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The Wandering Joe: Crimea and Misdemeanours

Bad puns aside, the recent intrigue in Crimea has been responsible for more nonsensical political blustering than any single international incident in the past decade. It has been a curious exercise to sit back and watch everyone work themselves up and deliver half-baked analyses based on laughably outdated assumptions. Please note that all of my assumptions are fully baked.

Lest I sound arrogant, I’m not going to excoriate everyone who has commented on the new ‘Cold War’, nor should I. But I am going to address those people who are attempting to understand this as a Russia vs. the West (Read more…)

Art Threat: Banksy video asks that we stand #WithSyria on third anniversary of conflict

This week marks the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria, and a new campaign involving Banksy asks that we stand in solidarity with Syrians.

#WithSyria asks the public to place pressure on political leaders to “do everything they can to make this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed.” The campaign takes graphic inspiration from Banksy’s iconic Balloon Girl, which was reworked into a young Syrian refugee and placed into a video featuring Idris Elba and English alternative rock act Elbow.

“Banksy’s iconic “Girl with the Red Balloon” is a picture of hope,” explains the #WithSyria website. “The red (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: Growth of racism and religious extremism in Israel: a challenge to friends

In a thoughtful new study guide issued by the Israel/Palestine Mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a question is asked which few have thus far been willing to pose: “Given the liberal values shared by many American Jews and the long, proud tradition of Jewish participation in the struggle for human rights worldwide, why has there been so little outrage expressed at Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians in the decades since Israel’s founding?” Paul Krugman, Princeton economist and New York Times columnist, offers a personal answer: “The truth is that like many liberal American Jews (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: Stephen Harper’s Disservice to Israel

The dictionary definition of perverse says (of a person or their actions) “…showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.” Well, that just about sums up Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s disturbing trip to Israel. If anyone knows why this trip took place — and with the largest “delegation” likely to have ever accompanied a prime minister (almost all of them biased towards Israel) — I wish they would reveal it.

Because otherwise it appears that Mr Harper was intent on setting back the peace process, (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Why Arab-Israeli politician protested Harper’s speech to the Knesset

by: Obert Madondo “When you are controlling, discriminating, confiscating, occupying lands from one side and putting them in the corner without any basic rights, you are by this way ruling and committing apartheid in the occupied Palestinian Territories.” The words of Arab-Israeli legislator Ahmad Tibi as he explained to the CBC why he stormed out during… Read More

The post Why Arab-Israeli politician protested Harper’s speech to the Knesset appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper’s New Anti-Semitism

Few things make me angrier than the propensity of the far right to twist things.  In today’s speech to Israel’s Knesset, we find this lovely little gem:

“A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history,” he said. 

“That is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.” 

Harper allowed that criticism of Israeli government policy isn’t in and of itself “necessarily anti-Semitic.”

(Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: National Post Letter

Should any readers take a look inside today’s National Post, they might find a letter of mine defending Canada’s United Church and its boycott of goods from Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Click here to read my letter and scroll down to the heading “… or is it just?”

Filed under: Letters to the Editor, Middle East Tagged: boycott, Israel, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, National Post, Palestine, settlements, United Church

Molly'sBlog: Syria- A Short History

                                                                                                                                                                                  SYRIA – A SHORT HISTORY By Phillip K. Hitti, Colier Books, New York 1961   This book is an abridgement of the author’s previous work ‘History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine’ (1951). Before the present ‘Arab Spring’ and the subsequent civil war in Syria this country wasn’t of great interest to the average person. This had not, however, always been the case. In the past Syria and its Lebanese gateway had at time been very much in the centre of events.        The author opens with a brief synopsis of Syria’s history, and continues with an (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Molly’sBlog: Syria- A Short History

wRanter.com: A clear message to the world

FB.Event.subscribe(‘edge.create’, function(response) { _gaq.push(['_trackEvent','SocialSharing','Facebook - like button',unescape(String(response).replace(/\+/g, " "))]); }); Share this: Regardless of one’s political predilections, one’s attitude toward the policies of Israel’s current government, or one’s view of Benjamin Netanyahu’s strengths and weaknesses as a retail politician, one has to admire the Israeli prime minister’s ability to make his point. His speech before the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 will long be […]

