Lebanese army censors journalist – #34

Radwan Mortada is one of the best journalists in the Middle East (the region more correctly known as West Asia). Working from Lebanon for Al Akhbar newspaper and Aljadeed TV, Mortada has also reported from Syria, Iraq, Iran and the UK.

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He is an expert on extremist Islamic groups and has done some of the most important journalism in the world about the war in Syria. Early on in the war, when most western journalists were still singing the praises of the armed anti-government “revolutionaries,” Mortada was on the ground in Syria and Lebanon exposing them as the violent extremists they are — including al-Qaida and later ISIS.

But now his journalism is being attacked by someone else. Mortada’s more recent reporting has exposed the US-backed Lebanese army neglect that led to the devastating Beirut port blast last year. As a result, the Lebanese army wants to throw him in jail, and recently decreed an arbitrary sentence of one year and one month.

I recommending reading this interview with Radwan Mortada in The Cradle to find out more.

My second recommended article this week is the latest piece by Joseph Massad, who is probably the world’s leading Palestinian intellectual, and professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York.

In the piece, Massad overturns the conventional wisdom that the British Labour Party was — prior to Corbyn — a bastion of anti-racist politics and was always the natural political home for British Jews:

One of Labour’s founders, Keir Hardie, believed Jewish financial institutions were part of a secret cabal that pushed for the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. Another prominent Labour figure of the era, John Burns, spoke of the omnipresent “financial Jew, operating, directing, inspiring the agonies that have led to this war”.

Finally, please do read this piece by my colleague at The Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah about the move last week within the Democratic Socialists of America to expel “progressive” lawmaker Jamaal Bowman over his support for Israel.

Bowman is one of the “Squad” Democratic lawmakers in which so much hope and effort has been invested by the left-wing grassroots of the party. But those same “progressives” have continuously demonstrated a nasty habit of selling out their promised commitments to the Palestinians once they get into office — to turn into Progressives Against Palestine.

Despite grassroots Palestinian pressure within the DSA, Bowman narrowly survived thanks to an intervention by DSA leadership.

Think tank Arabs in Washington DC were falling all over themselves to defend Bowman last week. Former Arab American Institute deputy director Omar Baddar called me a “jackass” on Twitter yesterday after I criticised his widely shared (but also widely criticised) thread in which he laughably defended Bowman’s record as “relentlessly speaking up for Palestinian human rights.”

I had pointed out how ridiculous a description that is considering that Bowman has openly distanced himself from the BDS movement (the bare minimum of solidarity) and, like most Zionists, falsely claims that Israel has a “right to self determination.”

My work this week

Click image to read the full article.

In my Middle East Monitor column from the weekend I argued that:

All of this is part of the effort to draw more countries into the so-called “Abraham Accords” regime, imposed under US imperial auspices.

But all of these shady deals have one thing in common: they are overwhelmingly rejected by the people of the region. The countries normalising relations with Israel are all dictatorships, autocracies, military regimes and absolutist monarchies. Some do not even bother with the pretence of fixed elections to powerless parliaments.

Read the whole piece here. It’s also available in Spanish.

My two columns from last week have also now been translated into Spanish.

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