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The age of missing information

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     The world is in peril.  Planetary temperatures continue to break records month after month threatening the collapse of life on earth, while endless conflict and violence dominate our headlines.  Alas, demands for an all hands on deck emergency response to the climate crisis, like those asking for peace and justice, remain virtually non-existent within our political and media landscape.  The courageous few who attempt to do so are dismissed as radical actors or apologists for ‘evil’, regularly smeared and de-platformed and in some cases imprisoned. 

The absence of serious journalism challenging corporate and state power, is without doubt a major contributor to the current state of affairs.  Public discourse, aided by a conformist news media, is limited to a narrow set of pro-western viewpoints, paving the way for even greater abuses of power.  The results are catastrophic, observable in the lack of resources and failure to tackle the climate and cost of living crisis, poverty, injustice and much more, while unprecedented levels of government military spending, staggering corporate profits and the unabashed hypocrisy of the West go unremarked upon. 

Russia-Ukraine

     Russia’s distrust of the west has long roots.  Declassified documents show that Gorbachev and other Russian leaders were given multiple assurances by the west regarding their security, including former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” claim.  Russia has steadfastly defended its illegal invasion of Ukraine by maintaining that it cannot and will not allow NATO expansion to its borders.  NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg’s recent acknowledgment that “He (Putin) went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders.” appear to affirm Putin’s words.  Stoltenberg’s comments stand in stark contrast to the orchestra, captured in a brilliant 3 minute montage, of media pundits and western military and political officials vociferously dismissing as meritless, the idea that Russia’s actions were provoked by the threat of Nato expansion.   The weakening of a rival global power like Russia is no doubt a bonanza for the United States and its Nato allies, elucidating the endless supply of military aid and refusal to pursue diplomatic solutions. The destruction of Ukraine and accompanying loss of life mean little to western nations and in particular the US whose wanton pursuit of global hegemony continues to grow.

Fearing NATO membership for Ukraine and what that would mean for Russia’s security were not, as depicted by the west, the wild imaginations of a paranoid, hell bent on taking over the world, htileresque type figure, but based on a series of broken promises and western provocations.  Just as Russian military bases and nuclear weapons would never be tolerated on or near America’s borders, so Russia’s geo-political and security concerns should be taken seriously if we wish to avert the possibility of direct confrontation between nuclear powers.

To deny that the United States is any different than Russia is naïve and not based on a well documented historical record of western criminality. The only real difference is the extent to which America’s imperialist ambitions, crimes and support for criminal regimes evade scrutiny.  With close to 800 military bases littering the planet, many equipped with nuclear weapons, its global dominance and self-declared right to decide who is good and who is bad, remains unquestioned. 

Israel/Palestine

     In 2022 a United Nations independent panel of Human Rights experts concluded that the Israeli occupation of Gaza was unlawful under international law.  Also in 2022 Amnesty International joined Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, Israel’s largest human rights organisation, in identifying Israel as an Apartheid state and operating as such for decades.  Leading United Nations human rights expert Michael Lynk echoed Amnesty’s conclusions in his report, a few months later.  Amnesty cites the “massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer” and much more as integral “components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law” and called “on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction to bring perpetrators of apartheid crimes to justice.” 

The United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of Apartheid, defines Apartheid as a crime against humanity, consisting of ‘inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them’.  Definitions aside, South Africa’s post apartheid Truth and Reconciliation commission offer us a first-hand account of the unspeakable real life horrors experienced by black South Africans on an almost daily basis at the hands of their oppressors.

It is unconscionable that the devastating testimony of the world’s leading human rights organisations and experts have gone widely unreported in our media and dismissed by Canada, the United states and the majority of the West.  In a similar vein Amnesty’s secretary general Agnès Callamard’s calls for an urgent investigation into “damning evidence of war crimes” by Israel in its latest bombing campaign in Gaza, heeded little response from those who champion our moral certitude.  Not even the recent warnings of independent UN experts “that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” have prompted the kind of outcry and unquestionable support that would arise should we replace ‘Palestinian people’ with ‘Israeli people’.  Justin Trudeau’s appeals for the adherence to international law and Israel’s right to “defend itself” no doubt ring hollow to Palestinians and others, and again expose the double speak of the powerful.  

The dehumanisation and oppression of entire peoples has repeatedly and predictably resulted in militant struggle, from the black panther movement in the US to the ANC in South Africa, Hamas in Palestine and many more.  UN Secretary General Antonio Guiterres, after condemning the horrific acts of Hamas on October 7th, stated the obvious, “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”  Also adding context to a conflict that no western media outlet or official is willing to do, Amnesty articulated “Without justice and the dismantlement of Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians, there can be no end to the horrifying civilian suffering we are witnessing.”

If we wish to see an end to violence and lasting peace in the region it is worth considering Amnesty’s words “Governments who continue to supply Israel with arms and shield it from accountability at the UN are supporting a system of apartheid, undermining the international legal order, and exacerbating the suffering of the Palestinian people. The international community must face up to the reality of Israel’s apartheid, and pursue the many avenues to justice which remain shamefully unexplored.”

The silencing of dissent

     ‘Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ The party slogan in George Orwell’s 1984 presciently warned of a world where the control of information is vital in eliminating challenges to power.  A US State Department memo advising diplomats not to use the phrases “de-escalation/ceasefire,” “end to violence/bloodshed” and “restoring calm.” in press releases, in light of Israel’s brutal and disproportionate response to the horrific attacks by Hamas, and France and Germany’s ban on all “pro-palestinian” protests are both frightening and illuminating. 

Attempts to eliminate voices that challenge western narratives and propaganda should set off alarm bells.  Disturbingly, the majority of the public have remained unresponsive to the marginalization and criminalization of dissent.  Historical precedents provide ample evidence of humanities downward spiral into depravity, afraid to speak out until, as German pastor Martin Niemoller reflected “they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me”.  Western propaganda has effectively ensured that the public remains largely docile, distracted and divided, unable to make common cause in a world that desperately requires it. The understanding of history and the context it provides is crucial in trying to decipher the roots of the many crises we currently face, and equally so in how we are to address them.

For further viewing: Canada’s support for Apartheid South Africa and Israel https://vimeo.com/736025779/3689ce8732