Being In Time: Gilad Atzmon’s journey through post-modern crises

May 22, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

By Adam Garrie, theduran.com/

In Being In Time, author and musician Gilad Atzmon explores the historical and psychological basis for the many crises gripping the western world.

Many of the same people lament the state of a broad, however amorphous western society that has succumbed to the trends of hyper-identity politics, political and economic sectarianism, brutal financial capitalism and the death of industry and censorship in societies that still preach the self-righteous yet vague cause of ‘freedom’.

In Being In Time, author Gilad Atzmon offers a philosophical explanation for how these divergent trends are actually systematic outgrowths of societies simultaneously bewitched and confused by the abject failures of the three domineering ideologies of the 20th century: communism, fascism and liberalism.

Atzmon approaches how an uneasy calm in mid-20th century western states has given way to a world where the dams of free speech, prosperity and political predictability have been burst open leading to a flood of insecurity, third world style poverty and perhaps most importantly for Atzmon, the poverty of ideas.

Atzmon who has previously written about his personal struggles with and opposition to Jewish identity politics in The Wandering Who, takes his dialectical approach further, subjecting many contemporary and post-modern trends to the same scrutiny.

Such trends include, post-modernism, Cultural Marxism, post-Freudian social theory, the sexual identity agenda, post-modern attitudes to race and religion and the so-called populist political phenomena of Brexit and Donald Trump.

Atzmon calls his book a post-political manifesto, but it could equally be called a post-dogma manifesto. Atzmon laments a western world that has forsaken the Socratic method of embracing wisdom based on a combination of logic and ethics. Instead, Atzmon sees a western society obsessed with legal minutiae that he traces to strict Talmudic jurisprudence.

The book is very much in the tradition of the great secular conservative leaning sceptics and metaphysicists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Those who have read Nietzsche or Spengler will recognise familiar diagnosis to modern problems combined with Atzmon’s unique world view shaped by the rejection of the Zionist creeds of his Israeli place of birth.

One might be so bold as to say that a great deal of geo-political philosophical commentary in the 21st century is largely shaped by people trying to either debunk or revise the manifestly ludicrous hypothesis of Francis Fukuyama.

At the dawn of the 1990s, Fukuyama in The End of History and the Last Man stated that history had ceased to move forward and was comfortably numbed to the neo-liberal realities that everyone had accepted.

The problem is that not everyone accepted them and even those who did, have largely been failed by them both materially and spiritually.

Atzmon doesn’t merely lacerate the post-Fukuyama developments in the metaphysical crisis currently gripping an increasingly hysterical liberal western establishment, but instead explains the root of these problems from the perspective of an historic prism illuminated through a combination of late-modern cultural analysis and Atzmon’s own unique trials and tribulations with the crises inherent in intra-Zionist Jewish identity.

I personally rarely recommend such books. I highly recommend this one.

The book can be ordered on Amazon.co.uk  & Amazon.com

The book is now available here

 

Saudi America

May 18, 2017

by Jimmie MogliaSaudi America

As a European commentator noted recently, it is symbolic that the president of the most advanced democracy in the world makes his first foreign trip to the most feudal among Arab monarchies.

On the other hand, US citizens at large see happening what they vaguely expected, and probably wanted when they voted for Trump. Namely, that the curtain of elitist euphemisms and contrived metaphors masking the lying and the rudeness of previous administrations, would be dropped in favor of greater coarseness of expression and less palpable disguise.

This is apparent even in the body language and voice of (at least some) members of the Cabinet. I think particularly of the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. With his cowboy name, he may not have an Eastwood smile and a Robert Redford hair, but when he begins to speak, it is as if he said, “I am sir Oracle, and when I ope my lips, let no dog bark.”

Still, for unbiased observers of the worldly scene, the de-facto alliance between Israel, the US and the Saudi monarchy, however thinly disguised, is unspeakable, unbelievable and unimaginable. It is a truly unholy trinity where Israel is God, the US the Son, and Saudi Arabia the hellish Ghost.

For while everybody knows who did 9/11 but is not allowed to say it, everybody is now allowed to say who financed it. And, equally, who set up, funds and finances the mercenaries of the so-called ISIS and their associates with sundry other names.

