Bulletin N°265


18 October 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
It was the American journalist Walter Lippman, I believe, who remarked that
Fascist capitalism was simply Liberal capitalism "with the gloves off". Removing the gloves exposes a variety of forms of violence; it's not just swastikas and goose-steps, "déjà vu, all over again".

Different modalities of repression and social control appear in different historical periods, the Romans did it one way, the Germans another.... The Americans, according to author Bertram Gross, came up with another form of fascism which corresponds to the spirit of our own times : Friendly Fascism.

What every school child knows, however, is that authoritarianism --whatever form it takes in a given institution-- serves ultimately to protect intrenched economic interests, the major beneficiaries of which prefer low visibility and gladly defer to the expertise of their managers for the maintenance of order. Thus, we must seek in order to find out why the richest man in the Roman Empire was Augustus , why in Nazi Germany the biggest war profiteer was the Alfred Krupp family, and why in the U.S. today, where military industrial production is the backbone of the national economy --supporting virtually every other American industry-- why Dick Cheney and Bill Gates are the great symbols of "success".

Liberal capitalism "with the gloves off" can offer most of us very little incentive today. This crisis in private profit-making has led predictably to low wages for many, job insecurity for nearly everyone, and an increase in competitive behavior on the part of the disadvantaged (i.e. virtually all of us). Our last century's strategy of creating public wealth for an egalitarian society, where private wealth would be outlawed, has been scrapped. The new strategy for solving the PRIVATE PROFIT CRISIS is called market socialism. It looks much like liberal capitalism with decorated velvet gloves thinly hiding iron fists to be used against the excluded, should they fail to cooperate with the international project of accumulating private wealth for the few. Their cooperation requires that they continue to play their assigned roll of simply remaining invisible.

Indeed, if we look for it, we will see the economic principles which govern our lives. It appears today that the FOG MACHINE is almost broken and a return to antiquity, which would save the system with slave labor, seems unlikely. The private profit motive is perhaps more clearly visible today than ever before in history and the "religion of greed" is less attractive than ever before, especially when you consider the number of corporations driven by war profits....
Thus, What is to be done? is a question on the minds of literally billions of us across this sweet earth of ours.

Some solutions we would easily reject...

The economic warfare against the Palestinian nation and U.S. military attacks against the Iraqi people, for example, have raised questions about the systemic connections of the state, society, private corporations, and governments. What link these separate social entities together, what are their interdependencies? Is there really a disconnect between U.S. government policy and the American nation, or is it simply disinformation performing another illusion trick.

American cultural critic, Neil Postman offers this definition of the trick: "I am using this word almost in the precise sense in which it is used by spies in the CIA or KGB. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information - misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information - information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing." (Taken from Amusing Ourselves to Death (Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business), 1985.)

Perhaps reality is more complex than the appearances produced in media would lead us to believe...

"I love America," wrote African American novelist James Baldwin in the 1960s, "more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."

But no magician likes to be discovered by a critical audience. It is the gullibility and docility of others that accrue private profits for investors. Social control must be maintained, by force if necessary, for the economic system to continue to function as it does, by rewarding the few and excluding the many.

"Find out just what people will quietly submit to," wrote another African American, the escaped slave Frederick Douglass, "and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

More to the point, one-and-a- half centuries after the abolition of slavery in the U.S., is the message of a U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to U.S. Army General, Colin Powell : "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" (Quoted in Powell's book My American Journey,1995.)

Below, are a series of 8 articles that CEIMSA recently received and which address these historic questions of imperialist collaboration, rapport de force, and the private profit motive in hard times.

A., sent to us by Professor Edward Herman, is a description of the "horrible reality" in Palestine as Israel escalates -with the necessary collaboration of the U.S. and other states- its economic warfare and neo-classical imperialist aggressions on the Palestinian nation.

