Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Via The Saker

October 18, 2018

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews, Moscow, October 16, 2018

Question: The issue of Russia’s financial contribution to the Council of Europe has long been on the agenda after Russia’s voting right was suspended. How important is the Council of Europe to Russia? What, in your view, is the likely solution to this impasse?

Sergey Lavrov: The Council of Europe is going through a serious crisis and not because Russia suspended its contribution more than a year ago but due to the reasons you mentioned: because Russia was denied the right to vote. This happened in 2014 as punishment for the free expression of will by Crimea residents, who voted in favour of reintegration with Russia at a referendum. This punishment was imposed on the members of parliament that were elected by the population of Russia and sent as a delegation to the Council of Europe.

The sanctions imposed in 2014 became tougher in 2015. As a result, the Russian members of parliament were stripped of all rights whatsoever and were only allowed to be present at the meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and listen to anti-Russia statements without having an opportunity to answer, which is, strictly speaking, regular practice in any normal parliament where, even if tensions are running high, it is always possible to answer and compare different positions. Our members of parliament were denied this right for three years even though from 2014 until 2017 we made the required contributions. In so doing, we warned that this could not go on forever because without due representation at the assembly and without the opportunity to state its position it would be unwise for Russia to pay for Russophobic activities; the same goes for any other country that might end up in a similar situation for that matter. So we warned everyone that we would be forced to suspend our contributions at some point. We did this in the summer of 2017, making it clear that as soon as the rights of our members of parliament at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were unconditionally and fully reinstated, we would immediately pay our debts.

I want to stress that our decision on this point has worked. Many sensible MPs and functionaries in the Council of Europe have become aware of the seriousness of the situation. Michele Nicoletti, the then President of the Parliamentary Assembly, and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland were struggling to find a way out of this absolutely abnormal situation.

As a result of that work, the attention of all members of the Parliamentary Assembly was drawn to the fact that there is a basic document that all bodies of the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, must be guided by in their work. This is the Statute of the Council of Europe – a fundamental document, an imperative, so to say. It says that all Council of Europe member states enjoy equal rights in any Council of Europe format, whether the Parliamentary Assembly, or the Committee of Ministers, or any other organ.

We pointed this out and asked our colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly to comply with the document they signed when they endorsed the decision to establish the Council of Europe and to honour the terms on which Russia joined the organisation. Once again, I will point out that the term written in the Statute is the complete equality of the delegations of all Council of Europe member states, including in the Parliamentary Assembly.

Instead, a small, but very loud and aggressive group of delegations from countries that are well known to everyone (I won’t bother mentioning the names; they have been pushing an anti-Russia stance in the European Union, as well as NATO, the United Nations and the OSCE) set forth the premise that besides the Statute of the Council of Europe there are also the Rules of Procedure for the Parliamentary Assembly. These Rules of Procedure stipulate that decisions be adopted through a vote and by a very narrow majority. The most they were willing to do was to consider whether these rules should be changed to make it harder to restrict the rights of one delegation or another.

Our response was simple and tough. No regulations, rules or procedures can compare in significance with the fundamental document – the Statute of the Council of Europe, which, let me point out once again, proclaims the mandatory equality of all delegations in all structures of the Council of Europe.

Therefore, we will propose that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe pass a resolution confirming the indisputability of this statutory provision – this is its function. If that decision is blocked, it will be a deliberate step by those, who, in their anti-Russia fervour, simply want to “bury” Europe.

Please note that since our MPs were stripped of the right to vote, the Parliamentary Assembly has already elected, if I am not mistaken, 24 judges to the European Court of Human Rights. And the total number is 47. So, the majority of judges in the European Court are judges elected in the absence of the Russian votes.

Similarly, a new High Commissioner for Human Rights was elected without the Russian MPs. Next June, a new secretary general of the Council of Europe will be elected. So, due to the suspension of our right, which is granted to us by the Statute of the Council of Europe, to participate in these votes, the above functionaries of the Council of Europe (the judges, the commissioner for human rights and soon, if this issue persists, the secretary general) will, in fact, not be legitimate for us. Therefore, I do hope that all our partners, including and in the first place those who made this mess, who decided to punish the deputies chosen freely by the will of the people who are residents of Crimea – that they have become aware of the seriousness of the situation and the responsibility that they are taking upon themselves.

Question: Thorbjorn Jagland said they would make the budget without Russia’s funds. Our Russian MPs say that one of the options is leaving the Council of Europe. Is Russia considering this possibility?

Sergey Lavrov: Thorbjorn Jagland has no other option than to create the budget using the current funding under circumstances where we are not paying our share. We, again, recently stated that as soon as our rights are restored we will pay our dues to the Council of Europe in full. The European Court of Human Rights has been largely formed without our participation, so its legitimacy for Russia is rather dubious, just like the legitimacy of the Commissioner for Human Rights. I have heard the Russian parliamentarians’ statements to the effect that if this outrage continues, the Council of Europe will be signing its own death warrant. I do not think that Russia’s participation in Council of Europe is more important for Russia than for the European countries. This is my firm conviction. We joined the Council of Europe on the principle that it provides for a pan-European, universal legal and humanitarian space. I am sure that those who have dealt a blow to this space through illegitimate actions that violate the Statute and seek to deprive the Russian delegation of their equal rights, they know what they are signing up for. If they want to push Russia out of the Council of Europe, we won’t give them the pleasure; we will leave the organisation ourselves. Let those in the majority, who are aware of the provocative nature of this plan initiated by a small but loud group of countries, work within this group. It is unacceptable to ruin a pan-European organisation to satisfy the ambitions of certain politicians in some European capitals. Everyone is aware of this. I hope that most sensible people will be brave enough to prevent this from happening.

Question: Is Russia doing anything to prove to the West that we are reliable and can be trusted after what has happened to the Skripals and all those hacking attack charges?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are priding themselves on having built a rule-of-law state in their countries; rule of law and the rules-based order are allegedly what the historical West has created as well as what all others should accept and reproduce, including the judicial system. There is English law and there is Roman law, but in both cases for someone to start proving his innocence he should hear the concrete charges. We have not been presented with such charges. We are baselessly being convinced that we have “highly likely” done something unlawful in Salisbury, then in Amesbury, and later we did something unlawful in Catalonia. Allegedly, we have meddled in all these matters. They are also accusing us of having played our sad role in Brexit and of many other sins. But not one single concrete charge has been presented.

Unlike our partners, we did build a rule-of-law state, because we hold sacred our international legal commitments and hope that all others will do the same. We have advised the British Government dozens of times, in keeping with conventions existing in our bilateral relations (the Council of Europe conventions, incidentally), of the need to utilise the mechanism for mutual assistance in criminal cases. After numerous reminders on our part, they replied officially that the British Government could not do that out of national security considerations. As is clear to everyone, this reply lacks substance and is disrespectful of the British legal system, among others. Therefore, as soon as we are presented with concrete facts, we will be ready to sit down and talk. The same goes for allegations that we have meddled in the US elections. Moreover, in both cases, we have long been suggesting – even before Donald Trump was elected president and before the Salisbury incident – that we should start concrete work on cybersecurity, where professionals, first of all, will exchange their concerns and respond to these mutual concerns, and, secondly, devise certain universal rules that will make it possible to rule out or dramatically reduce the abuse of cyberspace, which is used by terrorists, criminals, drug addicts, pedophiles, and many other people, who must be restrained in every possible way. In response, we hear only that Russia should mend its ways, if it wants to be talked to. This is neither serious nor the way adults behave.

