If you think that you have just one life, think again. There's the life you think you have, the life others think you have and the life you really have- three lives!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Freedom of Speech????

The pro-Israeli lobby is at it again. This time successfully banning an Aussie publisher and a Jewish Academic from speaking because of their views on Israel.

Author shunned for Israel criticism
Ed Pilkington, New YorkOctober 12, 2006

AUSTRALIAN author and former publisher Carmen Callil has become embroiled
in a dispute over freedom of speech in America after a party celebrating her new
book was cancelled because of her opinion about the modern state of Israel.

A party in honour of Bad Faith, Callil's account of Vichy official Louis Darquier, who arranged the deportation of thousands of Jews, was to be held at the French embassy in New York this week but was cancelled after the embassy became aware of a paragraph in the book's postscript.
In the postscript, Callil says she grew anxious while researching the "helpless terror
of the Jews of France" to see "what the Jews of Israel were passing on to the
Palestinian people. Like the rest of humanity, the Jews of Israel 'forget' the
Palestinians. Everyone forgets."

The embassy said the passage had been brought to its attention after a
guest declined the invitation because of it.

The row is the latest element in a dispute about restrictions on freedom of speech in the US in relation to comments on Israel.

A New York University academic had two speaking engagements called off
after criticism of his views.

Tony Judt, an American Jew who grew up in Britain, was to speak about the influence of the pro-Israeli lobby on US foreign policy and at a separate location on "war and genocide in European memory today".

The first lecture was cancelled by the Polish consulate in New York, which owns the venue, while Mr Judt pulled out of the second after organisers asked him to refrain from direct references to Israel.

In both cases, pro-Israeli organisations and individuals had raised objections to Mr Judt's views on Israel.

Mr Judt said his views had been misrepresented.

"The only thing I have ever said is that Israel, as it is currently constituted as a Jewish state with different rights for different groups, is an anachronism in the modern age of democracies."

They sure are a powerful group. Just look at what Mel Gibson had to do to regain some credibility after his comments on Jews. Former KISS band member, Gene Simmons (the one with the tongue) made some really nasty comments about Muslims when he visited Australia in 2004, even going so far as to say "Islam was a "vile culture" that treated women worse than dogs."

Incidentally, the KISS concert was the first concert I ever went to at the ripe old age of 15 (am I showing my age now?)


deenie said...

I can't believe no one flinches when the KISS guy (or anyone else) flings around such hateful, racist comments towards an entire religion, but when someone (like the Australian journalist) speaks out against a governmental policy they view as unfair or inhumane, or when they are just questioning the policy, everyone goes nuts, and he or she is labeled an Anti-Semite and banned from continuing.

The Usual Suspect said...

It's not unusual Deenie- the AIPAC and the AJC have a lot of control over what academics say. There is really no freedom of speech in the US when it comes to Israeli policies. Even Edward Said and Noam Chomsky have experienced the wrath of the pro-Israeli lobby groups and have been banned from speaking about the plight of the Palestinian people. When you realise the extent of the power the Pro-Israeli lobby has, it really is quite frightening.

programmer craig said...

Two objections!

1) A French EMbassy operates under French Sovereignity, and to say this is an issue of Free Speech in America is incorrect. This is an issue of free speech in France. If it's a "free speech" issue at all.

2) Same for the Polish consulate. That's under Polish Sovereignity. The third is not mentioned by name... was it also a foreign mission in the Uited States?

3) People are free to accept or decline invitations to lectures, speeched, wahtever.

The Usual Suspect said...

Good points- all three. But the objections were raised by American citizens not by French or Polish members of the French or Polish embassies. I don't think the venue at which the speakers were stopped from speaking is the real issue- but rather the reason why they were censored and who called for it.
Why do you not think this is a freedom of speech issue? I'm interested.

programmer craig said...

I don't think it's a free speech issue because there's no guarantee that a public speaker will be invited to make a speech, or not to be disinvited from making a speech. And I think the venue does matter, because you were complining about free speech in America. A foreign mission is not "in america" - missions are operated under the sovereign laws of the sending country.

If you really wnat to look at examples of free speech being denied, look at the many cases where public speakers have been disrupted and prevented from speaking at US Universities that last few years. I think it's a much better case study when somebody is actually on a stage or at a podium and demonstrators rush the stage, thro pies at the speaker, or otherwise attempt to drown out or intimdate the speaker, don't you? That's a REAL violation of freedom of expression.