18December2014

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‘Grievous Censorship’ By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed’s Blog

In July, regular Guardian contributor Nafeez Ahmed examined claims that Israel is seeking to create a 'political climate' conducive to the exploitation of Gaza's considerable offshore gas reserves - 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, valued at $4 billion – which were discovered off the Gaza coast in 2000.

Ahmed quoted Israeli defence minister, Moshe Ya'alon, to the effect that military efforts to 'uproot Hamas' were in part driven by Israel's determination to prevent Palestinians developing their own energy resources. Ahmed also cited Anais Antreasyan who argued, in the highly-respected University of California's Journal of Palestine Studies, that this is part of a wider strategy of:

'separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development. Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA [Palestinian Authority], from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources.'

At the time of writing, Ahmed's July 9 piece has received a massive 68,000 social media shares and is far and away the most popular Guardian article on the Gaza conflict. In the event, however, it was the last article published by him in the Guardian. The following day, his valuable Earth Insight blog, covering environmental, energy and economic crises, was killed off.

The Earth Insight series had accrued around three million views and was the most popular Guardian environment blog. It published stories which went viral, generating global headlines, such as Ahmed's interview with ex-CIA official Robert Steele on the 'open source revolution' (44,000 Facebook shares); the Pentagon's Minerva project and Ministry of Defence initiatives targeting domestic activists and political dissidents (47,000 shares); and the little-understood link between NSA mass surveillance and Pentagon planning for the impact of climate, energy and economic shocks.

Ironically, given that the Guardian has just dumped him, Ahmed recently won a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for a Guardian article on Ukraine, published earlier this year. He also won a 2014 Project Censored award for his first Guardian article, published in 2013, which was about food riots as 'the new normal'. This year, Ahmed was also included as one of the Evening Standard's 'Power 1000' most globally influential Londoners, in the 'Campaigners: Ecowarriors' section.

Former Guardian and Observer journalist Jonathan Cook comments:

'Ahmed is that rare breed of journalist who finds stories everyone else either misses or chooses to overlook; he regularly joins up the dots in a global system of corporate pillage. If the news business were really driven by news rather than a corporate-friendly business agenda, publications would be beating a path to his door.'

High praise indeed. At first sight, then, the Guardian's ditching of Nafeez Ahmed is counter-intuitive, to say the least.

Read more: ‘Grievous Censorship’ By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed’s Blog

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