Unlike our accusers, we ask some very concrete questions: there is a convention on legal assistance, let us use it; there is the Chemical Weapons Convention, which says that if a state party has questions to ask another state party, the country that has conceived a question must put this question directly in a bilateral format to the country, to which this question is addressed. Nothing of the kind has been done.

Yet another utterly concrete question, which we have been asking for too long now and which is shameful to ignore for much longer, is: where are Yulia and Sergey Skripal? If the evidence we have been presented with includes just the corpses of a cat, a hamster, and a poor, unstably housed woman, as well as a scent-bottle, it all looks grotesque. I don’t want to belittle the seriousness of cases involving the use of chemical substances, but if someone wants to gamble on this and put up a show to amuse the public and rally the European community against the Russian Federation, then this is shameful. If someone is seriously concerned about these problems, there is no need to tell the untruth. You should prove your accusations with facts, including by presenting to the public Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia. While Sergey has British nationality apart from Russian citizenship, Yulia is just a citizen of Russia. She appeared on television just once, uttered a clearly filmed monologue, and added that she wanted to return back to Russia. No one has seen her since then. Her relative, Viktoria, has failed to obtain a visa. She was harassed at the British Embassy in Moscow, where they repeatedly urged her to change the documents, rewrite the questionnaires or bring new photographs. In the end she was left without a visa. There are many other factors preventing relatives of these people from contacting them. So, we are in favour of legal solutions to any problems. The rabid accusation in the spirit of “highly likely” or “we don’t see any other plausible explanation” are just not serious.

Question: What about Bellingcat? All these investigations…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s part of the same story, really. White Helmets, or Bellingcat – it’s all the same. It’s not a secret for anyone, and Western journalists openly write about this, that Bellingcat is closely connected with the special services that use it to channel information intended to influence public opinion. No matter how many times we were told that the White Helmets are truth lovers, human rights champions and humanitarian workers who save people in the most difficult situations. More and more facts are popping up confirming their close connection with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra. This is more like they are not at all benefactors working “answering the call of the heart,” but rather for getting payment. As for the staged videos, the locals are not allowed to leave the site until these people arrive with their cameras. There are a lot of facts like this that have become public.

Moreover, quite recently, three months ago maybe, our Western colleagues decided, as they said, to “save” the units of the White Helmets in southern Syria after non-Syrian forces left the de-escalation zones established there by Russia, the United States and Jordan. Their positions were taken over by the Syrian army, which has now restored the order on the Golan Heights established by the UN Security Council resolution of 1974, which Israel also supported. Representatives of the White Helmets, 400 people with their families, urged to take them to Jordan for a period of three or four weeks, and then, as was announced, Britain, Canada, Germany and Holland would take them. Three months have passed. They are still there. According to our data, Western countries, which promised Jordan to take these people and move them to Europe and Canada, have browsed through some of their dossiers and became horrified. Their past suggests that European countries would be scared of accepting such people with prominent criminal tendencies.

Question: Do you believe that diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and Western countries can improve?

Sergey Lavrov: All relations do not boil down to just diplomatic relations. There are other relations, including cultural relations that have not disappeared anywhere and which continue to evoke tremendous interest among Russian, British and American citizens and those of the EU countries. There are also economic relations that, incidentally, concern Russian citizens and the relevant business circles to a considerable extent, and these relations are the subject matter of ongoing contacts.

Diplomatic relations depend on the extent to which various partners are ready to respect diplomatic proprieties. Our British colleagues who, to be honest, started wrecking our relations, are not seriously committed to diplomatic proprieties today. I have already said that we have failed to receive any reply after sending dozens of diplomatic notes. Many requests to the Foreign Office also went unanswered. One gets a strong feeling that the United Kingdom’s current authorities have decided to vent their domestic frustrations, including Brexit, on Russia and to explain their domestic problems by Russian scheming. It appears that the Democratic Party of the United States has set this example by justifying its election campaign defeat by the fact that Donald Trump waged an unfair struggle, with Russia allegedly assisting him during this process. It is sad when domestic political squabbles start affecting relations between leading states. They continue to face a problem linked with Brexit. A struggle is now underway for the post of the leader of the Conservative Party, for holding new elections and so on.

For some reason, the “Russian card” has become quite popular among politicians. Possibly, they don’t have enough creativity for doing something else. They simply blame Russia for everything, without trying to take into consideration their  electorate and believing that their voters will accept any concoction.

It is amusing to see British representatives rushing all over Europe after the Salisbury incident and demanding that the EU countries take part in sanctions. They have persuaded many countries, but not all of them, to expel Russian diplomats after the Salisbury incident. Today, they are also inventing some new systematic sanctions that the whole of the EU would have to impose on any violators of the chemical weapons ban and lots more. It appears that a country, now leaving the EU, is frantically trying to influence the EU’s Russian policies. I believe that the UK wants to rein in the EU with regard to Russia and other matters concerning international affairs. It is not up to me to decide to what extent this meets the EU’s interests as well as their dignity.

Question: Is Russia worried about the political and even economic fallout in connection with the Jamal Khashoggi case.

Sergey Lavrov: You are so metaphorical! I support the current calls for a speedy investigation as soon as possible. We praise the agreements between Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the various steps being taken to make it possible to conduct this investigation. I do hope that the international community will get to know the results.

Question: The media has reported today that President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is set to visit Crimea. Does Russia plan to involve Syria in Crimean matters? There are plans for economic activities there.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is our partner. We regularly exchange visits with our Syrian colleagues at the level of presidents, ministers of foreign affairs, trade and economic development. Our military personnel and secret services also maintain contacts. This is very important for combating terrorism. The Russian regions are interested in various opportunities being provided by Syria for expanding economic, cultural, humanitarian and educational ties. Quite recently, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov visited Damascus at the invitation of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. As is customary in normal diplomatic practices, he handed over an invitation from Russian leaders for Bashar al-Assad to visit the Russian Federation, including Crimea. Well, that’s about it.

Please come to Crimea. They are telling us that human rights are being violated in Crimea. But all those who are concerned with this matter have repeatedly been able to see what life is really like there. Those trying to make a politically motivated story out of this insist that they will only go to Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is out of the question because Crimea is part of the Russian Federation under the results of the March 2014 referendum that involved the people of Crimea. But for some reason, not all Western journalists want to go there and see everything with their very own eyes. They have every opportunity to see how the people of Crimea live. If they are interested in a political game, they strike an attitude and say that they will only visit Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is unprofessional.

