palestine, the Israeli Occupation and the British government’s unconditional support of Israel, British mainstream media has turned the heat on Jeremy Corbyn, the popular leader of the Labor Party.

Accusations of anti-Semitism has dogged the party since Corbyn’s election in 2015. Yet, Corbyn is not racist; on the contrary, he has stood against racism, for the working class and other disadvantaged groups. His strong pro-Palestine stance, in particular, is threatening to compel a paradigm shift on Palestine and Israel within the revived and energized Labor Party.

Sadly, Corbyn’s counter strategy is almost entirely absent. Instead of issuing a statement condemning all forms of racism and moving on to deal with the urgent issues at hand, including that of Palestine, he allows his detractors to determine the nature of the discussion, if not the whole discourse. He is now trapped in a perpetual conversation, while the Labor Party is regularly purging its own members for alleged anti-Semitism.

Considering that Israel and its allies in the media, and elsewhere, conflate between criticism of Israel and its Zionist ideology, on the one hand, and that of Jews and Judaism on the other, Corbyn cannot win this battle.

Nor are Israel’s friends keen on winning, either. They merely want to prolong a futile debate so that British society remains embroiled in distractions and spares Israel any accountability for its action.

If British media was, indeed, keen on calling out racism and isolating racists, why then is there little discussion on Israel’s racist policies targeting Palestinians?

Media spin will continue to provide Israel with the needed margins to carry out its violent policies against the Palestinian people, with no moral accountability. It will remain loyal to Israel, creating a buffer between the truth and its audiences.

It is incumbent on us to expose this sinister relationship and hold mainstream media to account for covering up Israel’s crimes, as well as Israel for committing these crimes in the first place.
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Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: http://www.ramzybaroud.net

18 April 2018


Mama Winnie honoured, at last


By Greg Nicolson• 14 April 2018
Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has left Orlando for the last time. Committing to her spirit of strength and defiance, speakers at her funeral on Saturday vowed to honour her legacy by fighting the many falsehoods that saw her sidelined.


The heavens opened and the rain started falling moments before SANDF officials raised Mama Winnie’s coffin, draped in the South African flag, to take her on her final journey.

Tens of thousands of mourners at Orlando Stadium rose to bid farewell to the Mother of the Nation.

Photo: Mourners gather at the Orlando Stadium to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Photo: Leila Dougan.
Debate has raged over Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy since the 81-year-old passed away on 2 April in Johannesburg. The debates, and complexities of the struggle icon are set to continue. But on Saturday, her family and comrades used her funeral to both celebrate her enormous contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle and hit out against those who campaigned against her.

“It is difficult to accept that she is no longer with us,” cried her daughter Zenani Dlamini, “because she was always so strong.” Dlamini struggled to speak before giving a moving speech honouring the example her mother set for women. The crowd, which included former presidents Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki, roared in approval.

Former president Jacob Zuma attends Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral. Photo: Leila Dougan.
“Long before it was fashionable to call for Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island it was my mother who kept his memory alive,” she said, thanking the many young women who have pledged solidarity with Madikizela-Mandela since her passing.

“Like her, you show that we can be beautiful, powerful and revolutionary, even as we challenge the lies that have been peddled for so long,” she said, referring to her mother being sidelined by the ANC and much of society for her radicalism.

Apartheid security agents have gone on the record revealing the extent of their propaganda campaign against Madikizela-Mandela. Her supporters have continued to correct claims that she was responsible for the 1989 death of Stompie Seipei. She also faced heavy criticism for her infidelity while married to former President Nelson Mandela, which her daughter said would have been ignored were she a man.

“As each of them disavowed these lies, I had to ask myself – why have they sat on the truth had wait until my mother’s death to tell it?” She warned the “hypocrites” who hid the truth and marginalised her mother. “Don’t think for a minute that we’ve forgotten,” she said. Madikizela-Mandela’s contribution to the struggle must be honoured as we rediscover her history, she added.

