Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Gaza and simple pleasures

August 30, 2014

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Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own or so the master says in Matthew’s gospel. Particularly in his’ time when life was short and often brutal—there was more enough daily trouble to go around. Life has always tossed us curve balls—mental and physical ailments, disappointments of all kinds, thwarted dreams. All too true but as Teilhard told us, “By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” A rich faith life helps to direct our gaze and point us in the right direction.

Daily we live under a waterfall of grace. the seemingly small pleasures nourish us. The happiest people are those who are engaged in our common struggle for humanization. While it is true that wherever we are it is Egypt and pharaoh is still on his throne and life is less than it should be, people come together in communities, organizations and movements to make life more tolerable if not better.

Many through sheer luck, birthright or yes, talent, have all their physical needs looked after and sadly end up as Nietzsche said of the last men, live a life of pitiable comfort. The pleasure principle is their sole ambition. They have their reward as superficial as it may be.

For those who are truly alive La lucha continua as the California Grape workers used to say…the struggle continues. The world needs our engagement. One can never retire from this summons.

The great pacifist A.J.Muste used to go to New York Mets games to unwind. I like to go to the Toronto Boardwalk and watch my grandkids play soccer. What an exhilarating experience, watching these pre-teens race up and down the pitch, cheered on parents and friends. I watch the boats on the lake, the caring coaches and refs and the spirited determination on these innocent children This goes on all over this city on summer nights, all run by volunteers. A simple pleasure. A kairos even as the missies crash into Gaza

I am aware that as of August 24, nearly half a million Palestinian children in Gaza who were scheduled to start a new school year were unable to do so because of Israel’s savage massacre which took the wholly innocent lives of about 500 precious ikons of the divine The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reckons 519.

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Cousins of the 4 Palestinian kids killed while playing soccer on a Gaza beach

In an interview last week Pernille Ironside the chief of UNICEF Gaza’s field office said that,” the future of Palestinian children in Gaza is extraordinarily bleak. The entire population has experienced a deep form of trauma, and there isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement. The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children. I’ve met children who have experienced extraordinary wounds, who have watched as family members were dismembered before their eyes, obliterated….I mean, the impact and the type of weaponry that’s being used is literally shredding and obliterating people, and particularly children, who are so small and vulnerable.
Ms Ironside, the very best of the wonderful people who work for the United Nations stated in her usual professional manner that “there appears to be a rollback in terms of the compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law that dictate civilians and civilian objects, including shelters that are run for relief purposes, are protected spaces at all times.”

I observe in stunned disbelief that local rabbis are not shaking their fists in rage over the deaths of these children. I wonder why the Catholic bishops are so mute on such an egregious betrayal of civilized norms.

At the same time i am grateful for Israeli writers like Gideon Levy and Amira Hess who never stop challenging Israel for its betrayal of ethical Zionism.

I watch my grandkids cavort on the boardwalk’s soccer pitch I rejoice in such a simple pleasure and as I take Dougie for an ice cream after his game i am deeply aware of 519 Palestinian children and one Israeli who will never grow up to kick a soccer ball.

DOUGIE

Racism: No tears for Palestinian children

August 29, 2014

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“Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.

Edith Wharton

Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help – there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not. There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning.

Gideon Levy in Haaretz Aug. 24, 2014

Many of the Zionist critics of Israel often mention the deep racism in Israel today Poll after poll indicates this sad fact. Peter Beinart in his book The Crisis of Zionism states that the poll results of Israeli attitudes towards Arabs are shocking. He then lays the results out with this statement: “As painful as it is for Jews to admit that race hatred can take roots among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it the ground truth is that occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it”.

Walls of course facilitate racism. Think about what that concrete monstrosity means that snakes across Israel today. Not only has it stolen 10% of Palestinian land, but it screams “I don’t even want to even see you.”. These poor Israeli kids who are forced to humiliate Arabs on a daily basis ultimately will see them as less than human.