It will be the task of a courageous and dedicated historian to trace the seeds of the faked resurgence of a Mohammedan Sect – Salafists or Wahabis or whatever – and of its conversion into a well funded and organized mercenary army and state, with an actual political and economic infrastructure to boot.

For no one, unless he be a cultured Muslim, heard of Sunnis, Shias, Salafists and Wahabis, until after Reagan financed the plot to remove the lay government in Afghanistan that had called the Soviet Union to its aid. And apart from the spilled blood of thousands, it is ironic that the emblem image of “pre-freedom” Afghanistan is the picture of young girls in European skirt and uniform walking to their school. Whereas the iconic image of “post-freedom” Afghanistan is the dynamiting of the 5th centuries “Buddahs of Bamiyan,” by the US-financed and now somewhat unruly “freedom fighters.” And most recently, the footprint left by the explosion of the American “mother of all bombs,” and alleged consequent hecatomb of “insurgents.”

As for Saudi Arabia, I can say I know something about the country through direct experience. During my first job, my employer sent me to Saudi Arabia to explore the option, the difficulties and the opportunities of opening a branch office in Riyadh, the capital.

While still on the plane, I had bought a Glen Fiddich in one of those mini bottles shaped like the original. Then, through the speaker, passengers were reminded that no alcoholic beverages were allowed off the plane after landing in Dhahran, the port of entry. Still infused with some of the goliardic spirit, I decided on the spot to conduct a test – partly a student’s prank and partly a sociological experiment.

Waiting in the lounge for the next connection, I positioned the unopened mini Glen Fiddich in the geometrical center of an empty seat in a row of empty seats, and waited at a distance for what would happen next.

After a few minutes an Arab in his night-gown (which experts call jillaba, but it still looks like a night gown to me), began to circle the seats, much as a bird of prey hovers over the center of its killing field.

After two rounds, the Arab sat down on the chair and when he got up the Glen Fiddich had disappeared.

Later in Riyadh I was struck by the almost total absence of women in the streets. Of course women could not (and still cannot) drive. No doubt a sign of progress for die-hard male chauvinists.

My other discovery was that, in the world of local business people dealing with American and European counterparts, there were few who were not either sheiks or princes, as printed on their business card.

My immediate reference was a sheik who could not speak English but used the services of his factotum-manager for interpretation. He was a Pakistani, who spoke an amusing English, with words reminiscent of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” made even more amusing by his Pakistani accent.

In fairness, the sheik entertained me in a way that seemed royal to me, given my humble expectations. His house was richly decorated with the beautiful intricate Arabic geometrical mosaics and scripts, and with enormous rugs.

He organized a banquet, held in the center of his house-compound, under the stars, with guests customarily accommodated on the ground. Several of them spoke English, and throughout the dinner I was vaguely aware of some black moving shadows hardly standing out against the obscured background of the other inner side of the building.

As we stood up at the banquet’s end, a group of several uncounted children jumped out from the dark and eagerly partook of the large quantity of unconsumed food. The black, hardly-noticeable shadows, I learned later, were the four wives of the sheik and the children were his offspring.

After the initial introductions and discussion, the sheik left me in the hands of his interpreter-manager who accompanied me through the length of my stay in Riyadh. And he also told me something about local customs and culture.

From the notes of my faded diary, I read that at one time he said,

“Here in Saudi Arabia, if you kill a man they cut your head. If you are a thief and make a theft, they cut your hand. And if you go with a girl and do an evil thing…. “

“Hold it – I said – you need not go any further. I think I’ve got the picture.” “No – he said – you have an evil mind. If you go with a girl and do an evil thing, they stone you to death.”

Of course I had no intention to do any evil thing of the sort, especially in Saudi Arabia, but my host’s lecture strengthened my determination. Even if…. “all this the world well knows, yet none knows well how to shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.”

But I digress. It seems, however, that so many years later, little has changed as far as Saudi Arabia-American relations. And if it did, I think it did for the worse – compounded with a widespread perception that, for the Western-Zionist-Saudi cabal, the world at large is a den of fools, save the 1% or equivalent.

