Archive for October 2015

All Saints Day November 1

October 31, 2015

For the secular saints in Israel

Gideon Levy  Amira Hass  Yitzhak Laor

Fire in their hearts


Heroes are people who do ordinary things—
care for the poor, speak the truth, reject evil, love God—
to an extraordinary degree.
These men and women are so possessed
by an internal vision of divine goodness
that they give us a glimpse of the face of God
in the center of the human.
They give us a taste of the possibilities of the greatness
in ourselves.


Throughout history these heroes—
lay and religious, male and female, Christian and non-Christian—
have stretched the very soul of humanity.

These are figures
gleaming in their holy causes
who have lived in circumstances similar to ours
and have shown us how to live
with character, with courage, with passion
for the right, the true, the holy.


They hold a fire in their hearts
bright enough to light the way for many.
They stand on gilded stilts
above the rest of their generation
and become a sign for all generations.
They are proof of possibility from ages past
and a symbol of hope
for ages yet to come.

Their lives provoke and prod
a critical measure of our own
until it becomes clear that sanctity


is simply a matter of living for the reign of God
with conscience, with voice, and with authenticity

—from A Fire in Their Hearts: 2016 Joan Chittister Calendar. For more information, click here.

Hebron the heart of Israeli darkness

October 30, 2015

Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank and a visit there will be enough to show anybody how sick Israel has become. 45 years ago a true believer, a putative rabbi Moshe Levinger decamped in this Arab area and was allowed to get away with this provocation. It was the beginning of the settler movement, Jews from New York and many American cities exercised their right of return and came to castle  on land ceded to the Arab population in 1949. The craven Labour government did nothing to stop this illegal activity and continued to deny the right of return to Palestinians ethnically cleansed in 1948.

Now today in this powder keg there are about 500 settlers provocatively living here surrounded by 140,000 Palestinians. Get the picture? It gets worse. In 1994, the once main market street of Hebron, Al-Shuhada street was closed by military order for Palestinian vehicles and pedestrians. Protocols were signed in from 1997, to re-open the street to the locals,. This was partially implemented in 1997 and 1998. However, since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, the street has again been closed for Palestinians.

Israel sends 18 and 19 year old kids in the IDF, 4,000 of them to basically protect the settlers who regularly harrass the locals, burn their crops, rip apart the olive groves and generally think they have a free pass to do what they want. These people are religious nuts, fundamentalists of the worse stripe with a history of violence against the indigenous people—all in the name of Torah and “God gave us this land.”
In 1994 the Brooklyn born soldier, Baruch Goldstein. the devotee of Meir Kahane, a rabbi banned in Israel for his racist hatred gunned down 29 Palestinians in the Ibrahim mosque.Over 100 were injured before the mob turned on this crank and murdered him.


In the last month more terrible news. An 18 year old woman Hadil Salah Hashlamoun was shot dead at a checkpoint near Shahada street. The soldiers yelled at her in Hebrew—a language she did not understand. They told her not to pass through the crossing. She obeyed, yet was struck with at least six bullets. As per usual Israeli authorities lied about her carrying a weapon. None were found. She was opening her bag to show the young soldier there was nothing to fear and this nervous brainwashed soldier  shot her. Another beautiful life snuffed out by some kid with little human experience, historical awareness, a cog in the machine of the Israeli military.
On October 21 Hashem al-Azzeh died Wednesday after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces. Al-Azzeh lived in a part of Hebron that was frequently attacked by Israeli settlers in the Tel Rumeida section of Hebron a settlement is illegal under international law. But this particular enclave, comprised of stacks of trailers flanked by Israeli army checkpoints, houses some of the most fanatical and iolent settlers in the West Bank.

According to local sources Al-Azzeh and his family endured sustained harassment from these extremists, including an attack in which settlers assaulted his nephew, then aged 9. The settlers forced a rock into the boy’s mouth to crush his teeth, In another incident, al-Azzeh’s own teeth were smashed when settlers attacked his home, ransacking it and destroying the furniture. Al-Azzeh’s wife was assaulted by settlers twice while she was pregnant in her first and second trimesters. She miscarried both times. Never reported in the American press.