There were no walls at Harbord Collegiate playground in the summers when I was a kid playing on three city championship ball teams with all Jewish kids in the early 50s. Athletics and demography can do that for you if you are lucky enough and wise enough to take the universal lessons dropped in your lap

One of the most shocking examples of this ingrained racism is contained in Israeli journalist Yoram Binur’s 1990 expose My Enemy, My Self, a book which rocked Israel. Like John Howard Griffin’s opus Black Like Me in the southern USA in the late 50s. Binur successfully passed into the culture as “the other”, in his case a lowly Palestinian doing menial jobs.

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Fluent in Arabic, the author experienced the daily abuse as a Palestinian living under military rule in the Occupied Territories. Treated with utter disdain by his Jewish employers, he begins to hate his fellow Israelis who had no idea he was a former lieutenant in the IDF.

How prophetic Binur was. While he was underground the first Intifada broke out. His eerie conclusion:

If you respect them and their rights to freedom and independence, you dont have a problem, but if you just ignore it, you fall into a greater risk and this is the reason I wrote the book, because I feel the biggest risk is just around the corner and no one paid attention. Israel will not be a democracy anymore. You cannot apply a dictatorship to Palestinian camps five minutes from Jerusalem, as we do now, and keep a democracy,“

Binur’s sobering account of Jewish racism was at tghe same time also confirmed by Israel’s premier novelist David Grossman .In 1987 Grossman was commissioned to write about life in the Occupied Territories. Palestinians in their daily suffering leap off the page as fellow humans who often remind him of his grandmother.The author is appalled with the settlers “who will not allow themselves a split second of empathy. He is sickened by the exploitation of Palestinian workers.The Yellow Wind caused a sensation in Israel.

Twenty-four years later the chastened liberal Zionists are flagging racism as the grave threat to Israeli democracy. No less prophetic than Binur and Grossman is another brave Israeli, journalist Gideon Levy.

In an Haaretz article (Aug 24) the author wrote about “the difference between children”. It is a stunning piece in which Levy contrasts the coverage of the death of the four year old Israeli child Daniel Tragerman and the almost 500 children killed in Gaza. The death of the young Jewish child  was major news in Israel and as Levy says Whose heart would not be broken at the sight of the grieving family,who would not weep at how he was criminally killed…It is human understanadable and moving.”

Yet Levy probes depper.

“What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of thir children”

In a world where there is some good, children would be left out of the cruel game called war. In a world where there is some good, it would be impossible to understand the total, almost monstrous unfeelingness in the face of the killing of hundreds of children – not ours, but by us. Imagine them standing in a row: 478 children, in a graduating class of death.

These are the Palestinian children killed in Gaza

An iron wall of denial and inhumanness protects the Israelis from the shameful work of their hands in Gaza. And indeed, these numbers are hard to digest

The radio yesterday already talked about “murder.” The prime minister already called the killing “terror,” while hundreds of Gaza’s children in their new graves are not victims of murder or terror. Israel had to kill them. And after all, who are Fadi and Ali and Islaam and Razek, Mahmoud, Ahmed and Hamoudi – in the face of our one and only Daniel.

We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects.”

Zionism called into question

August 27, 2014

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Others have not been so specific in their dissent, but they share the sense that it will no longer do simply to trot out the familiar lines. Partly it’s because some of the consequences of the Israeli bombardment have been so hard to stomach: hospitals, schools, and homes battered by shells, with instantly lethal consequences. It requires a special steel, perhaps lacking in some liberal Zionists, to speak up for Israel when the country’s air force has just hit a home for the disabled.

Jonathan Freedland in the New York Review of Books July 26,2014

50 days of unrelenting pulverizing, hardly a war have come to an end with the usual results, massive Palestinian suffering including the deaths of 500 children, the needless deaths of 64 Israelis,(5 by friendly fire) mostly soldiers. The interesting thing is the lashing of Israeli PM Netanyahu whose poll numbers have plummeted. The damage done to Zionism is incalculable as many Jewish commentators have been writing. It is truly decision time for many Jews in the diaspora.