Circumstances of no elegant recital concur to raise disgust. One example, as clear as the summer’s sun, is the election of the Saudi Mr. Abdulaziz Alwasil as representative of the UN Human Rights Council. And, notwithstanding Saudi Arabia’s record on religious freedom and justice at large, this worthy official will have vote and oversight, among other things, on “freedom of religion and belief” and “integrity of the judicial system.”

That could even pass for a joke. But, apart from the President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the US driven cabal is dropping ever more rapidly the myth of America as a custodian of liberty. It is not an exaggeration that whatever US foreign policy touches becomes scorched earth, with victims in the millions, assassination of progressive leaders and annihilation of the soul of nations. To pay homage to the genocidal murderers of Yemen says much about what is loosely called the American image.

As evident at large, to destroy the capacity of independent thought, the cabal has completely subjugated academia, through the lure of money or the threat of harm. For no one really understands the true nature of fawning servility until he has seen an academic who has glimpsed the prospect of money, or personal publicity.

The Constitution is still held as an untouchable symbol of American democracy. In practice it is a myth, quoted for effect or convenience, and more honored in the breach than in the observance.

There is a universe of lies, distortions and deformations that the capitalist world wraps around the masses – masses it despises and detests. It is the reflection of the pervading subservience to the interests of the 1%, and of a mythical and in itself distorted vision of the Western world.

As observed recently in France, a ruthless Fascism won the elections pretending to be anti-Fascist. And as a journalist noted, the European Union is but a media dictatorship, practicing the utopia of supreme selfishness.

To peddle the European Union as a means to prevent European nations waging war against each other is a sick joke. Sick because it implies that without the EU, Europeans were and would continue to seethe with lust at the idea of killing each other. Whereas, it was two fascisms – different in name but not in kind, and competing with each other for supremacy – that led Europe to slaughter, twice.

Furthermore, the famed prosperity that the EU should deliver to its citizens is a senseless euphemism to mask the implementation of extreme capitalism, imposed by the local servants of the transatlantic master.

For a while, the presence of the Soviet Union forced so-called Keynesian policies across the European continent. They led to the greatest growth and income distribution in the Western world. It’s no wonder that it was necessary and indispensable to destroy the only remaining obstacle to the end of history.

We are living in the final winning stage of neo-liberal capitalism, primitive, ruthless, instinctive, though masked in its spirit and action by the airy and almost meaningless lexicon of academic lackeys and economists. Neo-liberal philosophy spreads misery at large, more often not by a heavy crush of disaster, but by the corrosion of less visible evils, which undermine security and by building anxiety inject a chronic fear of life.

All this has slowly, inadvertently but steadily become custom. And established custom is not easily broken, till some great event shakes the whole system of things, and life seems to recommence upon new principles.

Meanwhile, a “super-centrist”, multi-level, multi-form and multi-faceted world government, meaningfully renamed ‘governance’ is clearing away the remnants of democracy, while the democrats applaud. On both sides of the pond, and probably in Saudi Arabia as well.

10 Reasons Trump Should Not Strengthen U.S.-Saudi Ties

Human rights abuses and funding terrorism, for starters.

By Medea Benjamin

May 17, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  Donald Trump has selected Saudi Arabia as the destination for his first trip abroad, strengthening U.S. ties to a regime that is fueling the very extremism, intolerance and violence that the US government purports to eradicate. Here’s 10 reasons why the United States should not be closely allied with the Saudi kingdom.

