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Abby the Hasbara Slayer

9:34 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Breaking The Set w/ Abby Martin on RT

RT TV‘s meteoric young on-air commentator, Alyona Minkovsky, left the network in late July, to take a position at Huffington Post’s new real-time web niche, HuffPost Live. While at RT TV, Minkovsky’s interviews were edgy and provocative. Her interviewing skills combined with what appeared to be a thirst for knowledge about news that seldom or never gets covered by the likes of Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz, for instance. Compared to Alyona, Rachel was more like FOX than like progressive.

Since her move to HuffPost Live, it has been almost painful to watch how the new show seems to have sucked the life and soul out of a brilliant young news person. I guess HuffPost could do that to almost anyone, though. I stopped watching.

On her last show before exiting into Arianna’s fief in the Borg, Alyona interviewed Firedoglake‘s Jane Hamsher and the Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald. I praised her fine work up to that point in her career, as did Kevin Gosztola.

So what did RT TV do to make up for the loss of Minkovsky? On September 4th, a new show debuted, featuring Abby Martin. According to RT‘s bio page on her:

Abby was involved in the creation of multiple new media projects. She is a self taught editor, videographer, writer, journalist and artist. In 2009, she founded her own citizen journalism media organization called Media Roots based in Oakland, CA. There, she editorially managed and produced hundreds of multimedia stories, including front line coverage of the Occupy Oakland crackdowns.

Abby is also the youngest member on the board of Project Censored, the largest research organization in the country, that works to publish the top 25 censored news stories every year. While based in the Bay Area, she hosted a weekly radio show with Project Censored on KPFA, a Pacifica affiliate FM radio station.”

I’ve caught a few YouTube clips from her show, Breaking the Set, and from her short feature, Brainwash Update. She’s sort of like Minkovsky on steroids. Unfortunately, I’ve been way too busy with teaching, conducting and composing this fall to watch much, but her reports on Gaza may have been the best on American television. She was visibly moved, even physically disturbed by the possibly intentional Israeli attacks on newsmen, including RT, during the recent Gaza massacre. But this one threw me for a loop:

I would not want to piss off this courageous reporter.

Welcome to the battle, Abby the Hasbara Slayer.

After Martin’s in-your-face response to threats, she was again criticized by Zionist media.  Here’s how she responded (28 minutes):

She’s not taking prisoners.

I’d like to see Martin interview the Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, next.  As the Gaza massacre was winding down, he went to a speech at which “full-time fascist” Leon de Winter raged:

On the night a ceasefire came into effect ending eight days of Israeli slaughter that left 162 people, the vast majority unarmed civilians, dead in Gaza, Dutch columnist and author Leon de Winter proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population.

The website PowNed reported that de Winter “made his proposal for forced eugenics yesterday evening in Amsterdam at a solidarity meeting of Dutch Jews,” and that the speech by de Winter was broadcast this morning by Dutch mainstream and publicly-funded Radio 1.

PowNed said:

De Winter responded in his speech to the accusations of genocide leveled against Israel, saying that the population of Gaza had only increased over the last few years. “Maybe we should secretly add some means of birth control to Gaza’s drinking water,” De Winter proceeded to propose.

The suggestion was met with roaring laughter by the public. Among the participants that evening were the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiam Devon [sic], and the cheerful leader of the [religious ultra-conservative] SGP party, Kees van der Staaij.

De Winter blogged until 2008 on the mainstream liberal news site Elsevier. He is also an “an adjunct fellow” at the Hudson Institute, a right-wing American think-tank.

While de Winter, known for his “humor,” might have intended his suggestion as some sort of sick joke, the reported reaction suggests that the audience were only too ready to mock an already dehumanized population.

Maybe Martin can interview Divon on his seeming support for such a strange and public fascist, whose ideas strike me as boilerplate Anders Breivik.

Maybe Martin can interview the commanding officer of the Israel Defense Forces’ social media unit, Lieutenant Sacha Dratwa.  Here’s the lieutenant, posing on his facebook page, as President Obama:

CO of IDF social media unit, lieutenant Sacha Dratwa,  needs psychiatric help

I suppose in his racist mind, he thought he was being funny.  The American blog, YourBlackWorld did not think Lt. Dratwa was funny.  At all.  Nor did Democratic Underground.

Maybe Lt. Dratwa feels their anti-Semitism keeps them from seeing the true humor in his, uh, parody.

Yeah – that’s the ticket.

Good luck, Abby Martin.

Max Blumenthal – The Great Fear

12:06 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Last Sunday, author, journalist, lecturer, videographer and blogger Max Blumenthal brought out his most important article since the publication of his book, Republican Gomorrah, in the summer of 2009. Initially published at TomDispatch.com, The Great Fear has been reprinted at Max’s own site, Mondoweiss, Antiwar.com, Counterpunch, War in Context and other places.

Max Blumenthal’s article begins with these three paragraphs:

Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country. With it has gone an outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed). This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith. And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005.

