Julian Assange’s Anti-Israel Allies
Julian Assange’s Anti-Israel Allies
On December 7, 2010, Julian Assange was remanded into custody by British authorities over allegations of sex crimes in Sweden and extradition to Sweden. On that day 6 individuals stood to defend Mr. Assange and offered to post surety (bail) for his release. Three of those individuals stood out: John Pilger, Ken Loach, and Jemima Khan. Let us quickly review the past history of each regarding their views on Israel and other enterprises they may engage in.
Relentless propaganda that presents Israel as perpetual victim has seeped into western consciousness to such a degree an openly piratical attack on a ship carrying humanitarian aid is described by the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent merely as a “potential public relations disaster for Israel”.
You may have read of Britain’s Chief Rabbi. The most recent attack in a film by a Jewish MP, Gerald Kaufman, was the most vicious. Our attempts to combat this through direct challenge and through personal networking have completely failed. Carlton Television aired another deeply anti-Israel film by a journalist, John Pilger. We have been more successful here and we are in the process of getting an alternative film aired and made.
In the same column a year later, Pilger described Blair as a war criminal for supporting Israel’s actions during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. He also asserted that Blair gave permission to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 to initiate what would ultimately become Operation Defensive Shield.
Pilger has also criticised United States President Barack Obama, describing him as “a glossy Uncle Tom who would bomb Pakistan.” and whose theme “was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully.” Pilger asserts, “In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government.”
Other documentaries have exposed human rights abuses in Burma, Australia, the Israeli-occupied territories, in Iraq as a consequence of UN sanctions and in Afghanistan. Following broadcast on ITV in the UK, the 2002 documentary Palestine is Still the Issue, was highly criticised by the UK press for being inaccurate and biased. One of the executives at Carlton TV, which had commissioned the documentary, commented “This is a sad day for the truth”.
In May 2007, Pilger co-signed and put forward a letter supporting the refusal of the government of Venezuela to renew the broadcasting licence of Venezuela’s largest television network Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), as they openly supported a 2002 coup attempt against the democratically elected government. Pilger and other signatories suggest that if the BBC or ITV used their news broadcasts to publicly support a coup against the British government, they would suffer similar consequences. Other groups, such as Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have described the RCTV decision as an effort to stifle freedom of expression.
A leading British film director has said that a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe since Israel’s operation in Gaza is “not surprising” and “understandable,” claiming that Operation Cast Lead was “a cold blooded massacre.” Speaking last week in Brussels at the launch of the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” - a symbolic citizens’ initiative that claims to reaffirm the importance of international law in conflict resolution - award-winning director Ken Loach said, “If there has been a rise I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism.”
Filmmaker and activist Ken Loach has moved to withdraw his work from Melbourne’s International Film Festival in protest against partial sponsorship from Israel, a report said Saturday.
Loach, 73, succeeded in a similar bid to have sponsorship withdrawn from the Edinburgh International Film Festival in May by threatening to boycott the program if they did not return funds from Israel.
A member of the Labour Party from the early 1960s, Loach left in the mid-1990s. In November 2004, he was elected to the national council of the Respect Coalition He stood for election to the European Parliament on a Respect mandate. He supports the Socialist Resistance organisation. Also, he supports the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of the State of Israel, backed by many intellectuals in Palestinian civil society, including writers, filmmakers, students, trade unions and human rights groups. PACBI is in turn part of a wider global international movement: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), that opposes actions by the Israeli State.
In 2007, Loach was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter initiated by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism and the South West Asian, North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ) and calling on the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival “to honour calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not co-sponsoring events with the Israeli consulate.” Loach also joined “54 international figures in the literary and cultural fields” in signing a letter that stated, in part, “celebrating ‘Israel at 60’ is tantamount to dancing on Palestinian graves to the haunting tune of lingering dispossession and multi-faceted injustice”. The letter was published in the International Herald Tribune on 8 May 2008.”
Responding to a report, which he described as “a red herring”, on the growth of antisemitism since the beginning of the Gaza War, he has said: “If there has been a rise I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism.” He added “no-one can condone violence”.
“Hillary Clinton, who a year ago called for a Palestinian state, has been forced into a complete U-turn in her Senate campaign. The Jews have been remarkably successful as a people, despite historic adversity. As a result, the Israeli lobby in the US is rich and influential. The media are largely controlled by the Jews, as is Hollywood and they account for more than half the top policy-making jobs in the Clinton administration.”