Speaking of professionalism, I would like to mention another aspect, namely, Donbass. In effect, Ukraine is divided by the frontline. Provocations continue despite the Minsk Agreements and all attempts by members of the Normandy format and the Contact Group to fulfil all the agreements. Thank God, there are no large-scale hostilities like back in 2014 and early 2015, but regular firefights occur, despite regular “school,” “harvest” and “Christmas” ceasefire agreements. We have been asking officials from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine not to issue sterile reports listing attacks on communities, the number of killed and wounded civilians. Instead, we are expecting them to provide specific updates on the developments in various sections of the demarcation line and to focus on attacks against civilian facilities and casualties and fatalities among the civilians. In September 2017, the OSCE issued the first such report listing the location of attacks and the damage incurred. This was a difficult job because the Ukrainian authorities tried hard to forbid the OSCE from publishing this report. According to this report, five times more civilian facilities were damaged in the areas controlled by the self-defence fighters. The responsibility for this rests with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Civilians living in such places also sustained six-seven times more casualties and fatalities. Any military expert would use this data to note that such a correlation between damage and civilian casualties and fatalities means that, by all appearances, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attack civilian facilities in communities, including kindergartens, hospitals and schools. For their part, self-defence fighters retaliate by hitting positions from which they are being attacked. I have mentioned journalism and professionalism. Representatives of the Russian media work non-stop, seven days a week and 24 hours a day in areas controlled by self-defence fighters. They show the extent of damage and the real results of the operations involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine. If our Western partners are saying that Russia and the separatists are to blame for everything, and that the Minsk Agreements would be immediately fulfilled as soon as Russia wants this to happen, and that Ukraine has allegedly fulfilled them almost completely (this is what some of our European colleagues and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker are saying), then it would probably be no problem to send BBC, CNN and Euronews correspondents to areas controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to show everyone how people live there and  the extent of damaged civilian facilities, if any. I have repeatedly spoken with journalists I know about this but failed to get any reply. They are simply looking at me, nodding but doing nothing. If Donetsk and Lugansk are accused of everything, including aggressive behaviour, then it would be appropriate to send journalists there, so that they would work honestly in areas allegedly severely attacked by self-defence fighters. Over all these years, BBC and someone else sent their groups there only once or twice, and that was all about it.

Question: Speaking of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad once again, does Syria plan to conduct economic operations in Crimea or not?

Sergey Lavrov: This depends on the extent to which this region and a certain region in Syria, be it Damascus, Latakia or any other, are interested in specific projects. This was the first meeting between the Head of Crimea and representatives of the Syrian leadership. Quite possibly, they will be able to discuss mutually beneficial projects after assessing the local situation.

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Gaza: The Most Important Story Not Covered in the MSM

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 by Maj. Danny Sjursen

The American news cycle is so dominated by the drama and minutiae surrounding the current administration that the most serious foreign policy crises go unreported.

The Israelis military is killing kids in the Gaza Strip – like, on the regular. You wouldn’t know it though; not unless you watch the BBC or Al Jazeera, that is. The uncomfortable truth is this: most Americans, frankly, don’t care. Most of the populace and a bipartisan coalition of nearly all policymakers are so reflexively pro-Israel that any critique of Israeli militarism is immediately labeled as anti-Semitism.

Nevertheless, Americans should start paying attention. We in the U.S. are, after all, veritably obsessed with our national security. So much so, indeed, that Washington has waged a perpetual “war on terror” across the Greater Middle East and Africa, restricted some civil liberties, and garrisoned the globe with hundreds of foreign military bases. The problem is that none of this expeditionary military action has made the homeland safer or lessened the appeal of violent jihadi Islam.

Two factors mainly explain this phenomenon of counter-productivity in US foreign policy. First off, folks simply don’t respond well to foreign military occupation in their countries. Thus, the very presence of US service members often enflames local passions, nationalism, and fundamentalist Islamism. The result: terror attacks, guerrilla warfare, and – sometimes – the outbreak of an outright insurgency. Need evidence? See the following exhibits: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, West Africa, and on and on.

The second factor is the (accurate) perception – across the Islamic world – that Washington arms, funds, and otherwise enables an extreme right-wing Israeli regime that has systematically constructed an apartheid-like regime in the Palestinian Territories (to the extent they exist) of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians live as second-class citizens, under essentially military rule. They are restricted to separate roads, different water sources, and alternative civil/political structures. They are walled off, subjected to ubiquitous military checkpoints, and colonized by illegal Israeli Jewish settlements.

That’s just the daily structural injustice of Palestinian life. Matters have only deteriorated from there. For several months now, (peacefully) protesting Gazans have been slaughtered in droves along the border fences. At least 40 children have been killed, along with women, old folks, and unarmed young men. More than 168 Palestinians have been fatally shot and thousands more wounded. It’s a humanitarian tragedy – a borderline war crime. The Israeli military has little sense of proportionality. Even though Israeli leaders label all the protesters – even the babies – as Hamas terrorists, the casualties are so lopsided between the Palestinian and Israeli sides as to be absurd. Which leads us to a logical conclusion: either A) the protesters are the least effective terrorists of all time (since barely any Israelis have been killed), or B) some Israeli politicians are lying to the world and being completely dishonest. The rational analyst would have to conclude the latter.

Which gets back to the US media (or really entertainment) industry. You hardly hear about any of this, even on the “liberal” network – MSNBC. Palestinian lives, even children’s lives, just don’t garner much sympathy in the U S of A. It’s obvious, and, understandable. The American populace is treated to distraction media: obsessions with President Trump’s every move, the Kavanaugh hearings, heck – even Kanye’s bizarre visit to the oval office. There’s precious little air time left over for any mention of foreign policy; of the fact that the US is at war in at least seven countries, that Yemeni’s are being starved and bombed by a Washington-backed Saudi coalition, and that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been shooting down Gaza civilians for several months now.

Here’s the kicker though: you know who doesn’t forget? Global Muslims. US policy towards Israel and Middle East more generally is, and has been, radicalizing a generation of impoverished, frustrated Muslim youth from West Africa to South Asia. This is a genuine national security threat partly of our own making. Poll after credible global poll indicates that the international public considers the United States to be the greatest threat to world peace. Not North Korea, Syria, Russia, or China – nope, America. That’s a problem and, obviously, a threat to the US homeland.

What’s more, there’s little sign that Washington will reverse policy or reign in Israeli violence. To understand the cynicism of Israeli policy, consider that the Israelis are crafting a burgeoning partnership with the extremist, Wahhabi state of Saudi Arabia. That’s right: the keepers of the holy places of Mecca and Medina, the Saudis who ostensibly support the Palestinians (but don’t really give a darn about them), and who spread their fundamentalist version of Islam across the region are making a deal with Israel. And as for those Saudis, the US shows no sign of pulling support from this murderous regime any time soon. The Saudis have briefly, if controversially, entered the news cycle after (probably) murdering a dissident journalist, but the safe bet is the US will stick with the Saudis and close that $110 billion arms deal.

This one-sided policy will have consequences. New terrorists will be motivated to attack the US in response to its pro-Israel policies. Even General David Petraeus – far from a lefty pacifist – once even caused a stir by admitting that America’s Israel policy motivates radical jihadis.

Washington loves to taut Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” That’s not strictly true, of course. The inconvenient truth is that Israel may either be a Jewish state or a democratic state – it may not be both, since a large portion of its population remains Arab and Muslim. If the US continues to enable Israeli violence and the structural disenfranchisement of the Palestinians, it will reap the whirlwind. And, when we are attacked, we’ll revert to our usual cry: “Why do they hate us?”

I can think of a few reasons.

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

West is Losing and so It’s Bashing China and Russia ‘Left and Right’ Literally

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By Andre Vitchek
Source

The insanity and vileness of Western anti-Chinese propaganda used to make some of my Chinese friends cry late at night. But things are changing. The lunacy of what is said and written about China (and Russia, of course), in the US and Europe, is now clearly reflecting frustration and the bad manners of sore losers. One could almost be inclined to pity the Western empire, if only it wasn’t so violently murderous.

