NYC Commission on Human Rights bans hair discrimination

Earlier this week, the New York City Commission on Human Rights instituted a law that bans discrimination by employers, schools and other public places, based upon hairstyle.

Banning certain hairstyles, whether in the workplace or at a school, is now considered a form of racial discrimination in New York.

Guidelines released by the city’s Commission on Human Rights apply to everyone, but are particularly geared towards protecting the rights of black people.

Violators can be fined up to $250,000, although proving the discrimination may still be difficult.

Alabama newspaper editor calls on KKK to lynch Democrats

Ku Klux Klan parade in DC in 1927Ku Klux Klan parade in DC in 1927

The editor and publisher of a local paper in Alabama is under fire for penning an editorial calling for mass lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

The opinion piece ran in his print-only newspaper, the Democrat-Reporter, last Thursday, Goodloe Sutton confirmed on Tuesday.

He said Democrats were going to raise taxes and that the KKK should hang them and raid Washington DC.

Alabama lawmakers have called for Sutton to resign.

The KKK is one of the oldest white supremacy groups in the US, formed just after the civil war. The group was behind many of the lynchings, rapes and violent attacks on African Americans in the 1900s.

The editorial began garnering attention online after students from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, tweeted photographs of the article.

Sutton could not be immediately reached for comment on the matter.

He was once a celebrated journalist, commended for his ethics by other news outlets – including the New York Times and American Journalism Review.

What did the editorial say?

A short editorial piece published without a byline on 14 February was entitled: “Klan needs to ride again.”

“Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again,” the article said, referencing the KKK’s terrorising raids through black communities.

“Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama… This socialist-communist ideology sounds good to the ignorant, the uneducated, and the simple-minded people.”

“Seems like the Klan would be welcome to raid the gated communities up there.”

Sutton later confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser that he had written the article.

“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out DC we’d all been better off,” he said. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.”

“It’s not calling for the lynchings of Americans. These are socialist-communists we’re talking about.”

Sutton also told the paper he did not believe the Klan was a violent organisation.

“They didn’t kill but a few people. The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are currently around 5,000 to 8,000 KKK members across the US; during the Klan’s heyday in the 1900s, there were as many as four million members.

Ku Klux Klan members light torches as they begin a cross-lighting ceremony at the White Heritage Days Festival in Alabama in 2004.Klan members light torches at White Heritage Days Festival in Alabama in 2004
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More voices on US race issues:

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What’s the reaction?

Alabama Senator Doug Jones, the Democrat who won a bitter race against Republican Roy Moore, expressed his shock over the “absolutely disgusting” editorial and said Sutton must resign immediately.

Democratic Representative Terri Sewell, who is black, said Sutton’s language was not a joke, but a threat.

Kyle Whitmire, a political writer in Alabama, said he once worked at Sutton’s paper and felt “sickened” by last week’s editorial.

How America moves beyond its racist past

After white nationalism defence, lawmaker Steve King faces rebuke

After white nationalism defence, lawmaker Steve King faces rebuke

US House Republicans strip Iowa Congressman Steve King of his committee assignments after uproar.

Iowa Representative Steve King speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2015 [File: Brian C Frank/Reuters]
Iowa Representative Steve King speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2015 [File: Brian C Frank/Reuters]

Washington, DC – US Republican Congressman Steve King’s recent defence of white supremacy and white nationalism has provoked controversy and backlash, including from within his own party.

House Democrats are organising a vote to rebuke King’s comments, while the Republican Party has stripped the hardline politician of his committee assignments in Congress.

King served as chairman of the immigration and border security sub-committee, as well as Agriculture, Small Business and Judiciary committees in the last Congress, among others.

“We will not tolerate this in the Republican Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday, in the wake of a New York Times report in which King ostensibly defended white nationalism and white supremacy.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilisation – how did that language become offensive?” King said in the New York Times interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilisation?”

US activists confront Republican Party over white nationalism

In a statement released on Monday, King claimed that his quotes were “mischaracterised” and said McCarthy’s decision to remove King’s committee assignments “ignores the truth”.