Local spokesman Hisham Sharabati, coordinator of the Hebron Defense Committee spoke about the victim:

“Hashem had a big role in showing the world, showing the press, showing solidarity groups, showing any visitor the details of the harassment by the Israeli colonizers in the city of Hebron,” said Sharabati. “The settlers practice all these crimes in the presence of the Israeli army who do not do anything to stop them.”

October 26,the gun-happy Israelis murdered another teenager at a checkpoint in Hebron . Her name was Dania Arsheid, she was 17 and a student at Al-Rayyan Girls’ High School. A witness at the scene, standing in back of Arsheid in line at the checkpoint adjacent the Ibrahimi Mosque, said the teen raised her arms and stated “I don’t have a knife” before she was shot with “eight to 10 bullets” before she fell to the ground.

And this in from the United States of Amnesia:

Members of Congress Condemn Palestinian Wave of Terror on Israeli Citizens

Walmart caves in to antisemites

October 28, 2015

I laughed when I saw my grandson Dougie’s new haircut.
“What’s up, Dougie?”
“ Easy, Grampa, I am going out on halloween like Josh Donaldson. The latter is our local ball team’s third baseman (Blue Jays) who sports a wild haircut. Naturally given wide exposure to young ball fans, it catches on.

Now my question is what is wrong with Doug’s parents when they obviously do not love him sufficiently to hike him over to Walmart and suit him up in today’s latest craze best described buy the geniuses at Walmart and Amazon.

There comes a time when your child wants to save the world the only way he knows how, by dressing as his favorite army man! Have your child step into their Jewish heritage by putting on this Boy’s Israeli Soldier Costume.”
Now bear in mind the costume has been resuced from $57.62 to $27.44. It certainly appears like a steal to me.

What is it with the critics who have flooded Walmart’s Facebook page with some pretty trenchant criticism.
One very grumpy post called the costume “extremely offensive and highly insensitive, not only to the millions of Palestinian-Americans that shop in your stores, but to anyone who has an ounce of humanity in their bodies.”

Obviously not a real American patriot who does not realize USA”s deep attatchment to “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Another antisemite wrote “Might as well sell a Hitler outfit for children as well! Pitiful!”
Now the deal is off.The cowardly folks at  Walmart has pulled this fabulous item.This pleased a truly awful man with the un-American name Samer Khalat who represents a probable Commie front called The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Naturally he was pleased at Walmart’s decision.
“The Israeli forces are responsible for the continued death and occupation of the Palestinian people. Such a symbol of fear, violence and a long history of dispossession should not be used for entertainment purposes. Sselling merchandise which mocks Arabs, or any other race or ethnicity, must not be tolerated. These images do nothing but perpetuate racist tropes that have long been used to demonize, otherize and alienate Arab communities throughout history.”

Another ignorant rabbi: a story of contextual blindness

October 27, 2015

Great Britain has had very moderate chief rabbis while most of Israel’s have been for the birds, more Zionist than Judaic. My favourite religious buffoon was Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren who wanted to blow up the Dome of the Rock during the Six Day War. he was told to back off by general Uzi Narkis. but i digress


Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, was a very moderate chief rabbi, a man of considerable learning. .But when you read the following nonsense of  Ephraim Mirvis you realize the meaning of a “blind guide”.  Chief Rabbi Mirvis was trained in Israel in a settler-friendly seminary, a “God gave us this land, all of it” place. That about says it all. Imagine a man of the Torah trained on stolen Palestinian land and saying nothing about it. This sermon is shocking,Tthe man’s unbelievable opaquesness , his total lack of understanding as to what to 67 years of occupation does to a people , his gross insensitivity the extraordinary suffering visited upon Palestinians is stunning. The good newe is that Zionists like this are being challenged by fellow Jews  like Robert Cohen. 

My open letter to Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis
Dear Chief Rabbi Mirvis

I’ve just listened to the recording of your sermon at Hendon synagogue in London last Sunday night (18 Oct) at a prayer gathering to remember Israeli Jews killed by Palestinians in recent weeks.

The key sentiments you expressed in your talk were commendable. There is indeed “an urgent need for communication” and “the healing of relationships”.

But if that’s what you really believe then the rest of your sermon was an object lesson in how not to achieve either “communication” or “healing”.

