The 92nd Street Y and the Clarion Fund are having trouble getting the big names attached to their Iran war mongering panel on Nov. 7. First, New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner canceled his appearance on the panel after ThinkProgress called attention to Clarion’s history of promoting anti-Muslim documentaries and the upcoming panel discussion’s role in promoting the organization’s bomb-Iran documentary, Iranium. ThinkProgress can now report that former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, an outspoken proponent of military action against Iran, has dropped off the panel as well.
But Bolton, who even appears in the film to warn about the existential threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, was more concerned with his appearance fee than Clarion Fund’s track record of hyping Islamophobia. A spokesperson at the 92nd St. Y told ThinkProgress:
There were not the funds we originally thought there were to bring John Bolton up. We were very sorry that he couldn’t but that’s what happened.
A source close to John Bolton confirmed that Bolton was not attending the event because of the 92nd St. Y’s inability to pay for his appearance.
Obviously Bolton is free to charge a speaking fee, but given his dire warnings about Iran’s nuclear program and his prominent role in Iranium, it’s interesting that he would only appear at the event if his speaking fee was paid. In Iranium Bolton warns:
I think Iran has as a long-term objective dominance within the Islamic world and dominance in the Middle East as well as becoming a great power internationally. [...]
All American administrations have consistently said that they find [that] Iran pursuing nuclear weapons is unacceptable. But unfortunately, unacceptable turns out not really to mean unacceptable. Since the various U.S. governments have not taken adequate steps to prevent Iran from achieving that unacceptable result.
Given Bolton’s prominent role in the film and his regular calls for harsher policies to confront Iran, it’s surprising that the matter of an appearance fee has led him to cancel an opportunity to promote Iranium and warn the country — the event will be simulcast in over 20 locations across the U.S. — about what he believes to be an existential threat. But apparently for Bolton, a notorious proponent of military action and use of force, the lack of a satisfactory speaking fee trumps the importance of warning the country about the threat of a nuclear Iran.
West Bank – On Thursday November 3rd at dawn, 8 military jeeps with around 25 soldiers and one bulldozer arrived at Um Alfagara. The bulldozer immediately began to demolish six pylons built for bringing electrical wires from the nearby village of Attwani to Um Alfagara. The bulldozer worked a couple of hours, guarded by the Israeli Occupation Forces until the six pylons were torn down and destroyed.
Um Alfagara is a small village with 150 inhabitants in the South Hebron Hills on the edge to the Jordanian dessert and beside a large area declared to be a permanent closed military area used as a shooting practice range by the Occupation Forces. There is no access to water except from the wells belonging to the villagers and no electricity except from the electricity provided by a small windmill producing just about enough for the villagers to charge their phones.
A new project for bringing electricity is the latest attempt to ease the life for the villagers who mainly stand the poor conditions in their village in order to protect their land against land grab both from the Israeli Occupation Forces and from the settlers in the neighboring settlement Ma’on. The project received the second demolish order on the electric poles around one month ago.
A local coordinator in the area answered when asked why the Occupation forces demolished the pylons, “The occupation has tried for many years to make life as hard as possible for the citizens in the South Hebron Hills in order to force people to move to the major cities so that settlers can steal our land for good. The policies used against the inhabitants in the South Hebron Hills are very similar to the suppression of the Bedouin population”
The Israeli Civil Administration is planning to expel Bedouin communities living in Area C as soon as January 2012, claiming that the Bedouins do not have rights to the land on which they live and that all Bedouin construction has been done without permits. Demolition orders have been issued against most Bedouin structures. Um Alfagara lies in Area C, under full Israeli military and civil control.
Attwani the neighboring village, inhabited by around 300 Palestinians, managed last year in the month of Ramadan to implement electricity and running water. The water is brought in by the neighboring settlement and was finally approved by the District Coordination Office after some months, but the electricity pylons have been destroyed several times. Two pylons on each side of Road 316 have been destroyed many times, but since the villagers of Attwani rebuild the electric pylons every time, it seems that for a while the Occupation Forces stopped harassing the villagers and destroying their pylons until recently.