B. is a message from the French Palestine Association, sent to us by Dr. Catherine Shamas.

C. is a series of very useful free video links, sent to us by Grenoble graduate student, Fred Méni.

D., from Professor Richard Du Boff, is a look at the human condition from the point of view of a belly-laugh. We hope this humor will serve to reorient you to the madness that really exists outside the normal framework of reason, and therefore goes unnoticed by many us who feel that we must pretend that we live in "the best of all possible worlds," conducting  business as usual. Another humorous site that reminds us that capitalist "normality" is a social construct which is supported increasingly by coercion rather than voluntary consent, is : http://newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_cartoon&itemid=3764

E., an essay by Professor John Gerassi of Queens College in New York City, addresses New York Times journalist Roger Cohen's disinformation about the American left and its hopeless state of mind.

F. is another sobering description of the parallels between the American judicial system (with "the gloves off") and that of Nazi Germany, sent to us by San Francisco  Attorney Robert Rivkin .

G. is an essay by reporter Jonathan Cook, in which he describes "Israel's plan for a military attack on Iran", once again cut off from world public opinion.

And, finally, item
H. is the Internet link to the 75-minute documentary film, Iraq For Sale, by award-winning film maker Robert Greenwald and sent to us by Information Clearing House telling the familiar tale of corporate corruption and war-profiteering. Companies like Halliburton, CACI International, and Blackwater Security Consulting are among the 100,000 private contractors engaged in the region of Iraq today.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal - Grenoble 3

from Edward Herman :
10 October 2006
Haaretz, Oct. 7, 2006

Another powerful piece by Amira Hass describing a horrible reality that you won't see described in comparable terms in the NYT or elsewhere in the
mainstream media. The thread of her argument is complemented by a new report in circulation today claiming that the United States has been giving
training to Fatah forces in an effort to stoke the inter-Palestinian violence.

Not an internal Palestinian matter
by Amira Hass

T he experiment was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other. They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called "what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens."

These are the steps in the experiment: Imprison (since 1991); remove the prisoners' usual means of livelihood; seal off all outlets to the outside world, nearly hermetically; destroy existing means of livelihood by preventing the entry of raw materials and the marketing of goods and produce; prevent the regular entry of medicines and hospital supplies; do not bring in fresh food for weeks on end; prevent, for years, the entry of relatives, professionals, friends and others, and allow thousands of people - the sick, heads of families, professionals, children - to be stuck for weeks at the locked gates of the Gaza Strip's only entry/exit.

Steal hundreds of millions of dollars (customs and tax revenues collected by Israel that belong to the Palestinian treasury), so as to force the nonpayment of the already low salaries of most government employees for months; present the firing of homemade Qassam rockets as a strategic threat that can only be stopped by harming women, children and the old; fire on crowded residential neighborhoods from the air and
the ground; destroy orchards, groves and fields.

Dispatch planes to frighten the population with sonic booms; destroy the new power plant and force the residents of the closed-off Strip to live without electricity for most of the day for a period of four months, which will most likely turn into a full year - in other words, a year without refrigeration, electric fans, television, lights to study and read by; force them to get by without a regular supply of water, which is dependent on the electricity supply.

It is the good old Israeli experiment called "put them into a pressure cooker and see what happens," and this is one of the reasons why this is not an internal Palestinian matter.

The success of the experiment can be seen in the miasma of desperation that hangs over the Gaza Strip, and in the clan feuding that erupts almost daily there, even more than in the battles between Fatah and Hamas militants. One can only wonder that the feuding is not more frequent, and that some bonds of internal solidarity have been maintained, which saves people from hunger.

In contrast to the feuding between clans, Sunday's battles in Gaza and campaigns of destruction and intimidation, mainly in West Bank cities, were not the result of a momentary loss of control. They are generally viewed as battles between two militias, each of which represents one half of the population, but they were initiated by groups within Fatah to put a few more nails into the coffin of the elected leadership.

The security forces of the Palestinian Authority - in other words, of Fatah, or in still other words, the ones that Mahmoud Abbas is in charge of - are hiding behind the genuine distress and protests of public employees who have not been receiving regular salaries. And they are doing so despite the fact that everyone knows that the failure to pay salaries is not a managerial failure, but is above all due to Israeli policy. These forces were dispatched in order to sow organized anarchy, as taught in the school of Yasser Arafat.

