This picture shows Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands after a joint press conference on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, March 2, 2012.
The world is taking note of the ruling Conservatives’ shameful betrayal of Canada’s once admirable reputation as a fair country, sincerely working on the world stage to improve the lot of the disadvantaged and suffering.
In the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, Canada was criticized to such an extent that the Council decided to send the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and representatives of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to investigate.
Minister of Foreign Affairs spokesman Joseph Lavoie dismissed complaints by
*China of “widespread racial discrimination”,
*Iran of “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, discriminatory law and regulation against indigenous people and minority groups including Muslim, Arab and African communities”,
*Pakistan of “increased poverty and unemployment rate among immigrant communities”,
*Egypt of “racial profiling in law-enforcement action”, and
*Cuba of “racism and xenophobia” in Canada,
insisting that “Canada has a track record of being a human rights leader, at home and around the world.”
The visits come at an awkward moment for the Conservatives, as it makes a public display of victimizing Muslims as part of a campaign to ram through the “Combating Terrorism Act” (Bill S-7), which gives the state extraordinary powers to detain suspects without any charges and without any legal protections for up to a year.
This sorry state of Canadian political life is the fruit of the Conservatives’ slavish obedience to every US whim, and of its decision to abandon any pretense of an independent foreign policy, making all decisions in consultation with Israeli advisers under the public security cooperation “partnership” signed in 2008 by Canada and Israel to “protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats”. Israel security agents now officially assist Canada’s security services, the RCMP and CSIS, in profiling Canadian citizens who are Muslims and monitoring individuals and/or organizations in Canada involved in supporting the rights of Palestinians and other such nefarious activities. Even the usually timid UN is appalled.
The past two weeks of public spectacle could be lifted from a perverse Alice-in-Wonderland scenario. The latest claim to have uncovered a dastardly scheme by Muslim furriners plotting to explode weapons of mass destruction came just a week after the now legendary Boston bombing. Both incidents were dramatically unfolded to a gullible public as classic ‘good vs evil’, though neither holds water.
Canadian authorities boasted Monday afternoon that, working in concert with the FBI and other US national security agencies, they had broken up a terrorist conspiracy involving an “Iranian-based al-Qaeda cell”. The announcement, made at an RCMP press conference, came out of the blue, just days after the Boston bombing, and a few days after the House of Commons agenda was changed to debate final reading of the draconian anti-terrorism legislation.
On cue, US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson hailed the action as “the result of extensive cross-border cooperation” showing “that we face serious and real threats.” The men were arrested in a Hollywoodesque fashion–Chiheb Esseghaier while eating at McDonald’s in Montreal’s main train station; Raed Jason, by scores of police armed with rifles and accompanied by search-dogs at his workplace in the Toronto borough of North York. They were charged with conspiracy to bomb a New York-bound Via passenger train, though the RCMP conceded that there had never been an imminent threat of an attack or even a definite plan, that Esseghaier and Jaser have been under police radar since last August (based on a year-old tip from an imam), and that their alleged crimes date back to last year.
The reason for their delayed and then sudden arrest is beyond a doubt the notorious Bill S-7, a bill that was forced on Canada by Big Brother in post-911 2001, and which was not renewed in 2007 thanks to Liberal opposition (they originally passed it and then had enough sense to oppose it). The Conservative government suddenly changed the House of Commons agenda as US authorities placed Boston under martial law. The Canadian copycat arrests clearly are intended to add a Canadian pretext for proceeding with Bill S-7, while showing that “We are all Americans now.”
This episode calls to mind the terrorist scare in 2006, when the RCMP staged the dramatic arrest of 18 young Muslims, whom they accused of preparing extensive terrorist attacks, including blowing up the parliament buildings. During the trial, it emerged that the “Toronto 18” was riddled with police agents, one providing the arms instruction at a “terrorist training camp” while another providing harmless bomb-making ingredients. Nevertheless, eleven were convicted and most given lengthy prison terms.
When Esseghaier, a Tunisian-born Montreal PhD student in nanotechnology, told the judge, “These conclusions are being reached based on facts that are nothing but words and appearances,” he was told to shut up, and the hearing was shut down. Jaser’s lawyer John Norris said his client was “in a state of shock and disbelief” and “intends to defend himself vigorously”. Norris took exception to the police’s attempt to present his client as a non-Canadian, noting that the Palestinian refugee has lived with his family in Canada for the past twenty years.
Is it just possible that UN Human Rights Council members read the ‘news’, are appalled, and are genuinely concerned about what’s happening to human rights in Canada?
