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Author Topic: CBC, Israel and Iraq
darkhorse
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posted 05 February 2003 09:10 PM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
As the other thread is closed I propose a related one:

Judging by the CBC's coverage of the US-Iraq conflict, would you say the CBC is biased against Iraq? Or, if you prefer, biased against Saddam's regime? If so, would you insist that all journalists villifying the Iraqi government or supporting Washington's plans, be sacked for their evident bias?
Or would you say a bias is justifiable considering Iraq's history and disregard of Security Council Resolutions?


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Polunatic
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posted 05 February 2003 09:41 PM      Profile for Polunatic   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Columnists are supposed to be biased. Journalists are supposed to rise above their biases and try to be objective.

Take the latest story at CBC's web site:

Saddam a threat to the civilized world – Powell

This is about as one-sided as a story can get. Iraq responded at the UN but not a word is mentioned in the article.

On the other hand, you can also find some of the most balanced (and interesting) journalism at the CBC.


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evenflow
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posted 05 February 2003 09:47 PM      Profile for evenflow        Edit/Delete Post
I agree with that. I've read many very balanced articles on CBC. They do also seem to have occassional fits of hardcore CNN-style biased reporting.
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darkhorse
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posted 05 February 2003 10:08 PM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If we allow for a bias when it comes to Iraq, why does bias become such a hot issue in regards to CBC's coverage of Israel?

How do Iraq and Israel differ? Iraq invaded another country, had and may still have WMD, and is in breach of UN Resolutions. But the same goes for Israel. Why then, such different public response to biased coverage in each case?


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Smith
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posted 05 February 2003 11:09 PM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Israel was created as a place of refuge for Jews, and a lot of people still see it that way, as a gentle socialist democracy surrounded by scary dictatorships.

Of course, having armed itself up with U.S. weapons, played go-between for the U.S. and Iran, etc., slashed its social programs, and taken over the West Bank, it doesn't live up to its image any more. But there's a significant time lag between the reality and the public perception, especially when Israel has the entire American propaganda machine unconditionally on its side.

Also, Iraq is not founded on a specific ethnic group. Many people identify Israel with Jews and vice versa, and they assume that other people think the same way, and that to oppose Israel is to oppose all Jewish people.

That'd be my guess.

[ 05 February 2003: Message edited by: Smith ]


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evenflow
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posted 05 February 2003 11:59 PM      Profile for evenflow        Edit/Delete Post
One main difference is that Israel dictates much of US foreign policy in that part of the world. Even the most casual observer can see that. Disliking how Israel's military behaves, like many Jewish people in Israel do, is quite different than disliking Jewish people, in my book.
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DrConway
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posted 06 February 2003 02:36 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Aren't journalists supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted?
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darkhorse
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posted 06 February 2003 02:46 AM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In my book too. Yet I fear that too often, the pro-Likud lobby groups use 'anti-semitism' as their trump card in silencing criticism of Israeli policy.

The mainstream media is by now so habitualy biased in portraying Israel as the victim that they can't do otherwise without getting into trouble. When the CBC attempts balanced reporting in the Middle East conflict, the lobby groups are outraged. And they should be. Because to show both sides means to diverge conspicuously from the commonly accepted portrayal of the conflict.

That's why most foreign journalists don't spend too long a term in Israel. After a while they would have to start reporting what's before their eyes everyday. And that's unacceptable journalism.

On the other hand, anti-Arabism has been an acceptable form of racism in the West for ages. So no one batts an eye at the consistent bias in the portrayal of the Iraq crisis.

That's my take.


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satana
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posted 06 February 2003 02:59 AM      Profile for satana     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Iraq doesn't really have a will of its own. Its actions are dictated by Europe and the US. Whereas Israel has its own agenda.
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darkhorse
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posted 06 February 2003 03:38 AM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Iraq doesn't really have a will of its own. Its actions are dictated by Europe and the US.
This is news to me. Someone should have told Colin Powell this.

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satana
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posted 06 February 2003 04:01 AM      Profile for satana     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The Gulf war is a conflict of European and American interests. I think everybody in Washington is very well aware of this.
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Mishei
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posted 06 February 2003 08:48 AM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
That's why most foreign journalists don't spend too long a term in Israel.
Hey, I have a wonderful idea, why don't these journalists, who don't want to spend their time in Israel base themseleves elsewhere in the Middle East. Say, Syria or Lebanon or maybe even Saudi Arabia. Any of the Arab countries. Ever wonder why it is Israel where their Mid-East bureaus are located? Ask them.

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skdadl
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posted 06 February 2003 09:45 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I beg your pardon, Mishei? There are many Western journalists spending long stretches of time in all those countries you've listed. I'd venture to say that several of the larger news organizations -- certainly the BBC, eg, or Agence France-Presse -- have more people capable of speaking local languages and living in those cultures than some of the vaunted intelligence agencies do.

