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WikiLeaks’ Assange Hosts Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

On first episode of Russia Today show, guest pines for end of Israel

Marc Tracy
April 17, 2012
A still from the interview.(Russia Today)
A still from the interview.(Russia Today)

Julian Assange, the impresario behind the anti-privacy organization WikiLeaks, began hosting his new television show today—complete with ankle bracelet; he is in England awaiting potential extradition to Sweden to face rape charges—and further confirmed pretty much everything we know about him. His first guest was Hassan Nasrallah. The telling thing here isn’t that Assange would conduct the Hezbollah leader’s first Western interview since 2006: any journalist would jump at that chance. The telling thing, about Assange, is that Nasrallah chose to talk to him.

Time for some more transparency. Assange has been accused of anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering. When Yossi Melman was set to interview him for Haaretz, as Melman reported in Tablet Magazine, Assange insisted that he not be asked about anything related to his beliefs about Jews (after which Melman declined to conduct the interview). WikiLeaks’ Russian representative is one Israel Shamir, an anti-Semitic Holocaust doubter (and former Jew) whose twisted beliefs were profiled by Will Yakowicz. The subject of Russia brings us to Russia Today, the propagandistic, Kremlin-funded network, as Michael Moynihan reported, on which Assange’s talk show appears. It’s a curious outlet for a self-styled lover of freedom.

Assange does ever so slightly press Nasrallah on Hezbollah’s shameful support for the Assad regime in Damascus; Nasrallah, naturally, dissembles and worse—he argues that the opposition should play ball with President Assad, who, Nasrallah insists, is genuinely interested in reforms. On Israel, Nasrallah said what could be expected. “The state of Israel is an illegal state,” he tells Assange, according to the (rather clumsy-sounding) translator. “The progress of time does not negate justice. If you go occupy my house by force, it doesn’t become my house in 50 or 100 years. We believe that Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people.”

You can watch the interview here.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.