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Middle East News

2009: Jan-March

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31st March   

Censorship War with Israel...

Leaked list of films banned in Lebanon
Link Here

The Lebanese Ministry of the Interior refuses to give a list of what books, DVDs and CDs are banned in Lebanon. The file here presents a partial list of banned films that was, according to our source, sent to a DVD retailer in Lebanon.

The list accords with known banned films and blacklisted studios owned by Jewish or Israeli interests.

Perhaps the oddest example is a ban on Mein Kampf on the grounds of sympathy for Jews

A few other examples:

Banned for homosexuality:

  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • La Répétition
  • My Summer of Love
  • Show Me Love

Connections with Israel:

  • Anything Else (Woody Allen)
  • Bullet
  • Daniel Deronda
  • Deja Vu
  • History of the World Part 1
  • La Dictator
  • Life of Brian
  • Omen films
  • Pianist
  • Schindler's List
  • Siege
  • Sophie's Choice
  • Storm Front
  • Toute une Vie
  • You Don't Mess with the Zohan
  • Canon productions
  • Mirish productions
  • Republic Pictures productions

Banned people:

  • Jane Fonda
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Laurence Harvey
  • Misha Segal
  • Phil Silvers
  • Viveca Lindfors
  • Paul Newman

Offensive to Arabs/Islam:

  • Heaven's Burning
  • Independence Day
  • Rules of Engagement
  • Sheltering Sky
  • True Lies


30th March   

Update: Screened Off...

Saudi grand mufti has a whinge about cinemas
Link Here

Cinema and theatre are against Sharia because they distract people from work and weaken their efforts in achieving progress, said Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Alu Al Sheikh during a conference on leisure, visual arts and literature.

Theatrical performance, whether it is a cinema or a song, would generally make an impression that is against Sharia. People need only those (art forms) that are useful to them to change their way of life (in an Islamic manner), he decreed.

The mufti's pronouncements are however a sign that Saudi society is increasingly split between a ruling establishment made up of very conservative clerics who espoused strict adherence to Islamic precepts and a broader group of more liberal-oriented young Saudis who want greater openness, more freedom for women and a greater range of entertainment.

Like young people across the Middle East young Saudis routinely go online which gives them access to US action movies, but they cannot go to the movies, an issue that is still taboo.

Yet the recent screening of a Saudi comedy, Menahi , in two movie theatres twice a day for eight days—with women dutifully seated in the balcony, and men in the stalls—was cheered by many Saudis.

We put sound and visual equipment, we sold tickets for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and we even sold popcorn, said Ayman Halawani, general manager of Rotana Studios, the production arm of a company owned by Waleed bin Talal, a financier and member of the royal family, who has become the target of ultra-conservatives for his liberal ideas and investments in the TV and show business. Overall some 25,000 people actually saw the film.


24th March   

Update: Men Only TV...

Saudi clerics call for a ban on women on TV
Link Here

A group of Saudi clerics urged the kingdom's new information minister on Sunday to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines, making clear that the country's hardline religious establishment is skeptical of a new push toward moderation.

In a statement, the 35 hardline clergymen also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja to prohibit the playing of music and music shows on television.

We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you, said the statement: We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair.

Although it raises the pressure on the new minister, the recommendation is likely to have little effect. Khoja's appointment was part of a government shake-up by Abdullah that removed a number of hardline figures and is believed to be part of an effort to weaken the influence of conservatives in this devout desert kingdom.

No Saudi women should appear on TV, no matter what the reason, the statement said: No images of women should appear in Saudi newspapers and magazines.
Saudi Arabia was founded on an alliance with the conservative Wahhabi strain of Islam that sees the mixing of sexes as anathema and believes the playing of music violates religious values.


13th March   

Updated: The Evolution of Censorship...

Turkish government science institute bans article on Darwin
Link Here

Controversy erupted in Turkey after a science institute withdrew a planned cover story about evolution theory founder Charles Darwin from its magazine and sacked the publication's editor who had approved the article.