Canadians’ plight is bad enough, but this recent orchestration of Islamophobia has another angle, just as appalling. The RCMP assertion that these damn furriners acted under the “direction and guidance” of “al-Qaeda elements located in Iran” is a blatant falsehood, as Iran (like Iraq before the US invasion) is probably the most anti-al-Qaeda country in the world. The fundamentalist al-Qaeda delights in killing Shia, was (and is?) supported by the US and financed by Canada’s enlightened Saudi oil-millionaire allies. So it’s not just a question of stripping Canadians of their rights, but of adding toxic fuel to the US-Israeli fires intended to launch war against peaceful (pro-Palestinian) Iran.
The RCMP admitted that they had no evidence of Iranian government involvement, but still… (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). When Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran last autumn, Foreign Minister John Baird labeled Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today”. All Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had to do was to point to the hypocrisy and cynicism of Canada’s government backing the campaign to overthrow the Syrian government -a campaign in which some of insurgents are openly aligned with al-Qaeda: “The same [al-Qaeda] current is killing people in Syria while enjoying Canada’s support.”
And what about the latest hit on the American 911 funny bone? Tamerlan Tsarnaev was under surveillance for four years by the FBI, who were asked by the Russian government to arrest him in 2010 (which they did not do). They do admit to interviewing him in 2011 and sifting through his computer files, but, remarkably for someone allegedly radicalized by the internet, they found nothing of concern. It’s not clear why Russia let him go to visit his parents in the center of terrorism (Dagestan) in Russia in 2012, where purportedly he received some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. Nor how he managed to attend a workshop next door in hostile Georgia organized by the “Fund of the Caucasus” (which works with the US rightwing thinktank the Jamestown Foundation) focused on destabilizing the Caucasus region.
Were both the FBI and the Russian FSB asleep? Was Tamerlan an FBI operative? Was he set up to do the bombing, or did he go AWOL on the FBI? Is this Chechen connection intended to frighten Russia into acquiescing to US-Israeli plans for Syria? “This [official] scenario is simply impossible in the real world,” writes former UK Ambassador Craig Murray. In an interview with Russia Today, Tamerlan’s mother said, “‘They were set up, the FBI followed them for years.” Is this international intrigue-intended to scare both Russia and Iran into abandoning the beleaguered Syrian government -really what Canadian domestic human rights and foreign policy should be based on? Why should we trust Ambassador Jacobson’s blah-blah about “serious threats”?
Canadians are left with security forces eager to show they are doing something, a craven government intent on passing a draconian bill to take away freedoms, and a foreign policy based on a US-Israel obsession with finding some spark to ignite the latest war craze -attack Iran. The supposed pretext -Iran’s nuclear energy program- is after all wearing a tad thin. Peter Osborne in the Telegraph explained how the West has turned down one serious offer after another by Iran (two in 2005 alone), and argues that it is western rather than Iranian intransigence that prevents a deal being struck today. So if no one believes the cry of “Wolf!” on that boondoggle, then the next best thing is “al-Qaeda”. Hell, Bush got away with it against Iraq in 2003; maybe it will work again.
Iran poses only an ideological threat -telling the truth to the US-Israeli tyrant and inspiring Arab Springs.
As for being killed by a bona fide terrorist, the odds are 1 in 20 million, while every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in workplace-related accidents, and more than 30,000 are killed by gun violence. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. On Boston Marathon Day, six Pakistanis died in a drone strike, while scores were killed in car bombs in Iraq. I won’t even begin to recount the daily horrors inflicted by the US in Afghanistan.
Not that these latter crimes against humanity -committed by us- justify retributive violence in any religion, especially Islam. “You shall not be treacherous, you shall not deceive, you shall not mutilate, you shall not kill children.” But the fact that we in the West are unconcerned with preventing senseless deaths at home, and are unaware or don’t care about the murders committed daily in our name abroad, does not bode well for the future. Only when we stop perpetrating violence will violence against us end.
The JTA staff has published “In the spirit of the holiday season, … its annual ode to the non-Jews who helped write the Jewish story this past year.”1
I’m quite uncertain about the practice of 0.65 percent of the world’s population2 determining who outside of them is to be singled out as a “Gentile” of the year.
I never call myself a Gentile, and I’d prefer if other people not refer to me in a way I do not wish to be identified. Human is sufficient for me. I am a human just like every other member of Homo sapiens. I see no need to separate myself out. Admittedly, this poses a bit of a logical conundrum because my inclusive preference has already, in essence, separated me from those who wish to separate themselves from others. Other physical and behavioral traits will also allow others to categorize me relative to other humans. This is true. Despite all this, I remain human and so does every other person: Muslim, Jew, Hindi, Arab, European, Chinese, White, Black, Green, Blue, gay, old, young, female, male, etc.
Eleven individuals were selected by the JTA staff on the basis of what they are not: they are not Jews. They were also selected on the basis of how they served Jewish interests.