Beleaguered liberal Zionists  as we are seeing are having a massive crise de conscience—how to balance their dreams of Israel  as an oasis of universal human values, liberalism and human rights with the reality of Revisionist Zionism, a shocking betrayal of humanist values, best exemplified by the savage assaults on Gaza—3 in the last six years.

Before that there was another disproportionate attack on Lebanon in 2006. You recall that don’t you? In the last 72 hours of fighting, at a time when the United Nations Security Council had adopted Resolution 1701 calling for an immediate halt to hostilities, Israel dropped more than four million of these flesh ripping pieces of shrapnel over south Lebanon, a goodbye kiss if you will, another lovely reminder of “the most moral army in the world.” all paid for of course by the USA.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch slammed Israel for the use of these cluster bombs in civilian areas. In an article in Haaretz (Sept 12, 2006) an anonymous member of the IDF rocket’s unit spoke as a human being:“What we did was insane and monstrous; we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”  Handicap International an NGO which monitors this type of warfare reported that since the cessation of hostilities five years later, 408 Lebanese civilians have been killed or injured by these, 115 of them under 18 years old. Unless properly disposed of, the weapons keep killing and maiming for decades. In 2007 alone, Lebanon lost an estimated $126.8 million in agricultural revenue because of cluster munitions.

This is the stuff of which never gets into our news cycles, never penetrates our minds and lives. Yet they are hell on earth for those who suffer. And the worst suffering is that the west cares very little about Arab suffering.

Well now the cumulative savagery is readily obvious to diaspora Jews who desperately wanted to believe in the cultural and religious Zionism they grew up with. These are people who  pay attention to what is really transpiring within Israel. Decent men like Lerman and several other Jewish American Zionist pundits along with a growing chorus of other dissenters are having the masks pulled from their eyes. And it must be said to the willfully blind in disaporic Jewry this has always been going on if you had been really paying attention.

As the author mentioned in his NYT Sunday article “ the self-appointed arbiters  of what’s Jewish in the Jewish state — the extreme religious Zionists and the strictly Orthodox, aided and abetted by Jewish racists  in the Knesset like Ayelet Shaked, a Jewish Home Party member who recently called for the mothers of Palestinian “snakes” to be killed — are trashing democracy more and more each day”. 

This public excoriation has scarcely been heard before in national American papers but a rubicon of blood has been crossed this time in Gaza and only deluded true believers can deny it. The public faces of liberal Zionism are no longer falling for the lying (”the familiar lines” as Jonathan Freedland said above) massive propaganda peddled by Israel and ignored by the craven Congress and Senate, Herein lies the great scandal of American democracy held hostage by the money and influence of the Israeli lobby. Not one president has dared buck this lobby since Harry Truman caved in 1947. Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are both co-opted by this lobby.

Lerman concludes his article in this fashion:

Pushed to the political margins in Israel and increasingly irrelevant in the Diaspora,  liberal Zionism not only lacks agency; worse, it provides cover for the supremacist Zionism  dominant in Israel today. Liberal Zionists have become an obstacle to the emergence of a  Diaspora Jewish movement that could actually be an agent of change.

Conclusion tomorrow,

Endgame for liberal Zionism?

August 25, 2014

In Germany slow processes altered the perception of reality to the degree that insanity became the norm, and then we were exterminated. It happened in the land of the poets and philosophers. There it was possible, and here to in the land of the prophets. The establishment of a state run by rabbis and generals is not an impossible nightmare…open your ears and hearts.
Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset

From the Six Day War to Lebanon, from Lebanon to the settlements, from the settlements to Gaza, Israel’s credibility has steadily fallen – even as the world’s distance from Auschwitz (the favorite excuse) has lengthened. So Israel is far more vulnerable today than it would have been twenty five years ago.
Tony Judt, late Jewish American historian

It took over 50 years for the veil to be pulled back in Israel but then a lie can’t live forever. The new Israeli historians with access to more material proved beyond a doubt that Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homeland in the year of the Nakba, 1948. Morris, Shlaim, Pappe, Kimmerling et al revealed a brutal reign of terror as 750,000 innocent victims who had nothing to do with Hitler’s deadly assault on European Jewry paid the price of homelessness.

