Conservative minister Jason Kenney is to receive an award for “diversity” from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in London, Ontario this Sunday. It is hard to say which does more harm to the true values of diversity: the “honouring” organization or the politician being “honoured.”
The JNF covenant reserves the 13 per cent of Israeli land it owns for the exclusive benefit of Jews. It plays the same discriminatory role in the Israeli Lands Authority: together, these two interlocking institutions control 93 per cent of land in Israel, which (with a few short-lease exceptions) is not available to Palestinians. Many of these lands, originally belonging to Palestinians expelled in 1948, were expropriated and then sold to the JNF.
In 1998, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reported that the “large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties by non-Jews.”
Segregation and exclusion are incompatible with diversity, but fine with Minister Kenney. Since the robo-call election of 2011, Ottawa Conservatives have pushed through measures that discriminate against migrants and refugees. Last November they completely halted applications for immigration sponsorships of parents and grandparents until 2014.
The JNF creates forests and parks on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages to hide the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and to prevent Palestinian refugees from returning. Canada Park, built on top of the ruins of the Palestinian villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba (deliberately destroyed by Israel in 1967), was funded through Canadian tax-deductible donations to the JNF Canada.
The destruction of the Palestinian villages and the denial of the villagers’ right to return to their homes are grave violations of the 4th Geneva Convention. Former Israeli Knesset member Uri Avnery calls this destruction a “war crime under international law.”
War crimes (even those subsidized through our tax system) do not promote diversity but they are OK with Kenney and other Conservatives, whose unconditional support for Israeli crimes matches their complete disdain for our own national obligations under international humanitarian law. Just last week, they passed Bill C-31, a law that will result in the arbitrary detention, intimidation and re-victimization of highly vulnerable asylum-seekers in Canada, especially women and children. As of next week, refugees in this country will be denied vital medical services by the same Conservative government.
Like Indigenous peoples elsewhere, Palestinians Bedouins in the Negev have been and continue to be dispossessed of their land, their resources and their livelihoods by occupying populations. While countries like Canada move slowly towards reconciliation with aboriginal peoples through land settlements and compensation, funds raised through JNF dinners and Canadian tax deductions contribute to further dispossession of Bedouins and other Palestinians.
Indigenous dispossession does not help foster diversity, but that doesn’t bother Conservatives like Kenney. In April 2012, they pushed through a policy allowing employers pay “temporary” foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing local wage.
The JNF’s exclusionary practices and policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are not well known in North America, but recently in the U.K. major political party leaders (including the current Prime Minister) have begun distancing themselves from this discriminatory organization.
It is time more Canadians demanded the JNF’s charitable status be revoked – in the name of diversity (and international law), while we work to reverse the damage done to vulnerable migrants by Kenney and other Conservatives.
We may not get any awards for “diversity,” but we will be helping build a more just world for all.
UWO Faculty for Palestine member David Heap is a Steering Committee member of works with community groups including People for Peace and No One is Illegal in London. He gratefully acknowledges help from allies and colleagues in preparing this column.
- Protests against racist group’s participation in ‘Earth Summit’ (bdsmovement.net)
- Jason Kenney, sociopath (yayacanada.blogspot.com)
- JNF to forest-depopulate Bedouin village in Naqab on Wednesday (altahrir.wordpress.com)
President Cristina Fernández assured on Friday night that “Argentina does not condone the coup in Paraguay” and anticipated that “appropriate measures” will be taken at next week’s Mercosur Summit, scheduled to take place in Mendoza.
The Argentine leader also said that Unasur expressed a unanimous voice regarding the impeachment process that removed President Fernando Lugo from office on Friday.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff also suggested that Paraguay could be expulsed from Mercosur and Unasur since the two organizations have clauses in support of democratic rules and governance.
Speaking at a press conference before addressing the UN Rio+20 summit Rousseff said there “are anticipated sanctions for those who do not comply with the principles that characterize democracy” but admitted Paraguay was going through “a complicated situation”.
When a country violates the democratic clause the sanction is “non participation in multilateral bodies; that is expulsion from Mercosur and Unasur”.
Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa anticipated that his government “will not recognize any other Paraguayan president but Fernando Lugo”, and independently of the decisions from Lugo and Unasur “Ecuador will not recognize the new president”, Federico Franco, named by Congress.
“We are not going to remain idle to the advance of these type of issues in our region because what happened in Paraguay is absolutely illegitimate” and recalled the democratic clause from Unasur which enables the regional block to act when against the rupture of democratic order in any member country.
“What has happened in Paraguay is a big farce disguised as legality but it is totally unacceptable that the decision to oust a president was taken in 24 hours ignoring his right to due process and defence”, added Correa.
Venezuelan Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro said in Asuncion that a meeting of Unasur heads of state will take place soon to decide on the Paraguayan case, which he described as “absolutely shameful”.