Erupting so many years after the September 11th trauma, this spasm of anti-Muslim bigotry might seem oddly timed and unexpectedly spontaneous. But think again: it’s the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives who first focused on Islamophobia soon after the September 11th attacks, but only attained critical mass during the Obama era.  It was then that embittered conservative forces, voted out of power in 2008, sought with remarkable success to leverage cultural resentment into political and partisan gain.

This network is obsessively fixated on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in America. Its apparatus spans continents, extending from Tea Party activists here to the European far right. It brings together in common cause right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, and racist British soccer hooligans. It reflects an aggressively pro-Israel sensibility, with its key figures venerating the Jewish state as a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror and urging the U.S. and various European powers to emulate its heavy-handed methods.

He goes on to describe “the network” in detail.  The sections of the essay are almost the size of chapters of a book:

The Birth of a Network

The Network Expands

From Scam to Publicity Coup

Inspiration from Israel

Blumenthal has been very busy, both in the U.S. and in Israel. Max’s coverage of last month’s Mt. Carmel forest wildfire, The Carmel Wildfire is burning all illusions in Israel, was reprinted widely. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Four days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to place thousands of migrant workers from Africa and Southeast Asia in a prison camp deep in the Negev Desert because, as he claimed, they pose a “threat to the character of [the] country,” a burning tree trunk fell into a bus full of Israeli Prison Service cadets, killing forty passengers. The tree was among hundreds of thousands turned to ash by the forest fire pouring across northern Israel, and which now threatens to engulf outskirts of Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. Over the last four days, more than 12,300 acres have burned in the Mount Carmel area, a devastating swath of destruction in a country the size of New Jersey. While the cause of the fire has not been established, it has laid bare the myths of Israel’s foundation.

Israelis are treating the fire as one of their greatest tragedies in recent years. A friend who grew up in the Haifa area told me over the weekend that he was devastated by the images of destruction he saw on TV. His friend’s brother was among those who perished in the bus accident. Though he is a dedicated Zionist who supported Netanyahu’s election bid in 2008, like so many Israelis, he was furious at the response — or lack of one — by the government. “Our leaders are complete idiots, but you already know that,” he told me. “They invested so much to prepare for all kinds of crazy war scenarios but didn’t do anything to protect civilians from the basic things you are supposed to take for granted.”

On 3 December, Netanyahu informed the country, “We do not have what it takes to put out the fire, but help is on the way.” To beat back the blaze, Bibi has had to beg for assistance from his counterpart in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and Israel’s American and British patrons. Israel is a wealthy country which boasts to the world about its innovative spirit — its US-based lobbyists market it as a “Start-Up Nation” — but its performance during the forest fire revealed the sad truth: its government has prioritized offensive military capacity and occupation maintenance so extensively that it has completely neglected the country’s infrastructure, emergency preparedness and most of all, the general welfare of its citizens.

Last week, Max participated “in a debate at Princeton University on the “ethics and efficacy” of BDS.”

The debate was held as a bookend to the battle over a resolution calling for adding an alternative in the campus cafeteria to Sabra Hummus, an Israeli brand produced by a company which has sponsored the IDF’s Givati and Golani brigades (the resolution was defeated). In my opinion, though the students from the Princeton Committee for Palestine who initiated the effort to sideline Sabra were not successful, they won anyway by forcing an open and honest discussion about Israeli war crimes, occupation and discrimination. And the students who voted against the alternative hummus resolution were simply stupid, not necessarily because they obstructed a campaign targeting a military unit that has been implicated in hideous crimes, but because they resigned themselves to a brand of hummus that contains the preservative known as sodium benzoate, which has been directly linked to everything from cancer to Parkinson’s to a variety of degenerative diseases.

Youtubes of Max’s opening statement, his debate partner Rebecca Wilkomerson’s opening statement (Wilkomerson is Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace), and a set of excerpts from the debate are available at Max’s description of it at his blog. A very interesting critique of the debate has been posted at Mondoweiss.

All this is important work. Max’s long article, The Great Fear, though, is one of the most notable articles on the nature and architecture of American Islamophobia and its relationship to militant expansionist Zionism to yet appear. As I noted in a comment at a discussion on Blumenthal’s article:

It appears, from the depth of research in Max’s newest article, The Great [Fear], that he is in the process of looking into this problem similarly to the way he dissected the fundamentalist Christian right in his 2009 book.

At the time Max’s book was reviewed at firedoglake, I wrote an appreciation of the quality of his writing and the originality of his approach. The essay concluded with the question that I asked myself after reading Republican Gomorrah, “How did we let these dangerous people gain so much control over our lives?”

The same question should be asked regarding the people and organizations Max describes in this solid article. Blumenthal, more than anyone else writing now, has best described how these two groups – the makers of our GOP right-wing paradigm, and the backers or the creepiest aspects of the Zionist right-wing mindset – intersect: Islamophobia.

I went on to observe “I doubt Max will get the coverage this excellent article certainly deserves. ”

He is beginning to get some coverage, though. Not by Joe Scarborough, who was bested twice by Blumenthal on Morning Joe, back in 2009. Not by Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann. He was interviewed Wednesday by RT TV:

Go read Max’s article.