Our Way to Fight has arrived. Got a message this morning from Victoria, the capitol of British Columbia, Canada:
“Feb 4 Program, Our Way to Fight, is being censored by Shaw. We have just received an email saying that Shaw TV cannot broadcast our scheduled program: Our Way to Fight: Peace-work Under Siege in Israel-Palestine, by Michael Riordon, as it is too ‘unbalanced’ and ‘controversial.’ You can watch the program here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxGUJtWVSpo, and decide for yourself.”
Shaw TV is the community cable arm of Shaw Communications, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications corporations. Based in Calgary, Alberta, it controls telephone, internet and television networks, including digital satellite, and broadcasting stations from Hamilton, Ontario, to Victoria. As a federally licensed community cable network, Shaw TV is required to air locally created programming.
The program that Shaw banned is a 29-minute video of a talk/reading I gave last November at the University of Victoria. I read several excerpts from Our Way to Fight, interwoven with commentary. The event was sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices, the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, and University of Victoria: Social Studies. The talk was recorded by videographer Linda Taffs of Pasifik.ca, a collective of concerned citizens aiming to foster direct democracy. (Which in itself is a rather ‘controversial’ idea, at least to the 1% who are inclined to prefer a well-managed democracy that protects their stuff and controls dissent.)
As to Shaw’s excuses for banning the program:
Yes, the talk was ‘unbalanced,’ so is the book – but only in the sense that both feature Israelis and Palestinians engaged in non-violent struggle for a just peace in Palestine-Israel, but no settlers, no generals, no presidents or prime ministers, no war-pushers. All of these have ample outlets to air their views widely and continuously without any help from me. In fact it is their views that the corporate media defines as ‘balance.’
And ‘controversial’? Well, yes. Anything that dares to counter the official version is bound to be ‘controversial.’ That’s the job, isn’t it, to counter or at least to complicate the noisy dominance of the official version. In that version, Israeli settlements/colonies, ethnic cleansing and apartheid – all of them illegal under international law – are not deemed to be ‘controversial.’ Not in the eyes of the corporate gatekeepers.
This is exactly why we need – desperately need – principled, courageous independent media like Pacifik.ca, books like Our Way to Fight, and people who care enough about freedom – the real thing, not the official version – to stand with them.
After the talk, a man asked me to sign his copy of the book. When I asked him to whom I should sign it, he said, “To me, Rabbi ___.” Because he spoke quietly, standing close to me, I assume that he wouldn’t welcome my passing on his identity via the internet. He said, “Thank you for what you’re doing. It takes courage, but it’s exactly what we need.” He smiled, nodded, and departed.
The banned Pacifik.ca program is here. Catch it while you can, and decide for yourself.
Same goes for the book.
February 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm
Wow ! Scary…
Welcome to the Brave New Canada !
February 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm
Michael: this is an astounding act of censorship. Your description of the reality of “unbalanced vs balanced” is perfect. Hard to imagine this happening in 2012 – then again, maybe not as I wonder how closely connected Shaw Communications is to the federal government….
February 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm
Today I read the interview with John Baird (previous post) assuring Israel of Canada’s support. It was chilling but not surprising. Then I watched your reading from Our Way to Fight, (this post) that Shaw refused to air – the chill deepens.
February 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm
I’m an ISM connected activist whose been to Palestine as a human shield and was on board the Mavi Marmara when it was attacked by the IDF. I attended Mr. Riordon’s Victoria event and I felt it was an extremely balanced presentation, to the point that I was actually upset that he was leaning too far towards accommdating the Zionist Israeli positions. If peaceful, moderate discussions are not permitted on issues like this then it will sadly only encourage violent responses and solutions to happen.
February 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm
I find it odd that a book on non-violent resistance can in any manner be considered ‘unbalanced.’
February 7, 2012 at 1:17 am
My comments were also left on the Independent Jewish Voices petition of the Shaw TV decision, I will be subscribing to Telus Optik TV as soon as becomes available in my area.
As a Shaw subscriber I attended the reading by Michael Riordon in Victoria, BC. As a graduate student at the University of Victoria and as a Jewish women, I experienced nothing but the relaying of the power of personal stories and experiences that Mr Riorden was invited to convey in his book. The stories expose the desire for mutual regard and justice for both Jews and Palestinians in the Israeli State and within the territories it occupies. To censor personal stories is to silence lives lived in peaceful protest to the status quo. Please let the airing of this program proceed to encourage not antagonism between Jews and Palestinians but unity, pluralism and equal self-determination. This desire for a voice, for freeedom of ideas, the press and for diversity of ideas under of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is all Mr. Riordon has offered your viewers and what the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by extention the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)compels Shaw Cable to do. As a researcher on the conflicts in Israel and Palestine, I have witnessed many one sided antagonistic accounts of a complex history. Mr. Riordon’s presentation of “Our Way to Fight is gentle and compelling.
You have Jewish subscribers and Palestinian subscribers…please honour us both.
Pingback: IJV: Shaw bans video of peace activist author’s book reading | Seriously Free Speech Committee