I don't mean to defend all the coverage of the BBC or CBC, but I think there's some misunderstanding here about what "objectivity" means to reporters in various situations, and then to news organizations as a whole, at various levels.

A while back, some babblers were mocking those journalists who agree to join in "pool" operations of the kind the U.S. military is running in the Gulf (although they couldn't get away with it in Afghanistan -- the journalists beat them in). Even there, depending on the organization that sends reporters to those pools, the criticism may be naive. A decent organization will have reporters coming at a story from as many different directions as possible at once -- as even CNN did in the first Gulf war, with its -- two? three? -- reporters speaking from Bahdad as the first missiles arrived.

Any reporter's first job is to describe honestly what he's seeing in front of him. Send Neil Macdonald into the West Bank or Gaza, and he will tell you about the life of the Palestinians. Yes, great reporters learn to do more than that, become harder in their digging and research, and begin to synthesize.

And then there are all the independents, most of whom have special contacts with one larger org or another. You can't think fairly about media "objectivity" without looking at all those factors.

That said, the chauvinistic editorializing of the major U.S. networks, for sure, is open and disturbing to anyone who cares about good journalism. There, most obviously, journalism is being confused with propaganda.


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Smith
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posted 06 February 2003 01:13 PM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Iraq doesn't really have a will of its own. Its actions are dictated by Europe and the US. Whereas Israel has its own agenda.

Although that agenda has been heavily determined by the US.


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satana
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posted 06 February 2003 01:24 PM      Profile for satana     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thats true. But Arab leaders are always appointed by foreign powers. They do whatever they're told to keep their jobs.
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ronb
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posted 06 February 2003 02:40 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Libya?
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satana
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posted 06 February 2003 04:19 PM      Profile for satana     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
After Russia? Guess who Gaddafi is working for now ...
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ronb
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posted 06 February 2003 04:58 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
There there, be a good chap, muammar, and privatize your oil industry.
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darkhorse
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posted 06 February 2003 07:54 PM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
But Arab leaders are always appointed by foreign powers. They do whatever they're told to keep their jobs.

To keep their enormous wealth and other perks, in exchange for chanelling the country's resources and revenues to the west. That's standard practice.. even in latin america. The U.S' greatest enemey is democratic movements in resource-rich third world countries.

Talk of CBC's bias, we've just seen the headline Saddam a threat to the civilized world headline
I would love to see Washington's a Threat to World Peace, Democracy or Half Million Likely to Die in U.S War on Iraq

[ 07 February 2003: Message edited by: darkhorse ]


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Mishei
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posted 06 February 2003 08:06 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Skdadl, while individual journalists may go from time to time to those countries, none of the large media groups including BBC and Agence France-Presse have their Mid East Offices there. Why is that? Why do all of them choose Israel to have their bases from which to tip toe now and again to Lebanon Syria et al?
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flotsom
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posted 06 February 2003 09:32 PM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Alcohol.
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darkhorse
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posted 06 February 2003 10:20 PM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Why do all of them choose Israel to have their bases from which to tip toe now and again to Lebanon Syria et al?
It should be obvious, there's a greater demand for articles on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and sadly no end to the supply, since the violence is self-perpetuating. Other factors might include Israel being a major business hub and nexus for the west. And as was wisely pointed out, alcohol.

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Mishei
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posted 06 February 2003 10:48 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
And of course the freedom of the press (outside military censorship during conflict) and the feeling that you won't get murdered if you report the wrong story.
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flotsom
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posted 07 February 2003 01:54 AM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Since the beginning of the second Intifada on 29 September 2000, RSF has recorded 46 cases of journalists' being wounded by bullets. Certain wounds have been very serious. After in-the-field investigations, RSF found that in the majority of cases responsibility has been attributable to the Israeli army. RSF has requested that the investigations be expedited. In mid-December 2001, i.e. fifteen months after the first confrontations, the Israeli Ministry of Defence divulged the findings of its investigations. Only nine of the journalists wounded were mentioned in the document, which, except in one single case, exonerated the Tsahal.

Reporters sans frontières - Israel

quote:
According to information received by RSF, on 14 February, when Sagui Bashan, journalist for the second Israeli television channel was leaving the Gaza Strip where he had spent part of the evening covering the Israeli army incursion into the area, at about 10 p.m. he was stopped at a military barricade in Netzarim. After having shown his press card to the soldiers, he asked to see the order from a superior officer stating that it was a "closed military territory". When the soldiers told him they didn't have such a document, the journalist started off. After he'd driven a few metres, the soldiers opened fire on his car.

quote:
12.24 - Israel
Government orders closure of Arab weekly
12.19 - Israel

Border police beat Agence France-Presse photographer

10.11 - Israel
Reuters journalist freed : Reporters Without Borders demands release of three others

10.8 - Israel
Israeli army raids palestinian newspaper offices


Reporters sans frontières Israel annual Report 2002


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darkhorse
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posted 07 February 2003 02:45 AM      Profile for darkhorse     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks Flotsom.