The television news channel CNN Turk, on its website, accused the state-run Turkish Science and Research Institute (TUBITAK) of unbelievable censorship in removing the planned cover story marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of the the British scientist.

The March edition of Bilm ve Teknik (Science and Technology) came out a week late after TUBITAK Deputy Director Omer Cebeci ordered the cover be changed and that a 15-page article on Darwin and the theory of evolution be removed, Turkish media reported Tuesday.

Cigdem Atakuman, the editor of the magazine who had approved the original cover, was sacked last week.

The opposition immediately pounced on the issue, posting a number parliamentary questions demanding that the government explain the decision to ban the original cover story. The Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused in the past of placing its own conservative Islamists in positions of power at TUBITAK.

Update: Evolving Blather

13th March 2009. See article from

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) announced yesterday that it did not censor of a story on the founder of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin.

TÜBITAK answered recent debates on an alleged censorship of Darwin in Bilim ve Teknik with a written statement released yesterday. The statement said the problem, as evaluated by the council, was caused by an executive editor exceeding her authority, which worried both scientific circles and TÜBITAK. According to the statement, TÜBITAK had decided to run a story on global climate change in Bilim ve Teknik's March issue, but just before it went to press, Executive Editor Çigdem Atakuman added 16 pages on Darwin and the theory of evolution.

The magazine's new version was presented to Deputy President Ömer Cebeci on March 2. It was natural that the new version was questioned since this additional dossier was not planned or scientifically evaluated beforehand. Atakuman realized her mistake and sent the magazine's first version to the print, changing the cover page as well.

TÜBITAK also announced that they plan to allocate one of its subsequent issues in 2009 to Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.


12th March   

Making a Monkey of the President...

Iranian TV show canned over a toy monkey named Ahmadinejad
Link Here

An Irania children's show has been cancelled due to a toy monkey called Ahmadinejad

The father who nicknamed his child's toy monkey after Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, must have been mortified to have his private joke cruelly exposed when the youngster took part in one of the country's most popular TV phone-ins.

The embarrassing disclosure was made on Amoo Pourang (Uncle Pourang), a programme watched by millions of Iranian children three times a week on state TV. It came when the unsuspecting presenter, Dariush Farziayi, asked the name of the toy animal his young caller had been given as a reward for good behaviour.

Well, my father calls him Ahmadinejad, the child replied.

Now the father's discomfort has spread to the programme-makers after the state broadcaster, IRIB, responded by withdrawing it from viewing schedules. The final episode will be screened next week after a successful seven-year run.

A conservative website, Jahan News, quoting reliable sources, said the decision was prompted by the high financial and spiritual damage inflicted by live broadcasts. Stopping short of identifying the president by name, it highlighted an incident in which a child in a live telephone line compared its doll to one of the well-known authorities and managers.


7th March   

Snuff Movies?...

Executing porn stars for the pleasure of the Iranian authorities
Link Here

Police in Iran have arrested a group of mostly female actors who were making pornographic films, a crime that carries the death penalty under the country's barbaric laws, local media reported today.

The arrests were made at a house in a middle-class area in the east of Tehran, the pro-reformist website Fararu said.

Citing an informed source in the intelligence deputy's office of the Iranian law enforcement agency, it said the actors had produced several amateur films which had then been sold on the black market. The directors of the films have also been arrested.

While an underground porn market has flourished in Iran in recent years, it is rare for the police to acknowledge it with high profile arrests.

MPs attempted to combat the growth of a local porn industry in 2007 when they passed a bill approving execution for those convicted of producing obscene films.

The legislation states that producers and main elements of such works could be sentenced as corrupters of the world , a phrase from the Qu'ran referring to those considered deserving of the death penalty for their crimes.


3rd March   

Update: A Festival of Book Bans...