Writings of J. Todd Ring: The deeper reasons for the “war on drugs”

There is a deeper reason for the war on drugs, which is the central reason for the policy, even outweighing profits from private prisons and seizure of property by law enforcement officers, both of which no doubt are also significant and strong motivations for keeping the “war on drugs” going. Nearly thirty years ago, Chomsky […]

drive-by planet: Democracy Now interview with Noam Chomsky on Syria and related matters: U.S. ‘torturing’ Iran for 60 years

In this talk hosted by Democracy Now, Noam Chomsky raises a number of key points with respect to the U.S. government’s approach to Syria and Iran. He also addresses the self-serving attitude of the U.S. with respect to international law.

The spectacle of Barack Obama, a president known for his predator drone “kill list” that has targeted U.S. citizens for extrajudicial murder, evoking international law with respect to Syria isn’t without its ironies.

Obama said the red line wasn’t his and has referred to “international obligations” with respect to Syria. If in fact international law is to (Read more…)

wRanter.com: Preparing for the unlikely

FB.Event.subscribe(‘edge.create’, function(response) { _gaq.push(['_trackEvent','SocialSharing','Facebook - like button',unescape(String(response).replace(/\+/g, " "))]); }); Share this: A version of this post appeared as a signed editorial in The Canadian Jewish News on Sept. 12. As a new Jewish year begins, renewed U.S.-led peace talks continue between Israel and the Palestinians. Much has been written about the low expectations surrounding these negotiations on both sides. Certainly, Israelis and Jews have good […]

Song of the Watermelon: A Q&A on Syria and the “Responsibility to Protect”

What is “Responsibility to Protect”?

“Responsibility to Protect,” or R2P, is a doctrine that grew out of a 2001 report by the Canadian-established International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). Unanimously endorsed as a general principle by the UN General Assembly four years later, R2P carries a hefty moral (though not legal) weight. The doctrine holds that it is the responsibility of nation states to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, and that if they prove unwilling or unable to do so, responsibility falls on the international community. As a last resort, (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Vancouver Sun Letter

A letter of mine in the Vancouver Sun today, this one about the “Disappearing Palestine” ads on public transit here in the city. I try to defend the ads against the absurd charge that they target Jews. Click here to read it.

Filed under: Ethnicity, Letters to the Editor, Middle East Tagged: Israel, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jewish, Palestine, TransLink, Vancouver, Vancouver Sun

Song of the Watermelon: An Open Letter to TransLink Regarding the “Disappearing Palestine” Ads

Dear TransLink:

I am writing to express my wholehearted support for your decision to display the pro-Palestinian transit ads recently unveiled at the Vancouver City Centre Skytrain station and on several buses. The ads offer an important perspective that needs to be heard as part of any informed debate on the Middle East conflict.

My commendation may sound a bit strange, since, as you yourselves have noted, “within defined limits TransLink has no legal authority to decline advertising content.” A 2009 Supreme Court decision established that TransLink, as a public body, is bound by the free speech provisions (Read more…)

cmkl: On Syria: dear world, please listen to Robert Fisk

Despite the odd title and even stranger subtitle the editors have given it, Robert Fisk has a good take on how things are lining up now that the US, France and apparently Al Qaeda have decided that the Syrian regime has to go.

The Canadian Progressive: Alice Walker Disinvited By Top US University Over Israel Criticism

The University of Michigan has disinvited Pulitzer-prize winning African-American author Alice Walker as punishment for her progressive views on Israel.

The post Alice Walker Disinvited By Top US University Over Israel Criticism appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

LeDaro: Egypt and ongoing turmoil

Mostafa Darwish / EPA, Egyptian security forces move  in to clear one of the two sit-in sites of supporters of ousted president Morsi, Wednesday.

