Indonesian Jews learn traditions on YouTube

The idea of a small Jewish community in Indonesia pleases me and yet the blind adulation of an Israeli flag is sad. Is there knowledge how the Palestinians are being abused? A new, 62-foot-tall menorah, possibly the world’s largest, rises from a mountain overlooking this Indonesian city, courtesy of the local government. Flags of Israel…

Kicking refugees when they’re down and out

It isn’t just Australia treating asylum seekers as criminals to be exploited for political gain: A video showing French police dragging immigrant women and children away from a protest squat has sharpened accusations that President Nicolas Sarkozy has made a cynical turn towards the authoritarian right. Although police insist that the disturbing footage is misleading,…

Why internet censorship is a fool’s paradise

My following article is published today by the Sydney Morning Herald/Age online: We live under the illusion that governments can protect us from the evils of the world. Paedophilia, extreme violence, lessons in self-harm and suicide, race hatred and terrorism. We have every right to expect governments to monitor hate and terror sites and arrest…

We’re Jews and we love other Jews being close to us

Here’s a classic clip from the “shooting yourself in the foot” department. A bunch of Israelis shoot a video called “I’m a Jew” but instead of celebrating the country’s racial diversity – namely, that not only Jews live in Israel – they talk about serving in the military (something Palestinians are unable to do). The…

Iranian autocrats will have a harder time blocking material

Whenever any repressive regime tries to censor online content, rest assured somebody somewhere will find a way around it (Western governments also take note): While the Iranian government has intensified its aggressive efforts to expand Internet filters, Austin Heap, a young programmer in the U.S., says he has developed software that would enable Iranians to…

Give me the internet, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

A nation of addicts proudly (and desperately?) need their daily fix: American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full…

Google slaps down Australia

Is Australia trying to look foolish or do they truly want to look like a bumbling authoritarian state? The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has launched a stinging attack on Google and its credibility in response to the search giant’s campaign against the government’s internet filtering policy. In an interview on ABC Radio last night, Senator…

Our fine Saudi mates

The charming behaviour of a reliable American ally: A Saudi man who was arrested in January on charges of homosexuality, a “general security” offence, and impersonation of a police officer has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, plus a fine of 5,000 rials (US $1,333) and a year in prison. Authorities say their attention was drawn…