Claiming that he has denounced white nationalism and white supremacy, King said, “My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilisation is nearly as full as my record in defence of Freedom of Speech [all sic].”

In a separate statement directly addressing the New York Times article, King dismissed claims that he sympathises with white nationalists or white supremacists. “Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist [sic].”

‘Brazen and crass’

For years, few in the Republican Party batted an eye when King railed against Muslims and immigrants, made overtly racist statements, and built ties with hardline elements of the European far right.

King, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, promoted the idea of building a wall on the US-Mexico border over a decade ago and introduced legislation to end automatic birthright citizenship as far back as 2011.

Christopher Mathias, a HuffPost reporter who focuses on the far right, started following King closely in late 2017 as the politician’s social media activity increasingly overlapped with European far-rightists and some neo-Nazis.

In December 2017, King tweeted a link to an article about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s opposition to “mixing cultures”. Alongside the link, King wrote, “Diversity is not our strength.”

In June 2018, King retweeted Mark Collett, a British far-rightist who has described himself as a “Nazi sympathiser”. Collett had shared an article claiming that a majority of young Italians oppose immigration.

“Europe is waking up,” King wrote alongside that retweet. “Will America … in time?”

“At that point, when King refused to apologise for promoting a Nazi on Twitter, I decided to take a longer, closer look at him,” Mathias told Al Jazeera.

Many of these incidents failed to prompt condemnation from fellow Republicans, but the latest King controversy has marginalised him within his own party.

“It’s partly the fact that it was in the [New York] Times and people pay attention to the Times, and it was also that King almost lost in November,” Mathias added, explaining that King has become more of “toxic asset” for Republicans than he was before.

“Because he’s so brazen and crass, it gives them the opportunity to say they denounce white supremacy, when in fact most of them are busy supporting Trump’s border wall.”

In recent years, King has travelled to Europe often to meet far-right parties and groups, including the Freedom Party of Austria, which was founded by former Nazi officers and is currently a junior coalition partner in the Austrian government.

In the US South, anti-Confederate protesters face harassment

He has promoted Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim politician, and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally party.

Last year, he endorsed the Toronto mayoral campaign of Faith Goldy, a far-right candidate who has made neo-Nazi remarks.

Shane Burley, author of Fascism Today, says that King exemplifies white nationalists’ influence on the Republican Party and mainstream conservatives in the last decade.

“At this point, I’m pretty comfortable saying Steve King is a white nationalist,” Burley told Al Jazeera. “From everything we can see, that’s what’s motivating Steve King.”

He added, “Steve King says explicitly what [Republicans] would rather not say; the Republican Party is made up of people who want to deny the racial implications of their policies.”

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Samsung Phone Users Perturbed to Find They Can’t Delete Facebook

IMG_20181216-facebookpiece1-ajb.jpg[Image: ‘Facebook’ by Alyssa Joy Bartlett, 2018]

(Bloomberg) — Nick Winke, a photographer in the Pacific northwest, was perusing internet forums when he came across a complaint that alarmed him: On certain Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones, users aren’t allowed to delete the Facebook app.

Winke bought his Samsung Galaxy S8, an Android-based device that comes with Facebook’s social network already installed, when it was introduced in 2017. He has used the Facebook app to connect with old friends and to share pictures of natural landscapes and his Siamese cat — but he didn’t want to be stuck with it. He tried to remove the program from his phone, but the chatter proved true — it was undeletable. He found only an option to “disable,” and he wasn’t sure what that meant.

“It just absolutely baffles me that if I wanted to completely get rid of Facebook that it essentially would still be on my phone, which brings up more questions,” Winke said in an interview. “Can they still track your information, your location, or whatever else they do? We the consumer should have say in what we want and don’t want on our products.”

Consumers have become more alert about their digital rights and more vigilant about privacy in the past year, following revelations about Facebook’s information-sharing practices and regulators’ heightened scrutiny of online data collection. Some people have deleted their Facebook accounts in protest of the company’s lapses, while others simply want to make sure they have the option to do so. Many Android phone users have begun to question Samsung’s deal to sell phones with a permanent version of Facebook — and some of them are complaining on social media.