Before I go any further, let me put on record my condemnation of these attacks. Others may disagree, but I don’t see Israeli civilians, including Settlers on the West Bank, as legitimate targets for murder or injury in the name of Palestinian resistance.

Your words though did not take us an inch further forward in dealing with a terrible situation.

You began your sermon with an ill-chosen comparison that does your reputation as a teacher of religious ethics no favours at all. You said yourself that “no two terrors are the same” and then proved your own point by recalling the horrific murder of British fusilier, Lee Rigby, on the streets of South London in May 2013.

You reminded your listeners of the sympathy the British public and the media felt towards Lee’s family and our collective horror at the nature of his murder (an attempted beheading) by two Jihadists both born and raised in Britain. You then asked us to imagine such attacks happening up and down Britain for days on end.

This is how you framed what is happening in Israel right now.

Rabbi Mirvis, are you seriously presenting the attacks on Israelis as no more than a series of Islamist outrages? Is that as far as your analysis can go?

The Lee Rigby comparison provided you listeners in the synagogue with a gross distortion of the situation in Israel and I find it hard to believe that your grasp of the relevant context is so poor.

You also displayed a stunning lack of curiosity about a phenomenon that has not been seen before in Israel.

Palestinian resistance is nothing new. That’s hardly surprising after nearly 50 years of Occupation in the West Bank, nearly ten years of the air, sea and land blockade of Gaza and the structural and cultural factors that make 20% of Israel’s population second class citizens.

It’s odd then that you had nothing to say about any of this in a sermon built around the call for “better communication” and “the healing of relationships”.

I agree that Palestinians must understand our narrative and our religious and historical connection to the land. But I heard nothing in what you said on Sunday that could possibly advance Jewish understanding of the Palestinians’ story. Where else do you imagine communication and healing begins?

In the last month we have seen young Palestinians, and not just from the West Bank but from Israel itself, choosing to carry out random and deadly attacks with no central planning or co-ordination.

You praised as “the Jewish way, the Israeli way” the fact that in Israel “we ask courts to pass judgement on the actions of people”. But this ‘knife intifada’ has also been an ‘iPhone intifada’ and what we have seen recorded are numerous examples of instant street executions by Israel’s security forces. You may recall that Lee Rigby’s murderers were caught, arrested, tried before a jury and sentenced to minimum 45 year prison terms. I wonder if we will see any trials like that in Israel.

So by now those perpetrating these crimes know they are likely to die as a result. Something very disturbing is happening to a new generation of Palestinians. They are lashing out indiscriminately and are willing to take life and give up their own in the process.

It’s difficult not to see some kind of relationship between what’s happening and the failure of 25 years of the Oslo peace process. If you are a Palestinian there is no hope. Nothing is going to change. But in your sermon on Sunday your attempt at any kind of political or historical context got no further than this:

“Men and women are waking up in the morning inspired by messages of hate, taking implements from their kitchen and going out in search of innocent men, women and children to be their victims.”

This is the narrative that boils the entire 100 plus years of Palestinian/Jewish conflict down to: they hate us.

I accept it is much easier to present us, the Jewish people, as the innocent victims of Palestinian hatred, but where is it written that God forbids that you or your listeners, or indeed Benjamin Netanyahu, should read a serious history book? I can recommend some if you’re interested.

Your talk gave more examples of “the Jewish way, the Israeli way” mentioning the behaviour of Israeli medics and police officers who have treated injured Palestinian attackers as evidence of ‘our side’s’ moral superiority. These individuals may be worthy of praise, although some might argue they were simply doing their job. But the underlying message you gave to your audience was one of self-congratulation when what’s really needed is some communal self-awareness.

You said that we (the Jews) “treasure human life”, the obvious inference being that they (the Palestinians) do not.

But how does this attempt to dehumanise ‘the other’ help the situation in any way? How does talk like this lead to the communication and healing you say is so needed?

The first steps towards communication and healing will be listening and learning.

That does not mean forgiving or condoning stabbings and car ramming. But presenting what is happening on the streets of Israel as akin to multiple Lee Rigby murders will not create the environment for dialogue which you say is essential.

In fact, your presentation is only hardening Jewish hearts against anything approaching the compromises that would be required for the “tranquility” you prayed for on Sunday to ever come to pass.