To become a “Gentile of the year” all French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied had to do was marry one of Hollywood’s most fetching actresses — Natalie Portman. Obviously the bar is quite low for Gentiles to ingratiate themselves with JTA staff.
Actress Claire Danes just had to do her job, acting in the Showtime series Homeland, “an adaptation of an Israeli TV show,” part of which was filmed in Israel.
The deputy speaker of Hungary’s parliament, Istvan Ujhelyi, took a stand that was rightful and public. He showed solidarity with the country’s Jewish community against extremist right-wingers. One wonders, however, about the plight of the comparatively more downtrodden Roma in Hungary. Which politician will take a stand for them?
“NBC sportscaster Bob Costas took it upon himself to remember the slain athletes and coaches,” writes JTA. What kind of person only shows concern about certain slain people? Has Costas ever publicly held a moment of silence for the dispossessed Palestinians? Did he hold a moment of silence for the victims of Zionist Israel’s massacre of Gazans? Does Costas’s public silence to the murders of Palestinians (fellow humans) make him worthy of being singled out as a Gentile of the year?
Newt Gingrich, who calls Palestinians an “invented people,” was also singled out since he “stood his ground, however, saying he supported a negotiated peace but that the onus was on the Palestinians.” What kind of topsy-turvy world is it in which the dispossessed, the occupied, the oppressed have the onus for peace placed upon them by the dispossessors, occupiers, oppressors?
Singer Chaka Khan is a Gentile of the year for “raising $14 million to support the well-being of Israeli soldiers.” These soldiers are the lethal force of the dispossession, occupation, and oppression. Singer Stevie Wonder saw fit to back out of the concert benefiting occupation forces; Chaka Khan decided otherwise. For this she is singled out by JTA.
British tabloid reporters Brian Flynn and Ryan Parry proved “it’s never too late for justice.” They helped nab a suspected war criminal Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, implicated in Jewish deaths during World War II. I share no sympathy for war criminals, and there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. That is something Israeli war criminals ought to bear in mind.
JTA considers Mohamed Morsi worthy of singling out for the importance he has and will have for Israel. Barack Obama is an important figure for Israel as well. Strangely enough, arch-Zionist collaborator Mahmoud Abbas was not “honored” as a Gentile of the year.
Special praise, however, was bestowed upon Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper:
an unabashed Israel supporter is an understatement. In the last few months, Harper has shuttered Canada’s embassy in Tehran, listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, personally pressured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (unsuccessfully) to drop the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the United Nations and signed a series of defense pacts with Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres has called him “an extraordinary friend.”
Yet Harper is extraordinarily biased against Palestinians. That is not surprising, as Harper also takes a strongly colonialist line against First Nations in Canada.
Couldn’t JTA come up with a worthier list from 99.35 percent of the planet’s population?
I am not much for lists of personalities. However, if I were to draw up a list of people, I would refrain from singling out a specific segment of humanity. First, I would attempt to determine what special traits should make people worthy for singling out on a list. I submit that those who dedicate themselves or sacrifice themselves for the good of the greater humanity are worthy of recognition.
- I propose the following list of humans to recognize. No particular ranking is meant to be imparted, and the list is not to be considered exhaustive:
- • peace activists
• anti-poverty activists
• supporters of the dignity of labor
• environmental activists
• resistance movements
• Indigenous rights activists
• supporters of LGBTQ rights
• justice/prison rights activists
• women’s rights supporters
There are many people toiling on behalf of others less fortunate in the world. It, therefore, seems remiss to focus on any one or a few persons. Ultimately, it is the mass of humanity that determines what kind of world we all live in. Apathy, inactivity, and insouciance are enemies of a Brave New World for which there are repercussions. Such surrender is very much partially to blame for why the world is beset by war, killing, massive inequality in income and wealth, resource exploitation for private profit with nary a regard for the wider public’s use and enjoyment of the environment, oppression, as well as other social injustices. Consequently, it is a must for a society inclined toward progressivism to cultivate the desired traits among the people that lead to the desired world.
- JTA Staff, “Gentiles of the Year 2012,” JTA, 28 December 2012.
- Aaron Kalman, “Global Jewish population grows by 88,000 over past year,” Times of Israel, 9 September 2012.
Kim Petersen can be reached at: email@example.com.
The Canadian government has reportedly ordered the scientific journals of the country not to publish articles authored by Iranian researchers and scientists.
Iranian academics, who had primarily received an acceptance from the journals, have received new messages that notified them of the journals’ decision not to publish their work due to recent policies adopted by the Canadian government.
In a recent move, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research refused to publish an article by an Iranian assistant professor despite the earlier acceptance of the article.
