Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Paradigm Shift on How History is Written?

There is that old adage that "history is written by the victors." And that has indeed been true for much of human history. Yet something has shifted with the technology that now powers global communication systems.

No longer can a government dictate what gets reported. No longer can a newspaper or television channel be the sole determinant of who and what gets counted as news, and therefore, as "historical reality." The new media, powered by millions of citizen journalists are changing that adage on writing history.

As we have seen repeatedly in India, citizen journalists are faster to get the news out than traditional media. True, many complain, they provide "superficial" or "unsubstantiated" information and thus muddy the waters.

Very often these complaints are from those who form part of the government establishments and/or mainstream media. It is true that most citizen journalists or as Mumbai and Gaza reveal, twitter-nalists only provide quick facts. Some of it is not verified, but simply sent out. Yet that is what many reporters on the ground - file in copy with their immediate experience and let the news desk make sense of it back home. Now with the "over-democratization" of news, all of us can be our own news-desk, filtering through accounts to decide for ourselves to analyse and understand issues and events. For an old-style liberal like me, that is a dream come true.

Of course, there are problems. Like all human inventions, the over-democratised new media is only as good as the people running with it. Yes there are vanity contests, and propaganda wars, and shoddy reporting. But that is no excuse for throwing out the baby with the bathwater, especially when that baby is overturning the old maxim and giving the vanquished a chance to write history too.

My contribution to that paradigm shift are the following links, all providing images and news from inside Gaza:

1. A detailed blog on the conditions in Gaza from a medical angle dating back to July 2008: A must read for all those who believe the Palestinians instigated this particular crisis.

2. A poignant blog by a Palestinian journalist and mother on raising two children in a perpetual war-zone.

3. Sameh Habeeb's blog on the Untold Story of Gaza.

4. And finally, a poignant, heart-warming photo-log from inside Gaza, again by Sameh Habeeb.

Over-democratization of the media? Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

An Israeli Dissident Speaks

I first learned of Gilad Atzmon through his music, hearing him play at the Jamboree in Barcelona. I have since managed to get to another concert - this time in London - and have his CDs on my iPoD. I have also learned to be careful with his music - a die-hard Israel-supporting acquaintance stormed out of a party simply because I put on Atzmon. A colleague told me that there were Jewish homes in London where even images of his CDs are considered non-kosher (in Arabic, I suppose that would be haram).

Sad that his voice is blocked out so willfully by Israel's mindless cheerleaders. As a born-and-bred Israeli, he ought to be heard. His experiences growing up in that country and serving in its military have shaped his views. And those very views make him unacceptable in his country of birth as well as amongst its supporters overseas.

And that is why his analysis of the current Gaza situation is poignant, astute and Cassandra-like.

But then prophets have always been ignored by their own people!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Never Again? Lets Not Kid Ourselves!

When I studied in the USA, I was constantly told that "never again" was the moral to live by. Holocaust studies, memorials, monuments, documentaries, novels, memoirs dominated and still dominate the Western marketplace and psyche. In that process what is lost is the genocide determinedly practised over 60 years by survivors of the Holocaust.

Like children of abusers and alcoholics, the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust have grown to refine and put into practice the very atrocities they suffered from and apparently fought against. And they have had their cheerleaders and enablers to continue their abuse, as is borne out by the most recent massacre in Gaza.

For the past week, I have been sickened by the hypocrisy and hubris displayed by Western politicians and press over the massacre in Gaza. Again and again, we are told that Hamas is to blame. That they "started" it by lobbing rockets at Israeli towns - which just for the record have killed all of FOURTEEN Israelis in the past SEVEN years. Compare that to Israel's record of killing over 5000 Palestinian civilians in the same period.

The same press and politicians care not to talk of overt acts of war practised by Israel in breach of all international law including:

1. Blockade of sea/land/air in Gaza
2. Collective punishment by denying basic amenities to civilian population whose only crime is to vote against Western wishes, and for the party that provides them the basic modicum of education, health-care, social services.
3. Assassination and kidnapping of elected leaders of government, which would be considered acts of war against any "sovereign" state.
4. Killing of civilians during the same acts of war.
5. Illegal incarceration of thousands of Palestinians with no trial or reason.

And that is not even going back to the simplest point: that Israel has behaved as a racist, imperialist power since its inception. And it flouts all international law with full support of its Western cheerleaders and paymasters who consider the Palestinians simply as Israel's unter-menschen, to be incarcerated, humiliated and killed with impunity. But since words no longer suffice, the picture below speaks loud and clear:

So yes, indeed, Hamas is to blame. As is Fatah. And the PFLP. And every Palestinian who dares to protest the genocide they are being subjected to, and thus challenges the logic of the superior race in the Holy Land!

Never again? Yeah sure, but not when its practised by the worthy heirs of the Nazis!