From the beginning, even from Herzl’s time despite assurances that Jews wished to live side by side with Palestinians, the indigenous people of the land, expansion and statehood was the hidden agenda. When Herzl began his Zionist movement only 3% of Palestine was Jewish and those in the Yishuv (the Jewish community) lived quietly among the natives.

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Through a reign of terror which the Israeli government screams now, three terrorists—Begin, Shamir and Sharon became Prime Ministers. With the election of the Likud in 1977 a new revisionist Zionism took hold and remains so today. Gobbling up the remaining Palestinian land at a furious pace and becoming crueler and crueler in the process, it stands as revealed as an ugly expansionist settler project. The biblical Isaianic dream of being lor goyim (a light unto the nations) has become a pathetic joke as Israel rapidly has become a pariah nation

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. The dream of the cultural Zionists was one of enlightened liberal values, human rights and the universal vision of Judaism.

Sadly the fundamentalists had their way and a bitter and hated enemy of the Palestinian people became the Prime Minister, a man obsessed with military power,Binyamin Netanyahu—the ‘destroyer of dreams” as historian Avi Shlaim calls him.

And now many Jews are heartsick that their zionism has been turned on its head. Anthony Lerman’s confession in yesterday’s New York Times says it all:”Everything liberal zionists stand for is now in doubt.”

More and more Jews have been sickened as Lerman says by “shock and awe militarism. The latest assault on Gaza, a disproportionate orgy of wanton murder, the third assault on defenceless Gazans in eight years has broken many. ”It cannot be reconciled with their humanism.”

Forget Hamas and their utterly futile “defence” of their people. Theirs is the cry of the proud madman who does not care anymore. He has been crazed by decades of humiliation, hopelesness and unremitting oppression. Now like The Mexican rebel Zapapta he would rather die on his feet than continue living on his knees.

Lerman will surely be on the receiving end of abuse from the true Israeli believers when he describes ’Modern israel. The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab racism, extremist politics and a powerful intolerant religious right, this mixture has pushed zionism to the brink.”

Lerman does not stop with the ugly politics in israel. He goes after the american apologists,AIPAC,the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League “as well as a raft of largely self-appointed community leaders who have swung to the right making unquestioning solidarity with israel the touchstone of their jewish identity—even though majority Jewish opinion is by no means hawkish.
By 2007 the author still thought Liberal Zionism had a role to play. This cri de coeur brings much pain to a non-Jewish readership. Here is an idealist, an Israeli citizen since 1970 who served the Jewish community in “research and philanthropic capacities” who still believed that liberal zionism could play a part by expressing reservations about Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

 

Lerman’s heart is breaking as his dream has been trampled on by thugs like Sharon and Netanyahu but wait until 200t he dared to dream “of Israel as a moral and just cause.” It has turned to dust.
“The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe”.

This mind-set blocks any chance Israel might have to become a full-fledged liberal-democratic state, and offers the Palestinians no path to national self-determination, no justice for their expulsion in 1948, nor for the occupation and the denial of their rights. I came to see the notion that liberal Zionism might reverse, or even just restrain, this nationalist juggernaut as fanciful.

Well, brother Lerman was vilified then and I fear the true believers will once again descend on him like a ton of bricks. More tomorrow.

Endgame for Liberal Zionism?

August 24, 2014

 

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it seems that the endgame is coming into view around Zionism and Israel. In today’s the New York Times Sunday Review Anthony Lerman a lifelong liberal Zionist wrote about the growing disgust much of the world feels toward the state of Israel. Borderline psychopaths like Binyamin Netanyahu with his murderous assault on Gaza has managed to do what a gang load of antisemites could never accomplish, turn israel into a pariah state, create even more antisemites and saddest of all, degrade an honourable world religion.