    1. The Saudis export an extremist interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, around the globe. Over the past three decades, Saudi Arabia has spent about $4 billion per year on mosques, madrassas, preachers, students, and textbooks to spread Wahhabism and anti-Western sentiment. Let’s not forget that 15 of the 19 fanatical hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, as was Osama bin Laden himself.
    2. The Saudis fund terrorism worldwide. A Wikileaks-revealed 2009 cable quotes then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying, “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide … More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar e-Tayyiba and other terrorist groups.” In Syria the Saudis are supporting the most extreme sectarian forces. And while the Saudi government condemns ISIS, many experts, including 9/11 Commission Report lead author Senator Bob Graham, believe that ISIS is a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money and Saudi organizational support.
    3. The government represses religious minorities. Trump says he is promoting tolerance, but this theocratic Sunni regime is based on repressing the Shia minority and non-Muslims. It is the only country in the world to ban all churches, and atheism is a capital offense. Year after year, the U.S. government’s own Commission on International Religious Freedom says Saudi Arabia commits “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
    4. Free speech and free association are forbidden in the kingdom. Criticizing the Saudi regime can lead to flogging, long jail sentences or even beheading. Tragic examples are Raif Badawi, languishing in prison for blogging; attorney Waleed Abulkhair, serving a 15-year sentence for defending human rights; and Ali al-Nimr, arrested as a minor and now on death row for nonviolent dissent.The regime is the most misogynist, gender-segregated country in the world. Women are not even allowed to drive and must live under a guardianship system that gives men authority over the most important decisions in their lives.
    5. There is no political freedom in Saudi Arabia. While most of the world’s monarchies have evolved to lessen the role of royalty, Saudi Arabia remains one of the world’s last absolute monarchies.TheSaud family picks the king, who then has ultimate authority in virtually every aspect of government. There are no national elections and political parties are banned, as are unions and most civic organizations.
    6. They have engaged in a catastrophic war in Yemen. In March 2015, the Saudis launched a bombing campaign in Yemen that has targeted schools, hospitals, markets, weddings and funerals. The war has resulted in acute malnutrition and disease, leaving a Yemeni child dying every 10 minutes. Instead of supporting the bombing, the US government should be pushing a ceasefire and negotiations.
    7. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world. Scores of people are killed each year after being convicted of various nonviolent charges that range from adultery, apostasy, drug use and sorcery. The executions are usually carried out by public beheading.
    8. The Kingdom primarily functions on the backs of mistreated foreign laborers. Of the nation’s 30 million people, some 10 million are foreigners. Workers from poor nations seek economic gains within Saudi Arabia, but are often lured under false pretenses and then not allowed to leave the country without permission from their employer. Female migrant workers, treated like indentured servants, often face physical and sexual abuse.
    9. Saudi Arabia helps maintain the world’s destructive dependence on oil. Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of oil in the world. With its vast potential for solar energy, Saudi Arabia could lead the world in renewable energy. Instead, the economy remains almost entirely dependent on oil and on the international level, Saudi Arabia works with the United States to oppose global climate agreements that would affect oil profits.

If the Trump administration truly wants to find a way out of the wars in the Middle East and make the United States safer from terrorists, it would do well to stop arming, aiding and abetting the ruthless Saudi regime.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group CodePink. Her latest book is Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection (OR Books, September 2016).

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

See also

Trump to unveil plans for an ‘Arab NATO’ in Saudi Arabia: When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran.

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Journalists & Spies

Darko Lazar

In September 2016, the US Department of Justice officially granted agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] the right to impersonate journalists and infiltrate media organizations.

Journalists & Spies

Naturally, the move sparked public outrage in the US and a wave of condemnation from organizations advocating press freedoms.

But as unsettled as some Americans may have been by this news, the truth is that the policy outlined by the Inspector General was little more than the introduction of new regulations to an otherwise customary practice.

In fact, the Office of the Inspector General was technically forced into compiling its report following revelations of a 2007 case during which an FBI agent pretended to be an Associated Press [AP] journalist to identify an elusive suspect online.

The entire affair initially appeared to be shaping up into quite a story, even drawing condemnation for the normally obedient AP.

“The Associated Press is deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s findings, which effectively condone the FBI’s impersonation of an AP journalist in 2007,” the agency said in a statement. “Such action compromises the ability of a free press to gather the news safely and effectively and raises serious constitutional concerns.”

However, just like AP’s disappointment, the entire matter quickly went away, and the media diverted the public’s attention to more pressing issues, like Black Friday sales and the Christmas shopping season.

The sounds of a mockingbird

The absence of a free press or journalists willing to hold governments accountable is nothing new in the west.