The electricity villagers seek is not only useful for getting light at night but also for charging phones and cameras that are essential for documenting violations by settlers and the Occupation Forces. Though attacks by settlers have eased a bit, there is still a high risk factor of settler violence in the area of Um Alfagara and Attwani. The settlers from the outpost Havat Ma’on have a long history of violence. The last severe attack was June 2011.
Aida Gerard is an activist with International Solidarity Movement (name changed).
Kalle Lasn here with a story about how the New York Times refused to give Adbusters [which Lasn edits] the right of reply. Here is the chronology of what happened:
1. October 3 letter from Adbusters Kalle Lasn to the editor of the New York Times:
In the wake of the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement, the New York Times has twice taken a swipe at Adbusters magazine, originators of the event. David Brooks led the charge in his October 10 column, The Milquetoast Radicals, falsely accusing us of being anti-Jewish.
In an earlier column, Mr. Brooks said: “Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up about 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates … 37 percent of Academy Award-winning directors … 51 percent of Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction” and so on. And yet, in his October 10 column he found something insidious about an article Adbusters ran seven years ago pointing out that 50 percent of the prominent neocons surrounding the Bush administration were Jewish. Why the double standard, Mr. Brooks? How is this different?
Then on October 17, Joseph Berger’s Cries of Anti-Semitism, but Not at Zuccotti Park, quoted an article in a conservative magazine founded by the American Jewish Committee which alleged that “the main organizer behind the movement — Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn — has a history of anti-Jewish writing.” Mr. Berger, why are you uncritically passing on other people’s allegations? Why didn’t you do your own research and come up with your own conclusions?
Adbusters is best known for its deconstruction of advertising, discontent with neoclassical economics and provocative takes on hot button geopolitical issues like the Israeli apartheid in Palestine. I invite readers to visit our web site, leaf through our magazine, look up what we’ve said over the past twenty years and decide for themselves if we are motivated by anti-Semitism or a sense of justice.
It seems the real story here is that I have somehow upset the pro-Israel and anti-Palestine stance that the New York Times has taken over many years in some of its editorials, columns and especially with the reporting by Isabel Kershner and Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner. Mr. Bronner is married to an Israeli citizen and has a son who served in the Israeli army. Ms. Kershner also has deep ties to Israel. Their often ahistorical, context-free reporting is partly to blame for what Adbusters has called “the United States of Amnesia.”
I think a cultural shift, a more nuanced and balanced perspective on Israel/Palestine, is in order at one of the great newspapers of the world.
Kalle Lasn Editor in Chief, Adbusters Magazine
2. November 2, New York Times letters department replies:
Mr. Lasn: Your letter as submitted is much too long for our letters column and refers to columns/articles that are now 2 and 3 weeks old. We do acknowledge that you deserve a right of reply, and we’d be willing to consider a much shorter letter that is focused on these two paragraphs:
“Then on October 17, Joseph Berger’s Cries of Anti-Semitism, but Not at Zuccotti Park, quoted an article in a conservative magazine founded by the American Jewish Committee which alleged that “the main organizer behind the movement – Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn – has a history of anti-Jewish writing.” Mr. Berger, why are you uncritically passing on other people’s allegations? Why didn’t you do your own research and come up with your own conclusions?
Adbusters is best known for its deconstruction of advertising, discontent with neoclassical economics and provocative takes on hot button geopolitical issues like the Israeli apartheid in Palestine. I invite readers to visit our web site, leaf through our magazine, look up what we’ve said over the past twenty years and decide for themselves if we are motivated by anti-Semitism or a sense of justice.”
If you’re agreeable, we can edit your letter along those lines and send it to you for review and approval, as we do with all our letters.
Sue Mermelstein, Letters Dept.
3. November 2, Kalle Lasn letter:
David Brooks’ and Joe Bergers references to Adbusters’ and Kalle Lasn’s anti Jewishness and anti Semitism have caused considerable harm to both our reputations in one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world and therefore I do not think your usual strict rules about length and time delay should apply in this case.
I am not prepared to cut references to David Brooks nor the paragraph that points to a pro-Israel and anti-Palestine culture of bias at the Times without which the basic argument in my letter does not make sense.
I am prepared to work with you to crisp up my letter without losing its basic thrust and argument.