Your examination of Midrashic commentaries on the story of Cain and Abel, introduced a potentially rich vein of pointers to conflict resolution. The Rabbis of old understood how economics, individual relationships and abuse of religion can fuel violent disagreement. But just like your predecessor, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, your exegesis can produce beautiful theology that you then fail to follow through in the context of the modern State of Israel. Perhaps it’s the politics that comes with your job or perhaps it’s a tribal blindness. Either way, your teaching stops short of anything resembling real peace-making.

You finished your sermon praying that “peace and unity will reign in the Holy Land” and that the way forward for the Middle East is through “a negotiated settlement.” You repeated that “if you want peace you need communication”. I couldn’t agree more.

I hope one day you will have the courage to guide and lead the Jewish community to a place where it understands Israel’s part in creating the current conflict and the compromises that will be needed for a just peace to emerge. Right now, it saddens me to say, on the evidence of your sermon at Hendon synagogue, you are failing to provide the moral or communal leadership that will create even the smallest space for communication or healing.

Yours sincerely

Robert Cohen

Open Up the Windows

October 27, 2015

Now that the Harperites have left the building, the timid are coming out and writing the truth about the long, lost years of this Republican regime. A classic case is William Thorsell the former Globe editor who reamed Harper out in fine editorial fashion in Maclean’s.

Nice job, Bill but where were you before?

There are several other pieces which I could easily quote but the same old story. When the emperor sits on the throne, prophecy disappears. Thorsell begins:

You do not cut the national sales tax in favour of targeted tax goodies in your party’s political interest. Nor do you do so to reduce Ottawa’s capacity to fund grievously inadequate infrastructure, undermining productivity and aggravating social divides.

You do not claim success in energy policy having seen no new significant pipelines approved or built on your watch, either domestically or in our interest in the United States. Nor do you sit out the global conversation on climate change in words and action.

You do not exacerbate income inequality by providing significant new tax breaks for the wealthy in tax-free savings and investment accounts.

You do not fan cultural conflict in Canada in the face of unprecedented cultural diversity and high rates of immigration. Canada’s generally successful experience in accommodating diversity needs nurturing attention, not a matador’s incendiary skills.

You do not acquiesce to deteriorating relations with Canada’s First Peoples. You do not evince contempt for science or, for that matter, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the courts mandated to interpret and uphold it. You do not tendentiously attack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada as cover for your own incompetence in making laws and appointments.

But the most succinct encapsulation of how Canadians felt was sung by Bruce Cockburn at the end of summer.It was from his 1999 album Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu’
Open Up the Windows and Let the Bad Air Out


Judge said to the hooker, “Can you come out to play?
I’ve been condemning people all day long, that’s how I get paid
My dreams are full of criminals frolicking about
Open up the window, let the bad air out!”

Strangled by confusion, my mind is in decay
Can’t picture tomorrow, can’t remember yesterday
Send out for the Black & Decker and the psychiatric couch
Open up the window, let the bad air out

Traitors in high places take my money, tell me lies
Take a walk past Parliament, it smells like something died
They ask for trust, but somehow I’ve got serious doubts
Open up the window, let the bad air out

Too much monkey business, like Mr. Berry said
Drugs and oil and money, don’t mean nothing when you’re dead
At the risk of being subversive, nothing left to do but shout
“Open up the window, let the bad air out!”

Grandma’s lament for a desiccated church leadership

October 26, 2015


Deborah Rose-Milavec wrote this fine piece for Future Church which I will happily pass on. It is a direct repudiation of the bloodless “church of the little flock” which Benedict XV1 tried to foist on the Catholic people. This crabbed vision of a people set apart, of an island of holiness in a corrupt world was a non-starter from the beginning. In interviews which went back decades Ratzinger reiterated that the future of the Church will be smaller, maybe “a mustard seed where it will exist in small seemingly insignificant groups. These groups, of course, will be utterly loyal to anything which comes out of Rome.

Pope Francis at the recent synod told the bishops to stop obsessing over rigid doctrine .He has little patience for those clerics  who would ‘indoctrinate’ it in dead stone to be hurled at others.” Ever the  pastor who has his head above the sand Francis inveighed against“scheduled faith” which can not  adapt to new circumstances and in turn  could leads to people’s suffering being ignored.

