Posted by: diogenesclub | January 29, 2009

IAEA head boycotts BBC over Gaza

UN nuclear chief boycotts BBC over Gaza appeal and accuses the BBC of violating  the rules of basic human decency.

The appeal was broadcast by ITV, Channel 4, and Channel Five last night, and was watched by a combined audience of 4.5 million.

A voiceover at the beginning of the broadcast said: “This is not about the rights and wrongs of the conflict – these people simply need your help.”

UN nuclear chief boycotts BBC over Gaza appeal

The head of the UN”s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation’s decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy.

The statement, from his office at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the BBC decision not to air the aid appeal for victims of the conflict “violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong”.

It said the IAEA director had cancelled interviews with BBC World Service television and radio, which had been scheduled to take place at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Saturday.

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 28, 2009

Obama as Abraham Lincoln


Posted by: diogenesclub | January 28, 2009

Honest reporting

The gall of some people. I came across a website called “honestreporting” which actually nothing to do with “honest reporting”. It links to Melanie Phillips, Daniel pipes and the “IDF Spokesperson” you can tell pretty quickly that it’s actually a Pro-Zionist site, which is totally fine. But it’s totally disingenuous to suggest that the site is about “Honesty” or “impartiality”. It’ has a agenda and a purpose which  is to support  Israel and Zionism and to attack people in the media for any bias  against Israel or Zionism that they perceive. In a  Orwellian 1984  calling yourself honest reporting makes sense   if you believe that war is peace and propaganda is truth.

In a section called ‘backspin’ for example they attack Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell for one of his recent cartoons. The cartoon shows a helicopter flying over building leaving a smoke trail which says Arabsneed2die and depicts a  tombstone with the words Gaza 1948-2009.

They have the following to say about it:

At The Guardian, cartoonist Steve Bell suggests Israel enjoys killing Arabs, and the tombstone dated “1948-2009” drives his point home even clearer: this is the way Israel has always been. Memo to Bell: Israel’s war is with Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

Honestreporting take’s exception to the use of the words “Arabs” in the cartoon and says that Israel’s war is with Hamas, not the Palestinian people. They also seem to think that the words Arabsneed2die and a tombstone suggest the writer of those words assumes that Israel enjoys killing arabs,  and that the tomb stone suggests that “this is the way Israel has always been”. They assume the words are Steve Bell’s so assume that He is the one who is falsely suggesting this libel against Israel.


This is interesting mainly because it’s obvious that “Honest reporting” have no clue at all what the origin of the cartoon really is.

The words that honest reporting finds offensive are actually not Steve’s at all. The words are those of Israeli soldiers who left graffiti in the homes and buildings they occupied during the Gaza  war. So it is wrong to attribute the words to  Steve bell. Steve bell doesn’t conjure the words from the ether, doesn’t put words in people’s mouths, he merely repeats the words as they came from Israeli’s own soldiers.

When we combine “honest reporting” view of the meaning of the words (“Israel enjoys killing Arabs” and that “this is the way Israel has always been” ) with the source of the words  (Israeli soldiers) we have a bit of a own goal for “honest  reporting”.

Haaretz covers reports: IDF probing racist graffiti left by soldiers in Gaza

A series of slogans in both Hebrew and English were left on a house in the Gaza City neighborhood of Zeytun, including “Arabs need 2 die,” “Make war not peace”, and “1 is down, 999,999 to go,” The Guardian newspaper reported.

Troops also wrote “Arabs 1948-2009” on the image of a gravestone, the British daily said.

EDIT: Seems like I’m not the first to question the honesty of honest reporting

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 26, 2009

BBC Gaza Crisis

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 26, 2009

Jordi Savall

The Catalan musician Jordi Savall and his wife, the soprano Montserrat Figueras produce some really very interesting music. Savall is a viol player, conductor, and composer. He has been one of the major figures in the field of early music since the 1970s.

Lully: Marche Pour la Ceremonie des Turcs

Monteverdi – L’Orfeo – Savall  and Montserrat Figueras sings “Dal mio Permesso” from L’Orfeo

Danzas Moriscas & La diaspora Sefardi:

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 26, 2009

BBC’s Mark Thompson meets with Ariel Sharon

Mark Thompson the director general of the BBC who has been instrumental in blocking the Aid appeal request made by the Gaza Disasters Emergency Committee a Umbrella organisation which launches and coordinates responses to major disasters overseas. DEC consists of  Action Aid, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, and World Vision

He refused to air the appeal saying it would effect the BBC’s impartiality. Yet the same person has taken the time to meet with  Ariel Sharon a person who is often called a war criminal  in relation to his actions during the Qibya Massacre in 1953 and the Sabra and Shatila massacre. According to the Israelis government’s own report the Kahan Commission he was indirectly responsible for the event.  Mark Thompson’s move was “the first visit of its kind by any serving director general”.


Fascinating, then, to learn that its director general, Mark Thompson, has recently returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it has been seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country’s political class.

Sources at the Beeb also suspect that it heralds a “softening” to the corporation’s unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.

‘This was the first visit of its kind by any serving director general, so it’s clearly a significant development,’ I’m told.

‘Not many people know this, but Mark is actually a deeply religious man. He’s a Catholic, but his wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors.'”

The Director general of the BBC should not  be paying house calls on leaders of foreign states to discuss the BBC editorial line. In addition as the BBC is a publicly funded organization there should be transparency as to what was discussed during this meeting, and there are wider questions as to whether this  meeting has led to changes or ‘softening’ of the corporations unofficial editorial line.