And why is this, too, an Israeli matter? Because those who dispatched these militants have a shared interest with Israel in regressing to a situation in which the Palestinian leadership collaborates with the appearance of holding peace talks, while Israel continues its occupation and the international community sends hush money in the form of salaries for the Palestinian public sector.

And there is another reason why this is also an internal Israeli issue: Whatever the outcome, the Palestinian feuding and the risk of civil war directly affect about 20 percent of Israeli citizens, the Arabs. They affect the Arabs, and also those segments of the Israeli public that have not forgotten that Israel will remain the occupying and ruling force over the Palestinians as long as the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in all of the territories occupied in 1967 is not realized.

from Dr. Catherine Shamas :
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006
Subject: FW:  Soutien à Politis

Excusez les doublons mais sauver Politis me semble trés important !

Association France Palestine Solidarité

Chers amis,

Politis est menacé de disparition. Malheureusement la presse écrite,
notamment la presse indépendante, est en grand danger aujourd¹hui.
Normalement, nous n¹intervenons pas dans ce type de questions. Mais les
membres de l¹association ont pu apprécier en particulier la place que cet
hebdomadaire sait donner au problème des droits des Palestiniens et à leur
violation par la politique coloniale israélienne. Et ils savent combien est
importante l¹information dans les conflits du Moyen-Orient.

C¹est pourquoi le bureau national de l¹AFPS a pensé qu¹un certain nombre de
membres de l¹association seraient sensibles à l¹appel que lance le personnel
pour sauver son journal. Nous vous le transmettons ci-dessous pour en
informer les adhérents de votre groupe.


                     Le bureau national de l¹AFPS


Mercredi 4 octobre 2006

Sauvons Politis !

Politis risque de disparaître : placé en dépôt de bilan depuis le 8 août,
votre hebdomadaire doit aujourd¹hui faire face à une situation d¹urgence
pour assurer sa survie.

Après le retrait inattendu ­ la veille de l¹audience ­ du seul repreneur
pressenti, le personnel, grâce à l¹association « Les Amis de Politis », a
décidé de sauver son journal en devenant son propre patron : une
souscription auprès de ses lecteurs est donc lancée afin de réunir la somme
d¹un million d¹euros dans le mois qui vient. Ce sont vos dons qui
contribueront à sauver Politis, l¹une des dernières voix indépendantes du
paysage médiatique français. Vos chèques seront déposés sur un compte bloqué
et, en cas d¹échec, leurs sommes vous seront remboursées jusqu¹au dernier

Un site de l¹association « Les Amis de Politis » est en cours de création
afin de vous informer jour après jour de l¹état de la situation et vous
permettre de nous faire part de vos commentaires et réactions. En outre, un
espace sera inséré dans le journal (qui continue à paraître normalement)
pour rendre compte de l¹avancée de nos recherches de financement.

Politis, votre hebdomadaire, doit continuer à vivre !

                           Le Personnel de Politis

Pour nous envoyer vos dons (fiscalement déductibles), merci de libeller vos
chèques à l¹ordre de : Association « Pour Politis » et de les envoyer à :
Association Pour Politis - c/o Politis - 2, impasse Delaunay - 75 011 Paris

Suggestions de montants :

* 25 euros (40 000 personnes)

* 40 euros (25 000 personnes)

* 60 euros (17 000 personnes)

* 100 euros (10 000 personnes, soit tous les abonnés de Politis)

Envoyez-nous aussi vos messages de soutien à l'adresse :

Liste de diffusion adhérents AFPS Ardèche Drôme
Pour se désinscrire écrivez à :

from Fred Méni :
8 October 2006

Hello Professor Feeley,
Here is a link to “Movies that make us think”:
See you,

from Richard Du Boff :
11 September 2006
Subject: Another memorial needed


from Professor John Gerassi :
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006

For those of you who read the NYTimes columnist Roger Cohen's attack on the left for having been in favor of NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia but not in Iraq, you might be interested in my o-ed response which, of copurse, the Times will nevber run. Herewith....