ANC supporters made up most of the crowd at the packed Orlando Stadium, but a significant number of EFF supporters attended the funeral. EFF leader Julius Malema, who was close to the political icon, said Stompie’s mother was in the audience as were Madikizela-Mandela’s critics who distanced themselves from her and the actions of her Mandela United Football Club.

EFF leader Julius Malema arrives at the Orlando stadium. Photo: Leila Dougan

“Sell-outs, we see you,” roared Malema. “We mention these instances just to make them aware, we know what they did to you,” he said, claiming her detractors were weeping while failing to acknowledge their actions. Malema said she asked him to return to the ANC but he responded, “But which ANC do we go to?”

President Cyril Ramaphosa apologised that it had taken so long for the ANC to honour Madikizela-Mandela. “I’m sorry mama that we delayed this much,” he said, delivering the eulogy. He said he would request the ANC to confer its highest honour on her.

“As we bid her farewell we are forced to admit that as Mama Winnie rose, she rose alone. Too often we were not there for her as she tried to rise,” he said. Recalling a recent conversation with her daughter Zenani Dlamini, he said she cried when she said her mother had lived a difficult life.

“Zenani’s tears revealed Mama Winnie’s wounds.”

“Mama Winnie’s life was about service, service to her people. It was a life of compassion,” said the president. Speaking on Madikizela-Mandela’s sustained activism while many ANC members were in prison or in exile, he said, “She felt compelled to pick up a spear that had fallen. It was a spear that throughout the darkest moments of our struggle she wielded with great courage.”

Ramaphosa said she defied apartheid ideology and male superiority. “She exposed the lie of apartheid.” He continued, “Yet through everything Mama Winnie endured they could not break her, they could not silence her.”

Responding to Malema, the president said, “The wounds you are talking about are real wounds but today is the time to heal those wounds.” Madikizela-Mandela had wanted him to visit Marikana, the site of the 2012 massacre, with Malema and Ramaphosa said he would go with the young firebrand “to heal the wounds”.

The funeral brought together political foes, the ANC and EFF and the stadium reverberated as they sang in praise of Ma’ Winnie, although most EFF supporters left after Malema’s speech. EFF leaders encouraged their members to act with discipline during the funeral.

EFF supporters join ANC members to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Photo: Leila Dougan

ANC politicians such as Gwede Mantashe, David Makhura, Bathabile Dlamini and Jeff Radebe also addressed the funeral that included performances by Thandiswa Mazwai, Zonke and Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse. Model Naomi Campbell was a surprise speaker.

Madikizela-Mandela was largely remembered for defiantly standing up to the apartheid government and relentlessly pushing the ANC’s struggle for freedom. She was persecuted by the government and suffered imprisonment, torture and banishment as she was the strongest ANC voice within the country during the struggle.

Grandson Zondwa Mandela spoke of everyday heroes and said her spirit lives on in women who strive to carve out a livelihood. “She was one of us. She was one of you. She was one of the people. She was just a woman who dared to survive.”

Family members, President Cyril Ramaphosa and dignitaries walk beside the casket of the late stalwart, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as it is led out of Orlando stadium. 14 April 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

Madikizela-Mandela’s coffin left Orlando Stadium accompanied by a military parade for Fourways Memorial Park where she was due to be buried in a private ceremony next to her great-granddaughter Zenani Mandela.

The funeral procession leaves the Orlando Stadium. Photo: Leila Dougan.

Ramaphosa finished on Saturday: “She lives on in all of us. She inspires our actions. She guides our struggles. She remains our conscience. May her soul rest in eternal peace. May her spirit live forever.” DM

Main Photo: The casket carrying the body of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is led out of Orlando stadium as it begins to rain, on 14 April 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

07 April 2018


CNN: Blaming the Palestinian Victim

Photo by Jonas Moffat | CC BY 2.0

As Palestinians continue to struggle under the heavy, deadly hand of U.S.-sponsored Israeli oppression, the world’s governments mainly ignore them. This is business as usual for most governments, including U.S. officials, many of whom are ‘PEP’ – Progressive Except for Palestine.
March 30 is Land Day in Palestine, a day commemorated annually to mark events first held in 1976, in response to a major land theft announced by Israel. This year, tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators camped and marched on the Palestinian side of the Palestine – Israel border, once again demanding the basic human rights that the world community has refused them. In response, Israeli snipers killed at least 18 unarmed Palestinians.