The Empire’s propagandists are pitying nobody – they are now shooting like maniacs, but without any coherent plan.

Various Western ‘experts’ and journalists cannot really agree on the basics: ‘what is really wrong with China’. But they are paid extremely well to find new and newer skeletons in the huge Chinese closets, and so they are constantly competing with each other, looking for the juiciest and the most scandalous stories. Often it appears that it pays to assume that absolutely everything is flawed with the most populous, and on top of it, Communist (with the ‘Chinese characteristics, of course) country on earth!

China will end extreme poverty by 2020, but do not look for cheers and applause from Berlin, Paris, London and Washington. China is far ahead of all the large countries on earth in building a so-called ‘ecological civilization’, but who is willing to notice? China is constructing public parks, boardwalks and playgrounds, the biggest on earth, but who cares? The Chinese government is introducing sweeping educational reforms, while flooding the entire nation with concert halls, museums and theatres. But that’s not worth mentioning, obviously!

Western propaganda tries to discredit China literally from both ‘left and right’, sometimes accusing it for being too Communist, but when it is suitable, even for ‘not being Communist enough’.

The New York Times ran a cover-page story on October 5, 2018, “Unlikely foe for China’s leaders: Marxists”. For this highly sarcastic piece, a reporter visited the Chinese city of Huizhou, from where he wrote about a group of over-zealous young Marxists who are demanding things to be as they were in Mao’s days:

“But the Huizhou activists represent a threat the authorities did not expect.”

Seriously? A threat? China is moving towards Communism, again, under the current leadership. We are talking about democratic, socially-oriented Communism. But let us not argue with the official U.S. newspaper. It is definitely not a pro-Communist publication, but they had to show some sympathy (by running a cover story!) to a small bunch of over-zealous ‘opposition’ Marxists, just to spread doubts among the readers, suggesting that the Chinese government is not that Red, anymore.

The next day (Saturday-Sunday edition, October 6-7, 2018), the same New York Times published two cover stories on China. One was along its usual anti- Chinese and anti-Russian conspiracy lines “Will China hack U.S. mid-terms?”, but the other basically contradicted the story from the previous day, accusing Beijing this time of cutting the wings of private companies: “Beijing is pushing back into business”, with a sub-title:

“Government flexes muscle as private companies that built economy lose ground.”

‘Wherever it can hurt China, just write it’, could be the credo of thousands of European and North American journos: ‘as long as the news about or from China is bad, really dark and negative, anything goes!’

Too much Communism, or too little… As far as the West is concerned – China can never get it right! Because… simply because it is China, because it is Asia, and because it waves the red flags.

And so, The New York Times ran two totally contradictory stories. An editorial blunder, or a pre-meditated attempt to inflict maximum damage, by kicking ‘left and right’?

It is, of course, fun, to follow this propaganda trend, ‘from a safe distance’ (meaning: ‘not believing a word of what it says’). But what is happening is not a joke; what is being done can actually be deadly. It can trigger, unexpectedly, a chain of events that could truly hurt China.

‘An explosion’ could originate in Taiwan, in Southeast Asia, or from the PRC territory itself.

Look at Brazil, look at Venezuela! Look at all those Color Revolutions, Umbrella Revolutions, ‘Springs’ from Europe to Arab countries. And look at China itself: who triggered; who sponsored the so-called Tiananmen Square events? There is clearly enough evidence, by now, that it was not some spontaneous student rebellion.

The West has convinced several countries such as the Philippines, that they should confront China, through various territorial claims in which, honestly, almost no serious Filipino historian or political scientist is ready to believe (unless he or she paid royally from abroad). I talked directly to several top historians and political scientists in Manila, and I got a clear picture of whom and what is behind those territorial claims. I wrote about it in the past, and soon will again.

China is too big to tolerate dangerous subversions from abroad. Its leadership knows well: when the country is in disarray, hundreds of millions of human beings suffer. To preserve the nation’s territorial integrity is essential.

So, what is China really; in a summary?

It is a Communist (or you may call it a socialist) country with thousands of years of a great and comparatively egalitarian history. It has a mixed economy but with central planning (government tells the companies what to do, not vice-versa). It is clearly the most successful nation on earth when it comes to working on behalf of, and for the benefit of its citizens. It is also the most peaceful large nation on earth. And here are two more essential points: China is at the forefront of saving the world from the looming ecological disaster. And it has no colonies, or ‘neo’-colonies, being essentially an ‘internationalist’ state.

Its political system, economy, culture: all are diametrically different from those in the West.

China has millions of things to say about how this planet should be governed, how it should be marching forward, and what is true democracy (rule of the people).

Now honestly:

does Western mainstream, which manufactures ‘public opinion’ all over the world, allows many Chinese (PRC) patriots, Communists, thinkers, to appear on television screens, or to write op-eds?

We know the answer. Almost exclusively, it is the Westerners who are, (by the Western rulers), entrusted with the tremendous task of ‘defining what China is or isn’t’. And what the entire world is or isn’t.

If China says that it is ‘socialist with Chinese characteristics’, they say ‘No!’ with their perfect Oxford accents. And their arrogance from telling the greatest civilization on earth what it actually is or isn’t, gets accepted because of the fact that most of them are white, and they speak perfect English (paradoxically, still a seal of trustworthiness, at least in certain circles).

The West never hears what the Chinese or Russians think about the world. While the Chinese and Russians are literally bombarded by what the West thinks about them.

Even Chinese people used to listen to such ‘false prophets’ from the ‘civilized West’. Now they know better. Same as the Russians know better. Same as many in Latin America know better.

The spread of Western propaganda and dogmas used to appear as a battle, an ideological combat, for Chinese and Russian brains (if not for hearts). Or at least it appeared as such, to many naïve, trusting people.

Now it is all much simpler and ‘in the open’: the battle continues, but the frontlines and goals have shifted. How?

What is taking place these days, is simply an enormous clash between Western imperialism plus its propaganda, versus the determination of the Chinese and Russian people to live their own lives the way they choose. Or to put it into even simpler terms: the battle is raging between Western imperialism on one side, and democracy with ‘Chinese and Russian characteristics’ on the other.

West is bashing China and Russia ‘left and right’, literally. But it is definitely not winning!

 

 

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أكتوبر 11, 2018

د. وفيق إبراهيم

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اختفاء الإعلامي جمال خاشقجي في قنصلية بلاده السعودية في تركيا، يفتح سؤالاً كبيراً عن الأسباب التي تمنع تطوّر إعلام عربي ينتقل من الاستسلام الكامل للرواية الرسمية الحتمية، إلى مستوى التعبير الصادق وربما النسبي عن التفاعلات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية.

فالتستر الإعلامي على الاختطاف السعودي للخاشقجي ليس الأول من نوعه ولن يكون الأخير.

إنَّ الميزة الأولى للإعلام العربي أنه خطابي يتصرف بالخبر حاملاً «أبوية السلطة على المجتمع»، ولا يعكس إلا وجهة نظرها متجاهلاًً كلّ ما يسيء اليها ومخترعاً قصصاً جديدة للتفسير، تستند الى مفهوم مصلحة الدولة بتنوّعاتها الملكية والأميركية أو الجمهورية، وفقاً لمفهوم السمع والطاعة وتزوير الحقائق وتجاهل الأحداث، وذلك لعدم وجود منافسات حقيقية على كسب الجمهور المنَوَّم.