I request that you pass this matter by David Brooks, Joseph Berger and your executive editor and explain to them why it is necessary for us to have a full right of reply in order to salvage the reputation of Adbusters and Kalle Lasn which you have damaged and defamed in a journalistically sloppy way.
I request that, not you in the letters department, but your executive editor make a final decision on whether to run our letter.
Please let me know.
Editor in Chief, Adbusters magazine
4. November 2, New York Times’ letters editor responds:
Dear Mr. Lasn:
Thank you for your note to Ms. Mermelstein.
We respect your request for a reply, but we also reserve the right to edit letters in accordance with our standards. We believe that only part of your letter meets those standards.
It is not up to Mr. Brooks, Mr. Berger or the executive editor to decide whether to run a letter.
Thomas Feyer, Letters Editor
5. November 2, Lasn letter:
I agree that it is not up to Mr. Brooks or Mr. Berger to decide whether to run the letter — I just thought they should know that a letter has been submitted.
However, given the considerable damage done to the reputations of Adbusters and myself in this matter and the larger political implications this has about the culture of bias at the Times, I think it is appropriate for us to ask for this decision to be made, not by you in the Letters Department, but by your executive editor . . . and I again respectfully ask you to pass this matter by her.
Tell her that we think it would be grossly unfair and against all journalistic standards for the Times not to give Adbusters adequate right of reply in this particular case.
Kalle Lasn, Editor in Chief, Adbusters magazine
6. November 2, Feyer response:
Dear Mr. Lasn:
There is a wall separating news and opinion at The Times, so the executive editor has no say in what the opinion pages run.
We are willing to give you a chance to respond, but you have to be willing to be edited according to our standards. Everything that appears in The Times is subject to editing.
7. November 2, Kalle Lasn’s final email, to which there has been no reply:
I suspect you are refusing to run our letter because it it would once again open up a debate about the anti-Palestine culture at the Times that you do not wish to have.
Seems you have no problem taking swipes at the reputation of Adbusters, but are now unwilling to give Adbusters our legitimate right of reply.
The “chance to respond” you are giving us is grossly fair . . . it forces us to run a substantially watered down version which leaves out the crux of our argument against Mr. Brooks And Mr. Berger and would thus merely perpetuate the myth that there is something anti Semitic about Adbusters and Kalle Lasn.
I request a legitimate right to respond along the lines of our original letter. You have a right to edit our letter but not to neuter it.
I hereby demand that you pass this matter by your executive editor.
sincerely, Kalle Lasn
Only hours after activists from popular committees and youth movements throughout the West Bank formally presented the Egyptian ambassador, His Excellency Yasser Othman, with an appeal and a petition to open the Rafah crossing unconditionally and permanently, the Palestinians of Gaza learned that the crossing will in fact be closed for six consecutive days during the Eid holiday.
A petition was originally issued by Gaza-based civil society sectors including academics, students, workers, and youth. It was immediately supported publicly by Egyptian revolutionaries and grass-roots organizations as well as renowned International human rights defenders such as Desmond Tutu and Richard Falk.
Despite assurances by the Egyptian ambassador that conditions at Gaza’s only lifeline to the outside world will improve in the coming days, it seems that the people of Gaza will continue to suffer from frequent and arbitrary closures on weekends and holidays. This closure comes while the Taba crossing to the Israeli city of Eilat as well as other Egyptian border crossings, airport terminals and seaports are closed for only one day for Eid al Adha and continue their activities throughout the year without interruption.
While Palestinians and their allies continue to struggle against the criminal Israeli-imposed siege, the frequent closures of the Rafah crossing by the Egyptian authorities compounded with the quota system that only allows a limited number of people to cross every day results in long delays and significant hardship. At times, students miss their school terms and workers lose their jobs while waiting for their turn to cross. Family members who hold foreign passports are still prevented from visiting their loved ones in Gaza. This severely hinders the freedom of movement of the Palestinians of Gaza, a basic human right under international law.
CALL TO ACTION
1. Organize a delegation to deliver the petition to your Egyptian embassy, consulate or representative office.
3. Sign and circulate the petition.
4. “Like”, “Share” and Post your activities on the campaign Facebook page
5. Sign this petition to unconditionally open the Rafah crossing
For more information and to send an email about your activities contact: firstname.lastname@example.org