Now Lerman does not write from a religious perspective but as a liberal Zionist. For those unfamiliar with this genre, a few words.

There was always a stream of Zionism which though not overly Judaic in observance really believed in the civilizing aspects of Zionism. Putting aside the dispossession of another people , there were many such believers. The names Ahad Ha’am (“One of the people”) and Hannah Arendt spring to mind. In the area of religion Martin Buber and Judah Magnes are prime examples.

These were people of a large spirit, ecumenical in the best sense of the word, very respectful of the indigenous Palestinian community whose land sadly they eventually stole , Ha’am (Asher Ginsburg) died in 1927, Magnes in 1948. They believed Jews and Arabs could coexist in amity. Here’s Ha’am in 1891!

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We tend to believe abroad that Palestine is nowadays almost completely deserted, a non-cultivated wilderness, and anyone can come there and buy as much land as his heart desires. But in reality this is not the case. It is difficult to find anywhere in the country Arab land which lies fallow; the only areas which are not cultivated are sand dunes or stony mountains, which can be only planted with trees, and even this only after much labor and capital would be invested in clearance and preparation..

We tend to believe abroad that all Arabs are desert barbarians, an asinine people who does not see or understand what is going on around them. This is a cardinal mistake. The Arab, like all Semites, has a sharp mind and is full of cunning…But when the day will come in which the life of our people in the Land of Israel will develop to such a degree that they will push aside the local population by little or by much, then it will not easily give up its place..

One thing we certainly should have learned from our past and present history, and that is not to create anger among the local population against us…We have to treat the local population with love and respect, justly and rightly. And what do our brethren in the Land of Israel do? Exactly the opposite!…and they behave toward the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, infringe upon their boundaries, hit them shamefully without reason, and even brag about it.

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Magnes was an American Reform rabbi who emigrated to Israel in 1923. He clearly saw in the 30s the options for Jews in Palestine—a nationalistic state of militaristic imperialism ‘which the Arabs or deprives them of their rights or a pacific state, a Jewish spiritual centre, a country of two nations and there religions, equal rights and no special privileges…in short the Holy Land.”In 1929 he pondered: Was it possible to enter any country—no less the Holy Land—and build it up pacifistically: ”if we cannot(and I do not say we can rise to these heights, I for my part have lost half my interest in the enterprise. If we cannot even attempt this I should much rather see the eternal people without such a National Home.”

Tomorrow the growing alienation of the liberal Zionists.

Jewish survivors condemn Israel

August 22, 2014

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313 Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

Letter to Guardian August 15

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Signed,
Survivors:
Hajo Meyer, survivor of Auschwitz, The Netherlands.
Henri Wajnblum, survivor and son of a victim of Auschwitz from Lodz, Poland. Lives in Belgium.
Renate Bridenthal, child refugee from Hitler, granddaughter of Auschwitz victim, United States.
Marianka Ehrlich Ross, survivor of Nazi ethnic cleansing in Vienna, Austria. Now lives in United States.
Irena Klepfisz, child survivor from the Warsaw Ghetto, Poland. Now lives in United States.
Hedy Epstein, her parents & other family members were deported to Camp de Gurs & subsequently all perished in Auschwitz. Now lives in United States.
Lillian Rosengarten, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, United States.
Suzanne Weiss, survived in hiding in France, and daughter of a mother who was murdered in Auschwitz. Now lives in Canada.
H. Richard Leuchtag, survivor, United States.
Ervin Somogyi, survivor and son of survivors, United States.
Ilse Hadda, survivor on Kindertransport to England. Now lives in United States.
Jacques Glaser, survivor, France.
Norbert Hirschhorn, refugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three grandparents who died in the Shoah, London.

and 300 more

Lac Megantic: More Tory Common Sense

August 21, 2014

 

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In the final report on the rail explosion that killed 47 people and obliterated a Quebec community’s downtown core, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada pointed directly to what it called a “weak safety culture” at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway. The TSB also cited the “limited number and scope of safety management system audits” conducted by Transport Canada.