And here's another:

quote:
Israeli forces kill Italian journalist An Italian photo-journalist has been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and a French journalist has been wounded.

Raffaele Ciriello, 42, was shot this morning as Israeli tanks occupied Ramallah and its neighbouring refugee camps.

An eyewitness said Ciriello, who was on an assignment for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, was killed as he tracked Palestinian gunmen through the town.

Journalist Amedeo Ricucci said he and his colleague were following Palestinian militia through the centre of Ramallah this morning when an Israeli tank appeared from around the corner and shot Ciriello six times without warning. The Guardian


Other articles:
quote:
Israeli soldiers have targeted, killed and wounded, international and local journalists, confiscated and destroyed journalist's equipment and obstructed journalist's movement and access to stricken areas.web page
quote:

Civilians, Journalists, Peace Activists Targeted by U.S.-Supplied Israeli Army

[ 07 February 2003: Message edited by: darkhorse ]


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Mishei
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posted 07 February 2003 08:20 AM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
There is a war out there folks and while I in no way condone these excesses, it is dangeorus. That said, the question still remains.

BTW, how many reporters are reporting from the areas of war in Afganistan. How many are the Americans even allowing into the area?


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skdadl
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posted 07 February 2003 09:14 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Which area, Mishei? Dozens of journalists have a lot more experience in all parts of Afghanistan than the American military have, and the Americans can't control their entry from several directions, as they have been able to in other situations. That's always been true -- well, always: since 1979.

The larger news organizations always put their main offices where the most news is likely to come from, although I'm sure there are many Western journalists based in, eg, Cairo and Riyadh.

It's true that most news organizations, above all the U.S. TV networks, cut back drastically on their foreign bureaus through the 1990s. For a time, for instance, NBC covered the Middle East from its Rome bureau. Then even the Rome bureau closed. That's why the networks are never ready for events that reasonably should have been predictable to them, why "news" in North America is so often crisis reporting, seeming to come from nowhere.

So -- a large dollop of insularity and ignorance at management levels in the big news organizations would be part of the answer to your question, too.

By contrast, most individual reporters who want to be foreign correspondents are more than happy to go to tough places. But unless they're working as independents, they don't get to make those decisions -- the suits who can't imagine living without air conditioning do.


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DrConway
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posted 08 February 2003 01:00 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
There is a war out there folks and while I in no way condone these excesses, it is dangeorus. That said, the question still remains.

Oh, now Israel is at war! Well, you won't mind if I ask why Israel is breaking the Geneva Convention a million ways from Sunday.

But Israel is not at war, you will tell me. Then if Israel is not at war, why do you say Israel is in a war?

I do not enjoy playing these games of Schroedinger's Battle, Mishei.


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flotsom
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posted 08 February 2003 01:08 AM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
More of Mishei's excesses

December 3, 2002

To whom it may concern,

We, the undersigned, are staff members of the United Nations, but we write in our personal capacities. All of us work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip bringing badly needed humanitarian relief to a population in distress. In the course of our duties we have witnessed much tragedy on both sides of the conflict. We have come from all over the world to work, without bias or favour, to try to alleviate some of the pain and suffering that has for too long afflicted this land.

Now we find that, once again, tragedy has touched us. For us, expressions of sadness and grief are not enough. The diplomatic language of the bureaucrat will not suffice. We write to express our absolute condemnation at the senseless killing of Iain Hook in Jenin on November 22. Based on publicly available information, we condemn the Israeli army in the strongest possible terms for this wanton act against an unarmed man--a man shot in the back by a military sniper while negotiating with the Israeli army to evacuate the women, children and UN staff who were in the UN compound at the time.

Our condemnation is reinforced by the knowledge that the soldiers refused to allow an ambulance called to evacuate Iain to travel the last few yards needed to reach him. Instead, UN staff here [were] forced to seek an alternative route to rescue him. This caused a delay and made sure that the work done by a bullet was completed by the Israeli army's refusal to respect the most elementary standards of humanity.

The shock of that day's events does not come in isolation. For two years, United Nations staff have been subject to escalating harassment and violence by Israel's military, so that the protection supposed to be afforded by the blue letters of the UN is being steadily eroded.

UN staff--international and Palestinian alike--have been verbally abused, stripped, beaten, shot at and killed by Israeli soldiers. There has been armed interference with UN employees and vehicles, including attacks on UN ambulances and medical personnel. UNRWA schools, health clinics and offices have been hit by bombs, rockets, tank shells and gunfire even during daytime, thereby endangering the lives of staff and, in the case of schools, the lives of refugee children. Buildings occupied by UN staff have been repeatedly damaged during Israeli airforce bombing.