100 books banned from Saudi Book Fair
Link Here

One hundred books have been banned from the Riyadh International Book Fair, according to the Saudi Ministry of Information and Culture.

Some books were banned for religious and moral reasons, and some for not conforming to public taste, said Yousef Al-Yousef, director of the ministry's publications administration.

Twenty-five people representing a range of specialties took part in the identification and removal of books. Some publishers also left out some publications at their own discretion, Al-Yousef said: All the participants in the event recognize that the censorship ceiling is particularly high.

The 2008 festival was unsurprisingly marred by low attendance.


3rd March   

Update: Fatwa against Movies...

Saudi nutter claims TV station owners as bad as drug dealers
Link Here

A Saudi religious scholar is accusing a royal tycoon and another Saudi businessman of being as dangerous as drug dealers because the TV channels they own broadcast movies.

The fatwa calling for their prosecution is unusual because it publicly chastises two such prominent Saudi figures by name: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest people, and Waleed al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of the late King Fahd.

Youssef al-Ahmed, a professor in the Islamic law department at the ultraconservative al-Imam University, issued the fatwa in response to a question regarding Alwaleed's assertions last month that the kingdom will have movie theaters one day and that movies play a positive social role in Saudi Arabia.

Cinemas were closed in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s amid a rise in conservatism. Conservatives believe the movie industry encourages decadence by showing the drinking of alcohol and portraying men and women together in a country that bans liquor and the public mixing of the sexes.

Movies are a tool that hypocrites use to implement their plot to Westernize society, corrupt it and drive it away from (religion), said al-Ahmed in his response, posted on It is a duty to bring him (Alwaleed) and people like him, such as Waleed al-Ibrahim, to justice. They are no less dangerous ... than drug dealers."

Waleed owns the Dubai-based MBC Group media conglomerate, which includes several satellite channels that broadcast movies, entertainment, news and children's programs in Arabic and English. Those include American and European sitcoms and movies.


2nd March   

Secret Sex...

Sex education book predictably controversial in UAE
Link Here

Fierce controversy has erupted in the Emirates over a book about the secrets of sex within marriage written by Wedad Lootah, a female lawyer who works on matrimonial cases at the court in Dubai.

The book, The Secrets of Sexual Congress Between Married Couples , which came out about a month ago, includes several chapters on marriage within Islam, Islamic law on the issues of co-habiting and sex, and possible solutions to sexual problems.

Arab News reports that it is mainly men who are against the book, maintaining that issues of this nature should not be discussed publicly. Some of the detractors have even gone so far as to accuse the author of being an infidel and sinner for writing the book.

Supporters however say that there is a great need for published information on the issues and that until know Arab society has not wanted to recognize problems arising from ignorance in sexual matters.

Lootah does not seem too surprised by the criticisms, and maintains that she based the book on Islamic sources, stressing that it was even approved by the mufti of Dubai. The book was suggested by her own six years of experience working on divorce cases, and from the knowledge that many of these cases come about because of a lack of preparation for couples in the matter.


25th February

 Offsite: Book Banners...

Link Here
Dubai's censorship extends far beyond book festivals

See article from


22nd February   

Updated: The Gulf Between Us...

Dubai bans British author from literary festival
Link Here

A book festival in the Middle East that claims to celebrate the world of books in all its infinite variety has banned a British author because her novel contains references to homosexuality.

The first International Festival of Literature in Dubai promises that it will be relaxed, vibrant and diverse.

One author has found otherwise. Geraldine Bedell's book The Gulf Between Us was greeted with enthusiasm by organisers because of its setting in the Middle East, but the mood changed swiftly when they discovered a gay character.

Isobel Abulhoul, director of the festival, wrote to Ms Bedell to tell her that she was not invited. I do not want our festival remembered for the launch of a controversial book. If we launched the book and a journalist happened to read it, then you could imagine the political fallout that would follow.

She explained that the book was unsuitable because one of the characters was a gay sheikh with an English boyfriend and the plot was set against the background of the Iraq War which could be a minefield for us.

Ms Bedell, who has lived in the Gulf, told The Times that the book has since been banned from sale in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates.

Giles Foden, who also plans to attend, said: I've never heard of this happening at other literary festivals, though there is an interesting comparison with that Dutch MP not being allowed to come here, which shows that Britain is not above barring entry to people because of what they say or write.

Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, the writers' association, said: Great literary festivals, like great literature, provide amazing opportunities for cultural exchange, which we need now more than ever. A literary festival which bars books because of their gay or religious content is neither literary, nor a festival. I hope that the organisers will reconsider.

Update: A festival that shuts its doors to anything mildly controversial isn't really worthy of the name.

19th February 2009. See article from

The Canadian novelist and former Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood is pulling out of the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature after a fellow writer was blacklisted for offending cultural sensitivities.

Atwood, a vice-president of the writers' group International PEN, has infuriated organisers of the literary festival by posting a letter of protest on her website. I was greatly looking forward to the festival, the letter reads, and to the chance to meet readers there; but, as an international vice-president of PEN – an organisation concerned with the censorship of writers – I cannot be part of the festival this year.

Her boycott was reinforced with protests from other writers threatening to pull out. The children's author Anthony Horowitz has written to festival organisers expressing deep concern.

The festival director, Isobel Abulhoul, issued a statement in which she said: I knew that her work could offend certain cultural sensitivities. I did not believe that it was in the festival's long term interests to acquiesce to her publisher's request to launch the book at the first festival of this nature in the Middle East.

Other writers may be emboldened to join Atwood in boycotting the event by the words of Jonathan Heawood, the director of English PEN: The idea of a literary festival is cultural exchange through literature. A festival that shuts its doors to anything mildly controversial isn't really worthy of the name. Ultimately it is up to individual writers, but I applaud any others who follow Atwood's example.

Update: Ban Over-Hyped

21st February 2009. See article from

In a remarkable intervention into an already murky mess, Atwood in the Guardian today declares that she regrets withdrawing from the festival, and did so having been wrongfully led to believe that a book by the Observer journalist Geraldine Bedell had been banned both from the festival and the Emirates themselves.

Writing exclusively in today's Guardian Review, the author suggests that she was "stampeded" into a misconception by a publicity campaign for Bedell's book, berates Bedell for using the word "ban", and declares she has been left with egg all over my face.

Update: Let's Discuss It

22nd February 2009.

The organisers of the first-ever international Dubai literary festival announced on Saturday they will host a debate on censorship, after a row last week over censorship and freedom of speech.

The debate next Saturday will include a panel of international writers who will discuss the issues of censorship and cultural misconceptions about the acceptable limits of freedom of expression. It is a joint venture between EAIFL and PEN, the literary anti-censorship organisation, of which Atwood is vice-president.

According to English-language daily The National, the decision to stage the debate followed pressures on the festival's organisers for excluding Bedell's book.

Head of the National Media Council Ibrahim al-Abed said the book had never been banned: It's not our policy to ban any book, unless it's crude pornography or its contemptuous of religion. [sounds like an awful lot of books to me, especially knowing how easily offended people are in the region].


18th February   

Help, My Licence has been Revoked...

Lebanon censors have a last minute change of heart about film with gay references
Link Here

Help , a new Lebanese film that was due to open this week, now hangs in limbo as the license granted to it by the state's censorship department has been revoked, not on the basis of anything legal, but on the basis of personal opinion, according to director Marc Abi-Rached.

Permission to show the film in Lebanon was granted on July 10, 2008. That license was pulled on February 16, just three days before the scheduled opening, and four days after the premiere on February 12, when the film received largely positive reviews from the press.

In order to pass censorship regulations again, the department is now requesting that 28 minutes of the 87-minute-long film be cut.

According to Abi-Rached, the only censorship request made by the Censorship Department prior to releasing the license last summer was that he darken an image to screen the visibility of a vagina during one scene of the film, which he readily complied with.

A psychological-social drama, Help tells a story of choice and destiny in a Lebanese context, bringing together the lives of a prostitute, a juvenile delinquent, a wealthy businessman, and a cab driver, among others. The film also tackles homosexuality and prostitution by presenting actors in a realistic light intended to reveal the basic humanity behind these issues. The 28 minutes in question largely contain scenes that include swearing and homosexuality.

I won't accept to change even one second of my movie, Abi-Rached said, adding that: I already had the permission; I did everything by the book. I don't want to challenge the system, I just want my movie. People have the right to see this film.

Update: No Help Yet

7th April 2009. See article from

Since the ban, critics and intellectuals have demanded that decades-old censorship laws be scrapped in a country where flocks of Arabs from the oil-rich Persian Gulf visit for rampant sexual tourism and youths openly pursue Western lifestyles.

In Lebanon, a censoring body of security officers influenced by the Muslim and Christian clergies continues to review all plays and films before they are shown, cutting all scenes that might offend public morals.

Although the contentious sex scenes in Help are far from explicit, the film features a threesome of a woman and two men. That may explain the controversy: Homosexual acts are illegal in Lebanon.


17th February   

Nutters Go Bananas...

Israeli nutters protest against free porn mags
Link Here

Dorit Abramovitz, an Israeli fem-Nazi and some 30 feminist women and a handful of men jolted Tel Avivians awake with a protest chant: Indifferent residents of Tel Aviv: Trade in women must be prohibited.

All the women's organizations decided to launch protests against the free distribution of pornographic magazines like Banana and Seximo in Tel Aviv, where they are handed out gratis at certain convenience stores and newsstands, says Abramovitz: The decision to protest these magazines was taken within the framework of an ongoing campaign by the Women's International Zionist Organization, which was recently launched against pornographic advertisements that are harmful to women. The campaign will culminate on International Women's Day on March 8, with an event in Tel Aviv, where the advertisement that has been most harmful to women in 2008 will be announced and will be awarded a mark of shame by the organization.

The nutters enter a nearby convenience store, gathering the magazines into a black garbage bag. The activists spot pornographic DVDs, stocked at the entrance to Kiosk Tami. You are not allowed to stock this, says attorney Tami Katsbian. The convenience store proprietor starts cursing and threatening the women. After several minutes the police decide to intervene -- not before informing the women that they are disrupting public order. The group moves on to the next kiosk, near Allenby Street, continuously dumping magazines into the garbage bag.

The public's indifference is saddening, says Ronit Ehrenfroind- Cohen, director of the department for the status of women at WIZO. I am learning that people are not aware, that they are cynical and have no desire to take a stand and do something. They walk by and leaf through 'Banana,' and for a moment they might actually think that this isn't okay. That's why there is no alternative but to take to the streets, initiate campaigns and promote awareness of the issue.


8th February   

Update: The Slaying of Ahmadinejad...

Weekly banned over spoof movie poster
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Iran...As if there were any

Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to suspend Hemat , a weekly that supports allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The ministry said a spoof movie poster on the front page of the latest issue, on 1 February, had insulted senior government officials.

The spoof poster, for an imaginary movie called Slaying of Ahmadinejad , alluded to the presidential election scheduled for June. The poster showed the photo of the film's supposed director, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, together with the photos of its three stars: former President Mohammad Khatami, former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Tehran's current mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. All three are potential rivals to Ahmadinejad in the election.

The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, the censorship arm of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, ordered the newspaper's suspension for insulting high-placed regime officials.


5th February   

Update: Strokes Caused by Smoking...

30 lashes for smoking on a Saudi plane
Link Here

A passenger has been sentenced to 30 lashes for smoking on a domestic Saudi Arabian Airlines flight.

The Sudanese man will be flogged by police after refusing repeated requests from cabin crew to stub out his cigarette, despite being told smoking is banned on Saudi's national carrier.

The passenger was arrested when the aircraft landed in Jeddah and promptly handed over to police

A judge handed down the sentence despite the man proving he was attending a clinic to help kick the habit.

Wearing just a thin shirt, the unnamed passenger will be flogged by a policeman wielding a slim reed who must hold a book under his arm to prevent him using too much force.
The strokes are not meant to leave permanent damage but to inflict painful welts that bleed and bruise.


4th February   

Update: Prison Sentences Edited...

Egyptian newspaper editors spared jail but convictions and fines still stand
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes a Cairo appeals court decision to strike down a one-year jail term against four editors, but condemns that the conviction stands for criticizing President Hosni Mubarak and his top aides.

An appellate court judge Mohamed Samir struck down a one-year jail-term given in September 2007 to four editors for publishing false information likely to disturb public order. However, the court upheld a 20,000 Egyptian pound (US$3,540) fine against Ibrahim Eissa of the daily Al-Dustour, Adel Hamouda of the weekly Al-Fajr, Wael el-Abrashi, former editor of Sawt Al-Umma, and Abdel Halim Kandil, former editor of the weekly Al Karama.

We are relieved that the prison terms have finally been struck down, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. But we condemn the practice of using the judiciary to criminalize critical journalism and spread fear and self-censorship. We call on Egypt's highest judicial authorities to overturn this politically motivated verdict.

Eissa is among the most judicially harassed journalists in the country. In September, an appeals court sentenced him to six months in prison for disseminating false news about Mubarak's health. He was granted a presidential pardon in October. Eissa said that the regime's willingness to accept the media has regressed and that there is no room for journalistic expression when reporters are threatened with 32 articles in the penal code and the press regulation law.


4th February   

Under the Shadow of Repression...

No fun in Dubai as cross dresser is given suspended jail sentence
Link Here

An Indian national working in Dubai as an administrator with a property development company has been sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term and fined $2,722 for cross-dressing and wearing mascara in public, the Dubai newspaper Gulf News reported.

According to the paper, the man was arrested by a police officer in civilian clothes in the Mall of the Emirates in what the police described as a glittering outfit, a bra, mascara, women's perfume and a wig.


31st January   

Update: Waltz with Censors...

Israeli films still banned in Lebanon
Link Here

Many in Lebanon may never see the movie Waltz With Bashir , which won a Golden Globe and has been nominated for an Oscar. Lebanon and Israel are still officially at war and all Israeli products are banned in the country

Monika Borgmann ignored a Lebanese ban to show an Oscar-nominated film made in Israel about the Jewish state's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

There is a real interest in this film, said the German-born Borgmann, who recently held a private screening of Waltz with Bashir for about 90 people at her southern Beirut production center.

The film centers on an Israeli army veteran who interviews fellow soldiers to restore his cloudy memory about the invasion and the massacre of hundreds of people in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla by Lebanese Christian militiamen allied with Israel. The war and subsequent 18-year occupation killed thousands of Lebanese civilians and evoked comparisons in Israel with America's ordeal in Vietnam.

The film's director, Ari Folman, said he was happy his work was shown in Beirut: The movie may have no effect on the decision makers, but 90 people saw it in Lebanon and that is wonderful .

Information Minister Tarek Mitri, who is a strong opponent of censorship, said it was officially illegal to show the movie in Lebanon but acknowledged people could still download it from the Internet.


10th January   

Skittle Alley...

Israel easily offended by Pope's remark about Gaza
Link Here

A diplomatic row between Israel and the Vatican cast doubt over Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to the Holy Land, after a prominent cardinal said that Gazans were living in a big concentration camp.

In his annual speech to diplomats in the Vatican the Pope sought to damp down the dispute. He said that the war was provoking immense damage and suffering for the civilian populations in Gaza and Israel. He urged the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms and added: Violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. The military solution is never an option .

His remarks came amid outrage from Israelis over a statement by Cardinal Renato Martino, the head of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace and a former Holy See envoy to the United Nations, who compared Gaza to a concentration camp. The cardinal criticised Israel for killing civilians who had taken shelter at a UN run school in Gaza.

Israeli officials said that they were deeply shocked that a man of religion is using the vocabulary of Hamas propaganda. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors antiSemitism and hunts down Nazi war criminals, said that Cardinal Martino had used the language of a Holocaust denier.

Israeli Media Propaganda

Based on article from by Dimi Reider

When I was in journalism school, we were taught that truth was the first casualty of any war. But in the current seismic violence in the Gaza Strip, truth was joined by three more casualties — decency, compassion and shame.

True, censorship is there. Not only are there no Israeli journalists in Gaza, but Israel is also preventing all foreign media from reaching the Strip, with even the circumspect decision by an embattled Supreme Court to let in a pool of eight journalists (foreign and Israeli) not being carried out. Foreign journalists have been detained, and online forums have been contacted and requested to remove threads which the IDF considered dangerous either to security or morale . The parliament has happily joined the bandwagon, with one prominent MK suggesting to block al Jazeera and al Arabiya due to the demoralising effect it has on our Arab population.

The media itself rushes to assist them with bucketfuls of self-censorship. But all this pales before the unabashedly jingoistic tone struck by the media.

News sections in newspapers are entirely devoted to drums of war from day one, when all media lauded the brilliant thinking of the surprise effect.  IDF statements are given as news items and the most extravagant quotes by the Israeli politicians are reported as they are. (The prize-holder for these is, undoubtedly, Tzipi Livni, with such profound statements as a ceasefire would damage negotiations and the war is necessary to promote peace.

Censorship Bombshell

Based on article from

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israeli military's bombing today of a Gaza City building that houses the offices of a number of international news organizations.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the rooftop of Al-Johara Tower, an eight-story building located in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, which houses more than 20 international news organizations.

Al-Jazeera reported that at least one journalist was injured while filing a report from the roof of the building. Satellite transmission equipment on the roof of the building was also damaged in the attack.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, defended the strike in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that communications equipment in the building could have been used by Hamas.

The Israeli military knows the location of TV facilities houses and news bureaus in Gaza. It is simply unacceptable that working journalists and their offices should come under fire in this way," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Journalists enjoy protections under international law in military campaigns such as the one in Gaza. Israel must cease its attacks on the media immediately.


9th January

 Offsite: Bombing Schools...

Link Here
Is it right to use the horror to convey the truth?

See article from


1st January   

Inappropriate Offensive...

Israeli propaganda on YouTube flagged as inappropriate
Link Here

The Israeli Defense Force has launched its own YouTube channel to bolster its case for the air assault against Hamas. It includes footage of Hamas terrorists loading rockets into a truck in a residential neighborhood. There are also clips of attacks on Hamas weapons sites and tunnels used for smuggling.

But some videos were removed after Hamas sympathizers flagged them as inappropriate.

While some clips were later reinstated, the IDF said in a statement on its YouTube page: We are saddened that YouTube has taken down some of our exclusive footage... it is imperative that we in the IDF show the world the inhumanity directed against us and our efforts to stop it.

Meanwhile, Israel is developing an independent blog where the videos can be viewed without any issues.


1st January   

Update: No Sympathy...

Newspaper closed for not taking Iranian line about Hamas
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Iran...As if there were any

An Iranian newspaper has been shut down for publishing an article that authorities deemed sympathetic to Israel.

An official at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, says the Kargozaran newspaper was closed because it sanitized the Zionist regime's crimes in Gaza.

The official said the article suggested Hamas officials were terrorists and brought on civilian deaths by hiding in schools and hospitals. It is not clear when the ban will take effect — the paper did appear on newsstands on Friday.

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