Podcast Ep 2: How Israel helps Latin American death squads

For the second episode in our new podcast format, hosts Nora Barrows-Friedman and Asa Winstanley are joined by Max Blumenthal, editor of the Grayzone Project and co-host of the excellent Moderate Rebels podcast.

As someone with a long Electronic Intifada history, there was a lot to discuss with Max, and the conversation is wide-ranging and global in outlook.

We take a look at the Integrity Initiative, a covert disinformation operation funded with millions of pounds from the British government’s foreign and defense ministries. The Grayzone Project has done some of the leading reporting on this shady outfit.

“If you want to understand not just Russiagate but how our media is acting as a permanent arm of the national security state, both in the UK and the US, you have to understand the Integrity Initiative scandal,” Blumenthal says.

Run out of the offices of an obscure London think tank called the Institute for Statecraft, just what is this “initiative” up to?

How is it working to subvert the Labour Party, the Democrats and the wider left in the UK and the US? Exactly what is its right-wing extremist agenda?

Since recording took place on the day the attempted coup in Venezuela was launched, we also talk about what’s been going on there.

While Palestine is the top of the list of “foreign policy” issues that some social democrats are too quick to wave the white flag over, Venezuela is another clear example.

How does the US-led subversion of that country show that Israel is a leading part of a transatlantic alliance against progressive governments?

Finally, we discuss “Russiagate” and how it is being weaponized against the left in the US and the UK, including against Palestine solidarity.

Articles we discussed

Music: “Go Down Standing” by Excentrik featuring Rythmatik

Theme music and production assistance by Sharif Zakout

Image: Palestinians in Gaza rally in support of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in front of the UN headquarters in Gaza City, 28 January. (Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

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I love the work you're doing. Absolutely wonderful. However. . . .

Would it be possible to put a little more post-production into it? The sound levels are just awful. You guys have a tendency to speak very low-voiced, which is just fine, but then will suddenly (Asa, you're most guilty of this) will burst out rather loudly. Again, that's fine. The casual spintenaity is great. But when the sound levels aren't controlled or edited, it makes listening difficult because the generally low sound level requires playing it back at high volume.

The other problem involved is that it's almost impossible to listen on my mobile unless I'm using headphones. I lose way too much audio if I try to play it back on the phone speaker.

Anyway, if there's anything you can do about it, the content is fantastic, and if it could be made more accessible, more suitable for general listening conditions, that would be great.

Thanks for all you guys do.

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Hi Chris, Thanks for the feedback. We’re working on getting the levels right, as we’re in different geographical locations with different technical equipment. Stay tuned!

Asa Winstanley's picture

Thanks for the constructive feedback Chris. We’ve now invested in some good audio equipment, so you should hopefully hear a notible improvement starting in Episode 3.


More interviews with Max Blumenthal, please!

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).