OMNI-TV: Behind the Commentaries


Why I love Mumbai (Bombay), by Pritish Nandy

Pritish Nandy writes, paints, makes movies and occasionally, when he wins an election, sits in Parliament. He has been writing for The Times of India for over 26 years. In “Extraordinary Issue”, he talks to all those who find his views controversial, challenging, charming or even utterly despicable. Just one small caveat. Nandy is always on the move, travelling for a film, writing a book, working on an exhibition of his paintings. Or simply eating lotus. So there could be occasional gaps, the odd delay. But Nandy is Nandy. He never ignores a barb, never lets a compliment go by without swatting it hard.


Well, to begin with, you can’t smoke here, neither a fag nor a joint. Cigarettes are banned most places. Joints, everywhere, barring prison where you can buy them openly. Now you can’t drink as well. Not unless you are 18 with a licence. You can’t go a bar and watch pretty girls dance. That’s banned too, even if they dance the Kathakali. The more exciting dancing girls have long gone. Their kothas have shut down. Sahir’s sorrowful poems have died with them. Bling shops have hijacked the red light district…



26 Years Later, Arafat’s Words to Me Are a Reality: the PLO’s Burgeoning Islamic Fervor

Yes, that is your’s truly Zuhair Kashmeri in 1986 in Baghdad, interviewing the late Yassir Arafat for The Globe and Mail.

The Palestinian saga has to be one of the most ridiculous stories of the 20th and perhaps even the 21st Century. More than 25 years after I did a mamoth series for The Globe and Mail entitled “Inside the PLO,” the Palestinians continue in their stateless existence as Israeli settlers continue gobbling up more and more of their land. And the neo-Colonial West looks on as it always has… In this context, I offer you my article from 1986, published and distributed worldwide by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, which, I believe continues to make sense… although hopes for a Mideast peace are nearing extinction!

The PLO’s Burgeoning Islamic Fervor

May 11, 1986|Zuhair Kashmeri | Zuhair Kashmeri is a reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail.

©The Los Angeles Times Syndicate

AMMAN, JORDAN — It is time for the noon prayers and the office of the Palestine National Council in Amman suddenly starts emptying. In the corridors, people are hurrying by, completing their ablutions before bowing to Allah.

For years the council, the Palestinian parliament in exile, and its parent body, the Palestine Liberation Organization, have projected themselves as secular. After all, more than 20% of their members are either Christian or simply atheists. But this is changing. Palestinians are turning to Islam and the PLO is becoming Islamized from the bottom up.

Despite the Muslim majority, most Palestinians in the past had resigned themselves to the thinking of Yasser Arafat, their leader, that only a political and diplomatic solution, supported by the United States and the West, would get them their homeland. Hence, the need to be secular.

Now, rank-and-file Palestinians say this was a myth that has been shattered. Twenty-one years after the PLO was formed, they are no closer to a homeland. And almost 52% of the West Bank and Gaza, occupied by Israel during the 1967 War and marked out by President Reagan as the logical homeland, has now fallen either to Jewish settlers or annexation.
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OMNI TV – Behind the Commentaries: The Omar Khadr Headache by CBC Correspondent Neil Macdonald

So, the Americans are minus one more Guantanamo Bay headache.

 And Canadians will now start arguing in earnest about whether Omar Khadr was a child soldier, as the UN has categorized him, or a terrorist murderer.

CLICK HERE to read the full story on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. written by one of Canada’s most honest investigative reporters, Neil Macdonald, Senior Washington Correspondent for CBC TV.

About The Author

 Neil Macdonald is the senior Washington correspondent for CBC News, which he joined in 1988 following 12 years in newspapers. Before taking up this post in 2003, Macdonald reported from the Middle East for five years. He speaks English and French fluently, and some Arabic.


Backgrounder notes for Occupy Movement and Indian Police Torture commentaries

The first is an excerpt from the speech of Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy in New York in November 2011, at the Occupy Movement camp in Manhattan. A week later, the occupiers, who were focusing on the greed of Wall Street and demanding equality and justice for all, were forced off public areas and into the fringe. The second, is an extract from a newspaper item on the report by the Asian Center for Human Rights in New Delhi, talking about torture by police and Indian security forces.
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9/11: The algebra of infinite justice by Arundhati Roy


 As the US prepares to wage a new kind of war, Arundhati Roy challenges the instinct for vengeance

 Arundhati Roy

The Guardian, Saturday 29 September 2001

In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: “Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday. People who we don’t know massacred people who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee.” Then he broke down and wept.

CLICK THIS LINK to read the rest of the article at The Guardian, U.K. : The algebra of infinite justice or if the link does not work, click me to read our PDF.