That said, very few Americans actually have cursory knowledge of the extent to which US security and intelligence agencies have gone in order to establish control over their ‘independent’ media.

Most US citizens have never even heard of Operation Mockingbird, which had a momentous amount of influence on international public opinion by implanting the narrative of the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] for decades.

Launched in 1950, the operation wasn’t revealed until a congressional investigation 25 years later.

Based on the testimony of journalists, heads of media organizations and even intelligence officers, one can argue with a great deal of certainty that the US clandestine services have a firm grip on the western media narrative.

The false news industry

The 1975 Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities claimed that 25 major publications provided cover for CIA operatives, planting fabricated stories and ensuring support of the agency’s agenda.

The CIA secretly recruited journalists and media outlets, funded the creation of student and cultural organizations, and ultimately worked its way into political campaigns, before employing similar methods abroad.

Some of the more high-profile outlets exposed during the hearings include the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, CBS, Newsweek magazine, the American Broadcasting Company [ABC], the National Broadcasting Company [NBC], the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald as well as the key CIA assets; the Associated Press and Reuters.

According to the testimony of a career intelligence officer William Egan Colby, the outlet’s managers and owners were more than happy to help.

“They were witting,” Colby told the committee.

In his book, ‘Derailing Democracy’, Dave Mcgowan later quoted Colby as saying, “the Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”

Meanwhile, Carl Bernstein’s ‘The CIA and the Media’ quotes another former CIA intelligence officer, William B. Bader, who said that, “there is quite an incredible spread of relationships.”

“You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are [Central Intelligence] Agency people at the management level,” Bader adds.

Although the specifics are difficult to come by, the CIA’s use of the news media is known to be a lot more extensive than has ever been made public, involving everyone from owners, managers, senior newsroom staff and the world’s best known correspondents.

Since the ‘70s, Langley has claimed that the Mockingbird program has been dismantled and that it no longer recruits journalists. But a glimpse of the modern-day media landscape reveals the widespread use of tools championed by the intelligence agency, including suppression, censorship, and selective focus.

A former New York Times editor described the cooperation between the CIA on one side, and journalists, authors and artists on the other, as the most efficient display of American ‘soft power’.

The question we must ask is how this ‘soft power’ is being used in a world where the Soviet Union and the ‘threat from communism’ no longer exist.

Editorials by western journalists often make well-received assertions about developments in the Middle East, Ukraine, Venezuela, North Korea; the list goes on.

Often lost in translation is the fact that western journalism is an integral part of the double-edged sword of American diplomacy. And it continuously proves that American ‘soft power’ is ever-present – perhaps as powerful today as it was during the ideological struggle of the Cold War.

Al-Ahed News

13-05-2017 | 07:34

Je Suis Charlie to MacronLeaks? France’s ‘free press’ takes credibility hit

May 07, 2017

by Ramin MazaheriJe Suis Charlie to MacronLeaks? France’s ‘free press’ takes credibility hit

I don’t understand: I thought the French were passionately in love with liberty of the press?

That’s what they said when they just HAD to publish pictures of the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo. And some of these pictures were absolutely pornographic, let’s not forget – they were not respectful, tolerant or even neutral. Heck, one showed Prophet Muhammad actually filming a porn movie.

But I thought it was a question of the responsibility of the press to be brave and publish what may get them in trouble? And the right to political speech? And of personal freedom?

That’s what was self-righteously proclaimed by one French media after another, after another, after another and after another to anyone who would listen around the world.

The common Frenchman, too: I’ve never seen more people in one place than the 4-million person demonstration in support of Charlie Hebdo. I asked some tough questions there in my work as Iran’s Press TV correspondent, despite the pleas of my cameraman to think of our own skin.

And yet it seems the first rule of MacronLeaks is: Don’t talk about MacronLeaks.

The morning after the hacked emails of the Macron campaign were released the French Electoral Commission menacingly warned that nobody was permitted to publish to the contents of the leaks. The leaks were tens of thousands of emails, notes, bills and internal discussions.

What was inside? Can’t tell ya – I’m a journalist.