This narrow vision is the entithesis of Francis who is doing his best to embrace humanity in all its fallibility, a church of sinners, of fallible people who strive against many odds in the corrupt capitalist culture to do the right thing. Francis knows the truth of Kant’s famous observation that” Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” So what. Francis identifies himself as a sinner. Mercy is his watchword.

In 1971 Karl Rahner saw what Josepf Ratzinger was up to with his “little flock” riff, the polar opposite to James Joyce’s definition of Catholicism as”Here comes everybody” and Jesus’ very own injunction to ignore the 99 and go seeking the lost one.
In a brilliant small book The Church of the Future written in 1971 after Vatican II, Karl Rahner had this to say about “the little flock”:
“When we speak of ourselves today as the beginning of a ‘little flock’, we first remove a misunderstanding. ‘Little flock’ does not mean a ghetto or a sect, since these are defined by a mentality: a mentality which the church can afford in the future even less than today. A sectarian or ghetto mentality is propagated among us — not under this label, but under the pretext that we are becoming Christ’s little flock which has to profess the folly of faith and of the cross. Any deviation must be fought with the utmost severity in the name of true faith and authentic Christianity.
“If we talk of the ‘little flock’ in order to defend our cosy traditionalism and stale pseudo-orthodoxy, in fear of the mentality of modern society; if we tacitly consent to the departure of restless, questioning people from the church so that we can return to our repose and orderly life, and everything becomes as it was before, we are propagating, not the attitude proper to Christ’s little flock, but a petty sectarian mentality. This is dangerous because it shows up, not under its true name but in an appeal to orthodoxy, church-loyalty and strict, Rome-dictated morality.”

this is Grandma Rose-Milavec’s piece:

Change comes painfully and slowly in this Church. Too slowly.  As a mother of five and grandmother of eleven, I have very little patience with the snail’s pace of reform in my Church or for those doctrinal police, the pharisaical crop, who would like nothing better than to keep the people I love at bay in order to keep their world of who-is-in and who-is-out neat and clean.

We have lost a generation of young people, many who are my children and grandchildren, who will not be eating at our Eucharistic table and who will not find the nourishment of the Gospel in one of our local parishes because they are so turned off — not by some entrenched secularism and individualism — but by the hard, pasometimes cold hearts of the stors they meet in a Church that has wanted to be “smaller and purer” for far too long. I raised them to love, to nurture and to have open hearts. And that is what they do. And when they don’t see that love incarnated, modeled in the priest and people they meet in a parish, they stay away.

Tell them that LGBT people are “intrinsically disordered” and they will roll their eyes. They know better. Tell them that a divorced and remarried person can’t receive the sacraments and they won’t give you another look.  Tell them that women can’t be priests or deacons or make important decisions in our church, and they will stay home on Sunday mornings, make a big breakfast, play with the kids and make their own world of love.

We can no longer afford to be the Church we have been.

Personal conscience and private confessions are not enough.  While the don’t ask – don’t tell model of Church may have sufficed for my generation, it just doesn’t cut it with the next.  The next generation is not biting their nails trying to think of how to get to Communion if they are divorced and civilly remarried, or LGBT and married. Somewhere deep down their instinct tells them that the Church doesn’t know God’s heart and doesn’t practice God’s love.

Palestinians Killed The Dinosaurs says Netanyahu

October 23, 2015


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed today that Palestinians were responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper this morning, the hardline conservative leader was asked to defend his recent comments, in which he claimed Palestinians were responsible for the Holocaust.

“Well it wouldn’t be the first time they tried to drive a group to extinction,” Netanyahu told the network. “The Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, Rwanda. Even the end of the Dinosaurs. Whenever a group is threatened with annihilation, you better believe the Palestinians are behind it.”

A puzzled Anderson Cooper pressed Netanyahu on his most outrageous claim, asking “I doubt Palestinians were involved in any of those things. But do you seriously believe they killed the Dinosaurs? Human beings didn’t even exist 65 million years ago. And most scientists believe the Dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid. I mean, how is that even possible?”

“Anderson I’m not saying the Palestinians actually hunted down each individual dinosaur to extinction,” Netanyahu replied, “Of course that didn’t happen. That’s ridiculous. That makes no sense at all.

