Hart of the Matter #6: John Pilger

My first guest for this series, the Israeli historian, Professor Ilan Pappe, told us that he had taken his leave of Israel because the lives of his two young sons as well as his own life were being threatened.

My guest tonight is another man who receives death threats from supporters of Israel right or wrong for daring to tell the truth they want suppressed. He is one of the world’s best, most courageous and distinguished journalists. Our paths crossed for the first time more years ago than either of us care to remember when we were covering the war in Vietnam. He is John Pilger.

John is also a prolific author and the maker of award-winning documentary films. It was after his 2002 film, Palestine Is Still The issue, that he received death threats and what he described as “slanderous abuse” from supporters of Israel right or wrong. Most of the organised hate mail he received came out of America where the film was never shown.

Harold Pinter, the great Jewish playright, wrote the following: “John Pilger unearths, with steely attention, the facts and the filfthy truth, and tells it like it is.”

5 comments on this post.
  1. Ahmed Asgher:

    Dear Alan

    I loved the opening statement of John Pilger in answer to your first question.

    It resonates with me as the eternal truth: That without justice and respect for humans/individuals, no system will endure the test of time, and that every individual regardless of their colour or creed has the full and equal right under this universal law.

    I have just subscribed to your website. As you can see from my name, I am a mix of Arab and Persian with a hint of Jew in my ancestry born and bred in Bahrain; a unique combination, I might add! And which I adore because it gives me the right to be part of any of those races or have nothing to do with either of them!! It all depends on who believes in the universality of the human form. I see them as potentially perfect human beings but sadly they do not see that in themselves.

    I love every human and would long for a day when I see someone who mirrors my feeling. For the record, I have many friends who have similar feelings and meet many individuals daily who agree with me. What is needed is to put what we feel into practice.

    It has taken me a few years to do so, and I am glad to report that at the age of sixty, there is no other way to an eternal life except through a loving heart. Yours is a truly loving Hart.

    Thank you for allowing me to express myself.

  2. LenNZ:

    I’ve long been an admirer of anyone who stands up for truth
    and (moral)justice. When I lived in the UK thirty some years ago
    I often admired your work on the Beeb and wondered what happened to you. John Pilger has always been a voice for the disposessed and his docos from Palestine, Cambodia and most recently Venezuela,
    have been my main source of real news. While living in New Zealand is certainly a pleasant life style, it is a rather self centred country where the real world news hardly percolates the local press unless it has a local angle. Keep up up the good work.

  3. Tim Hollingworth:

    I would agree with almost all of Pilger’s assessment of the tragedy in the Middle East, with possibly one exception. He, Mr. Hart, and you as well, recognize a “clear division” between Zionism and Judaism. I’m not sure I do. Because, arguably, Zionism may be the culmination of the deepest Jewish aspirations. It is the most pronounced expression of the Jewish Zeitgeist. Most religious Jews,(and at least subconsciously, many secular Jews, as well), adhere at one level or another to attitudes and teachings revealed in the Talmud. On balance, the Talmud tells us that Jews are superior to gentiles, as humans are to lower animal forms. Jews must eventually, at some point, subdue gentile ‘animals’ and rule over them.
    Which leads to another issue: What exactly is Judaism? What are its theological components? Is it possible in a short paragraph, perhaps, to describe the major tenets of Judaism? I contend that the dimensions of modern Judaism are not so easily delineated. Judaism is a name attached to disparate modes of religious, political and social thought, none of which are necessarily related to one another or cohere in a readily identifiable whole. As a Catholic, I can easily set down in a short paragraph what the essential docrines of my faith are. I defy a Jew, of whatever stripe he may be, to do the same. I would say, in summary, that Judaism is more of an attitude or understanding that Jews have about themselves and the role they feel destined to play in the world, than it is an immutable set of religious principles and dogmas. I would conclude finally then that there may well be no “clear division” between Zionism and Judaism, but that the former is merely the present face of the latter. I would say further that most Jews connect at some level with the Zionist cause. I think this contention is indisputable.

  4. David Marchesi:

    an admirable interview. As an “oldie” I have tried in a small way to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people. It strikes me that Zionism is a sort of shameful equivalent of “machismo” – the kind of posing which Australians of my and John’s generation thought of as laughable.No Israeli can be free without the freedom of the Palestinians , just as the freedom and equality of both sexes is the essential aim of “feminism” but also of decent “masculinists”.Sadly, as Stuart Littlewood remarks on Cameron, his kowtowing to the Zionists in Washington and Tel Aviv shows he hasn’t the balls to stand up to the Zionist lobby. Probably no British leader over the last 66 years has had, except, curiously and perhaps,Enoch Powell. De Gaulle summed up the mind set of the Israeli ruling classes very well, of course.I am concerned that far too many of the “educated” Jews in this country , Europe and the US are , as another commentator has explained, drawn far into the Zionist trap.Like adepts of other shameful ideologies, they are losing their humanity, a particularly dangerous temptation – let’s be honest- for people who have historically valued “identity” or chosenness.

  5. Andrew Lago:

    Although much of the content of this site is somewhat old, Alan Hart’s voice is greatly needed even now (in 2015). Being 50 years old, I’m sorry I didn’t find this website sooner.

    However, Mr. Hart sometimes makes a clunky distinction between Judaism and Zionism and sometimes blurs the two when talking about the complicity of American Jews, academia, the media, the federal government, etc.

    Mr. Hart cannot have it both ways.

    Mr. Hart is courageous but understandably stays away from the sticky problem of how Zionists have been able to control American academia, media, politicians, money supply, economy and public opinion, all in the name of promoting Isreal’s neo-colonial ways and American Jewish wealth and power.

    I’m all for Palestinian rights, as they are the most aggrieved party. But how are average Americans and other Westerners going to get some justice of their own? It’s going to be disastrous for everyone.

    I tend to agree with Tim Hollingworth analysis about Judaism and Zionism. Zionism being a manifestation of Jewish attitudes about themselves and others. Tim says:


    Judaism is more of an attitude or understanding that Jews have about themselves and the role they feel destined to play in the world….


    I think a lot of what Tim states is true.

    It’s Jewish identity that’s at the heart of the problem, not the religion or the atheism of many Jews. Most of it is subconscious, but the result is Jewish leveraging of the weaknesses in our Western democratic institutions for their own and Isreal’s gain, at the expense of everyone else.

    Thank you, Mr. Hart for the courage to keep speaking up for the Palestinians whose cause should be everyone’s cause.

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