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Big and Little War: A 1967 article on why the superior firepower of the West can only go so far…

I cam across this article in my files and immediately decided to post it for your benefit — given that despite its age (it was written in 1967) it explains why the mighty West, especially America, with all its firepower, cannot subdue little mosquito nations like Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya. It was written by a world renowned columnist (the kind you don’t see these days) whose breadth of knowledge and wisdom truly met the final criteria of good journalism: the job of the media is not just to inform, but more importantly also to educate people and make them think.But it seems that today all we get from the media is a one-size-fits-all news package simply designed to sell papers or the evening news.

The U.S. was at war with Vietnam, fighting the usual American non-existent Communist bogeyman, when this was written. But Walter Lippman did not wave the American flag. He did not write with the pen of a nationalist, but said it like it should have been said. If only more journalists with access to the popular media had stepped back like him at the time, a healthier world order may have ensued than what we see today.  It was reading articles such as these over the years that instilled in me a certain approach to journalism that you may discern in my commentaries and other writing. Enjoy, Reflect and Spread. — Zuhair (Kash) Kashmeri

Big and Little War…

By Walter Lippmann
Copyright (c) 1967, The Washington Post Co. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
Published December 5, 1967

Nothing is more puzzling to Americans than that the most powerful nation on earth is taking so long to subdue a poor little coun¬try like North Vietnam. According to conventional wisdom, the enemy should have recognised long ago that the odds against him are over¬whelming and he should have given up. He has not done so as yet, and, if he is going to do it, he is taking a long time about it.

What is more, it begins to appear that even if he surrendered there would probably be no more than a temporary truce before guerrilla fighting broke out again. As a mat¬ter of fact, it is very difficult even to Imagine how this war can end. Even if Hanoi and Haiphong were bombed back to the Stone Age and Ko Chi-minh signed an uncondi¬tional surrender on an American aircraft-carrier, there would be no peace and Saigon and Gen. West¬moreland would still have to remain on the alert.
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Mahatma Gandhi on Palestine and Non-Violence

The Jews in Palestine 1938
By Mahatma Gandhi

[Excerpted from M.K. Gandhi, My Non-Violence. Edited by Sailesh Kumar Bandopadhaya (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1960) Reprinted by permission of the Navajivan Trust.]

Several letters have been received by me asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.

But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?  Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
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Scandals surrounding the RCMP and its former spy service … a history

While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police remains a national institution, it has been involved in some fairly high profile scandals, ususally under situations where it unilaterally committed acts that went beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct in a democracy.

Click here for a page from Wikkipedia that recounts the variouis scandals surrounding the Mounties. The page is full of hyperlinks that will give you much more information. For more information Google John Sawatsky, a Canadian journalists whose exposes and books laid bare this national institution and won him the Michener Award for public service. It is the darker side of the RCMP’s history that came to mind when I wrote a commentary on the break-in at the offices of the Canadian Tamil Congress in Toronto.


Why are some young Muslims losing their cool? Think Multiculturalism and forgotten promises…

Here is Chapter 12 of my second book, published in 1991. My thesis expounded in this chapter forms the backdrop to my latest commentary on OMNI-TV (to be aired shortly) regarding the August 2010 of three Muslims, all professionals, including a doctor, and charged with terrorism related offences. The question being bandied about by the media is: Can we trust any Muslim Canadian if doctors and X-Ray technicians can be involved in such acts. My questions: If Canada officially follows a policy of multiculturalism and invites people form all over the world to come here and settle, and become Canadian, then why are the views of ethnic minorities not taken into account when formulating foreign policies? Does the government realize that when we bomb in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, we may be bombing the families of Canadian Afghans and Canadian Iraqis, and the brethren of Canadian Muslims per se? Can we then be surprised if some of them “loose their cool” and act in a manner that may be beyond the norm of all democratic and civilized behavious, but within the norm of their inner feelings and religious convictions? You decide.)


The Crumbling Mosaic

(An excerpt from The Gulf Within: Canadian Arabs, Racism and the Gulf War by Zuhair Kashmeri, publisher James Lorimer & Company, Toronto, 1991. The book can be purchased directly from publisher by clicking the title above.)

“We have all these multiculturalism policies put up on our walls and then we go and join the forces of America . … I think if Canada had the guts, it would have said we will stand neutral and offer medical and other aid. Then they would have been looked up to. Some friends of mine are ashamed to wear the Canadian flag to Europe. Now when people see the Maple Leaf, they are seeing the Stars and Stripes forever.”

Laura van der Smissen, race relations officer, Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic School Board, and ethnic historian

Within weeks after the end of the Gulf War, it had become a distant. Memory ~ preserved on video clips and network archives, awaiting a documentary film- maker. For Ottawa, the short, devastating and one-sided battle had achieved all its objectives – Kuwait had been liberated, at least for its monarch, and freedom and democracy had been re-stored in a land where the emir did not tolerate any criticism. For the politicians, there was no need to discuss it any more.
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