A Facebook spokesperson said the disabled version of the app acts like it’s been deleted, so it doesn’t continue collecting data or sending information back to Facebook. But there’s rarely communication with the consumer about the process. The Menlo Park, California-based company said whether the app is deletable or not depends on various pre-install deals Facebook has made with phone manufacturers, operating systems and mobile operators around the world over the years, including Samsung. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, wouldn’t disclose the financial nature of the agreements, but said they’re meant to give the consumer “the best” phone experience right after opening the box.

Balwinder Singh’s experience wasn’t what he would consider the best. Singh, who lives in the Susquehanna Valley of the eastern U.S. and works in transportation, bought his Samsung phone seven months ago. He first tried to delete the Facebook app when he was setting up the device.

“My news feed was full of negative stuff, people going crazy on social media,” he said. “It was affecting me emotionally and mentally.” Even after disabling the app, he was bothered to still have it on his phone.

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, said it provides a pre-installed Facebook app on selected models with options to disable it, and once it’s disabled, the app is no longer running. Facebook declined to provide a list of the partners with which it has deals for permanent apps, saying that those agreements vary by region and type. There is no complete list available online, and consumers may not know if Facebook is pre-loaded unless they specifically ask a customer service representative when they purchase a phone.

Consumer-advocacy groups have been skeptical of such arrangements for years, according to Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

“It’s only recently that people have become to understand that these apps really power the spy in your pocket,” he said. “Companies should be filing public documents on these deals, and Facebook should turn over public documents that show there is no data collection when the app is disabled.”

Facebook isn’t the only company whose apps show up on smartphones by default. A T-Mobile US Inc. list of apps built into its version of the Samsung Galaxy S9, for example, includes the social network as well as Amazon.com Inc. The phone also comes loaded with many Google apps such as YouTube, Google Play Music and Gmail; Google is the creator of the Android software that powers the phone. Other phone makers and service providers, including LG Electronics Inc., Sony Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., have made similar deals with app makers. When Twitter’s app is loaded on a new phone by default, it wouldn’t collect any data unless a user had an account or created a new one, and opened the app and logged in, the company said.

But Facebook, which has spent the past year apologizing for security breaches and data privacy scandals, is the one drawing ire about its irrevocable presence on Samsung’s phones. “Very slimy,” Twitter user Gopinath Pandalai in Bangalore, who goes by @gopibella, wrote on the site in October. “Been a Samsung customer for 10 years. Time to move on.”

In December, Justin McMurry, whose Twitter handle is @BoutSebm, wrote that he considered Facebook a privacy threat. “If I can’t delete it, this will be the last Samsung product I ever own.”

Apple Inc., whose iPhone is the top-selling smartphone in the U.S., doesn’t pre-install Facebook or any other third-party apps on its new phones.

José Cortés, a Spaniard living in Sweden, has started using Facebook on his phone more infrequently, sharing less because he doesn’t like the way it broadcasts his activity to his friends. If there’s an event coming up on Facebook, he never marks that he’s going or interested, even if he is, because he dislikes that his attendance will advertise the event to his other friends.

“I understand Samsung is trying to make it easy for the user, but I don’t like that it does not allow me to uninstall,” he said. For his next phone, he said he’ll consider buying something else.

by Sarah Frier

IMG_20181216-facebookpiece2-ajb.jpg[Image: ‘Facebook Unbalance” by Alyssa Joy Bartlett,  2018]

Cyber attack disrupts newspaper distribution across US

Chicago Tribune is among the many newspaper prints affected by the cyber attack [File: Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo]
Chicago Tribune is among the many newspaper prints affected by the cyber attack [File: Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo]

A cyber attack caused major printing and delivery disruptions on Saturday at the Los Angeles Times and other major US newspapers, including ones owned by the Tribune Publishing Co.