Maduro is in Paraguay as one of the Unasur Foreign ministers’ delegation sent to try and mediate in the political crisis.
Unasur ministers cautioned that if due process was not respected “this would mean the rupture of cooperation of Unasur, Mercosur and Celac with Paraguay” which involves among other things cutting of subsidized fuel, limiting communications and commercial dealings.
Unasur Secretary General Ali Rodriguez said in a release that country members “will assess how it can be possible to continue cooperation with Paraguay in the framework of South American integration”, if the impeachment process ignores due process and the right to defence.
“The foreign ministers mission reaffirms its total solidarity with the Paraguayan people and its support for constitutional president Fernando Lugo”, underlined Ali Rodrigues.
Venezuela’s Maduro said that “we came (to Paraguay) with the best of willingness and open minds to help but disappointingly we were not listened by those making the decision”.
“There is an evident breaking down of constitutional order” pointed out Maduro who added the delegation arrived in Asunción “to support Paraguayan democracy, the Paraguayan people and the constitutional president Fernando Lugo”.
Maduro claims lawmakers listened in “silence and with indifference” to the Unasur request for respect to due process in the impeachment of the head of state.
- Rousseff suggests expulsion of Paraguay’s Mercosur and Unasur (ireport.cnn.com)
- Paraguayan Senate impeaches leftist president, causing international uproar (weeklyintercept.blogspot.com)
The Saudi regime will pay the salaries of members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army amid ongoing attacks carried out by armed groups inside Syria, a report says.
According to a June 22 report published by the UK newspaper Guardian, Saudi authorities will pay the armed rebels to encourage “mass defections from the military and… pressure” the Damascus government.
The plan has been discussed between officials from Riyadh and Washington, as well as representatives from a number of other Arab states.
US Senator Joe Lieberman also brought up the issue of the salaries during talks with Saudi officials in a recent trip to the kingdom.
According to Lieberman’s spokesperson, the US senator “called for the US to provide robust and comprehensive support” to the armed rebels.
Lieberman “specifically called for the US to work with… partners to provide” the rebels with “weapons, training, tactical intelligence, secure communications and other forms of support.”
Meanwhile, armed groups continue conducting attacks in Syria. The official Syrian news agency, SANA, said terrorists killed 25 civilians in the northern province of Aleppo on June 22.
The Guardian also stated that Turkey has allowed the “establishment of a 22-member command center in Istanbul which is coordinating supply lines” for the rebels inside Syria.
The report was published a day after the New York Times quoted some US and Arab intelligence officials as saying that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar pay for the transport of weaponry for the armed gangs in Syria.
On February 24, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said during a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria” group in Tunisia that supplying weapons to Syrian rebels is “an excellent idea.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on March 4 that the “international community’s message might be conveyed to the Syrian administration via certain methods including the arming of the (so-called) Syrian National Council (SNC).”
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree on Saturday, forming a new government under Prime Minister Riad Farid Hijab, the former agriculture minister who was appointed the Syrian premier on June 6.
The move was part of the reforms promised by the Syrian president.
Assad said on June 3 that the country is “facing a war from abroad,” adding that attempts are being made to “weaken Syria, [and] breach its sovereignty.”
“Standing up against the conspiracy is not easy, but we will overcome the obstacles,” he stated.
- You: Saudi Arabia plans to fund Syria rebel army (guardian.co.uk)
There are people who insist that Israel is an overseas battleship for the United States. What about the relationship between Israel and Canada?
Documents have come to light, through a Queen’s University researcher using the federal access-to-information law, that say Canadian defence minister Peter MacKay told Israel’s top military commander, major-general Gabi Ashkenazi, while in the Middle East, that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.”1
It is nothing new. Mackay’s boss, prime minister Stephen Harper previously stated, “Those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada.”2
First, who is the primary threat in the Middle East? Is Lebanon attacking Israel or is it Israel attacking Lebanon? Is Syria attacking Israel or is it Israel attacking Syria? Is Gaza attacking Israel or is it Israel attacking Gaza? Did Iraq attack Israel or did Israel attack Iraq? Has Iran ever attacked Israel, or is it just Israel that has attacked Iran?
It appears the threat is an Israeli attack on nearby countries, not another Middle Eastern country attacking Israel.
If an attack on Israel is an attack on Canada, then what is an attack by Israel? If Canada is so aligned with Israel, does it then consider that it is in an attack posture along with Israel?
Or is there a semblance of fairness to Canadian foreign policy under the Conservative Party government?3 Would Canada declare that a threat against another Middle Eastern country from Israel is a threat to Canada? Does Canada wish to be a peace-loving country (hardly credible nowadays after its role in the imperialist debacle against Iraq and in war-torn Afghanistan) or will it condone threats and violence by Israel against neighbors?