Tragically Iain Hook was not the first person working with the UN to die at the hands of the IDF this year. In March, Kamal Hamdan was shot and killed while travelling in a clearly marked UNRWA ambulance in the West Bank. In April, Husni Amer died in Israeli military custody in Jenin after, according to witnesses, receiving a brutal beating by the soldiers at the time of his arrest. From its silence, we presume the Israeli authorities have ignored UN requests for an investigation and report of these two incidents, and have not seen fit to take any disciplinary action against the soldiers involved. To us, this seems to confirm a pattern of utter contempt on the part of the Israeli army for the lost lives of these men, the safety of UN staff or the minimum standards imposed by international law which should protect UN staff and other humanitarian workers.

The official military spokesperson's statement on the initial investigation into Iain's killing asserts that shots were fired from UNRWA's compound in the Jenin refugee camp towards Israel's forces. This contradicts eyewitness accounts of our colleagues in Jenin and the information relayed to UNRWA's Field Office by Iain just prior to his death. The most charitable characterization one can make of this statement is that it lacks any credibility. To us, it has all the makings of propaganda designed to tarnish the reputation of the UN, excuse the killing of an unarmed man and perpetuate the false charge that UNRWA shelters terrorists, in the public mind. We strongly request that any investigation carried out by the Israeli government will be independent, transparent and impartial. We strongly request that the Israeli government will bring those responsible for Iain's killing promptly to justice. Only the most lawless societies allow gunmen in uniform the impunity to kill aid workers without fear of punishment. We are confident Israel does not wish to see its troops painted in the same colours as the militiamen who have stalked some of the world's other conflicts.

As UN staff, we expect the protection of the Israeli government to enable us to undertake our humanitarian responsibilities wherever they are needed. This is not a matter of courtesy or favour, but rather an implementation of Israel's own obligations under international law and its express commitment to UNRWA to facilitate the Agency's operations in the occupied territories.

Israel's often stated regret at the loss of civilian lives is not an impervious shield that can deflect all criticism. It is a shield that is, in our view, tarnished by the attempts of Israeli spokespersons to link Iain's death to wider political issues or to claim that the UN was somehow culpable for his killing. In these tragic circumstances, rather than easily uttered regrets, we expect the Israeli Government take the necessary steps to stop the harassment, beating and killing of UN staff. We expect respect and protection as United Nations employees. As international staff members, we hope and expect to return alive to our own countries and families after our work here is done. We hope and expect no less for our Palestinian colleagues so they can live and work in safety until the parties to the conflict eventually find the road to peace.


Sally Airs, Australia; Naomi Ando, Japan; Ignacio Artaza Zuriarrain, Spain; Alan Barnie, Australia; Peter Bartu, Australia; Pamela Bell, USA; Susan Brannon, USA; Marlise Brenner, Australia; Deidre Connolly, USA; Marisa Consolate Kemper, Canada; Joanna Corbin, UK; B. Scott Custer Jr., USA; Omar Dajani, USA; Calvin Dasilvio, USA; Isabelle dela Cruz, Germany; Marc De la Motte, Italy-France; Mark Dennis, USA; Ray Dolphin, Ireland; Juliet Dryden, UK; Teresa Fallarme, Philippines; Jean-Marie Frentz, Luxembourg; Christopher Gabelle, UK; Jagannathan Gopalan, India; Philippe Grandet, France; Pentti Hakonen, Finland; Roger Hearn, Australia; Grigor Hovmannisyan, Armenia; Thierry Kaiser, France; Sima Kanaan, Jordan; Elizabeth Kawambwa, Tanzania; Jan Kolaas, Norway; Antje Kunst, Germany; Marc Lassouaoui, France; Brett Lodge, Australia; Ali Mahmuda, Canada; Henrik Mathiesen, Norway; Carlos Mazuera, Columbia; Paul McCann, UK; Amanda Melville, Australia; Severine Meyer, France; Zeina Mogarbel, Spain; Merethe Nedrebo, Norway; Gustav Nordstrom, Finland; Patrick O'neil, Ireland; Melissa Parke, Australia; Joachim Paul, Germany; Alex Pollock, UK; Gerhard Pulfer, Austria; Timothy Rothermel, USA; Sam Rose, UK; Ehab Shanti, Canada; Shahwan Huda, Jordan; Jean-Luc Siblot, France; Guy Siri, France; Elna Sondergaard, Denmark; Juerg Staudenmann, Switzerland; Angelo Stefanini, Italy; Gretta Van Bleek, Netherlands; Arjan Van Houwelingen, Netherlands; Andrew Whitley, UK; Hanna Wintsch, Switzerland; Cecilia Wreh-McGill, USA; Ros Young, UK; Kirsten Zaat, Australia


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