في المقابل هناك إعلام غربي، متعدّد ومتصادم يقدم الأحداث وفق الخلفيات السياسية والاقتصادية التي يعمل لها، إنما بمهنية محترفة توحي وكأنه «حُرّ». أيّ أنه يترك مساحة مفتوحة لها وظيفة جذب «الزبون» من القراء والمشاهدين والمستمعين.. وبعد التمكّن منه، بهذه الوسيلة، يكون قد احتواه وأسره ضمن تسعين في المئة من مواده الإعلامية المليئة بالروايات الموالية لأصحاب التمويل السياسي والاقتصادي.

إنّ خصائص الإعلام الغربي التي تجعله ناجحاً تقوم على ثلاثة أسباب، السرعة في نقل الخبر وهذا مردّه إلى شبكات مراسلين ضخمة أو وجود أنظمة تعاون مدفوعة مع شبكات محلية، ضمن «دول الأحداث». أما الثاني فقدرته على تخصيص «مساحة حرية صغيرة» يقدّم فيها الرأي الآخر»، لكنه يتفنّن في عرض آراء مواكبة بوسعها زعزعته.

أما الميزة الثالثة فسببها أنّ الإعلام الغربي ينتمي إلى أنظمة سياسية واحدة، خصوصاً بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي 1989، تحتوي على أحزاب موالية وأخرى معارضة.. إنما من ضمن النسق السياسي الواحد.

والطرفان يمتلكان أو يهيمنان على وسائل إعلام ضخمة لها القدرة على تمويلها، وتجسِّد وجهتي نظرهما في داخل بلدانها أو إقليمها الغربي ـ الأوروبي ـ الأطلسي، وهناك وسائل متخصّصة للتأثير على الصين وروسيا واليابان والشرق الأوسط بشقيه الإسلامي والعربي.

وهكذا نجد أنواعاً من إعلام كوني غربي يتنافس على كسب أسواق السياسة والاقتصاد ويمثل موالاة أو معارضة، غربية تنتميان إلى الأنظمة السياسية نفسها ولا تخرجان عنها… أين الخلاف إذاً؟؟

يرتكز الخلاف بينهما على صراع مفتوح للسيطرة على أنظمة بلادهما وفقاً لصراعات حزبية داخلية هي مثلاً بين حزبي المحافظين والعمال في بريطانيا والجمهوريين والمحافظين في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وبين التيارات المتأمركة في فرنسا وبقايا الديغولية وبين أحزاب اليمين والوسط واليسار في المانيا وهكذا دواليك.

هذه الآليات الحزبية تهيمن على إعلام معظمه كوني، يجسَّد وجود موالاة ومعارضة ضمن النسق السياسي الغربي الواحد. هذا إلى جانب وجود إعلام محلي أكثر تخصّصاً بالأوضاع الداخلية لهذه البلدان.

لقد أنتج هذا الوضع المرتكز على أسس محمية بالقوانين الغربية، أنتج مساحتين اثنتين للتعبير بحرية، إنما من ضمن «المصلحة البعيدة للمموِّل».

الأولى هي «المساحة التقنية» التي تستعملها وسائل الإعلام لجذب «الزبون» عبر تقنية الإكثار من «الرأي الآخر».

هناك مساحات حرية أكبر أيضاً، يستمدّها الإعلام من الصراع المفتوح بين الموالاة والمعارضة في أنظمة الغرب، وهي حريات تستند إلى حماية قانونية لا لِبسَ فيها، ما يسمح لهذا الإعلام بعرض قدراته الواسعة على عرض ما يريد، إنما يرتكز دائماً على احترافية عالية في نسف الرأي المضادّ بمهارة ومهنية، يرقى عمرها إلى ثلاثة قرون على الأقلّ.

هذه هي الأسباب التي تجعل «زبون الإعلام» منجذباً إليه في كلّ وقت، يصغي إلى نشرات أخباره وبرامجه باهتمام، وهو لا يعرف أنه تأثر بهذا المضمون من دون أن يدري.. وبما أنّ هذا الجذب الإعلامي متكرّر فإنه يعتمد على الإكثار من التكرار بلغة تسامحية وعقل علمي ضمن ما يشبه أسلوب السرد القصصي الموجز والجاذب.

ماذا عن الإعلام العربي؟ باستثناء لبنان حيث الحريات الإعلامية فيه تتموضع على الصراعات بين مذاهبه وطوائفه لتحسين أدوارها في السلطة وذلك عبر مسألتين: التحشيد الداخلي، وإنتاج رسالة إعلامية موالية للداعم الاقليمي والدولي.

باستثناء لبنان هذا، تسيطر على الإعلام العربي حالة من الهزال والضعف ونقص في الاحتراف على المستوى المهني، أما سياسياً، فنتيجة لعدم وجود معارضة ضمن النظام نفسه أو من خارجه، يعرض هذا الإعلام صورة خطابية نمطية تعيد فبركة الأحداث وبشكل بديهي على أساس مصلحة السلطة الداخلية السياسية، وتحالفاتها الدولية.

وبغياب المنافسة بين قوى سياسية داخلية، لا يعود الإعلام بحاجة إلى محترفين يتقنون فنون الخبر، ولا يهمّهم السرعة في عرضه.. فما هي إلا رسالة إعلامية عارضة لا تترك أثراً في متلقيها ولا يجد صانعها نفسه في وضع المضطر لإحداث معالجات عميقة لها.. وهكذا نجد إعلاماً عربياً منافقاً بعيداً عن مميّزات السرعة في إعلام العصر، وأساليب جذب الزبون، والصناعة الإعلامية البراقة.. هناك آليات بليدة ترسل أخباراً أشبه بخطابات عن أدوار بطولية لملوك وقادة ورؤساء يجري تقديهم على أساس انهم متمسكون بكلّ التفاعلات الداخلية والخارجية والحياة والموت.

إنّ غياب المعارضة حتى تلك المنتمية إلى الأنظمة السياسية نفسها، هي السبب في أزمة الإعلام العربي.. لأنها تلغي مساحات للحرية، فيصبح بموجبها خاشقجي رجلاً «مختلاً» انتحر واختطف نفسه او قتلته جهة معادية لآل سعود، كما تحوَّل حق قيادة المرأة للسيارة في السعودية أهمّ من الثورة الصناعية..

هناك مئات الأمثلة التي تثبت أنّ الإعلام العربي يشبه البلاغات التي كانت تعلقها الممالك القديمة في الساحات العامة.

لكن ما يؤسف له أنّ هذا الغرب الأميركي والأوروبي، يقف بتأييده وراء هذا التخلف الإعلامي العربي بشكل غير مباشر، لأنه يدعم الدكتاتوريات مُسهّلاً لها أمر القضاء على المعارضات. فهل يتطوّر الإعلام العربي؟ هذا الأمر مرتبط بتطوّر الأنظمة الاوتوقراطية ـ الديكتاتورية.

إنَّ مثيلاتها الغربية سقطت بثورات شعبية، فمتى تصل إلينا؟

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Omidyar’s Intercept Teams Up with War-Propaganda Firm #Bellingcat

Omidyar’s Intercept Teams Up with War-Propaganda Firm Bellingcat

Despite promoting itself as an “independent” and open-source investigation site, Bellingcat has received a significant portion of its funding from Google, which is also one of the most powerful U.S. military contractors and whose rise to prominence was directly aided by the CIA.