And the Tories send out Transport minister Lisa Raitt to deflect any criticism of the government responsibility for serious oversight.

Transport Canada official report

For several years, Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec had identified MMA as a company with an elevated level of risk that required more frequent inspections. Although MMA normally took corrective action once problems were identified, it was not uncommon for the same problems to reappear during subsequent inspections. These problems included issues with train securement, training, and track conditions. Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec, however, did not always follow up to ensure that these recurring problems were effectively analyzed and that the underlying conditions were fixed.

In addition, although MMA had developed a safety management system in 2002, Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec did not audit it until 2010—even though this is Transport Canada’s responsibility, and despite clear indications (via inspections) that the company’s safety management system was not effective. Transport Canada Headquarters in Ottawa, meanwhile, did not effectively monitor the Region’s activities. As a result, it was not aware of any weaknesses in oversight of regional railways in Quebec, and it did not intervene.
The federal department did not follow up to ensure that “recurring safety deficiencies” at the company were corrected.

This is an age old problem with the Canadian Tories and American Republicans. Cut all “red tape” and let business do what it wants. They are our friends and major donors. There is too much regulation. Unleash that magic cure all, free market capitalism.

In Ontario we saw it with the Harris government—the late Jim Flaherty, Baird and Clement taking their assault on the common good and government responsibility to ensure our collective well being.

These people do not understand original sin.

Most businesses will continue to maximize profit and minimize public responsibility.

Ontario had a real joker as Minister of Transport, a car dealer al Palladini who became the Minister of Flying Wheels.

As usual the harris government opted out of transport oversight and allowed huge trucks to roam our highways with little supervision, very few checks. Business will police itself. Sure it will. Wheels began flying off trailers and killing Canadians. When the public screamed they finally acted and discovered 90% of these wagons posed significant danger to the public. tell that to those who lost loved ones.

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Then there was Walkerton.in May 2000 we saw The outbreak of E.coli, seven residents dead 2,300 people sick,and for 6 months the town’s 5,000 residents had to rely on bottled water and treating tap water with bleach.

Lax oversight. A Tory hack given a plum job of looking after our drinking water, simply didn’t do it. An ideological government cutting back health and safety regulations put the citizenry in jeopardy. Cutting “red tape” to them was simply “Common sense.”

Lac Megantic is just another variant of this.

Israel style repression in Ferguson, Missouri

August 17, 2014

 

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Thanks to the Daily Beast who unearthed the connection between Israel and the ugly standoff in the St.Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. You can bet precious few North American papers would make the connection. As newspaper ownership has moved into predictable Murdoch like hands, many people are relying on online journals to get to the truth.

Since the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers, prompting residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

And who can blame them?

The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank.

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And it’s no coincidence.

At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years.
Brute force

It all started when a yet to be named Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. According to witnesses, Brown was attempting to surrender with his hands up when a Ferguson police officer emptied his clip into Brown’s body, shooting the teen up to ten times.

For hours police left Brown’s lifeless body sprawled in the street uncovered as a growing number of residents gathered nearby demanding answers from authorities. Police responded by deploying K-9 units and riot squads to crush the crowd, predictably inciting a riot, which police used to justify more brute force.

But the people of Ferguson refuse to submit and have mobilized every single day to demand justice for Brown and an end to the racist undemocratic regime they live under.
Sounds like Palestinians.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” has become their rallying cry, a symbol of Brown in his last moments and what it means to be black in America, where every 28 hours an African-American is killed by a self-styled vigilante, security guard or police officer.
Still, police did not relent, prompting one Ferguson protester to shout at a row of military-style tactical vehicles, “You gonna shoot us? Is this the Gaza Strip?”
“Will we as a people rise up like the people of Gaza? Will our community be bombed like last night with tear gas? That was a terrorist attack,” remarked another Ferguson protester to The Daily Beast.
Meanwhile, journalists were manhandled and detained. Police were caught on video deliberately firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera America film crew as they were setting up their equipment.
While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s security apparatus facilitates it. 

Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel, that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal dubbed “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” Israeli forces and US police departments are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has opened a branch in Tel Aviv.
In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement executives “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces,” according to the ADL’s website. The ADL boasts of sending over 175 senior US law enforcement officials from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, which are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”
The ADL is just one of several pro-Israel groups forging close ties between US cops and Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus.
Another is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative think tank that claims to have hosted some 9,500 law enforcement officials in its Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) since 2004.
LEEP “takes delegations of senior law enforcement executives to Israel to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting to acts of terrorism” and “sponsors conferences within the United States, bringing Israeli experts before much larger groups of law enforcement leaders,” according to JINSA’s brochure.
Former St. Louis Police Department police chief Joseph Mokwa is listed as having traveled to Israel as part of a LEEP conference in February 2008.

 

Meanwhile, the scope of Israel’s influence on US law enforcement remains virtually ignored by the media despite the troubling implications of emulating an apartheid regime actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
The culture of racism and impunity that has long plagued American policing is deadly enough as it is. Adding Israeli-style repression to an already dangerous mix guarantees disaster.

Signs of fascism says israeli prof

August 15, 2014

 

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“Signs of fascism in Israel reached new peak during Gaza op, says renowned scholar,” so read an article in Haaretz on August 13. In this piece Israel Prize laureate and renowned scholar Zeev Sternhell discussed the potential collapse of Israeli democracy. The trend lines are not too promising. Sternhell himself,a 79 year old former Polish refugee has long been a thorn in the side of what Ilan Pappe calls Neo-Zionism.

The original Zionist narrative was that persecuted Jews around 1900 came to Palestine which was empty at the time. It was a national movement of redemption resulting in a free peopl creating a modern agricultural miracle. For some bizarre reason Palestinians who had been living there and were a majority did not appreciate the gradual theft of their land. With the catastrophic holocaust of nearly 6 million European Jews partition occurred in 1947 and in 1948 Israel defeated and expelled 750,000 natives who it was said left on their own accord.

Post Zionist scholars int he 80s and early 90s blew this idealized founding myth to smithereens. Ugly truths about Jewish terror and the nullification of Palestinians were unearthed by these new historians. Now there was no denying the facts of the Nakba and the terrible injustice done to Palestinians. Thousands of Jews leapt out of a burning building only to land on the backs of a people who had nothing to do with their appalling treatment.

After the 6 Day War of 1967 Israel continued to populate the West Bank with illegal settlers. With incontrovertible documents noted above Palestinians suddenly appeared and were added to the post Zionist narrative of the 90s.

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With the increased freedom to publish, ugly scenes of repression and cruelty appeared in both Israeli and national media. Unconventional thinking began to seep into the former Zionist narrative. Writers like Gideon Levy and Amira Hass who lived for 3 years in Gaza made Israelis aware of the harsh life under military rule and occupation. They consistently pointed out that the state was hardly a shining example of democracy. There was less fredom however in the visual media. They were loathe to show the world the ugly face of Israel’s brutality. Yet disturbing images began to seep into the Israeli conscience. The founding lmyth though wobbly continued to stand despite the new historians. Most Israelis wanted to believe they lived in a modern liberal state and it was “the objective environment” (read Palestinian resistance to ongoing repression and humiliation) which forced the state to stint on human rights.

In the end as T.S. Eliot famously wrote “humankind can not bear very much reality” and rather deal with the new facts israelis regressed to the default position of noble zionism. The arrival of Likud and its successors has shown the world the awful results—moral midgets as leaders begin, Shamir, Sharon and now Netanyahu. Thus the fear of Professor Sternhell. himself almost killed in 2008 by a bomb of another wacky settler,a former informer for the security police the Shin Bet. Jack Teitel the perpetrator was sentenced to 12 life terms and Professor Sternhell the renowned scholar kept speaking. Of such men Israel can be proud. More tomorrow.