Leftists You Never Talk To
                 by John Gerassi, Professor of Political Science, CUNY,
                      author of Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of His Century

In his October 11 column "Where Europe's Leftists Fear to Tread: Saddam", Roger Cohen asked why has "the left lost their voice?" Why is there no self-analysis? and Why has anti-Bushism "replaced reflection?" But there is a voice and analysis, a lot of it, it just does not get printed in the mainstream media. 

Cohen begins by telling his readers that the left was in favor of NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia. Maybe his left,  but certainly not the left I know or support. We believed right from the start that all sides were guilty of horrendous crimes, not just the Serbians. As we now know for sure, especially after that carefully researched 4-hour BBC 4 documentary (which I show my students), ethnic cleansing began with the Croates, who as soon as they became independent adopted their parents' Nazi flag, praised their Ustashi Nazi collaborators, and weeded out anyone who opposed total subjugation to the interests of imperial Europe, specifically thier old ally, Germany. We also quickly realized that NATO, and then the US with its massive indiscriminate saturation bombing of Serbia, wanted to destroy the Seribian government because Milosevic refused to privatise his country's utilities and its state companies which furnished its main source of income. We now know that Europe and the US wanted to break up Yugoslavia, to render all its components totally dependent on Europe and the US.

Never did we claim that Milosevic was innocent of the charges of ethnic cleasing, concentration camps and executions of prisoners. But we always believed, and now we know we were right, that Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and mostly Croatia were just as guilty.

Obviously, that's not the left that Roger Cohen knows or talks to.

And now Iraq. Cohen claims that "Milosevic pales besides Saddam Hussein." True. But we also know that he was a US ally, indeed a CIA asset when he was chief of intelligence under the African nationalist revolutionary leader Karim Kassem, and that when the US began to worry about  Nasser's United Arab Republic, which Kassem joined (as did Libya), it ordered their stooge, Saddam, to murder Kassem. The US also backed Saddam in his war against Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian regime, giving him weapons and, more important, battlefield information. It also furnished him the poison gas he used at Hablaja, which he used it in a battle against Iranians, as reported in the New York Times by CIA's area chief at that time (NYTIMES 01/31/03), as much as against the Kurds.

But that's not the only reasons we opposed the neocons' "fraudulent" (Cohen's word) war on Iraq. We know that all the administration and media talk of freedom and democracy is just that, talk, propaganda. If the US really cared about democracy it would not have overthrown every independent leader in Latin America, ending with Chile's Allende. Nor murder the Congo's great leader, Patrice Lumumba (which the Belgiums have publicly admitted doing with the CIA), nor currently try to overthrown Venezuela's Chavez. it would say, ok we lost in Iran but they had a fair election, so let's try to deal honestly with its government. And even more so in Palestine, where everyone admits HAMAS won fairly. We on the left are not impressed by the neocon's babble to justify preemptive wars.

But more important we see the real reasons for the war on Iraq. Why not a war on Saudi Arabia which has a vicious dictatorship that does not even recognize women as human beings (whereas in Saddam's Iraq, they could drive, teach, practice medicine, etc, none of which they are allowed to do in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Pakistan for that matter, another great US dictator and ally. So why Iraq? The neocon's  New American Century Project has said it very clearly: the US must control the Middle East so it can control its oil and gas (control, not own, since the US does not need it). That way, the US can decide who get what energy, hence who develops.

Ideally,the neocons wrote as early as l992, we should invade Iran. But the Iranians are religious fanatics and will keep fighting us after we have defeated their army. So let's invade Iraq, a secular country, where, once beaten, the people will hail us as liberators and let us run their affairs. Convinced, Bush, as the world knows, put both his feet (and the rest of him) in his mouth and shrieked that the war was over -- just as it really started. His "mission accomplished" has now caused more than 2000 American and 600,000 Iraqi lives (NYTIMES today), as compared to a total toll of 30,000 over a 20-year reign by Saddam, still of course inexcusable. Over a million Iraqis have fled their country just in the last year (BBC News Oct 11). And Hallburton has reaped billions of dollar profits without giving Iraqis clean water, electricity or security, which was what our taxes were meant to pay. 