NEW YORK — The Intercept, along with its parent company First Look Media, recently hosted a workshop for pro-war, Google-funded organization Bellingcat in New York. The workshop, which cost $2,500 per person to attend and lasted five days, aimed to instruct participants in how to perform investigations using “open source” tools — with Bellingcat’s past, controversial investigations for use as case studies. The exact details of what occurred during the workshop have not been made public and Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins declined to elaborate on the workshop when pressed on social media.The decision on the part of The Intercept is particularly troubling given that the publication has long been associated with the track records of its founding members, such as Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald, who have long been promoted as important “progressive” and “anti-war” voices in the U.S. media landscape.

Greenwald publicly distanced himself from the decision to host the workshop, stating on Twitter that he was not involved in making that decision and that — if he had been — it was not one “that I would have made.” However, he stopped short of condemning the decision.

Bellingcat’s open support for foreign military intervention and tendency to promote NATO/U.S. war propaganda are unsurprising when one considers how the group is funded and the groups with which it regularly collaborates.

For instance, Bellingcat regularly works with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which – according to the late journalist Robert Parry – “engages in ‘investigative journalism’ that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption.” OCCRP is notably funded by USAID and the controversial George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

In addition, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins is employed by the Atlantic Council, which is partially funded by the U.S. State Department, NATO and U.S. weapons manufacturers. It should come as little surprise then that the results of Bellingcat’s “findings” often fit neatly with narratives promoted by NATO and the U.S. government despite their poor track record in terms of accuracy.

Bellingcat’s funding is even more telling than its professional associations. Indeed, despite promoting itself as an “independent” and open-source investigation site, Bellingcat has received a significant portion of its funding from Google, which is also one of the most powerful U.S. military contractors and whose rise to prominence was directly aided by the CIA.

Google has also been actively promoting regime change in countries like Syria, a policy that Bellingcat also promotes. As one example, leaked emails between Jared Cohen, former director of Google Ideas (now Jigsaw), and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed that Google developed software aimed at assisting al-Qaeda and other Syrian opposition groups in boosting their ranks. Furthermore, Cohen was once described by Stratfor intelligence analysts as a “loose cannon” for his deep involvement in Middle Eastern regime-change efforts.

Under President Donald Trump, Google’s connections to the U.S. government have become even more powerful, as the current Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence once worked as a corporate lobbyist for Google.

 

Synergy in the service of empire

Given the clear alliances between Bellingcat and the military-industrial complex, The Intercept’s decision to host a Bellingcat workshop in its New York offices may seem surprising. However, The Intercept has long promoted Bellingcat in its written work and its parent company has actually been associated with Bellingcat since 2015.

Indeed, Google-owned YouTube announced in 2015 the formation of the “First Draft coalition,” which nominally sought to bring “together a group of thought leaders and pioneers in social media journalism to create educational resources on how to verify eyewitness media.” That coalition united Bellingcat with the now-defunct Reported.ly – another venture of The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media.

In the years since, The Intercept has repeatedly promoted Bellingcat in its articles, having called the Atlantic Council-connected, Google-funded group “a reputable U.K.-based organization devoted to analyzing images coming out of conflict zones.” Furthermore, prior to the recent workshop in late September between The Intercept and Bellingcat, both jointly participated in another workshop hosted in London earlier this year in April.

 

 

Omidyar’s connections

In addition, the Intercept’s main funder – eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar – shares innumerable connections to the U.S. government and has helped fund regime-change operations abroad in the past, suggesting a likely reason behind the publication’s willingness to associate itself with Bellingcat.

For instance, Omidyar made more visits to the Obama White House between 2009 and 2013 than Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He also donated $30 million to the Clinton global initiative and directly co-invested with the State Department — funding groups, some of them overtly fascist, that worked to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014.

Even after Obama left office, Omidyar has continued to fund USAID, particularly its overseas program aimed at “advancing U.S. national security interests” abroad. Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative also cosponsors one of the Pentagon’s most important contractor expos, a direct link between Omidyar initiatives and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Such promotion of the regime-change wars has been reflected in reporting done at The Intercept, particularly in regards to Syria. Indeed, Intercept writers covering Syria frequently promote Syrian “rebels” and the opposition while also promoting pro-regime-change talking points.

Another former Intercept contributor and now Intercept “fact checker,” Mariam Elba, wrote a poorly researched article that sought to link the Syrian government to U.S. white nationalists, claiming that the Syrian government sought to “homogenize” the country despite its support for religious and ethnic minorities in stark contrast to the Syrian opposition. Notably, Elba recently praised the Intercept/Bellingcat workshop, which she had attended.

If that weren’t enough, last year the paper hired Maryam Saleh, a journalist who has called Shia Muslims “dogs” and has taken to Twitter in the past to downplay the role of the U.S. coalition in airstrikes in Syria. Saleh also has ties to the U.S.-financed propaganda group Kafranbel Media Center, which also has close relations with the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham.

Furthermore, MintPress noted last year that The Intercept had withheld a key document from the Edward Snowden cache proving the Syrian opposition was taking marching orders from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Intercept published that document only after the U.S. State Department itself began to report more honestly on the nature of these so-called “rebels,” even though The Intercept had had that document in its possession since 2013.

Even “anti-interventionist” Intercept journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald have
come under fire this past year for allegedly promoting inaccurate statements that supported pro-regime-change narratives in Syria, particularly in regards to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma. That attack is now widely believed to have been staged by the White Helmets.

Thus, while The Intercept has long publicly promoted itself as an anti-interventionist and progressive media outlet, it is becoming clearer that – largely thanks to its ties to Omidyar – it is increasingly an organization that has more in common with Bellingcat, a group that launders NATO and U.S. propaganda and disguises it as “independent” and “investigative journalism.”

Author’s Note | John Helsby contributed research, particularly in regards to social media, to this report.

Editors Note: After objection from Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins, this story was updated to read: “The exact details of what occurred during the workshop have not been made public”, This was updated from the original: “The details of the workshop have not been made public” as Higgins interpreted this to mean details made prior to the event. MintPress was well aware of the pre-event details that were made public prior to the workshop, such as cost to attend, date and location as a link that the announcement of those details can be found in the second sentence of the article, which remains unchanged.

Top Photo | Bana Alabed promotes Bellingcat at an event put on by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Photo | Twitter

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Blanket Silence: Corporate Media Ignore New Report Exposing Distorted and Misleading Coverage of Corbyn

Source

By Media Lens,

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the 17 years since Media Lens began, it’s that media professionals generally hate being challenged, critiqued or criticised. This fierce antipathetical belligerence underlies the corporate media’s total refusal to mention, far less discuss, a recent damning report on how the corporate media have been misreporting Labour and its supposed ‘problem’ with antisemitism.

The report was published last week by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC), set up in 2011 in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal, to promote debate about the media and democracy. The MRC coordinates effective action by civil society groups, academics and media campaigners, and is currently chaired by Natalie Fenton, Professor of Communication and Media at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The urgent need for such a media initiative is highlighted by the disturbing reality that Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world, with just three companies in control of 71% of national newspaper circulation and five companies running 81% of local newspaper titles.

