Censored: Exhibit of Canadian photographer murdered by Iran's security forces yanked from Montreal library

Zahra Kazemi should be regarded as a Canadian hero, a woman who ultimately lost her life trying to get the world to see repression in Iran through her photographs. Iran's state "security" goons tortured and murdered her for her defense of freedom.

Unfortunately, some people in Canada would like to keep her work out of public view. A Montreal library hosting an exhibit of Kazemi's photographs decided to remove photographs deemed too sympathetic to occupied Palestinians; Kazemi's son gave the library an ultimatum--the whole exhibit or nothing. The museum chose nothing. Check out CBC's take on the story.

It's an odd conflict, since defenders of Israel tend to be critics of Iran. Surely drawing attention to the threat to democracy posed by Iran's repressive theocracy is useful to defenders of Israel. But attention paid to Israel's own repression, apparently, is too high a price.

Double-standards abound in discussion of Middle Eastern issues. For the record, I say we should defend innocent people regardless of their background, and oppose oppression regardless of the background of its perpetrators. Killed is killed, dead is dead and oppressed is oppressed. We need to avoid selective prosecution of moral points. For instance, while the idea that Zionism as practiced now through occupation is racism was embraced in the UN General Assembly for decades, it’s clearly hypocritical for other nationalists to make that charge without pointing to the racism in their own (Canadian, Iraqi, Turkish, Chinese, Russian, etc.) nationalism, which almost certainly crushes someone (Cree, Kurdish, Armenian, Tibetan, Ukrainian, etc.).

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that all nationalism is intrinsically racist, but I would say that the practice of nationalism so conveniently incorporates racial or other persecution and exploitation that I don’t know if the two can be separated in practice. There's a difference between the nationalism of the oppressed and the nationalism of the oppressor, true, so Black Nationalism can't be equated with White Nationalism (any more than feminism can be equated with male supremacy). But it's clear that once revolutionary nationalists take power, they can become as bad as the people they kicked out (check out the songs and lyrics of Fela Anikulapo Kuti for his devastating attacks on the post-British rulers of Nigeria. Ah, hell, just check out Fela). Nevertheless, selectively targeting Israeli nationalism is clearly discriminatory and scapegoating, just as selectively refusing to discuss it or criticise it is clearly discriminatory as well, with dire consequences for the people of the Occupied Territories and, for decades, Lebanon.

I recently spoke with veteran Canadian journalist Duart Farquharson about his years covering the Middle East and the anti-Muslim/Arab bias he perceives in the CanWest/Global news empire. Vue Weekly ran the article, unfortunately slicing a key paragraph which you'll see below, with the orange portion excised from the print version.

“Nevertheless, despite studies by watchdogs such as the New York based Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) indicating commonplace anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias in corporate North American journalism, at the cultural level, double-standards from critics of both Jewish/Israeli and Muslim/Arab sides seem to define viewpoints on the Middle East. For instance, many Westerners are terrified of Arab governments or Iran possessing nuclear weapons, but Western media is silent on Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. At the same time, many Muslim/Arab proponents elevate human rights abuses by the Israeli government inside the Occupied Territories far beyond even more appalling and widespread human rights crimes conducted by the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey today, or of Iraq or Afghanistan just a few years ago.”

But now read the whole article to find out about how a Canadian media giant crushes criticism of Israel.


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