I spent an amazing morning with friends observing the Anzac Day commemorations of the many young soldiers who perished over the Gallipoli peninsula during WWI following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. As I prepare for my trip to Turkey in a few months time to film my next documentary, I came to learn more about the difficulties many journalists and filmmakers face in the country.
I always wake up before sunrise, no longer needing any alarm and I rug up in my warm clothing and wander the quiet gardens as the morning beams of light penetrate the atmosphere and colour the clouds with a scarlet glow. It is a time of quiet for me to gather my thoughts, to solidify my disposition and prepare for what is often a long day at work full of meetings and people and reports. Read More
It seems like a classic Orwellian situation. The Somoza family dictatorship in post-Colonial Nicaragua that led to the communist revolution headed by Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the civil war lasting between 1979-1990 with additional violence led by the Contras rebels, the latter funded by the United States despite such funding becoming illegal as the Reagan administration facilitated foreign arms sales in Iran to launder funds to Contras. Read More
You may or may not have heard it. They are the Christian Zionists – or the Christian Right – a sophisticated political and social movement organised in the United States who are ambitiously attempting to spur the Second Coming of Christ. These evangelical fundamentalists have popularised the idea the Bible must be read literally. While perhaps a portion of the scriptures may clearly articulate laws and behaviour to correspond directly with our reality, to take the poetic and figurative narrative literally in other sections of the book would make the contents of the Book of Revelations, Book of Daniel and the Book of Ezekiel is real.
As such, they are actively participating in the implementation of the coming rapture or Armageddon despite the highly ambiguous and dream-like apocalyptic content by interpreting those descriptions into a physical reality. For instance, Ezekiel’ Temple Vision has been interpreted as the restoration of the temple that replaces the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. While they may appear a strange and insular people driven by eccentric beliefs and a violent do-it-yourself form of salvation, they are a powerful community now even more visible under the leadership of Trump who are committed in their efforts to endorse all the proxy-wars and other terrible activities in the Middle East. Read More
The 1967 Arab-Israel war transformed the landscape of the Middle East, where in only six days the failure of the Arab offensive enabled Israel to capture the Golan Heights. This has become strategically beneficial since the name itself exemplifies the elevation, but rebel groups following the Syrian civil war have captured areas near the buffer zone that warns of a threat of escalating violence, particularly with the proxy war with Iran ever looming in the shadows.
In order to really understand the dynamics of the region and ultimately the reason for the civil war in Syria, it is especially important having a clear understanding of its recent past. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire the immense global changes and foreign intervention in the region stunted the post-colonial identity of those indigenous to the regions. Syria, indeed most of the Near Eastern region, has a unique religious history that shaped and influenced the structure as has Iran, Lebanon and Iraq since many heterodox and syncretistic religions were located in these areas including Druze, Ahl-e Haqq, Yezidi and Alawi. For centuries, the Ottomans had poor relations with these Shi’i sects and both met with antagonism and ultimately violence, most notable with the conflict between the empire and the Safavid’s. Heterodox groups were never granted the status of millet that consequently left them unprotected and were often required to pay high taxes. Long experiencing persecution for their beliefs, they retreated to the region that isolated them into an impoverished environment, found themselves tasting relative freedom and independence for the first time. Read More
There is a great deal anti-Semitism around, even today. A great deal. A quick peruse through social media and you’ll find scores of people posting theories and postulates that iterates previous systemic racism against the Jewish community (i.e. taking over the world), some doing it so well that you have to read between the lines to realise the embedded racism that methodically attempts to generate fear and hatred (‘we give to them and we care for them, but what do they do for us?’). It is no wonder Benjamin Netanyahu’ diplomatic antagonism against the world is so believable and indeed endorsed by the Likud Party that it has penetrated deep into the executive and legislative divisions within Israel. Read More