In the careful MRC study, articles and news segments on Labour and antisemitism from the largest UK news providers, both online and television, were subjected to in-depth analysis. The research was undertaken by Dr Justin Schlosberg, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck, University of London, together with Laura Laker, an experienced freelance journalist.

In their study, Schlosberg and Laker identified:

‘myriad inaccuracies and distortions in online and television news including marked skews in sourcing, omission of essential context or right of reply, misquotation, and false assertions made either by journalists themselves or sources whose contentious claims were neither challenged nor countered. Overall, our findings were consistent with a disinformation paradigm.’

In other words, the corporate media have been pumping out reams of ‘fake news’ promoting a narrative that Corbyn and Labour are mired in an ‘antisemitism crisis’.

Out of over 250 articles and news pieces examined by Schlosberg and Laker, fully 95 examples were found of misleading or inaccurate reporting. In particular, there were (our emphasis):

• 29 examples of false statements or claims, several of them made by news presenters or correspondents themselves, six of them on BBC television news programmes, and eight on the Guardian website.

• A further 66 clear instances of misleading or distorted coverage including misquotations, reliance on single -source accounts, omission of essential facts or right of reply, and repeated value-based assumptions made by broadcasters without evidence or qualification. In total, a quarter of the sample contained at least one documented inaccuracy or distortion.

Overwhelming source imbalance, especially on television news where voices critical of Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism were regularly given an unchallenged and exclusive platform, outnumbering those defending Labour by nearly 4 to 1. Nearly half of Guardian reports on the controversy surrounding Labour’s code of conduct featured no quoted sources defending the party or leadership.

This is, to say the least, totally unacceptable from any supposedly responsible news outlet. It is even more galling when it comes from the Guardian and BBC News, both with large global audiences, who constantly proclaim their credentials for ‘honest and balanced reporting’.

Much recent corporate media coverage has focused on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of ‘antisemitism’. Corporate media across the spectrum have argued that in refusing to accept the IHRA definition in total, with all of its accompanying examples, Corbyn has promoted antisemitism, alienated Britain’s Jewish community and divided his own party.

Philip Collins wrote in The Times of Corbyn (our emphasis):

‘He has, for some reason he cannot articulate, insisted that the Labour Party should be just about the only institution that does not accept the definition of antisemitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.’

In July, a Times editorial stated of Labour’s National Executive Committee (our emphasis):

‘Instead of adopting a standard definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and endorsed by governments around the world, the NEC has amended it in unacceptable ways… Let there be no doubt: these are unconscionable and antisemitic accusations.’

In September, another Times leader opined (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s national executive committee will vote today on whether to adopt the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism. It is essential that it does. Governments and organisations worldwide have adopted the carefully worded textdeveloped by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Jeremy Corbyn’s hamfisted attempt to rewrite it, without consultation and with the apparent aim of protecting certain activists, shames his party.’

The Times added:

‘British Jews are well placed to define what constitutes racism towards them, just as any minority deserves the last word in the debate as it applies to them. Gordon Brown has called for Labour to “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately” adopt all the examples. Anything less would mark a dark day indeed for the party.’

Noting that three leading British Jewish newspapers had declared that a Corbyn-led government would pose ‘an existential threat to Jewish life in this country’, senior Guardian columnist and former comment editor Jonathan Freedland asked:

‘How on earth has it come to this?’

Part, but not all, of the problem, Freedland suggested, was (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s failure to adopt the full text of the near universally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, including all its illustrative examples’.

He added:

‘When Jews hear that the IHRA is not good enough, they wonder: what exactly is it that Labour wants to say about us?’

And yet, as the MRC report [pdf] makes clear, although the IHRA is an international body with representatives from 31 countries, only six of those countries have, to date, formally adopted the definition themselves. Several high-profile bodies have rejected or distanced themselves from the working definition, including the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency – a successor to the body that drafted the original wording on which the definition is based – and academic institutions including the London School of Economics and School of Oriental and African Studies. Moreover, academic and legal opinion has been overwhelmingly critical of the IHRA definition, including formal opinions produced by four leading UK barristers.

But, note Schlosberg and Laker:

‘Virtually none of this essential context found its way into news reports of the controversy. Instead, the Labour Party was routinely portrayed by both sources and correspondents as beyond the pale of conventional thinking on the IHRA definition.’

Nearly 50% of Guardian reports failed to include any quotes from those critiquing the IHRA definition or defending Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism. In fact, media reporting (our emphasis):

‘effectively gave those attacking Labour’s revised code and championing the IHRA definition a virtually exclusive and unchallenged platform to air their views. By comparison, their detractors – including a number of Jewish organisations and representatives of other affected minorities – were systematically marginalized from the coverage. Furthermore, Labour MPs adopting even moderate positions defending the code were subjected to far more aggressive questioning from interviewers than those adopting extreme positions attacking it.

In a calm, methodical and rigorous manner, the MRC has exposed to public view the blatant anti-Corbyn bias of even the ‘best’ media outlets: the BBC and the Guardian.

Response To The Media Reform Coalition Report

Our searches using the ProQuest newspaper database reveal that there has not been a single news article or editorial published about the report. This is a remarkable symptom of the glaring tendency of the media to reject, or simply blank, reasoned, well-researched criticism.

When The Canary website published an article about the MRC report, they approached both the Guardian and the BBC for comment. The Guardian‘s response was boilerplate rhetoric – ‘The Guardianhas featured a wide range of voices in this debate’, etc – that failed to acknowledge the paper’s unambiguous distortions and omissions. The BBC did not even provide a comment.

The sole newspaper mention to date is a letter in the Guardian which may only have been published because Noam Chomsky is one of the signatories, along with high-profile figures such as Brian Eno, Yanis Varoufakis, Ken Loach and a number of media academics. They make a crucial point that relates to criticism of the Guardian itself (mentioned earlier):

‘In relation to the IHRA definition of antisemitism that was at the heart of the dispute, the research found evidence of “overwhelming source imbalance” in which critics of Labour’s code of conduct dominated coverage, with nearly 50% of Guardian reports, for example, failing to include any quotes from those defending the code or critiquing the IHRA definition.’

The letter also notes the MRC researchers’ conclusion that media distortions and inaccuracies:

‘were not occasional lapses in judgment but “systematic reporting failures” that served to weaken the Labour leadership and to bolster its opponents within and outside of the party.’

Chomsky and his co-signatories add:

‘In covering the allegations that Labour is now “institutionally antisemitic”, there have been inaccuracies, clear distortions and revealing omissions across our most popular media platforms. We believe that significant parts of the UK media have failed their audiences by producing flawed reports that have contributed to an undeserved witch-hunt against the Labour leader and misdirected public attention away from antisemitism elsewhere, including on the far right, which is ascendant in much of Europe.’

Given the Guardian‘s appalling record of boosting fake news of a Labour ‘antisemitism crisis’, and given its vehement opposition to Corbyn’s brand of moderate socialism, it is no wonder that #DumpTheGuardian and #BoycottTheGuardian were trending in the UK last Friday as part of a dedicated Twitter campaign.

Pro-Corbyn Labour MP Chris Williamson tweeted his support in response to the MRC report:

‘My reference to McCarthyism vindicated by this report. The Guardian newspaper’s deplorable contribution explains why so many people are saying #BoycottTheGuardian’

Last Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech to the Labour Party conference in which he dared to criticise the British corporate media who have been gunning for him ever since he became the party’s leader:

‘It turns out that the billionaires who own the bulk of the British press don’t like us one little bit.