“What I am saying is that Palestinian Hamas fighters traveled back in time to 65 million years ago and set off a large series of explosives that knocked the Earth off its orbit and straight into the path of an oncoming asteroid.
“This operation was intended to wipe out the Dinosaurs, so that humanity could rise and Islam could take over the planet. Reptiles don’t believe in God, Anderson. So if you want to create an Islamic Caliphate you have to get rid of the reptiles. That’s just logic 101.

“This was no laughing matter. It was a barbaric act that destroyed an entire civilization. Millions of innocent Dinosaur families perished as a result of Hamas’s disgusting actions. Women. Children. Even unborn eggs. All were burnt to a crisp when Islamic time travelers rammed Earth into that asteroid.

“And that’s why keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of Muslims is so important. They’ve destroyed life on Earth before, so we know they’ll do it again.”

Benjamin Netanyahu has served as Israel’s Prime Minister since 2009, after previously serving in the same post from 1996 to 1999. He was recently reelected in March. all this news courtesy of the Daily Currant.

The 7% solution

October 22, 2015


Elections Canada told us that 7% more Canadians voted this election.

There were record numbers at advanced polls.

It was one of Canada’s finest hours.

Stephen Harper said it wasn’t about him.

It was only about him.

The electorate watched and decided the young, vigorous, positive, hopeful and open Justin Trudeau was the horse to bet on. It was not really an anti-NDP vote. At the door many canvassers were told. “I usually vote NDP but Harper must go and Trudeau has the momentum”. Not that Mulcair’s’bad move to the mushy middle helped but Harper had to go. His crass manipulative and divisive styyle had finally run its course.

Canadians finally  twigged in after two federal elections which split the vote  that this PM was one of the most cynical operators ever to hold the office in Canadian history. History shows that it takes two elections before people can peek behind the curtain and see exactly what is going on. such is life under the advanced capitalism of bread and circuses. As T.S. Eliot said, “diverted from diversion by diversion.”

Young Trudeau said it on election night: “Canada is back “–after nine years of international embarrassment and domestic heartlessness which played on fear and paranoia, Canadians rose up and said loud and clear: This is not who we are.

Daily papers were fuill of such obvious relief:

Here’s a few:

It was an exorcism, pure and simple. I anticipate a return to a kinder, gentler Canada.
Jonathan O’Mara, Whitby

Finally, once again, I can feel proud about putting a Canadian flag on my backpack.
David Klarer, Oakville

Congratulations Canada. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Well done.
Lyn and Jim Gower, Courtice

At last, the reign of terror is ended.
Michael Edwards, Bloomfield

Maybe as Harper said, “the people are never wrong.”
When I woke up this morning I felt a lot more Canadian than I have for the last decade. And now that we have Justin and Sophie, who needs William and Kate?
Wayne C. Vance, Toronto
His heartless response to Syrian refugees (must be terrorists among them) his C-51 all power to the state, his stunning muzzling of candidates,his anal retentive absolute control  and his worship of dirty oil which made us environmental outlaws finally did him in.

The worst ploy was the stoking of islamaphobia shaming Canadian Muslims. Simply awful.

I think Mr. Harper should choose to wear the niqab today. He may not feel like showing his face in public. so said
Farah Hameed, Ajax

My personal favourite was trotting out the Ford brothers at the end. What an act of desperation. Goodbye Etobicoke seats.

This was a man who actually believed we were a pale imitation of Republican values. Turns out he had been living in houston north for far too long. In his pathetic swan song he mentioned that he and his wife came into public life to defend conservative values—then mentioned lower taxes! This is the best he could come up with.What a majesdtic vision of what Canda is ! —the old Mike Harris booswa of “more money in your pocket,” the private affluence and public squalor death rattle was shocking to hear from a national leader.

The 7% said, enough, you must leave.

Canadians finally tired of the politics of division

October 20, 2015

Harper Bye

The most divisive politician in my lifetime Stephen Harper has mercifully departed from politics. It turns out that Canadians generally were sick of the master of black arts and dog whistle politics like the Niqab. They were tired of thinly veiled Islamaphobia and embarrassed at being at our country being an ecological scofflaw. In general Harper shredded our long-cherished middle position on the world stage, particularly on his bizarre support for the shocking ongoing occupation of Palestine. All the world began scratching its head—whatever happened to Canada, our ray of hope north of the 49th parallel? Stephen Harper and his retrograde Republican values happened.

