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Politics and its Discontents: Israelis Of Conscience

I reproduce the following story without comment, except to state the obvious. It is a testament to the courage and integrity of those described therein, who will likely face all manner of vitriol at home for their principled decision:

Forty-three reservists from Israel’s elite army intelligence unit have announced their refusal to serve, accusing the military of “abuses” against Palestinians, in a letter published on Friday.

The letter, circulated to Hebrew-language media and addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referred to the army’s intelligence work in the occupied Palestinian territories, including targeted assassinations and intrusive surveillance of civilians.

The soldiers (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Joan Rivers

I was never a fan of Joan Rivers, though I take no pleasure in the fact that she has died. However, you can call me churlish and insensitve, but I doubt that the celebrity hagiography likely to ensue will include this outburst from last month:

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Politics and its Discontents: Cowardly Leadership: We All Pay A Price

As I have written in the past, poor leadership costs all of us dearly. Whether looking at local provincial, federal or international politics, the price we pay for leadership that has too high a regard for itself and too little for the people is moral, social, economic and military disarray. Whether we are talking about rampant cynicism with regard to the political process, the demonization of groups within society, the dodging of taxes or the kind of demagoguery that leads to war, all, at least in part, can be tied to defects in leadership. It seems that so many (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Praising Stephen Harper

Now that I have your attention, let me assure that I am not the source of that praise. No, a site called Breaking Israel News is. Drawing heavily upon a piece written by the Ottawa Citizen’s Mark Kennedy, it offers the following effusive approval of Stephen Harper:

The support he has shown for Israel has been absolute and unwavering for the entirety of Harper’s career, so much so that it has spread to many others within the political and social hierarchy of Canada.

For his support, Harper became the only foreign dignitary to have received the Key to the Knesset (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Justin Trudeau Speaks

But, unfortunately, says nothing.

As I have noted elsewhere in this blog and in comments on others’, I have grave misgivings about the Liberal Party under the leadership of Justin Trudeau. Despite the latest EKOS poll showing the party with a commanding lead while the Conservatives continue to sink under the heavy hand of Herr Harper, I cannot escape the notion that Trudeau is superficial, intellectually flaccid, and a political opportunist (the latter quality, of course, putting him in good company with so many others who hold elected office).

Earlier in the week I wrote a post entitled Thomas Mulcair (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Chris Hedges, Gaza Rally in NYC: God’s Covenant in the Promised Land

Here is the note written by Leigha Cohen as an introduction to the following video on You Tube featuring Chris Hedges:

On August 9th, 2014 a rally supporting the people in Gaza took place at Columbus Circle in NYC. The rally lasted for 2 hours which was followed by a march to the United Nations.

Prior to the rally starting, I was approached by Chris Hedges who mentioned that he had written a 8 minute speech that he wanted to deliver to the thousands of people attending the rally. However, he was told that all of the speakers were being (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Thomas Mulcair Speaks

Noted recently is the widespread criticism that both Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair have earned by either their silence or their very timid comments about the slaughter in Gaza. While most Canadians have probably come to expect the reflexive uncritical endorsement of all things Israeli by the Harper regime, many have been disappointed to see that the opposition leaders, save for Elizabeth May, seem cut from the same cloth.

But whether due to political opportunism, political expedience in reaction to that criticism, or a late blooming of a conscience, Thomas Mulcair has finally said something that sets him somewhat apart (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Scotian Responds To A Post

The other day I posted a video showing an Irish Senator and internationally recognized human rights activist, David Norris, speaking impassionately about the Israeli-Gazan situation, sparing no criticism of Israel’s disproportionate response to Hamas’s aggression that has cost so many lives. I wondered what things would be like if we had politicians with that kind of ferocious integrity.