The Lies keep coming

August 8, 2014

 

ORI_0365-640x425-580x385The Lies
by Buff Whitman-Bradley

The lies rise early

To shower and shave

And don their heroic flight suits

(The lies are nothing
If not clean-cut
A

and smartly turned-out

 

At breakfast the lies

Playfully mock each other

And make light

Of the dangers of their upcoming mission

Over enemy territory

(The lies are nothing

If not courageous

 

During their preflight briefing

The lies receive

Aerial photographs

And location coordinates

For surgical strikes

Against terrorist targets

(The lies are nothing

If not precise)

 

In the cockpits of their F16s

The lies crack jokes

Over their crackling radios

About mowing down “future terrorists”

(The lies are nothing
If not witty)

 

When they return to base

The lies meet over a few beers

To review their day’s work

And pledge allegiance once again

To the founding myths

While on enemy ground

Countless small truths

Bleed into soil and sand

 

This poem was originally published at The New Verse News, a Buff Whitman-Bradley is the author of four books of poetry,

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Israel PR has always been good—lies,of course, but effective Mark Regev the dulcet Australian spindoctor in chief is very good at his lies. Always polite and always wrong, a bold faced liar.
Formerly Mark Freiberg, he changed his name (too Germanic) to the more acceptable Regev when he emigrated from Melbourne in 1982.

 

Margalit Toledano, an Israeli writer who has written on Israel’s PR pretty well nails him “Effective professional spokespeople should also advise governments, not just deliver their messages. Regev doesn’t seem to provide good advice about the content of the message. There is rarely a credible apology or expression of empathy with Palestinian victims. Nor is there any mention of an alternative way for dealing with the conflict.”

In a piece for the London  Observer on 6 June 2010, Ruth Sutherland wrote the following.

If the men from Mars ever wanted to manufacture a PR man, they would model their robot on Regev. No matter how formidable the interviewer, or how aggressive the questioning, he never buckles under pressure he almost lulls listeners into overlooking his aggression. He is always regretful about death and horror – he regrets that the non-Israeli victims brought their fate on themselves. Viewers are reduced to a trance of slack-jawed amazement at what he is prepared to say with a straight face. He is unlikely to win sceptics to Israel’s cause, but as a PR performer he is horribly compelling.”

Anybody who has watched this guy must agree. but for the noted British journalist Alan Hart, he is only compelling to “

Listen to him–it’s always Hamas, rockets, tunnels.Israel is always the aggrieved, the innocent ones who are desperately seeking peace.War is Peace as Orwell said.

On the cjarm offensive we had to endure the latest full page Globe and Mail ad which trotted out Elie Wiesel (hint, hint it’s the Holocaust and Jews are always innocent. Hamas now “ are guilty of sacrificing children.”.Even the London Times rejected this piece of folderol. Wiesel of course says nothing about lifting the siege of gaza and the festering Occupation

Jewish Theologian Marc Ellis was closer to the mark about Wiesel:

Of course, it’s also about the Holocaust, that vast swathe of traumatized Jewish identity that keeps breaking open even as Israel’s occupation regime and war machine go haywire.
The veterans of Holocaust discourse are older now, all in their eighties, but periodically they’re trotted out to support Israel – especially when there isn’t any viable way of doing so.
Call it the Holocaust trump card. Elie Wiesel’s wild.

Elie Wiesel can’t help himself. If he hasn’t debased himself and his cause enough on the subject of Israel in recent years, his latest is a stunner.

Teaming up with Shmuley Boteach, a rabbi whose book on Kosher sex made a splash some years ago and has been gaming right ever since, Wiesel has just penned a paid statement making the rounds of major newspapers and other media outlets.

When will intelligent people see through the lies?

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