The master of cynicism outsmarted himself by running the longest campaign in Canadian history hoping that with the deep pockets of Canada’s 1 per cent he could bankrupt the other parties. It blew up in his face as the country watched Not Ready for Prime Time Justin Trudeau prove just the opposite. While not a huge fan of young Justin his obvious genuineness and ability to connect with people was a welcome contrast to the dour, tight-assed Harper.

While I hold no great hope for the next few years the Liberal win was a slap in the face to the absolutely appalling degradation of politics played by Harper. An old Liberal game was played out once again, campaign from the left and rule from the right. I hope I am wrong this time for the good of the country.

To the democracy deficit. It still boggles my mind that the sheep running under the Tory banner actually followed orders never to appear at an all candidates meeting. What an insult to our system of governance — forbidding a politician who hoped to represent you debate the issues of the day.But the diktat came down from the one man Politburo NYET. Do not show up. We’ll buy TV time and win the election this way. Absolutely unbelievable. People should have immediately parked their votes elsewhere.

Obviously the country grew very tired of Harper’s narrow vision which pit Canadians against Canadians. We knew we were a better country than the one he tried to destroy.Young Trudeau stealing a line from Abe Lincoln simply appealed to our “better angels.”

The people opted for the Liberals as agents of change. Justin Trudeau simply appealed more than Tom Mulcair a very good parliamentary debater but just too ambitious for the top job. Riding the “Orange Wave, really won by Jack Layton’s sunny disposition and hopeful politics, Mulcair steered disastrously to the right and opted for the mushy middle alienating the base of the NDP. When the NDP finds itself to the right of the Liberals on running a deficit you knew the end was in sight and many very good NDP members were victims of strategic voting. Mulcair’s market mania was a bad misstep. In politics you never know when a tidal wave is on the horizon .This tsunami had “the anti-Harper massive anti-Harper written all over it.

Politics under advanced capitalism is a very dicey affair. Given the tremendous power of capital to divert people’s attention and confuse them, it is often second raters with deep pockets who win the day. Americans fell incredibly for the simple nostrums of Ronald Reagan and then 2 terms of the appalling George Bush. Most shocking of all was the victory of the ultimate buffoon Toronto’s Rob Ford. Only people who have never done the spade work which democracy demands would fall for the above. posers. Yet many good people did. Often it was for economic reasons, the age old winner of tax cuts as if you can build a modern country without a generous graduated tax system. “More money in your pocket”—what a tired mantra,one which Mr.Harper actually used in his concession speech.

Mulcair gave an excellent concession speech focussing on the end of the cynical politics of fear and division. But nothing on his crushing defeat. The NDP will have to go back to its drawing board and ask some fundamental questions. Canada is always stronger for having a third party.

All in all Canadians rose to the fore and spurned the ugly politics which Stephen Harper embodied.

And who was the backroom boy that allowed Harper to appear with the Ford brothers?

Oh, that’s right, who else—Harper called all the shots.

Can’t trust those Quakers

October 19, 2015


A 66-year-old British Christian, volunteering in the West Bank, received emergency treatment after being attacked by a gang of gun-wielding Israeli settlers hurling rocks at him.
Mr David Amos, a Quaker, came to the West Bank with the British group, the Olive Harvest Trust, which he says is an organisation committed to nonviolence and to protecting Palestinian olive farmers.
Mr Amos said that the settlers fired gunshots as they approached, causing him to sit on the ground and yell to his colleagues to take cover. ”They were shouting at us ‘go’ in English and also shouting in Hebrew. A man stood no more than four feet from me and threw this rock which hit me on the back of the head. I was sitting upright and I fell over on my side and then he and two others kicked me. The women were shouting ‘we are British’ so they knew we were British before the rock was thrown.”

Palestinian eye-witnesses claimed that the group of farmers was attacked and had stones thrown at them.

Quakers have a long and sordid history for violence.  Israel authorities are looking into the incident.