Monthly Archives: December 2015

How Russian TV propaganda is made

Dmitry Sidorov writes

This month COLTA.RU published three articles about what it’s like to work for federal television networks in Russia. These organisations have long been controlled by the authorities: they work as a single propaganda machine. The first two included an account by Liza Lerer, a former editorial manager of Russia 1’s marketing board, and a profile of Yulia Chumakova, Channel One’s South bureau chief, and the author of the infamous ‘crucified boy’ story.

The third article, published here in a translation by Anna Aslanyan, comprises four accounts: two former employees of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and a former producer at the private channel REN TV share their experiences anonymously, while Stanislav Feofanov, a TV Center (TVC) producer, speaks under his real name.

The conversations with the ex-VGTRK staffers were first recorded by Aleksandr Orlov, former deputy editor of Russia 24 and Russia 2. Orlov lost his job in July 2013 for supporting Alexei Navalny on social media, and is now working on a forthcoming book on Russian TV. Orlov has collected oral testimonies from several federal TV employees, former and present, and here he shares two of them with us and COLTA.RU. The other two stories have been told to Dmitry Sidorov, who prepared the article for publication.


New Indonesian Hospital in Gaza


An Indonesian non-governmental organisation has collected nearly $15 million from Indonesia’s poor and rich alike to build the first Indonesian hospital in the Gaza Strip. The hospital has 110 beds and an intensive care unit.

Amnesty: Russia’s shameful failure to acknowledge civilian killings in Syria

Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.


The corruption of international law

The Palestinian Authority has been celebrating its diplomatic efforts as a step towards achieving at least partial justice, particularly in seeking to hold Israel to account for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Israelis themselves, meanwhile, have been receiving advice from former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on how to evade any possibility of facing such legal action. Justice, it seems, is going to remain elusive.

The basis for Israel’s impunity, consolidated by UN recognition and acceptance of settler-colonialism in Palestine, is now also set to be extended practically to the ICC, leaving Palestinians with little prospect for diplomatic engagement within the parameters imposed by international institutions.

The Jerusalem Post has published detailed comments by Ocampo with regard to Israel’s settlement expansion. Although refraining from endorsing any form of legality as regards settlements, the former ICC official has sought to influence perceptions as well as advice regarding the actual construction and existence of illegal settlements versus “criminal intent”, adding that “Israel’s High Court is highly respected internationally.” Thus, he gave the distinct impression that Israel can manipulate international law through “respect” and a competent defence that settlement construction is legal “once ratified by the country’s top court”.

Ocampo also advised that Israel should control the settlement debate by producing “twenty books on the issue” in order to dominate literature that, according to the ex-ICC prosecutor is “a completely new discussion with no previous law.” Israel was also advised to cooperate with ICC investigations, stating that while the UN General Assembly has condemned settlement activity, “[it] cannot force the prosecutor about how she interprets crimes.”

However, despite Ocampo’s attempts to differentiate between UN and ICC tactics, both depart from the same premise which legitimises Israel’s narrative from different angles. If the former prosecutor’s words retain any validity, ICC impunity for Israel would reflect the UN’s penchant for non-binding resolutions against Israel’s violations of international law.

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr Hanan Ashrawi refuted Ocampo’s statements. She insisted that international human rights law and international humanitarian law – citing the Rome Statute, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the ICJ Advisory Opinion regarding the Wall – have all deemed settlements to be illegal.

As Israel’s history has exhibited, however, the tendency of international institutions is to circumvent legislation in a manner that provides permanent impunity for the ongoing colonial project. The same attitude has been exhibited by Ocampo in his discussion of Israel’s military offensive “Operation Protective Edge” and the applicability of war crimes. Lengthy investigations and delays have also been addressed as working in Israel’s favour, with Ocampo declaring, “Bensouda [the current ICC chief prosecutor] would likely be patient as long as she believed the process was moving forward in good faith.”

Given that specific legislation has been manipulated constantly to shield Israel from accountability, a concept as ambiguous as “good faith” would likely be regarded as a multifaceted, convenient metaphor used as a reference in case of the slightest sign of revolt against the macabre oppression faced by Palestinians.

The ambiguous justification for colonial projects has many precedents and was manifested through the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine. In the current context, despite Palestinian determination to pursue legal action through international avenues and hold Israel accountable for its crimes, it is likely that the ICC will adhere to the dominant narrative favouring Israel rather than set a new precedent that would signal a departure from its track record of selective prosecution.

originally published on

Palestine Remix

Palestine Remix

A year ago al-Jazeera launched Palestine Remix [go to: ] an interactive tool including maps, quizzes, a timeline, and, most distinctively, a ‘remix’ tool that allows users to search interactive transcripts of many documentaries about Palestinian history, to extract relevant clips and produce personalised videos in English, Arabic, Bosnian, or Turkish.

The core element of Palestine Remix is an archive of 28 documentaries on Palestine-related issues such as the Apartheid Wall, the Nakba, Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian tourism industry, the Gaza blockade, hunger strikes, home demolitions, the First Intifada, Shin Bet, and more. In addition to the documentaries and ‘remix’ feature, the site includes drone footage from Palestine, interactive maps, a glossary, and quizzes.

The site also features a ‘Destroyed Villages’ section, providing detailed information on more than 500 Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed and destroyed by Israel in the 1948 Nakba.

Thanks to open source tool Hyperaudio [info on: ], visitors to the site can search transcript-synced videos of the documentaries, then “drag paragraphs from one or more sources to create a transcript-synced video remix that you can play, add effects, and share.

A second phase was launched last month, has the aim is to build a community around Palestine Remix, as people will be able to access all the remixes posted, and comment, vote and interact with each other on the platform.

Rawan el-Dameen the executive producer of the project intends to introduce it into British edicational institutions next year [ go to:]

Rawan el-Dameen