Mr Cohen can call  our opposition "Smug", but it is as principled and as honorable as our struggle to stop the war in Vietnam. I for one, and most of the "leftists" Cohen tries to ridicule, opposed that war as early as 1963, when JFK was still claiming he was sending only "advisers". I was fired as an editor of Newsweek in 1965 and from teaching at San Francisco State College in 1966 for my opposition to that war. I went to jail and I was blacklisted (until teachers union lawyers won my appeal and  broke that blacklist almost 10 years later). But, I was lucky since I spoke fluent French,  I taught at the University of Paris (Vincennes) and worked with Sartre helping many Frenchmen, if not Mr. Cohen, understand the scope and viciousness of US imperialism. I am proud to have been and to be one of those Leftists that Mr. Cohen chastises for not having his point of view.

from Robert Rivkin :
12 October 2006

Hello Francis,
 My latest article,   propelled by a paroxysm of patriotism, was published at www.dissidentvoice.org on October 11, 2006. 
 It's about banning TV election campaign ads.  Hope you'll  enjoy.

from Jonathan Cook :
12 October 2006

Israel's Plan for a Military Strike on Iran
By Jonathan Cook

T he Middle East, and possibly the world, stands on the brink of a terrible conflagration as Israel and the United States prepare to deal with Iran's alleged ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel, it becomes clearer by the day, wants to use its air force to deliver a knock-out blow against Tehran. It is not known whether it will use conventional weapons or a nuclear warhead in such a strike.

At this potentially cataclysmic moment in global politics, it is good to see that one of the world's leading broadcasters, the BBC, decided this week that it should air a documentary entitled "Will Israel bomb Iran?". It is the question on everyone's lips and doubtless, with the imprimatur of the BBC, the programme will sell around the world.

The good news ends there, however. Because the programme addresses none of the important issues raised by Israel's increasingly belligerent posture towards Tehran.

It does not explain that, without a United Nations resolution, a military strike on Iran to destroy its nuclear research programme would be a gross violation of international law.

It does not clarify that Israel's own large nuclear arsenal was secretly developed and is entirely unmonitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or that it is perceived as a threat by its neighbours and may be fuelling a Middle East arms race.

Nor does the programme detail the consequences of an Israeli strike on instability and violence across the Middle East, including in Iraq, where British and American troops are stationed as an occupying force.

And there is no consideration of how in the longer term unilateral action by Israel, with implicit sanction by the international community, is certain to provoke a steep rise in global jihad against the West.

Instead the programme dedicates 40 minutes to footage of Top Gun heroics by the Israeli air force, and the recollections of pilots who carried out a similar, "daring" attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor in the early 1980s; Image menacing long shots of Iran's nuclear research facilities; and interviews with three former Israeli prime ministers, a former Israeli military chief of staff, various officials in Israeli military intelligence and a professor who designs Israel's military arsenal.

All of them speak with one voice: Israel, they claim, is about to be "wiped out" by Iranian nuclear weapons and must defend itself "whatever the consequences".

They are given plenty of airtime to repeat unchallenged well-worn propaganda Israel has been peddling through its own media, and which has been credulously amplified by the international media: that Iran is led by a fanatical anti-Semite who, like Adolf Hitler, believes he can commit genocide against the Jewish people, this time through a nuclear holocaust.

Other Israeli misinformation, none of it believed by serious analysts, is also uncritically spread by the film-makers: that Hizbullah in Lebanon is a puppet of Iran, waiting to aid its master in Israel's destruction; that Iran is only months away from creating nuclear weapons, a "point of no return", as the programme warns; and that a "fragile" Israel is under constant threat of annihilation from all its Arab neighbours.

But the programme's unequivocal main theme -- echoing precisely Israel's own agenda -- is that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is hellbent on destroying Israel. The film-makers treat seriously, bordering on reverentially, preposterous comments from Israel's leaders about this threat.

Shimon Peres, the Israeli government's veteran roving ambassador, claims, for example, that Iran has made "a call for genocide" against Israel, compares an Iranian nuclear bomb to a "flying concentration camp", and warns that "no one would like to see a comeback to the times of the Nazis".