On April 1, CNN’s loftily titled ‘International Diplomatic Editor’, Nic Robertson, offered his pearls of wisdom on this situation. He wasted no time in both showing his ignorance of the current events, and his desire to blame the victim.

We will look at just a few quotations from his ill-informed editorial. We will start with the title of the article.

“The Timing of the Gaza Protest is No Coincidence.”

Is there anyone who is familiar with the situation in Palestine who thought it was a coincidence? The organizers were clear from the start: the demonstration would start on Land Day and continue to May 15, the day of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when, on that date in 1948, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes, with no voice in the matter, no choice and no recompense. Does Robertson not know that this current protest was to be a major event, planned carefully to hopefully draw international attention to the plight of the Palestinians? Or did he, in his oh-so-insightful way, see that those crafty Palestinians were up to something, hidden from view but obvious to his particular brand of cleverness?

In this bizarre article. Roberson recognized that the scheduled end of the protest coincides with the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something which the Palestinians and the vast majority of the world oppose. Said he, again demonstrating that particular intelligence that is clear throughout his article: “Given that Palestinians oppose this move, the timing of the protest is not likely a coincidence.” Right.

“Like so many battles of yesteryear, both sides arrive to this current field of conflict carrying a weight of historic grievances, armed with today’s political imperatives.”

Let’s look for a moment at some of these ‘historic grievances’. Palestinians were driven from their homes so the United Nations could establish the state of Israel.  Hundreds of ancient Palestinians villages were bulldozed, leaving not a trace. Sacred shrines and cemeteries received the same fate. Since that time, using the advanced weaponry that the U.S. provides to Israel, thousands of additional Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, arrested, illegally jailed, displaced, beaten, abused and disregarded by Israeli law. This is ongoing to this day.

On the other hand, Israel must contend with Palestinians throwing stones at its occupying soldiers, and occasionally even slapping one of them. Yes, as Robertson said, there are grievances on both sides.

“Israeli officials are convinced Hamas is challenging the status quo of Gaza’s limits and is ready to throw down civilian lives to achieve it.”

Yes, the murders of at least 18 unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers, and the injury to at least 700 more, injured with live ammunition, is all Palestine’s fault!

“In public statements before the confrontation, Israeli officials said an attack on the border fence is an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and pulled no punches on what a response could look like.”

Robertson neglects a few pertinent facts here, so we will inform him. The vast majority of the protesters were hundreds of yards away from the fence, ON PALESTINIAN LAND. Yet many were shot by Israeli snipers. To read Robertson’s words, one would think that hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians stormed the fence. Yes, a few dozen did approach the fence, but at all times they remained on Palestinian land. And, as mentioned earlier, some of the pesky Palestinians actually threw stones at the ‘brave’ Israeli snipers, who were heavily armed and outfitted against them. All this was happening while Israeli drones dropped tear gas on unarmed and defenseless Palestinians on their own land.

“To make their message clear, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic website posted a video of a young man being shot in the leg; it was accompanied by the caption: ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to get close to our border.’”

Robertson sees no problem with Palestinians being threatened for committing the ‘crime’ of being ‘close’ to the Israeli border. He did not choose to comment on that at all.

“It is hard to ignore the calculation on Hamas’s part that some of their protesters would get killed.”

Was this Hamas’ ‘calculation’, or an expectation, based on Hamas’, and the world’s, knowledge of the savagery of Israel? Robertson, like most U.S. government officials, seems to see Palestinians demanding equal rights from their apartheid oppressor as something that is ‘calculated’ by a scheming ‘terror’ organization.

In 2014, Robertson met with Khaled Meshaal Hamas’ political leader. In the current article, he says this: “He told me that Hamas does not seek international sympathy through its own victims. Today, that notion is increasingly questioned amid criticism that the group is once again sacrificing civilians for political gain.”