It wasn’t as if the French people didn’t have access to this information: MacronLeaks are all over Twitter and social media.

So this 11th-hour election twist means that France is living in a state of forced denial, and this denial is forced by the state. A good word for that is “authoritarian”. Hey, due to the ongoing state of emergency (18 months and to be extended by either presidential candidate) this is officially a “police state dictatorship”, after all.

Authoritarianism has become old hat for us in France!

But if this was Russia and it was Vladimir Putin’s chosen successor instead of Francois Hollande and his chosen boy Emmanuel Macron, what would the French media be saying? Stupid question: They’d be screaming “censorship, censorship, censorship”.

It’s appalling: There hasn’t been ONE French media willing to courageously publish when no one else will.

Leaks just don’t sell as many newspapers as naked cartoons, I guess? What happened to the infamous French provocateur? I’d even settle for one of those annoying types right about now.

Imagine if Marine Le Pen was up 62% to 38% instead of Macron? I’m sure SOME media would have published LePenLeaks, and justified it by “standing up to fascism”.

But the French don’t stand up to capitalism. Certainly not when they seem about to elect Rothschild banker and pro-austerity Macron in about 8 hours. Certainly they don’t stand up for communism anymore.

But boy oh boy, don’t they talk a lot of stuff about their love of a free press? And when you don’t back it up….

Censoring will have the opposite effect of discrediting the media & the election

It’s crucial to know there is not one major media in France which is pro-Le Pen.

This is very different from Brexit, where newspapers made explaining the Brexit rationale a daily occurrence. It’s also different from the US, where Trump at least had Fox News to give his side. Seemingly everybody with power, money and influence – and I mean everybody – is against Le Pen.

Le Pen supporters already had cause to claim, 100% fairly, media bias: The MacronLeaks self-censorship will be also fairly viewed as just another step in this direction.

Whether you agree with the decision or not, the fact is that nearly 40% of voters are expected to vote for Le Pen. Add in some abstentionist sympathizers and we can accurately predict that half the country is going to view France’s media as being in total collusion against their candidate.

They are turning to the “Fourth Estate” for guidance and what they found at the top of the France 24 website was this story: Reproduction of whales and dolphins in captivity banned. How can France’s media not lose credibility with such nonsense?

That’s why Twitter Francais was full of condemnations like this one: “The oligarchy will be scandalized by its methods. This is why people go elsewhere than the mainstream for information. This is all that the journalists of BFMacron can do?” (BFM is one of the two top TV news channels here.)

The French establishment is trying to protect its election (or its preferred candidate, perhaps), but half the country is going to see this self-censorship as undermining the credibility of the election itself. Also from Twitter: The censoring of the French media on the MacronLeaks revelations before the decision of the French people is a reason to invalidate the vote.

This is the anti-Macron camp on Twitter, and they are right.

The pro-Macron camp on Twitter encouraged each other to post pictures of cats. This was in order to bog down Twitter in feline stupidity and not allow their fellow citizens to see what the future president was up to.

So why didn’t I publish the contents – I’m a journalist in France?

That’s an honest question, and I’ll give an honest answer:

That decision was above my pay grade.

Like many journalists, I am not in charge – I’m just a worker. I can decide for myself, but I cannot decide for my media. My views on it appear to be clear.

I think the point of view of Press TV is that: We have already been banned by France’s state-run satellite company during the Hollande administration…what do we need even more harassment for?

After all, I could barely find anybody in France to stand up for Iran’s right to freedom of the press at this censorship. Even the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders refused to give an interview to me to attack this ban and to defend Iran’s rights. LOL at that NGO’s “apolitical” reputation. LOL at their hypocrisy.

I’m not trying to sound “tough” – I was very conflicted about MacronLeaks and it’s not certain I would have revealed the contents if the choice was mine to make. What made it much harder was that, for sure, I would have been the first.

I am a foreign journalist – why aren’t the domestic media leading the way?

They have all the contacts, all the ability to fight in courts, all the language-skills to explain to a judge, all the reasons to defend their press. It is their country, after all – I’m not even a citizen.

So I understand Press TV’s view.