Scotian made a heartfelt and well-considered comment that I think merits its own post. Here it it:

I think we have to also consider the difference in the efforts in NA by the pro-Israel-at-all-costs lobby to crucify anyone here who dares do (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Our Politicians Serve Nothing But Their Own Ambitions

Given the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, many in Canada have been dismayed, not by the predictable and uncritical enthusiasm for all things Israeli from the Harper regime, but by the relative silence or complicity demonstrated by the two major opposition leaders, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair; both have amply demonstrated that political expedience trumps principle in their cribbed set of values. By contrast, Green Party leader Elizabeth May has once more demonstrated that rareness of all qualities, integrity:

May denounced the three main federal parties for “parroting” Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions:

“It should be possible for all other political (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Imagine If Our Politicians Had This Kind Of Honesty And Integrity

The Irish Senator and internationally recognized human rights activist, David Norris, delivered an eminently powerful speech concerning Gaza in the Irish Parliament on, July, 31st. In his speech Norris criticizes human rights violations of Israel carried out with the support of the United States and complacency of the international community.

Said Norris:

“I am not anti-Israeli, I am not anti-Semitic. I supported the state of Israel. In the forty years I have known the state of Israel and sometimes had a home there I’ve seen it completely changed. It changed from a left-wing socially directed country, to an extreme right-wing (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: John Oakley Hosts Harper Clone

Many thanks to The Salamander, who, in his response to a post from last evening, sent along this link to the John Oakley Show. On the show, the Reverend Charles McVetey, as unhinged and extreme an evangelical you are ever likely to encounter, explains the evangelical Christian validation for Stephen Harper’s need to support Israel.

While the clip is long, even listening to five or ten minutes of it will offer great insight not only into the mentality of Dear Leader, but also the trait of absolutist thinking both he and people like McVeety share. And at about the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Part 2- "They Didn’t Get Back To Me"

Yesterday I wrote about the plight of Salma Abuelaish, the eight-year-old girl whose family moved to Canada from Gaza and became Canadian citizens five years ago. Having accompanied her father, a physician, back to Gaza this summer so he could render medical assistance and she could visit with her cousins and grandparents, she became trapped there after the latest outbreak of hostilities with Israel. The Canadian government has thus far ignored a plea for some slight assistance from Salma’s mother, who resides in Brantford. This reaction seems wholly consistent with its apparent aversion to those of Arabic descent, and (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Obscenity Called Gaza

The New York Times’ columnist, Richard Cohen, offers some brilliant insights into the Gaza conundrum, a place he calls, “an open-air prison for 1.8-million people.”

“…more than 300 children are dead, killed in a month-long Israeli bombardment. Each of those children has a name, a family. Several were killed in a recent shelling of a United Nations school, an act that the United States called ‘disgraceful.’ The many civilian casualties in Gaza cannot be waived away as ‘human shields’ of Hamas. They were not human shields. They were human beings.”

Cohen doesn’t spare Hamas (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: How Not To Answer A Question

Texas Governor Rick Perry provides an expert technique lesson in the following video:

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Politics and its Discontents: Canada’s Searing Moment of Clarity

I hope you didn’t miss it. The events of the past month in that distant corner of the world, the mid-east, shone a light of fierce brilliance on our own Canada that exposed an ugly side of our country for all to see who would not look the other way.

What was laid bare was the extent to which neo-liberalism has captured our politics. What we were shown was how the governing Conservatives lead and, worse yet, how the supposedly progressive alternatives meekly fell into line. We witnessed the Liberals and New Democrats fecklessly abandon the very principles they once (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Truth No Amount of Propaganda Can Hide

The following pictures of the devastation in Gaza wrought by the Israeli onslaught are all from Al Jazeera:

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Politics and its Discontents: Is the Washington Post Even Trying Anymore?

My brother sent me a link to a photo-essay in The Washington Post said to depict an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

It’s a nice story as these things go. The homeowner receives a friendly call from Israelis telling him to get out of the building immediately as it’s about to be attacked. The fellow gets all his family and relatives out to safety. No one killed, no one injured, building destroyed. No harm, no foul – sort of.