The cyber attack appeared to originate outside the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

The attack led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, Tribune, Sun and other newspapers that share a production platform in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Tribune Publishing, whose newspapers also include the New York Daily News and Orlando Sentinel, said it first detected the malware on Friday and reported it to the FBI.

However, Tribune Publishing’s website was not affected and no customer information was compromised, according to the statement issued by the company on Saturday.

“This issue has affected the timeliness and in some cases, the completeness of our printed newspaper,” Tribune Publishing spokesperson Marisa Kollias said in a statement. “Our websites and mobile applications, however, have not been impacted.”

The West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, which are printed on the shared production platform, were hit as well, the Los Angeles Times said.

The LA Times said Saturday that the attack, which was first assumed to have been a server outage, hit a computer network at Tribune Publishing which is connected to the production and printing process of multiple newspapers around the country.

The report said it could not provide firm numbers on how many subscribers were impacted, but a majority of LA Times customers received their papers on Saturday morning, albeit several hours late.

Most San Diego Union-Tribune subscribers were without a newspaper on Saturday as the virus infected the company’s business systems and hobbled its ability to publish, the paper’s editor and publisher Jeff Light wrote on its website.

“We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” the LA Times quoted a source with knowledge of the situation as saying.

The paper cited officials as saying it was too soon to know whether it was carried out by state or non-state actors.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said it was studying the situation. “We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets, and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation,” Katie Waldman said in a statement.

An internal memo from Tribune’s CEO Justin Dearborn on Saturday referenced “malware” and said, “we are making progress with this issue”.

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SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

 

10 things the Trump administration did in 2018 that you may have missed

From limiting the number of refugees welcomed to the US to cutting aid to Pakistan, here are some things Trump did in 2018 that you may have missed.

Trump listens during a signing ceremony for criminal justice reform legislation in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Washington [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
Trump listens during a signing ceremony for criminal justice reform legislation in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Washington [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

Washington, DC – This year was full of a lot of surprises from US President Donald Trump and his administration

From a number of high-level departures to his recent decision to pull US troops out of Syria, despite opposition from many within his own party and inner circle, Trump never ceased to abruptly interrupt the news cycle with a new development or announcement.

But it’s also the things that didn’t make the front page or the lead story, they may also have you surprised.

Here are 10 things the Trump administration did that you may have missed this year:

1. Fewer Refugees

In 2018, fewer refugees made it into the US than any time during the previous 40 years. That’s because the Trump administration followed a campaign promise to cap the number of people coming to the United States.

In September, the Trump administration reduced that limit again from 45,000 to 30,000. The year 2019 could see the lowest number of refugee admissions in US history.

READ MORE

‘Shameful’: US slashes number of refugees it will admit to 30,000

The move follows remarks the president made throughout 2018 aimed at immigrants and refugees. In one closed-door White House meeting, according to the Washington Post and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, Trump referred to Haiti, African countries and some Latin American countries as “s***holes” and wondered aloud why the US was letting anyone in from those regions.

His administration has also sought to put limits on who can request asylum. This month, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Trump, refusing to allow the administration to implement new rules prohibiting asylum for people who cross the US border between official ports of entry. A lower court has also blocked policies put in place by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year that made it harder for individuals fleeing domestic violence and gang violence to claim asylum.

2. Trump cuts Pakistan aid

In a New Year’s Day tweet, Trump took aim at Pakistan arguing, “the United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years.” He vowed that would end. And, it did. In September, during the Labor Day holiday, military assistance to Pakistan ended. The $300m, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, would be “reprogrammed” for “other urgent priorities”.

READ MORE

Pentagon to cancel $300m in Pakistan aid over armed groups

The US military has accused Pakistan of giving safe haven to groups that target US soldiers in Afghanistan. Islamabad has persistently denied the charges even though al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad in 2011, less than a mile from a Pakistani military training academy.

3. Possible sexual assault rule change at US colleges

In November, while Washington, DC, was distracted with Jim Acosta’s White House credentials and the Russia investigation, Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a Friday proposal to alter the rules when it comes to how sexual assaults and harassment are handled on school campuses.