But there are certainly many French journalists who feel disappointed with their publishers and their colleagues, and they should feel that way.

Rules are made to broken – failing to do so leaves only questions

Ok, 36 hours is not much time to verify the veracity of the leaks, but I ask you: Which media refused to publish the allegations about conservative candidate Francois Fillon and “Penelopegate” over these very same alleged concerns?

Or which media refused to publish the allegations concerning Marine Le Pen and her EU ghost jobs scandal?

The answer is, “none”. So why is Macron getting preferential treatment?

If the answer is, “Because it’s too close to the election,” I find that very unsatisfying. Truth, justice, transparency and the peoples’ right to know does not have a date.

If the answer is, “Because it’s the law,” I find that unsatisfying as well. However, I did not realize just how anally-retentive about the law the French were until I moved here – it goes against the common stereotype. They have been, as we all inevitably are, greatly influenced by their neighbors, the anal-retentive kings – the Germans. France has not fallen far from that tree.

If the answer is, “Because foreigners are trying to influence our election,” I find that unsatisfying as well. Learning the truth about a candidate is the most important – have we not seen how badly Hollande lied and backtracked to the French? Learning the truth is the best safeguard to democracy – the source of the truth and their motives are totally irrelevant.

Macron and his team are asking to serve as public servants: How does transparency not trump their right to privacy? Mustn’t elected officials be held to a higher standard?

This censorship cuts both ways, including against Macron’s rights: By denying all discussion, how can Macron clear his name? Surely some will say that Macron is guilty by suspicion, and that is not fair either. Of course, with a 20+ point lead he just wants to tread water and say as little as possible – this has been his election strategy all this time, in fact.

Ultimately, it is the public which must be made king: Otherwise you have an oligarchy. The media’s complicity in the MacronLeaks affair will only increase accusations that this is the true nature of France.

Plenty of proof that France censors only when it wants to

The fact is that assuming these leaks were some sort of “disinformation campaign” is not based on any proof.

WikiLeaks, who was not behind the leaks, said that they appeared credible. When is the last time such a big leak proved out to be false? Whistleblowers like this have a very good record.

But if the whistleblower thought this would have an effect like in the United States, he was sorely mistaken. The French are not going to go hog-wild over conspiracy theories like the Obama Birther Movement in the US.

What’s more likely is that the whistleblower had the data, and realized he had no smoking gun. So he waited until the campaign ended, hoping that innuendo would do what his hacked data could not.

Am I even allowed to print that? Dear Paris prosecutors, please note I am only hypothesizing that there is no smoking gun, maybe there is!

I have had to make that same half-serious, half-pathetic plea for other cases in France recently: covering “apology for terrorism” cases. That’s another example – hundreds of examples – where France clearly cared nothing for freedom of speech: you had minors, drunks and mentally ill citizens accused by hearsay, jailed, tried and sentenced over just a few days.

French media doesn’t like to make a fuss about that, either.

Back to MacronLeaks: By releasing this so close to the election there’s a fair case to be made that this is not whistleblowing but manipulation, and those are two different things.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. But the first rule of MacronLeaks is that we can’t talk about them….

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

Israel’s New Cultural War of Aggression

MAY 8, 2017

A few weeks ago my book Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace was published by Pluto in Britain. I was in London and Scotland at the time to do a series of university talks to help launch the book. Its appearance happened to coincide with the release of a jointly authored report commissioned by the UN Social and Economic Commission of West Asia, giving my appearances a prominence they would not otherwise have had. The report concluded that the evidence relating to Israeli practices toward the Palestinian people amounted to ‘apartheid,’ as defined in international law.

There was a strong pushback by Zionist militants threatening disruption. These threats were sufficiently intimidating to academic administrators, that my talks at the University of East London and at Middlesex University were cancelled on grounds of ‘health and security.’ Perhaps, these administrative decisions partly reflected the awareness that an earlier talk of mine at LSE had indeed been sufficiently disrupted during the discussion period that university security personnel had to remove two persons in the audience who shouted epithets, unfurled an Israeli flag, stood up and refused to sit down when politely asked by the moderator.