Except, if you look carefully at the photos, something isn’t right. This looks doctored, staged. Photo 1, shown here, is said to (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Policy On Gaza: The Canadian Toll

While the cost of the Israeli invasion of Gaza is almost incalculable in turns of human suffering and loss of life, there is another casualty in all of this, one that is far less obvious and, in the eternal scheme of things, I suppose, of lesser consequence: Canada’s psyche and reputation, both of which have been perhaps irremediably scarred.

The Mound of Sound has written a great deal lately on the ongoing carnage, and he has been hard-hitting in his condemnation of the leaders of all three major Canadian federal parties. All have either overtly or implicitly consented to (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair – Soft on Terrorism

Let’s begin with the definition of “terrorism.” Merriam-Webster offers up a fairly standard definition: “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”

That sounds exactly like what is going on in Gaza right now. That is exactly what is going on in Gaza right now. It’s terrorism. Deliberately planned and precisely executed terrorism. And our prime minister and his government and our opposition Liberal and New Democrat leaders and all their parties are just fine with it. Trudeau even praises the terrorist government for (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Dahiyeh – It’s How Israel Wages "Peace"

“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.” – Major-General Gadi Eisenkot, IDF.

That was Israeli strategy in the 2006 invasion of southern Lebanon. It’s Israeli strategy today in Gaza. Disproportionate power.. immense damage and destruction… by plan. It’s a strategy not targeted at an armed opponent. This is a strategy targeted directly at civilians – the young, the elderly, women and children – the cannon fodder that are least able to get (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: If All You Had Were Useless Rockets, Would You Be Firing Them?

A timely and invaluable reminder of what it means to be a Palestinian in Gaza under the yoke of the Israeli military. This is a report of a calculated and brutal murder of a 13-year old Palestinian girl by Israeli troops outside a refugee camp in 2004. As I recall, the officer who finished off the girl with two shots to her head was never punished for the murder.

How would you react if this girl was one of ours?

As for today another UN school, this one designated a refuge for Palestinian civilians. 15-dead, 90-wounded as three artillery (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Zionism Does Not Excuse Gaza

There are some self-identified Liberals (and New Democrats) who proclaim their support for Israel in its current butchery in Gaza and they tend to do it in the name of Zionism.

Zionism comes in many shapes and flavours, so many that its meaning is often unintelligible.

The New York Times’ Roger Cohen is a proud Zionist but he sees the Gaza tragedy a little more clearly than some of our Liberal friends:

I am a Zionist because the story of my forebears convinces me that Jews needed the homeland voted into existence by United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947, calling (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Is There Anything Wrong With This Picture?

The Obama administration’s $225 million request to aid Israel during its war with Hamas may not be enough, warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday afternoon.

So far, no word about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, who so far have suffered over 1000 civilian deaths.

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Politics and its Discontents: Gaza – A Suggested Solution

Further to that piece Friday on how Israel’s radical rightwing shift is brutalizing Israeli society, I stumbled across this:

http://forward.com/articles/202558/israeli-professor-suggests-rape-would-serve-as-ter/

And I found this insightful and well footnoted piece from The Nation on AlterNet debunking Israel’s (and our own) narrative on the Gaza invasion.

http://www.alternet.org/world/five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked?akid=12060.103986._jtkpX&rd=1&src=newsletter1013185&t=5

When an Israeli, of all people, can openly call for a “final solution” to the Palestinian problem, well…

Netanyahu calls upon Palestinian civilians to “leave Gaza.” How exactly? And go where?

I have a solution to this unbearable mess. This would be a perfect opportunity for NATO to (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Massaging The Message: How A Republican Has Helped Israel Justify Its Invasion Of Gaza

The Independent reports on how an American Republican pollster and political strategist has helped Israel sell its recent invasion of Gaza, drawing upon a

playbook [that] is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.

The strategy, which relies (Read more…)