Cabinet minister Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet domestic security service, believes Israel faces "an existential threat" from Iran. And Zvi Stauber, a former senior figure in military intelligence, compares Israel's situation to a man whose neighbour "has a gun and he declares every day he is going to kill you".

But pride of place goes to Binyamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister and the current leader of the opposition. He claims repeatedly that the only possible reason Iran and its president could want a nuclear arsenal is for Israel's "extermination". "If he can get away with it, he'll do it." "Ayatollahs with atombic bombs are a powerful threat to all of us." A nuclear Iran "is a threat unlike anything we have seen before. It's beyond politics" -- apparently worse than the nuclear states of North Korea and Pakistan, the latter a military dictatorship and friend of the US barely containing within its borders some of the most fanatical jihadist movements in the world.

Apart from a brief appearance by an Iranian diplomat, no countervailing opinions are entertained in the BBC programme; only Israel's military and political leadership is allowed to speak.

The documentary gives added credence to the views of Israel's security establishment by making great play of a speech by Ahmadinejad -- one with which the Israeli authorities and their allies in Washington have made endless mischief -- in which the Iranian president repeats a statement by Iran's late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, that went unnoticed when first uttered.

In the BBC programme, Ahmadenijad is quoted as saying: "The regime occupying Jerusalem should be eliminated from the page of history". This is at least an improvement on the original translation, much repeated in the programme by Netanyahu and others, that "Israel must be wiped off the map".

But for some strange reason, the programme makers infer from their more accurate translation the same diabolical intent on Ahmadinejad's part as suggested by Netanyahu's fabricated version. Iran's nuclear weapons, we are told by the programme as if they are already in existence, have "presented Israel's leaders with a new order of threat". In making his speech, the BBC film argues, Ahmadinejad "issued a death sentence against Israel".

But, as has now been pointed out on numerous occasions (though clearly not often enough for the BBC to have noticed), Khomeini and Ahmadinejad were referring to the need for regime change, the ending of the regime occupying the Palestinians in violation of international law. They were not talking, as Netanyahu and co claim, about the destruction of the state of Israel or the Jewish people. The implication of the speech is that the current Israeli regime will end because occupying powers are illegitimate and unsustainable, not because Iran plans to fire nuclear missiles at the Jewish state or commit genocide.

Overlooked by the programme makers is the fact that "fragile" Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East armed with nuclear warheads, several hundred of them, as well as one of the most powerful armies in the world, which presumably make most of its neighbours feel "fragile" too, with far more reason.

And, as we are being persuaded how "fragile" Israel really is, another former prime minister, Ehud Barak, is interviewed. "Ultimately we are standing alone," he says, in apparent justification for an illegal, unilateral strike. Iran's nuclear reasearch facilities, Barak warns, are hidden deep underground, so deep that "no conventional weapon can penetrate", leaving us to infer that in such circumstances Israel will have no choice but use a tactical nuclear strike in its "self-defence". And, getting into his stride, Barak adds that some facilities are in crowded urban areas "where any attack could end up in civilian collateral damage".

But despite the terrifying scenario laid out by Israel's leaders, the BBC website cheerleads for Israel in the same manner as the programme-makers, suggesting that Israel has the right to engineer a clash of civilisations: "With America unlikely to take military action, the pressure is growing on Israel's leaders to launch a raid."

As should be clear by now, the Israeli government's fingerprints are all over this BBC "documentary". And that is hardly surprising because the man behind this "independent" production is Israel's leading film-maker: Noam Shalev.

Shalev, a graduate of a New York film school, has been making a spate of documentaries through his production company Highlight Films, based in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, that have been lapped up by the BBC and other foreign broadcasters. With the BBC's stamp of approval, it is easy for Shalev to sell his films around the world.

Shalev, who claims that he doesn't "espouse a political view", started his career by making documentaries on less controversial subjects. He has produced films on Ethiopian immigrants arriving in Israel, and on the Zaka organisation, Jewish religious fundamentalists who arrive at the scene of suicide attacks quite literally to pick up the pieces, of human remains.

In the past his films managed to bypass the reticence of broadcasters like the BBC to broach the combustible subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict outside their news programmes by touching on the topic obliquely. Importantly, however, Shalev's films always humanise his Israeli subjects, showing them as complex, emotional and caring beings, while largely ignoring the millions of Palestinians the Israeli government and army are oppressing.