Andrew Robert’s blames aid agencies

Aid agencies and the BBC for being  “institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli”. Roberts then goes on to say that DEC is  “mired in anti-Israeli assumptions”.

I have to admit I had no idea who Andrew Roberts was and so looked him up on Wikipedia

Who is Andrew Roberts?

In an April 2007 article in The New Republic by Johann Hari, Roberts was accused of supporting massacres against civilians, including the Amritsar massacre, which he called “necessary”, and British concentration camps built during the Boer War, using quotations from his books and broadcasting. Hari pointed out Roberts had addressed and praised the Springbok Club, a white supremacist organisation that flies the old South African flag and calls for “the reestablishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent”. The historian Mike Davis says of Roberts’ claims that the British camps were built to protect the Boers, and they only died of diseases brought about by their own incompetence: “This is tantamount to Holocaust-denial. His arguments about the Boer concentration camps are similar to the arguments of the Nazi apologists about those camps.”

Roberts responded that he had not realised the Springbok Club was racist[2] and claimed his arguments did not amount to a defence of massacres and concentration camps. Hari responded with lengthy quotes from Roberts’ work which he claimed contradicted this. [See ‘Correspondence’, The New Republic, Feb 12th 2006.

Not a exactly glowing biography from Wikipedia. But back to the actual allegation. I think it’s preposterous to link Humanitarian aid to politics. Feeding civilians is not a political issue.  The fact that a small minority see feeding children as a “political” act of support is ridiculous. Next time we have a humanitarian crisis we can sit around and discuss if sending aid to flood victims of hurricane Katrina  or saving life’s constitutes support for the Bush Administration.

As far as I can see the BBC’s line has more to do with caving into 10 years by scrutiny and lobbying organisations who have levelled the charge of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in BBC coverage of Israel and Palestine. Under that cumulative pressure they have caved in to demands and made a serious error in judgment.

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 25, 2009

London Book review contributors on the Gaza Conflict

London Book review contributors give their views of the Gaza conflict 

Tariq AliDavid BromwichAlastair CrookeConor GeartyEric HobsbawmR.W. JohnsonRashid KhalidiYitzhak LaorYonatan MendelJohn MearsheimerIlan PappeGabriel PiterbergJacqueline RoseEliot WeinbergerMichael Wood.

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 25, 2009

Pope benedict and Richard Williamson Controversy

Tension between the Vatican and Jewish groups looks to be high after Pope Benedict XVI rehabilitated a British bishop Richard Williamson a member of  a breakaway conservative Society of Saint Pius X. The tension is due to views expressed by Williamson who has made statements disputing the number and method in which Jews died during the second world war.

Pope Benedict has always had a reputation as being  a staunch defender of conservative theology.  So it is no surprise that he is attempting to reconcile with the Society of Saint Pius X, an breakaway international Traditionalist Catholic organization, founded in 1970 by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre which opposes the modernisation of Catholic doctrine.

In 1988 when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre announced his intention to consecrate Williamson and three other priests as bishops. Lefebvre did not have a pontifical mandate for these consecrations but went ahead and consecrated three priests  in defiance of the Holy See. On July 1, 1988 a declaration stating that Lefebvre, Williamson, and the three other newly-ordained bishops “have incurred ipso facto excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See”, that is they where excommunicated.

Pope Benedict has recently lifted the excommunication of the four Priests. One of the Priests Richard Williamson who has had the excommunication lifted has been involved in a controversy. He was questioned in a Swedish interview about comments he had made many years ago in Canada about the Nazi Concentration camps and the numbers of Jews who died.

“between 200,000-300,000 perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber”.

You can watch the interview for yourselves here:

The reaction of the lifting of the excommunication has led to the outrage of various Jewish groups. Abraham Foxman, the A.D.L.’s national director, went so far as to write to the Vatican to ask that he should not have the excommunication lifted.
The interesting parts of this story are this:

  • Richard Williamson was excommunicated for being ordained without permission for the holy see, after reconciliation with the holy see the excommunication was lifted. Both the excommunication and lifting where done under canon law and have nothing to do with what views he holds.
  • So the issue of excommunication is entirely separate from the issue of the priests’ views about the holocaust. It is entirely inappropriate for the ADL to ask the Vatican to maintain an excommunication over the priests views about WW2.

They are  however entirely within their rights to criticize, challenge him, initiate boycotts,  and picket him. Trying to pressure the Vatican to excommunicate the priest over his views is just vindictive and if I was a catholic I wouldn’t appreciate the ADL getting involved in something so sensitive and personal as demanding excommunications of members of the Catholic faith for their historical beliefs.

How to deal with contentious issues

In Turkey alleging a genocide (of Armenians) will get you landed in jail under ‘insulting Turkishness laws’, while in Germany denying a genocide (of Jews) will also get you sent to jail.

I understand something like Genocide can be very personal and it might cause offense easily as people  have suffered immensely.  But at the same time we should not shy away from democratic freedom of speech. Voltaire defended the right of free expression for views he detested almost two hundred years ago. It is scandalous that we still have to debate the issue, and that we have laws that prevent free expression of views we find distasteful.

The proper way to deal with theses issues is to discuss them within a framework of respect.  Demanding that people who express offensive views are locked up or dammed to eternal hell is uncivilized. The only way to deal contentious issues is via honest well meaning people having a conversation and seeking the truth of the matter not by banning things. Banning things only gives publicity to people and gives them the chance to paint themselves as victims.

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 24, 2009

This week in Cartoons

You can see theses cartoons and others here (1)(2)(3)(4)

Posted by: diogenesclub | January 24, 2009

Obama My chin is lookin’ kinda long

Follow the comic strip here

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