In all my years of speaking on various topics around the world, I had never previously had events cancelled, although quite frequently there was similar pressure exerted on university administrations, but usually threatening financial reprisals if I was allowed to speak. What happened in Britain is part of an increasingly nasty effort of pro-Israeli activists to shut down debate by engaging in disruptive behavior, threats to security, and by smearing speakers regarded as critics of Israel as ‘anti-Semites,’ and in my case as a ‘self-hating,’ even a self-loathing Jew.

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Returning to the United States I encountered a new tactic. The very same persons who disrupted in London, evidently together with some likeminded comrades, wrote viciously derogatory reviews of my book on the Amazon website in the U.S. and UK, giving the book the lowest rate possible rating, This worried my publisher who indicated that how a book is rated on Amazon affects sales very directly. I wrote a message on my Facebook timeline that my book was being attacked in this way, and encouraged Facebook friends to submit reviews, which had the effect of temporarily elevating my ratings. In turn, the ultra-Zionists went back to work with one or two line screeds that made no effort whatsoever to engage the argument of the book. In this sense, there was a qualitative difference as the positive reviews were more thoughtful and substantive. This was a new kind of negative experience for me. Despite publishing many books over the course during this digital age I had never before had a book attacked in this online manner obviously seeking to discourage potential buyers and to demean me as an author. In effect, this campaign is an innovative version of digital book burning, and while not as vivid visually as a bonfire, its vindictive intentions are the same.

These two experiences, the London cancellations and the Amazon harassments, led me to reflect more broadly on what was going on. More significant, by far, than my experience are determined, well-financed efforts to punish the UN for its efforts to call attention to Israeli violations of human rights and international law, to criminalize participation in the BDS campaign, and to redefine and deploy anti-Semitism so that its disavowal and prevention extends to anti-Zionism and even to academic and analytic criticism of Israel’s policies and practices, which is how I am situated within this expanding zone of opprobrium. Israel has been acting against human rights NGOs within its own borders, denying entry to BDS supporters, and even virtually prohibiting foreign tourists from visiting the West Bank or Gaza. In a remarkable display of unity all 100 U.S. senators recently overcame the polarized atmosphere in Washington to join in sending an arrogant letter to the new UN Secretary General, António Guterres, demanding a more friendly, blue washing, approach to Israel at the UN and threatening financial consequences if their outrageous views were not heeded.

Israel’s most ardent and powerful backers are transforming the debate on Israel/Palestine policy into a cultural war of aggression. This new kind of war has been launched with the encouragement and backing of the Israeli government, given ideological support by such extremist pressure groups as UN Watch, GO Monitor, AIPAC, and a host of others. This cultural war is implemented at street levels by flame throwing militants that resort to symbolic forms of violence. The adverse consequences for academic freedom and freedom of thought in a democratic society should not be underestimated. A very negative precedent is being set in several Western countries. Leading governments are collaborating with extremists to shut down constructive debate on a sensitive policy issue affecting the lives and wellbeing of a long oppressed people.

There are two further dimensions of these developments worth pondering: (1) In recent years Israel has been losing the Legitimacy War being waged by the Palestinians, what Israeli think tanks call ‘the delegitimation project,’ and these UN bashing and personal smears are the desperate moves of a defeated adversary in relation to the moral and legal dimensions of the Palestinian struggle for rights. In effect, the Israeli government and its support groups have given up almost all efforts to respond substantively, and concentrate their remaining ammunition on wounding messengers who bear witness and doing their best to weaken the authority and capabilities of the UN so as to discredit substantive initiatives; (2) while this pathetic spectacle sucks the oxygen from responses of righteous indignation, attention is diverted from the prolonged ordeal of suffering that has long been imposed on the Palestinian people as a result of Israel’s unlawful practices and policies, as well as its crimes against humanity, in the form of apartheid, collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, and many others. The real institutional scandal is not that the UN is obsessed with Israel but rather that it is blocked from taking action that might exert sufficient pressure on Israel to induce the dismantling of apartheid structures relied upon to subjugate, displace, and dispossess the Palestinian people over the course of more than 70 years with no end in sight.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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