When talking about threats, is it not important to consider what might be prompting a threat? Would occupation of another state’s territory not be provocative? Is anyone occupying Israeli territory? (Just what is Israeli territory anyway?) How about vice versa? Israel is in longstanding occupation of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. So just who is the threat and who is engaged in provocative behavior?
Former prime minister, Paul Martin, said: “Israel’s values are Canada’s values — shared values — democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights.”4
If Israel’s values are Canada’s values, on democracy is this expressed by Canada’s freezing aid to Palestine after Hamas won the 2006 election? On the rule of law, is this expressed by Israel’s violation of numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions and the 2005 International Court of Justice decision that the apartheid wall must be dismantled from within the West Bank and compensation paid to Palestinians? On the protection of human rights can this exist within an apartheid regime; can it exist under occupation?5
So what exactly are these shared values between Canada and Israel?
Does Canada value becoming an undeclared nuclear power? Will Canada therefore withdraw from the NPT and develop its own nuclear weapons arsenal in line with Israeli values?
Should Canada not then support Iran’s nuclear research since they only do what Israel has done, and even less, and even Canada does nuclear research and sends its uranium to nuclear-armed states?
How does Canada avoid charges of hypocrisy? How does Canada elude charges of bias?
Harper had defended Israel by saying: “But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.”
Is there not a moral obligation to take a stand against apartheid, to take a stand against occupation, to take a stand against serial violations of international law, to take a stand against human rights abuses, and to take a stand against warring?
Are Israeli’s values not a threat to any nation state professing respect for human rights and justice?
- See Murray Brewster, “Threat to Israel is threat to Canada, MacKay tells Israeli military commander,” The Province, 19 June 2012.
- See “Fault Lines – Canada-Israel: The other special relationship,” Al Jazeera.
- It does not really matter in Canada’s current political landscape because Canada’s New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party are more-or-less equally obsequious to Israel.
- Press Release, “Canadian prime Minister Paul Martin Addresses Delegates at Opening of United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly,” UJC.
- Visit, for example, the website of B’Tselem — the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories for a glimpse at Israeli activists acknowledge as Israel’s abuse of human rights.
Kim Petersen can be reached at: email@example.com.
- Harper government promises to support a belligerent/illegal/brutal occupier and serial violator of international humanitarian law. (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
A four-year-old boy was killed while six other Palestinians were wounded as Israeli tanks carried out an assault on Gaza on Saturday, medical officials said.
The Jewish state also launched fresh airstrikes in the besieged area, injuring 20 people, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Four-year-old Muatazz al-Sawwaf was killed and three others injured, one seriously, by Israeli tank fire in the Abasan neighborhood east of Khan Younis, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.
Three people were wounded in a separate tank attack in Beit Lahiya, north Gaza, when Israeli forces opened fire at farmers tending their land, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency said.
Israel said the overnight airstrikes targeted two camps of the armed wing of Hamas in central and northern Gaza, but provided no evidence for the claims.
At least 20 people were injured in the bombings, which follow similar attacks on Friday that killed two Palestinians and left four wounded.
A first Israeli air strike on Friday afternoon targeted the east of Al-Bureij in the central part of the Gaza Strip, killing Basel Ahmad, 29, local medical sources said.
Two other Palestinians were wounded in the strike, one of them seriously, the sources added.
A second Israel air strike killed another Palestinian in the north of Gaza.
Hammam Abou Qadous, 20, died of his wounds after being hit as he traveled on his motorbike in the northern part of the Gaza Strip Friday evening, Palestinian medical sources said.
Two other Palestinians were slightly injured in the same attack, they added.
The attacks represent a flagrant violation of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that went into force on Friday.
Hamas, in a rare show of force, responded with rocket fire, but only inflicted minimal material damage on Israeli properties.
Hamas has previously refrained from responding to unprovoked Israeli attacks on Gaza in a bid to avoid being drawn into a new war with the Jewish state.
Israel has maintained a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip since 2007, effectively destroying the local economy and plunging the 1.5 million Palestinians into poverty.
(Al-Akhbar, Ma’an, AFP)
- Hamas militants say targeting Israeli army sites (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Deadly Israel raid on Gaza deals blow to truce efforts (thehimalayantimes.com)
- UK raps Palestinians for Israeli crimes (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Leila Khaled and the Struggle for Palestinian Liberation
There was once a time not so long ago when the world seemed to be full of revolutionary heroes. These heroes were both men and women. The actions and accompanying commitment of these individuals inspired millions of others to join movements and organizations dedicated to a vision of social justice and freedom that understood colonialism and racism to be their primary opposition. From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks; from Huey Newton to Assata Shakur; and Che Guevara to Leila Khaled, the list of such individuals is too great to recount here. Their enemies included secret and not-so-secret police, intelligence agencies dedicated to their murder, and governments both liberal and reactionary whose lot lay with the imperial powers in Washington, London and elsewhere in the North. The presence of such men and women made them targets for those opposed to their vision. Simultaneously, the fact of their stature provided them with a media presence created a public awareness of their cause which helped recruit adherents and supporters.