Once again, he is blaming the victim. The government of Gaza is right to encourage its citizens to peacefully demonstrate for their rights. The government of Israel is in violation of international law by shooting them and tear-gassing them. Yet it is the Palestinians in whom Robertson sees culpability.

It has been some time since this writer has seen such a blatantly one-sided, biased article about Palestinian’s struggles on a ‘mainstream’ news site. Generally, although Israel is usually seen as defending its ‘national security’, there is usually some bone thrown to Palestinian aspirations for peace, freedom and human rights. But CNN’s ‘International Diplomatic Editor’ was content to find fault only with the Palestinians, a people who have been brutally oppressed by Israel for decades.

Thankfully, Robertson is in the minority, although it is far more than a shame that he is given a national audience. The unspeakable injustices committed against the Palestinians seem to not only continue, but also increase, as more of the world stands up to Israel. Eventually, however, justice will prevail; it’s tragic that so many innocent Palestinians must suffer and die before that occurs.
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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

30 March 2018


Dear Steve,

I am not a cricket fan and do not watch cricket and, at 91, I never have.

However, I am a South African, and still, after 40 years in Australia, retain close links with South Africa, politically, socially and in several other ways.

I am very aware of what goes on in that country as I keep a close watch on affairs there, and at the moment in Australia, apart from the cricket matches being played there, we also have the spectacle that one of the cabinet ministers in Australia has made an arse of himself with his comments about white South African farmers. This of course is another long political story about which much more time should be spent by the media in telling the truth about affairs in South Africa instead of all the cricket affairs going on.

The disgraceful behaviour of the media in relation to yourself when you arrived back in Australia from South Africa is a scandal, and the media need to be severely sanctioned about their behaviour in relation to how you were treated and humiliated by them on your arrival in Sydney. I used to think that the ABC was above this sort of behaviour, but of course these days the media does what the government wants it to do and that, too is another national disgrace.

Peter Dutton was not sanctioned by Malcolm Turnbull, nor by Julie Bishop, and it shows what racists they all are. When it comes to cricket and what happened on the field in Newlands is a mere dot on the scale of the disgrace about Dutton and white South African farmers.

It should have been Dutton who should have gone to South Africa and brought his white farmers back here with him, together with the Australian cricket team. Alternatively, he should have stayed there and helped to keep the white farmers safe - by his standards and brought his security personnel with him to take over affairs in South Africa.

What a joke, what a farce, what a tragedy the whole set of affairs is.

My sympathy to you Steve for the abominable behaviour of the media in Australia - it is unforgivable!

20 March 2018


Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott must be two of the most ignorant racists in Australia and it proves beyond doubt - not that there was very much doubt before - that the award of Rhodes scholarships is absolutely meaningless, much as many Nobel prizes are.

In their ignorance - and racism - they have absolutely no idea about life in South Africa, let alone white South African farmers and who do they think is going to support their hair-brained scheme to get white farmers out of South Africa  and bring them to Australia to resettle them here.

The genocide of Abbott and Dutton in Australia continues apace, and if they think they will be able to create genocidal conditions in South Africa, they should think again.

Dutton has already been given too much power by Turnbull, who has shown that he is just as racist as his colleagues but does it all in a more subdued and subtle way.

Apartheid has always been alive and  well in Australia, but Dutton and Abbott have just provided it with a new layer - interfering in the affairs of other countries.     South Africa is a very complex country with a very complex society, and both Dutton and Abbott will be in serious trouble if they start interfering in  the affairs of other countries.

Of course they are well practised with that as well, if you consider all the wars they have joined in where the affairs of other countries had nothing to do with Australia.

The cartoonist Zapiro in South Africa has cartoons regularly published in the online journal Daily Maverick from South Africa - an excellent paper actually - and some of Zapiro's cartoons over the years have been on a par with Tandberg's in Australia.

The cartoon below, by Zapiro, was published on 20 MARCH 2018 in the Daily Maverick and hits the jackpot:

The Peter Dutton one reads: "2018 Australia's PETER DUTTON - FAST TRACK VISAS FOR WHITE S.A. FARMERS".


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm