The History of Pirate Radio: Britain and Israel

Rebel Ships: Radio Caroline and the Voice of Peace

Al Jazeera (2021)

Film Review

This documentary compares and contrasts two pirate radio ships that launched in 1964 and 1973 when their countries of origin sought to ban the content they wished to broadcast.

Radio Caroline began broadcasting from international waters off the east coast of Britain on Easter 1964* to resist a British ban on rock and roll music. At the time, the government-owned BBC held a tight monopoly on all broadcasting and refused to license private commercial stations. They also declined to play rock and roll music popular with Radio Caroline supporters. Facing a two-year sentence for broadcasting without a license, disk jockeys initially used false names.

The Voice of Peace began broadcasting from the eastern Mediterranean when the Israeli government declined to give them a license. Its purpose was to counter Israeli aggression against its Arab neighbors.

The British government made only one serious attempt to shut Radio Caroline down. During the 1985 Eurosiege, a British naval vessel blockaded the Ross Revenge (the ship from which the station broadcast) from receiving fresh supplies and personnel. The blockade backfired when every newspaper and broadcast channel in Europe gave the pirate station massive free publicity. At the time many, much of the British public believed Caroline had ceased to broadcast.

Radio Caroline was only boarded (illegally*) only once. in 1989 Dutch police with guns boarded to confiscate and smash all their equipment. This proved only a temporary setback. Massive donations from Radio Caroline supporters enabled them to start up again after a few months.

In 1990, following the shipwreck of the Ross Revenge, all six of their crew were rescued by the British Air Force.

Obtaining a new trawler, Radio Caroline continued to broadcast via ship until 1998. From 1998 to 2013, it broadcast via satellite starting in 2000. In 2017, the British government finally granted them an AM band license, though they continue to broadcast one weekend a month from the new Ross Revenge moored in the Blackwater River in Essex.

Voice for Peace, founded in 1973 by Abie Nathan, did not fare so well. Nathan scuttled his peace ship in 1993, in part owing to economic and legal difficulties.  Another reason was his mistaken belief that the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords would resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. (See The Price of Oslo: How the Peace Accords Set the Palestinian Cause Back 20 Years)


*Easter 1964 was chosen by Radio Caroline co-founder Ronan O’Rahilly to celebrate Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising against the British.

**The Law of the Sea is a body of customs, treaties, and international agreements by which governments maintain order, productivity, and peaceful relations on the sea.

The full film can be viewed free at https://www.aljazeera.com/program/al-jazeera-world/2021/6/9/rebel-radio-ships

The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration and the State of Israel

The Hidden History of How the US Was Used to Create the State of Israel

Allison Weir (2014)

Film Review

This 2014 talk addresses two main topics: the obscenely biased MSM coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the role of the US Zionist lobby in embroiling the US in World War I.

Weir provides a detailed breakdown of Israeli and Palestinian deaths over the period 2000-2015. In every case Palestinian deaths from Israeli Defense Force bombing and shelling exceeds Israeli deaths by 200-fold or more.

One of the most interesting tables she displays relates to Israeli military actions against Gaza in 2001, which was five years before Hamas was elected or a single rocket fired. She also shows slides from her 2001 visit to Gaza. Together they provided a horrifying glimpse of the damage recent Israeli military strikes have wreaked on Palestinian buildings and homes, as well as olive and date orchards.

Her expose of the role the US Zionist lobby played in embroiling the US in World War I begins at 29.25min.

She begins by describing the demography of Palestine in the late 1800s when Zionist groups first began began organizing in the US. In 1900, Palestine was 80% Muslim, 15% Christian and 5% Jewish. Owing to concerns it would displace Palestinian Muslims and Christians, there was strong global opposition during this period to the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson’s close friend Louis Brandeis became chief of the world Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs. Although he stepped down in 1916 when Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court, he continued to play a major role in a secret Zionist group called the Parushim. In 1915, the latter had launched a major campaign to win Western support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

According to Weir, a number of scholarly Israeli sources credit Brandeis with convincing Wilson to enter World War I (as a British ally) in return for a formal British commitment (known as the Balfour Declaration*) to establish a Jewish state in Israel.

Prior to Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, a preponderance of US statesmen and diplomat opposed the displacement of Palestine’s Arab population to establish a Jewish state. Dean Acheson** predicted it would endanger all Western interests in the Middle East. The CIA predicted it would lead to massive “bloodshed and chaos.”


*When the Balfour Declaration was written in November 1917, Palestine was still under control of the Ottoman Empire (who had entered World War I on the side of Germany). Palestine would become a British protectorate under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The Balfour Declaration was actually a a letter British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour wrote to prominent Zionist Lionel Walter Rothschild promising British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

**Dean Acheson was Undersecretary in Truman’s State Department from 1945 to 1949, when he became Secretary of State.

 

 

 

 

The Spy in Your Phone

The Spy in Your Phone

Al Jazeera (2021)

Film Review

This film concerns Al Jazeera reporter Tamer Almisshal, who learned in mid-2020 that advanced phone spyware was collecting all his passwords, texts, emails and social media posts. He sought help from Citizen’s Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. They discovered his phone had been hacked by Israeli-made Pegasus software. The latter is marketed by the Israeli company NSO Group to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia to monitor dissident journalists and human rights activists.

Al Jazeera believes that Saudi Arabia used Pegasus to track the movements of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (prior to murdering him in 2018). They believe UAE hacked Almisshal’s phone because of his investigation into the three-year embargo of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and UAE (which ended January 5 – see Arab States Agree to End Three Year Boycott of Qatar.

Citizens Lab ultimately discovered that 36 Al Jazeera journalists had phones infected by Pegasus software.

Citizen Lab first uncovered the existence of Pegasus spyware when it was used to target UAE dissident Ahmed Mansour in 2016. It’s also used to target journalists in African and Latin American countries. Unlike other spyware, Pegasus has “zero click” capability. This means it can download itself (by dialing a phone number) without the user answering, clicking on a link or downloading a file.

The film also reports on a UAE enterprise known as Dark Matter that uses Pegasus to spy on US journalists and activist. The company employs a number of former NSA and CIA officials in their surveillance activities. This, according to NSA whistleblower William Binnie, is illegal without clearance from the contracting agency that employed them.

People who believe their phone is being hacked can contact Citizens Lab at  https://citizenlab.ca/ for assistance.

 

 

On Roosting Chickens: A History of US Empire

On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality

by Ward Churchill

AK Press (2003)

Book Review

With the massive evidence compiled by the 9-11 Truth movement over the last two decades,* the book’s original premise has ceased to be relevant in 2020. Long time American Indian activist Ward Churchill took the title of this book from his infamous 2001 essay “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.”  In the latter (and in Chapter 1), Churchill argues that the 9-11 attacks were a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful US foreign policy. The essay would lead to his dismissal from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2017.

By the time this book was published in 2003, both Thierry Meyssan (The Big Lie) and Nafeez Ahmed (The War on Truth) had published books questioning the official version of 9-11. As of February 2002, there was also a thriving 9-11 Unanswered Questions movement, which would be the precursor to 9-11. I’m a little surprised Churchill would have no knowledge of activists who were already challenging the official story in 2003.

That being said, the book’s second and third chapters are invaluable. Chapter 2 compiles all US military actions from 1776 on. Chapter three documents all known US violations of international law dating from the 1945 founding of the United Nations.

After 1947, this list includes the use of CIA interventions to overthrow lawful governments:

  • US invasion and occupation of sovereign Native American territories – 46
  • US military actions against US civilians during protests, rebellions, riots, and strikes (including WACO, Ruby Ridge, and the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle) – 23
  • US troop deployment to put down slave revolts: 5
  • US military actions against
    • North Africa – 15
    • Mexico (excluding the US-Mexican War, which forced Mexico to give up have its territory) – 29
    • France (including 1961 attempted assassination of DeGaulle) – 4
    • Spain (excluding Spanish American War) – 6
    • Cuba (following Spanish American War) – 5
    • Canada – 1 (1837 border clash)
    • Pacific Island (excluding Hawai’i and Philippines) – 5
    • Greece – 3
    • South America – 19
    • China (excluding participating in civil war against Mao) – 15
    • Sub-Saharan Africa – 8
    • Turkey – 2
    • Central America – 19
    • Japan (prior to World War II) -3
    • Korea (prior to World War II) – 33
    • Hawai’i – 3
    • Haiti (prior to deposing Prime Minister Aristide in 1991) – 4
    • Philippines – 4
    • Dominican Republic -5
    • Cuba (prior to Cuban revolution – incursions following the Bay of Pigs are too numerous to count) – 2
    • USSR – 2
    • Greenland/Iceland – 1 each
    • Italy – 1
    • Iran (prior to 1953 CIA coup) – 1
    • Albania – 1
    • Syria – 1 (failed CIA coup in 1956)
    • Indonesia – 2
    • Cyprus – 1
    • Lebanon – 2
    • Grenada – 1
    • Australia – 1

Chapter 3 is a chronological history of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning the US. It includes censures  for using napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, for using torture and the death penalty in US prisons, for their refusal to support the UN declaration for the elimination of racism, for their illegal blockade against Cuba, and for their illegal invasions of Angola, Panama and Nicaragua.

The chapter also includes countless Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning South Africa (not only for Apartheid but for the illegal invasion and occupation of Namibia and Angola) and Israel (for their illegal occupation of Palestine and the Golan Heights, their illegal invasion and 20+ year occupation of Lebanon, and their illegal deployment of nuclear weapons).

Here Churchill also covers Clinton’s illegal war against Yugoslavia, debunking most of the pro-war propaganda about alleged Serbian genocides. And finally the illegal 1972 CIA coup against democratically elected Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam (after he withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam). I was unaware prior to reading this book that John Kerr,** the Australian governor general responsible for removing Whitlam from office was a long time CIA asset.


*See https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/making-sense-of-9-11/

**In Australia and New Zealand, the Governor General is appointed by the British monarch and technically has the authority to overrule Parliament. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/23/gough-whitlam-1975-coup-ended-australian-independence

 

 

Breaking Point: The 1979 Iranian Revolution

Breaking Point

Press TV (2019)

Film Review

Since Google (which owns Youtube) has banned Press TV’s YouTube channel, Iran’s national broadcaster has started their own documentary channel.

I’ve just watched an excellent two-hour documentary on the Iranian Revolution. Up to this point, my only exposure to the 1979 revolution overthrowing Shah Reza Pahlavi came from a handful of CIA-scripted Hollywood films and a book by former Israeli agent Ronen Bergman.

The documentary begins with the 1953 US/UK coup against democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh, following his nationalization of Iran’s oil industry. Four years after the CIA  reinstated Pahlavi as Shah, they worked with Israel to help him create the Savak, a massive intelligence/police force that was even more intrusive and brutal than the East German Stasi.

In 1963, fearful of growing popular discontent, the US pressured the Shah to undertake a series of reforms, including land reform, forest nationalization, electoral reform (including voting rights for women), and and a scheme granting company shares to factory workers. His error was putting corrupt family members and military officers in charge, who pocketing most of the funding allocations for their personal use.

As of 1975, 60% of Iranians still lived in rural villages, where only 1% had access to electricity or clean drinking water. In fact, extreme rural poverty led to the steady migration of landless farmworkers to Iran’s cities, where they became peddlers, beggars, and prostitutes.

The Shah’s decision not to participate in the 1973 oil embargo* led to a massive increase in Iran’s oil export income – from $4 billion to $20 billion. The Shah would use a substantial portion of these funds to industrialize Iran and create an educated Iranian middle class. However he squandered most of it on a network of nuclear power plants and advanced military hardware that even European NATO members couldn’t afford.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the so-called Gandhi of the Iranian Revolution, first came to prominence in June 1963, when he was arrested for a speech publicly denouncing the Shah, the US, and Israel. The mass uprising following his arrest was quashed after the Shah declared martial law. Fearful of further unrest, the Shah, who originally intended to execute Khomeini, merely exiled him (first to Turkey, then Iraq).

For years, tapes of Khomeini’s speeches were smuggled into Iran, where they became extremely popular among students. In 1969, Khomeini (from Iraq) called for the Shah’s overthrow and establishment of an Islamic Republic. By the mid-1970s, nearly all Iranian opposition groups had united behind Khomeini,** including many ex-communists and the secular National Front (founded by Mosaddegh supporters).

When Carter became president in 1977, he again pressured Iran to undertake political and social reforms. The filmmakers believe the reforms (including greater press freedoms, release of political prisoners, and withdrawal of troops from the universities) merely emboldened the resistance movement, resulting in a wave of mass protests and general strikes. By late December, a prolonged general strike brought the economy to a standstill, with Iranian troops refusing orders to fire on strikers or protestors.

In January 1979, the Shah fled the country, and on February 1, three million Iranians turned out to hail Khomeini’s triumphant return from Paris (he was expelled from Iraq in October 1978).


*The embargo instituted by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries was aimed at nations supporting Israel is the 1973 Yum Kippur War.

**Unlike Sunni Islam, the Shi’a religion has a long history of rebellion against authority.

Although the video can’t be embedded, it can be view free at Breaking Point or at Press TV’s Facebook page (for now): https://www.facebook.com/PressTVdocumentaries

 

The Deep State vs Jeremy Corbyn

This film (released about a week ago) is about the collusion between British intelligence and the mainstream media to block Corbyn from becoming prime minister on December 12 – despite overwhelming public support.

The film begins with vignettes from prominent British and international prominent Jews, such as Noam Chomsky, Bernie Saunders and Norman Finkelstein shredding the outrageous smear (repeatedly echoed by every media outlet, including the BBC) that Corbyn and the Labour Party are viciously antisemitic. As with Bernie Sanders the radical policies Corbyn promotes pose a grave threat to a powerful elite that includes the British banking and arms industry, as well as the pro-Israel lobby abetting the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation of Israel.

British intelligence has been using the mainstream media to peddle disinformation about the Labour Party since 1948, when MI5 faked a document linking them to the Communist Party.

Filmmakers go on to castigate the British media for failing to confront the outright lies expounded by Corbyn’s Conservative and Liberal Democratic opponents. This section includes a clip of one of Boris Johnson’s ministers calling for the UK to replace the National Health Service (NHS) with a US-style system of private insurance. Another clip depicts Corbyn displaying leaked documents from Johnson-Trump trade negotiations that include the  the right of the US to bid on private contracts to run specific NHS services currently run by the British government.*

The film ends by reminding us of the true purpose of rigged political polls (currently showing Johnson with a strong lead) – namely to demoralize Labour supporters and discourage them from coming out to vote. They point to 2017, when Conservatives ended up with a minority government, despite all the polls predicting a strong Tory majority.

*In the week since the film was released, the mainstream media (based on an anonymous source on Reddit) is blaming the Russians for leaking the documents to Corbyn.

 

 

 

White Supremacy and the Obama Legacy

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

One World (2017)

Book Review

This remarkable book is a collection of essays about white privilege, Obama’s inability to live up to his campaign promises, and the role of his presidency in setting the stage for Donald Trump.

Coates’ approach to the topic of white privilege is largely historical. He traces the brutal reversal of Reconstruction reforms and re-institution of de facto slavery with Jim Crow laws; the Great Migration north of 6 million African Americans during the early 20th century; the deliberate exclusion of African Americans from New Deal programs such as Social Security, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and FHA (Federal Housing Administration) mortgage insurance; as well as the War on Drugs and mass incarceration of African Americans.

Coates has the best definition of white supremacy I have seen anywhere. In his words, white privilege is “banditry.”

“To be black in America is to be plundered. To be white is to execute and benefit from it.”

Coates gives numerous examples to justify this view: the exclusion of African Americans from wealth creation programs such as FHA and VA (Veterans Administration) mortgage loans, long time job discrimination and wage suppression, the recurrent decimation of prosperous Black communities via white race riots, predatory owner “contract” financing of home purchases, and predatory targeting of Blacks for subprime mortgagae they can’t repay.

My favorite essay is the one advocating for African American reparations, based on the argument that systematic exploitation of Blacks didn’t end with slavery but continues to the present day. As a precedent Coates cites the $7 billion (in today’s dollars) West Germany paid Israel in 1953 in compensation for Germany’s genocidal treatment of European Jews during World War II.

 

Hidden History: Israel’s Persecution of Jordan Valley Bedouins

The Last Shepherds of the Jordan Valley

Al Jazeera (2012)

Film Review

This documentary depicts the systematic persecution of Bedouin shepherds in the Jordan Valley by the Israeli government. Although their ancestors have farmed the occupied West Bank for thousands of years, Israel is determined to drive these Palestinians from their homeland because the Jordan River is the main source of much of Israel’s water. Since 1997, the Israel Defense Force has routinely demolished their homes, shot their sheep and/or arrested them without charge.

The majority of Palestinians fled the Jordan Valley during the 1967 war. Israel prohibits those who left from returning. Ten thousand remained. Although many of their descendants have been driven out, at present the Jordan Valley is home to 60,000 Palestinians.

The Israeli government has illegally confiscated most of the shepherds’ lands for a military firing range. They have also allowed Israeli settlers to build illegal settlements.

Local families are forbidden to draw water from their own well, which is now deemed the property of the Israeli military.

Instead they must travel 27 km and pay $7 per cubic meter to buy water from Israel.

Since the documentary was first released in 2012, Israel has arrested one of the women for participating in its filming.

Colonization: Deciding It’s OK to Steal Someone Else’s Land (and/or Body)

In the following presentation, Native American activist Ward Churchill offers ones of the most fascinating explorations of colonization I have ever encountered.

He maintains that indigenous people have an inherent right both to self-determination and to fulfill their duty to manage land and habitat to guarantee the survival of their descendants for seven generations into the future.

With colonization, colonists dispossess a native population of their land for some alternative use.

He explains the concept of “settler colonialism” – giving the Nazi occupation of Europe as the prime example (along with the Israeli colonization of Palestine, the European colonization of North and South America and the English colonization of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand).

He also introduces the concept of “false colonization,” which occurs when settlers continue to deprive native peoples of  their land and rights despite breaking away from the mother country.

He blames the plight of African Americans on “black colonies,” which he defines as “internal colonial constructions.”

Churchill believes Europeans themselves have been colonized, which he traces back to Charlemagne (737-814 AD), when early European tribal groups (“barbarians”) were dispossessed of their land and right of self-governance in the formation of nation states.

Hidden History: The 1973 Arab-Israeli War

The War in October

Al Jazeera (2013)

Film Review

The War in October is a three-part documentary series about the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War – aka the Yom Kippur War. What struck me most about the series is how markedly it differs from what we read in the Western media (which was embedded with Israeli troops) and what Americans are taught in school.

Part I provides the background of the war – an agreement by Syrian ruler Hafez al-Assad’s (Bashar’s father) agreement with Egyptian ruler Anwar Sadat to simultaneously attack Israel to reclaim territory each had lost to Israel (the Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula) in the 1967 war.

Part 1 reveals that both Syria and Egypt came close to reconquering their lost territory within the first 24 hours of their attack. They both failed, mainly owing to Assad’s and Sadat’s refusals to follow their generals’ advice.

Part 2 covers the major reversals Syria and Egypt experienced following the full mobilization of Israeli reserves. Israeli troops seized territory within Egypt to within 100 km of Cairo. Their tanks also penetrated deeply into Syria, until they were beaten back by reinforcements from Iraq and Jordan.

Part 3 is the most interesting, as it covers the role Henry Kissinger played, not only in providing Israel with critical military hardware, but in encouraging them to disregard two ceasefires ordered by the UN Security Council.

After the Soviet Union threatened to enforce the second ceasefire militarily, Kissinger (and Israel) eventually capitulated.

However the most effective tool in the 1973 war was the oil embargo launched by all Arab oil producing nations. International pressure forced Israel to withdraw from Egyptian and Syrian territory and accep deployment of UN peacekeeping troops in buffer zones east of the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights.

In a side agreement, Sadat agreed to release 230 Israeli prisoners of war in return for Kissinger’s pledge to negotiate a treaty leading to Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai. Signed in 1979, the treaty resulted in full withdrawal of Israeli troops in 1982 – a year after Sadat’s assassination.