It is sad to read about the turmoil in Egypt. People gave their lives to get rid of a military dictator. There was an election and Morsi did win. Then there were more demonstrations and the military took over the reigns of power again. Now demonstrations are against military rule. It is still ongoing. 149 killed and over 1400 injured. The rest of the Middle East was looking towards Egypt as a model when elections took (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Thoughts on the Coup in Egypt

Tahrir Square in 2011

In the early hours of 12 April 2002, with massive anti-government protests filling the streets, members of the Venezuelan military abducted President Hugo Chávez and, promising new elections, installed an interim leader of their own choosing in his place. Large swaths of respectable international opinion praised the action — which was not called a coup — with The New York Times crowing in a now-infamous editorial that “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.”

When Chávez, with the assistance of military loyalists and massive street protests of his own, returned triumphantly (Read more…)

drive-by planet: George Galloway warns against western intervention in Syria: speech on video

In this speech George Galloway is in top rhetorical form.

He takes a few well aimed shots at western hypocrisy, pointing out that while the U.S. et al are allied with some of the most reactionary and undemocratic regimes in the region they nevertheless talk about bringing democracy to Syria. He also takes a shot at Arab rulers who are targeting Syria for jihad and challenges the thinking behind that decision.  

Galloway doesn’t play down the negative aspects of the Syrian dictatorship, but argues against a regional dictator being displaced by the larger bullies… the U.S. and (Read more…)

Art Threat: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad mocked in satirical finger puppet performance

From The Guardian:

Anonymous Syrian art group Masasit Mati launched the online finger-puppet show Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator in 2011 to lampoon Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive rule. Amid escalating violence, in January 2013 the group secretly travelled to the town of Manbij, north of Aleppo to perform episodes live in support of the peaceful protest movement.

drive-by planet: U.S. arms for Syrian rebels: inflaming Sunni-Shia sectarianism

The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the arming of the Syrian rebels is opposed by a large majority of Americans. A recent Pew poll indicates that 74 percent of independents, 71 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats are opposed to the U.S. and its allies sending arms to Syria.

The Obama announcement aside… truth is the CIA has been helping to arm the Syrian rebels since early 2012. A New York Times article – Arms Airlift to Syrian Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A. – is an eye opener with respect to the amount of (Read more…)

Art Threat: Fearless photography explores the Egyption women of the revolution

The woman in a red dress being blasted by pepper spray in Gezi Park, Istanbul, is not an anomaly. Women are on the front lines of Turkey’s protest movement and were also well represented in the series of upheavals that was dubbed the Arab Spring. But to gain a full appreciation women’s contributions, it’s probably best to look beyond the mainstream news media.

Fearless: Egyptian Women of the Revolution

Photographer and multimedia documentarian Tatiana Philiptchenko has given western audiences a rare insight into the revolutionary role of women through her new book, Fearless: Egyptian Women of the Revolution. The book (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Smuggled samples from Syria test positive for sarin claim UK, France

According to a Guardian report “medical samples smuggled out of Syria have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.“:

The Foreign Office confirmed that body fluids collected from victims of one or more attacks in the country were found to contain a chemical fingerprint of sarin at the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down facility in Wiltshire.

A French laboratory has also identified military toxins. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said:  “These analyses demonstrate the presence of sarin gas in the samples in our possession. In view of this evidence, France is now certain that sarin gas has been used (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension Feed: Why Palestine is different

Secretary of State John Kerry is making an all-out effort to restart peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Many well-intentioned, highly intelligent people from around the world have engaged in some way, shape, or form in the Palestinian-Israeli issue and many of thesepeople have had hands-on experience in resolving other longstanding, global issues, like those of Ireland, South Africa, and U.S. civil rights. While there is always a great deal to learn from other global experiences, the case of Palestine is different and unless Secretary Kerry recognizes this, all the efforts and millions of dollars being thrown at this (Read more…)