According to a profile of Shalev published in the Israeli media in 2004, his success derives from the fact that he has developed a "soft-sell approach", showing Israel in a good light without "the straightforward 'hasbara' [propaganda] efforts which explain Israel's case that Israel's Foreign Ministry is required to disseminate to European and American news outlets."

In the words of an Israeli public relations executive, Shalev has a skill in telling Israel's story in ways that international broadcasters appreciate: "[Shalev] also shows the Israeli side, he is not one of those traitors who sell their ideology for money. He has the skill to market it in such a way that overseas they want to see it, and this is very important."

But recently Shalev has grown more confident to try the hard sell for Israel, apparently sure that the BBC and other foreign broadcasters will still buy his films. And that is because Shalev offers them something that other film-makers cannot: intimate access to Israel's security forces, an area off-limits to his rivals.

Before the disengagement from Gaza last year, for example, Shalev made a sympathetic documentary, shown by the BBC, about a day in the life of one Israeli soldier serving there. The film largely concealed the context that might have alerted viewers to the fact that the soldier was enforcing a four-decade illegal occupation of Gaza, or that the Strip is an open-air prison in which thousands of Palestinian have been killed by the Israeli army and in which a majority of Gazans live in abject poverty.

Interviewed about the documentary, Shalev observed: "The army really is very, very careful. There is no indiscriminate firing. I saw, and this was not a show put on just for us, that before any shot is fired there is confirmation that there is nobody behind or in front of the objective. The army is very sensitive to non-deliberate fire."

In other words, Shalev's film for the BBC shed no light on why Israel's "deliberate" fire has killed hundreds of Palestinian children during the second intifada or why a large number of civilians have died from Israeli gunfire and missile strikes inside the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year Shalev made another film for the BBC, "The Hunt for Black October", to coincide with the release of Stephen Spielberg's movie Munich. "The BBC gains exclusive access to the undercover Mossad agents assigned to track down the Palestinian group responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics," the BBC was able to glow in its promotional material.

Shalev's latest film, "Will Israel bomb Iran?", follows this well-trodden path. Arabs and Muslims are again deprived of a voice, as are non-Israeli experts.

So why did the BBC buy this blatant piece of propaganda?

Here are a few clues. Shalev's film includes:

* footage taken from inside Hizbullah bunkers under the supervision of the Israeli army as it occupied south Lebanon.
* a "rare view" of the inside of the Israeli army's satellite control room, which spies on Israel's Arab neighbours and Iran and which, according to programme, is "incredibly guarded about its security arrangements".
* an exclusive appearance by Israel's former military chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, who we are told is "rarely interviewed".
* a glimpse inside a Rafael weapons factory, which the programme tells us is "rarely filmed".

In other words, the BBC, and the other broadcasters who will air this "documentary" in the coming weeks and months, has been dazzled by Shalev's ability to show us the secret world of the Israeli army. So dazzled, it seems, that it has forgotten to check -- or worse, simply doesn't care -- what message Shalev is inserting between his exclusive footage.

It might have occurred to someone at the BBC to wonder why Shalev gets these chances to show things no one else is allowed to. Could it be that the "hasbara" division of the Israeli Foreign Ministry has got far more sophisticated than it once was?

Is the Israeli government using Shalev, wittingly or not, and is he in turn using the BBC, to spread Israeli propaganda? Propaganda that may soon propel us towards the "clash of civilisations" so longed for by Israel's leadership.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His book, Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State, is published by Pluto Press. His website is www.jkcook.net

from Information Clearing House
10 October 2006

Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed and Uncovered) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq and the decision makers who allow them to do so. 

Brave New Films are both funded and distributed completely outside corporate America. Over 3000 people donated to make Iraq for Sale, and it is up to you to distribute it. Give copies to co-workers and organize a screening in your neighborhood. Get involved

Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers

The story of what happens to everyday Americans when corporations go to war.

09/25/06 Runtime 75 Minutes - Click here to watch this video in Windows Media

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