During the first Gulf war I worked with an antiwar group in Olympia, WA. There was a young woman named Leila of Syrian heritage in the group. It was during a conversation about the Palestinians that the subject of Leila Khaled came up. After five minutes of conversation or so, Leila mentioned that she was named after Khaled. I knew that Khaled’s youth, beauty and media savvy had made her a media favorite during the hijackings and other actions she had participated in. I also remembered the spray painted silhouettes of Khaled that appeared on the walls of squats and at the Goethe Universitat in Frankfurt. However, this young woman was the first person I had met who was named in her honor.
Recently, Pluto Press published a small biography of Leila Khaled as part of its Revolutionary Lives Series. It is titled Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation. Authored by Sarah Irving, a freelancer who has written about environmental and Palestinian issues, this biography looks at Khaled’s life from its beginnings in a Palestinian village occupied by the Israelis to her current activism. Culling information from her biography My People Shall Live, newspaper and journal articles spanning her life and recent interviews, Irving’s book takes a comprehensive look at a life fully-lived.
For those who remember the hijackings Khaled participated in, Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation brings those events back to life. In addition, she provides the reader with Khaled’s insights and descriptions of how those hijackings unfolded. Khaled also touches briefly on her emotions during those actions. Irving describes the determination of Khaled’s enemies to kill her, a determination that resulted in her sister and sister’s fiancée being murdered by mistake. She also describes the life of Khaled’s family as refugees and relatives of a revolutionary wanted by Israel and a myriad of other governments. The Palestinian movement Khaled first entered was quite different than that which exists now. Religious elements had minimal influence. Indeed, the primary divisions in the movement arose in the political/economic arena. The primary organization, Al Fatah, was what was then termed a bourgeois nationalist movement, while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) defined itself as a Marxist one. Khaled was (and is) a member of the latter, but seems to have been only minimally involved in the internecine warfare that occasionally erupted between the factions. Her discussion of the influence of Muslim culture in the Palestinian movement and how it effects the role of women in the Palestinian struggle is an important part of this book and worthy of further exploration. This is especially true given Khaled’s long history in the movement and her lifelong insistence on the need for women to be involved. A sidebar to this discussion is her telling about incidents where some of the men pretending to be strict enforcers of the hijab in Gaza following Hamas’ victory turned out to be informers for the Israeli military. This story points out the potentially reactionary nature of a nationalism that depends on cultural elements to define it while rejecting anticapitalist economic analyses.
Khaled discusses the current situation in Palestine. In her opinion, the Oslo accords should never have been signed. The continued control of Palestinian economic, social and daily life by Israelis and their paid police insures the perpetuation of the Occupation. Her opposition to the Accords is often characterized by her enemies as being an opposition to peace. Khaled’s response is simple. When there are no more Israeli soldiers, police, and other agents of the Tel Aviv government occupying the territories, then there will be peace. Until then, the struggle continues. As if to emphasize this, some events arranged by Irving’s publisher to announce the book to the British reading public have been cancelled because of threats of violence. This fact proves Khaled’s continuing relevance, while also intensifying the need to publicize the book.
The struggle of the Palestinians is a different looking struggle than it was when Leila Khaled’s name first became known to the world. Yet, it is the same struggle. Heroic figures like those mentioned above do not seem to be part of that struggle right now. However, their stories are important and need to be told. Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation does a great job of telling one such story.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up.
- Attempted Ethnocide in Palestine (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
South Korea and the United States have started a massive joint naval drill in the Yellow Sea amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The three-day-long exercise kicked off on Saturday, involving at least 10 South Korean warships and submarines plus the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, the South Korean Defense Ministry announced on Saturday.
“The naval exercise started as scheduled today,” a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Some 8,000 personnel from the two allies’ forces participated in the maneuver, the ministry noted.
The drill is aimed at joint detection and tracking down of long-range missiles launched by North Korea as well as interception of its submarines.
The maneuver came as a follow-up to a two-day-long trilateral naval drill among South Korea, Japan, and the US off the southern South Korea island of Jeju, involving destroyers, supply ships, and helicopters.
The troops involved in the two-day-long exercise practiced humanitarian operations such as search and rescue missions over Thursday and Friday.
Pyongyang, however, criticized the three-nation exercise, describing it as “an intentional act to provoke war,” saying it would bring a “new cloud of war” to the volatile region.
However, Seoul says the drills are routine and defensive in nature.
The US and South Korea have conducted numerous massive joint naval and aerial drills in the waters east of the Korean Peninsula.