Although DeVos said the changes were designed to make reporting “more transparent, consistent, and reliable in their processes and outcomes,” groups advocating on behalf of sexual assault survivors decried it as an attempt to give more power to the accused and lessen the legal burden on schools.

One controversial provision allows the person who is accused to cross-examine the accuser through representatives.

“If these draft rules become law,” said Sage Carson, manager for Know Your Title IX, “more survivors will be forced out of school by harassment, assault, and their schools’ indifference to their complaints.”

4. Climate change report buried

Normally, US administrations use the day after the Thanksgiving holiday (a Friday) to bury uncomfortable news.

READ MORE

Trump says he doesn’t believe his administration’s climate report

In 2018, that news came in the form of an annual government report on climate change. Since his election to office, Trump has repeatedly questioned whether climate change is real.

“Whatever happened to Global Warming?” he tweeted in November after a spate of cold weather hit the US. That thinking may have guided the decision to bury the report, released the day after Thanksgiving when most Americans weren’t paying attention, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It not only declares climate change is real but it is getting worse, threatening coastal communities in the US.

“The severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur,” the report states. In 2017, Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, a historic international agreement on climate change aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

5. The election was rigged … or not

Just three days into 2018, Trump quietly got rid of a commission ending a taxpayer-funded venture that many people considered a waste of time and money. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was formed in May 2017 to investigate one of Trump’s main claims about the 2016 Presidential contest: it was rigged.

READ MORE

‘Sickening’: New anti-immigrant Trump campaign ad stokes outrage

Although Trump won the election, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, earned nearly three million more votes. Under the American electoral college system, the popular vote does not guarantee victory. Nevertheless, Trump disliked the idea that more people wanted Clinton to be president. The commission’s official mandate was to “study vulnerabilities in voting systems used for federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations, and fraudulent voting”. It was created around Trump’s unfounded claim that millions of people voted illegally for Clinton in 2016.

However, the commission was marred with infighting and legal battles and, in the end, found zero evidence of voter fraud. After it disbanded, the commission’s vice-chair, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was found in contempt of court by a federal judge in a voter suppression case.

6. National debt soars

As a businessman-candidate, Trump ran for president on the premise he knows how to save money and cut waste. More importantly, he promised to get rid of the US national debt, a sore spot for many Republican legislators for many years.

As president, the debt has continued to inflate under Trump. As of mid-December, US national debt was roughly $21.8 trillion. When Trump took office in January, 2017, it was $19.9 trillion. Spending on the military and programmes like social security and Medicare increased in 2018 and there is no indication Trump will take any significant action to reduce it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest on the debt is one of the fastest growing payments in the annual budget. They also project overall spending to increase by 5.5 percent a year over the next 10 years.

Ironically, Trump’s Republican Party made spending controls its signature issue throughout the administration of President Barack Obama and orchestrated a partial government down in 2013 as a result of it.

7. Endangered species under attack?

Ever since Trump took over, environmentalists and animal-rights activists have warned that protections for wildlife are on his target list. The president has persistently criticised government regulations that get in the way of big business. In July, the administration announced a proposal to strip the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of some key provisions.

READ MORE

Climate change could cost US billions, worsen disasters: report

While only a proposal, the request has set off alarm bells within some of the biggest environmental organisations. The Sierra Club, which boasts 3.5 million members, bluntly warned the law is “under attack”. If implemented, the Sierra Club argues, the regulation changes would loosen protections for certain animals and fish like the gray wolf, right whale and sage-grouse. In a Washington Post op-ed in August, Interior deputy secretary David Bernhardt called aspects of the ESA an “unnecessary regulatory burden”.

8. Trump boosts overseas military spending

In August, Trump signed off on one of the largest budgets for the US military in history. At a whopping $717bn, the 2019 American defence budget is bigger than that of China, India, the UK, France and Russia combined. “We are going to strengthen our military like never ever before,” the president boasted after authorising the spending during a ceremony at Fort Drum in New York. Within that budget is money for the same overseas military spending Trump once criticised his predecessors. Trump has consistently wondered aloud why Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama spent trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his 2019 budget, Trump increased military spending in both countries.