‘Now it could be because we’re going to clamp down on tax dodging. Or it may be because we don’t fawn over them at white tie dinners and cocktail parties.’

He added:

‘We must, and we will, protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power.

‘Journalists from Turkey to Myanmar and Colombia are being imprisoned, harassed or sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job.

‘But here, a free press has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths, and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful.

‘You challenge their propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st century: social media.’

Pippa Crerar, Guardian deputy political editor, responded with the standard kneejerk conflation of Corbyn’s reasoned comments with the idiotic ‘fake news’ mantra of Trump. She tweeted:

‘Corbyn criticises some parts of British media, claiming they “smear the powerless, not take on the powerful”. As a journalist, makes me very uncomfortable to hear him leading attack on our free press. Dangerous, Trumpian territory.’

We responded:

‘Honest, rational criticism is not an “attack”, and it is not “dangerous”. A corporate press that refuses to listen or respond to this kind of reasonable criticism is itself dangerous. If anyone has a right to criticise media smears, it is @jeremycorbyn.’

The level of popular support for this view is indicated by the fact that our tweet has so far received 518 retweets and 1,222 likes; a massive response by our standards.

To her credit, Crerar did engage with us reasonably, unlike the vast majority of her media colleagues over many years:

‘Totally agree media has to reflect/listen. Not for a minute saying we’re perfect (some elements extremely *imperfect*). But orgs also do invaluable work eg Windrush, grooming scandal, MPs expenses so just not true to say we don’t hold power to account.’

We answered:

‘Thanks for replying, Pippa, very much appreciated. Glad you agree “media has to reflect/listen”. Doesn’t that mean taking Corbyn’s thoughtful, reasoned criticism seriously, rather than lumping it in with Trump’s awful tub-thumping? Corbyn and Milne really aren’t “dangerous”.’

Her follow-up:

‘I’ve sat back today & watched pile-on. I’d always rather engage but not when abusive. Like I said, media far from perfect, but I fear JC’s comments ignored excellent journalism that does exist & undermined journalists who produce it. Of course, nowhere near as extreme as Trump.’

And our reply:

‘Our response generated nearly 800 [now 1,700] likes and retweets – that gives an idea of the strength of feeling. Like other media, the Guardian’s smearing of Corbyn has gone way too far. It’s time to start listening to your readers @KathViner.’

To date, there has been no further exchange; and certainly not a peep out of Guardian editor, Katharine Viner; which is typical for this extraordinarily unresponsive media professional.

Justin Schlosberg, lead author of the MRC report, told The Canary:

‘Neither the Guardian nor the BBC have acknowledged or even directly responded to the myriad reporting failures highlighted in our research. It is completely inadequate to offer blanket dismissals or simply kick into the long grass of their respective complaints procedures.’

Schlosberg pointed out:

‘The failure to answer to these allegations is even more serious than the reporting failures themselves.’

Conclusion

As a further, related example of bias, consider the corporate media’s stunning indifference to the bomb threat that interrupted the screening of a new film, ‘The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker’, in Liverpool on September 25. Walker is a former Momentum Vice-Chair who was suspended from the Labour party as part of a propaganda blitz attempting to silence critics of Israel. The screening was organised by Jewish Voice for Labour which has been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

If the corporate media were genuinely motivated by concerns about alleged rising antisemitism, this shocking threat would have generated headline coverage. Instead it was met by a blanket of silence. A brief online Guardian piece was, to say the least, ambiguous in its narrative. Ex-Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook noted:

‘Another “fake news” master-class from the Guardian. A bomb hoax to stop Corbyn-supporting, Jewish Labour members screening a film about how Labour’s “anti-semitism crisis” has been manufactured is framed as *more* evidence of Jew hatred in the party!’

According to our ProQuest database search, the only mentions in the print press have been in the Liverpool Echo and The Times of Israel. Where are all the editorials and major comment pieces in the Guardian, The Times and elsewhere?

As for the Media Reform Coalition report itself, it is no surprise that the BBC, the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media should brush away detailed reasoned criticism of their biased reporting, or pretend such clear evidence does not exist. These media outlets sell themselves as publicly accountable; or, at least, as defenders of the public interest; a valiant fourth estate standing up for the truth and honest, neutral news coverage. And yet, when the alternative media makes a mistake, or says ‘the wrong thing’, there are angry howls and screaming mockery from the corporate commentariat. The hypocrisy is staggering, and, again, entirely predictable.

*

Featured image is from Media Lens.

Richard Hardigan, The Other Side of the Wall. An Eyewitness Account of the Occupation of Palestine

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This book is a personal account of a US American professor about his volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) against the Israeli occupation in Palestine in the summer of 2014. His eyewitness report tells the story about oppression, subjugation and the daily sufferings and injustices of the Palestinians People under the Israeli occupation regime.

Right from the outset, Richard Hardigan, a University professor from California, sets the record straight: There can’t be a balanced or neutral point of view concerning the Israeli/Palestine conflict. When helpless children are beaten up, or a civilian population is crushed by military might, “neutrality is not an option.” Quoting Bishop Desmond Tutu said:

“if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Having taught at different universities in Egypt, the author traveled by bus to Israel visiting the occupied territories. What he saw was a shock and made a deep impression on him. He visited Hebron where a few hundred settlers guarded by more than 3 000 heavily armed soldiers make the life over the original inhabitants a living hell. He traveled to Qalqilia, a city surrounded by an Apartheid Wall that destroyed economic growth. He saw the ghetto wall surrounding Bethlehem. He also had to experience waiting in line in the blistering sun crossing Qualandya checkpoint experiencing himself the arrogance and the sense of superiority of young Israeli soldiers that the Palestinians have to endure daily.

This book gives daily accounts, starting on 17 June till 26 July 2014. His visit coincides with the events before the military onslaught on the Gaza Strip where 2 000 people were killed. The author experienced the daily humiliations ant the brutality of the occupation at first hand. His report corrects the illusions way too many have about “beautiful Israel,” its intentions, policies, and practices. Despite the rampant injustices and hardship the People of Palestine have to suffer on a daily basis, Hardigan can see no sign of surrender; on the contrary, their resistance and determination to fight for their rights are resilient. The mere existence of the Palestinian People disapproves David Ben-Gurion’s saying:

The old will die and the young will forget.

The daily reports reveal a depressing and inhumane reality of which the Western readers, especially the American ones, have not the faintest idea. For Hardigan, to end the occupation is to convince Israel’s benefactor, the US government. The people in the US have to be informed of what is going on with American help and sufficient financial support. But under the Trump administration, this is a hopeless cause. Hardcore Zionist has hijacked US Middle Eastern policy and to try to blackmail the Palestinian leadership into submission to sign a document of unconditional surrender. Despite their collaboration with the Israeli occupier, not even Mahmud Abbas is willing to sign such a document.

To understand the described unbelievable sufferings of the Palestinians, one can’t understand the ignorance of Western societies and their dance attendance on Israeli politicians who come on state visits. Especially Netanyahu and his security establishment have to be shown the red card.

The book is excellently written. It gives a different view then the mainstream media. It should be widely spread. It has to get to the ordinary folks in the US. If Americans knew about the misuse of their Dollars, change might come about in Palestine.

By Ludwig Watzal
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