9. Calls to end chain migration … except for Trump family

Trump hates chain migration. He has said it many times. “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump told Americans in his annual state of the union address in January. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.”

READ MORE

US: ‘Chain migration’ grants Melania Trump’s parents citizenship

This apparent distaste, however, did not apply to his own family. In August, Amalja and Viktor Knav, the parents of First Lady Melania Trump, walked into a New York government building and took their oath to become American citizens. They are both from Slovenia. How did they get their citizenship? Through their daughter’s marriage to Trump or, put another way, chain migration. When asked whether the Knavs’ case was a textbook example of the practice, their own lawyer replied, “I suppose so.”

10. Trump poses in photo with conspiracy theorist

There’s no doubt the current occupant of the White House sometimes traffics in falsehoods. He has claimed, then retracted, his belief former US President Barack Obama wiretapped him, said people were rioting in California over sanctuary cities and suggested midterm election voters put on disguises so they could cast ballots multiple times. All those claims are incorrect.

READ MORE

Hate before the vote: Pipe bombs, shootings, incitement

So, in August, when Trump posed for a photo in the Oval Office with the proponent of a conspiracy theory, he seemed to be taking his false assertions to a new level. The visitor, Lionel Lebron, is one of the biggest advocates for a theory that gained significant traction in 2018.

Known as “QAnon” or “Q”, it’s a conspiracy pushed primarily by pro-Trump social mediastars and makes all sorts of unfounded claims about the president’s opponents, centring around a fictitious belief that prominent Democrats are running a paedophile ring. In August, “Q” posters and t-shirts followed the president everywhere. Lebron later tweeted that he never brought up QAnon with Trump.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

CNN fires Commentator Marc Lamont Hill after criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

CNN: Facts first, just not on Israel

CNN firing commentator Marc Lamont Hill exposes yet another layer of mainstream media’s bias and lack of objectivity.Last week, the US mainstream media demonstrated once again that it has a Palestine problem. CNN suspended the contract of commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after he gave a speech at the United Nations in which he criticised the Israeli occupation and the abuse of Palestinian rights.

Hill based his speech very much on facts. He cited Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians; the use of arbitrary violence by the Israeli security apparatus; the use of torture against Palestinian detainees; the denial of due process to Palestinians by Israeli courts; the restriction on movement in the occupied territories, etc – all violations that have been well-documented and condemned by the UN and a myriad of human rights organisations.

Yet CNN, which last year adopted a new slogan – “Facts first” – did not seem to agree with these facts. After pro-Israel organisations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the speech, the TV station was quick to sever its ties with Hill.

While CNN did not announce why it chose to do so, it is clear to many of us it caved in to pressure from pro-Israel groups. Hill was accused of being anti-Semitic for using the phrase “free Palestine from the river to the sea”, which supposedly is a “Hamas slogan” and a call for the destruction of Israel. Well, it is neither.

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Throwing accusations of anti-Semitism at people criticising Israel and supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination is a convenient tool of the Zionist lobby. But calling for the freedom of Palestinians and for the recognition of their rights is not anti-Semitic; it is pro-Palestinian.

Conflating anti-Semitism with pro-Palestinian positions and criticism of Israel is not only ill-intentioned but also dangerous, as it does a disservice to Jews who have faced hate speech and hate attacks.

In Palestine, the Israeli authorities have brought this tactic to the extreme and have already passed a number of laws curbing freedom of speech. This means that those of us who dare criticise Israeli policy or call for resistance to Israeli occupation, even if in the form of a poem, face the risk of imprisonment.

In the United States, those who do so clearly face the risk of being fired, as in the case of Professor Hill and as in the case of many others before him- and probably many others after. The way CNN (mis)handled this situation offers us an opportunity to discuss how media organisations succumbing to Israel’s campaign of silencing critics is particularly problematic.

 

 

 

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