The journal argued that it “will not be permitted to publish” the article as previously stated, citing the political and non-academic reasons. It said that Ottawa had closed down its mission in Tehran for what it called the “civil rights abuse of the citizens of Iran” and “the threat to the security of Canadian personnel and Israel.”
On September 7, the Canadian government closed its embassy in Tehran and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave Canada within five days.
In a statement, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada views Iran “as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world,” adding that Iran “routinely threatens the existence of Israel.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast censured Ottawa’s decision as undiplomatic and a move in line with the policies dictated by Israel.
“The hostile actions of the current racist Canadian government are in fact in line with the policies that are dictated by the Zionist regime (Israel) and the British government,” Mehmanparast said.
Pundits believe Canada’s move to sever diplomatic ties with Iran unveils Ottawa’s submissive attitude toward the Israeli regime.
“Canada’s abrupt move to sever all ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran manifestly springs from a strong Zionist sway which has permeated the political structure of the country,” Iranian academic Ismail Salami wrote in an op-ed published on Press TV website on September 11.
The analyst said that, governed as a constitutional monarchy with British Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, Canada could be viewed as a country “supporting colonizing regimes such as Israel and seeking to isolate the peaceful nation of Iran.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have time and again expressed unconditional support for Israel, and are widely believed for dancing to every tune of Israel.
- Canada’s Palestinian Aid Programme Serving Israel’s Interests (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran condemns Canadian Gov’t for freezing its assets (EndtheLie.com)
Few aspects of Canadian foreign policy have been mentioned more times over the past two weeks than Ottawa’s 300 million dollar five year aid program to the Palestinians.
Ever since the Globe and Mail reported on November 26 that Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened Mahmoud Abbas that “there will be consequences” if he followed through on his plan to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade Palestine’s status there has been a great deal of speculation about whether Canadian “aid” would be cut off. A quick Google search brings up hundreds of articles mentioning the 300 million dollars in funding yet none of them mention the highly politicized character of this “aid”.
After Hamas won legislative elections in January 2006 the Conservatives made Canada the first country (after Israel) to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority. When Hamas officials were ousted from the Palestinian unity government in June 2007, the Conservatives immediately contributed $8 million “in direct support to the new government.” Then in December 2007 the Conservatives announced a five-year $300 million aid program to the Palestinians, which was largely designed to serve Israel’s interests.
A Saint John Telegraph-Journal headline explained: “Canada’s aid to Palestine benefits Israel, foreign affairs minister says.” In January 2008 foreign minister Maxime Bernier said: “We are doing that [providing aid to the PA] because we want Israel to be able to live in peace and security with its neighbours.”
Most of the Canadian aid money has gone to building up a Palestinian security force overseen by a US general. The immediate impetus of the Canadian aid was to create a Palestinian security force “to ensure that the PA maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas,” as Canadian Ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted as saying by the Canadian Jewish News. American General Keith Dayton, in charge of organizing a 10,000-member Palestinian security force, even admitted that he was strengthening Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah against Hamas, telling a US audience in May 2009 his force was “working against illegal Hamas activities.” According to Al Jazeera, between 2007 and early 2011 PA security forces arrested some 10,000 suspected Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
The broader aim of the US-Canada-Britain initiated Palestinian security reform was to build a force to patrol Israel’s occupied territories. In a 2011 profile of Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Allison, “Dayton’s chief of liaison in the West Bank” for a year, his hometown newspaper reported: “The Dayton team was concerned with enhancing security on the West Bank of Palestine and was all geared towards looking after and ensuring the security of Israel, said Ron.”
“We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians,” noted Dayton, “unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the state of Israel and they agree to it.” For instance, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Shin-Bet, vets all of the Palestinian recruits.
The Israelis supported Dayton’s force as a way to keep the West Bank population under control. Like all colonial authorities throughout history Israel looked to compliant locals to take up the occupation’s security burden. In a December 2011 article titled “[Ehud] Barak admires PA security forces for protecting [Israeli] settlers [in the West Bank]” a Palestinian news agency described an interview the Israeli defence minister gave to a Hebrew radio station.
Writing in a July 2011 issue of the London Review of Books Adam Shatz explained: “The PA already uses the American-trained National Security Force to undermine efforts by Palestinians to challenge the occupation. (Hamas, in Gaza, has cracked down on protest even more harshly.) ‘They are the police of the occupation,’ Myassar Atyani, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told me. ‘Their leadership is not Palestinian, it is Israeli.’ On 15 May – the day Palestinians commemorate their Nakba [the 1948 destruction of Palestinian society] – more than a thousand Palestinians, mainly young men, marched to the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem and clashed with Israeli soldiers; but when Atyani tried to lead a group of demonstrators to the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus, PA security forces stopped them. The road from Ramallah to Qalandia is in Area C, which is not controlled by the PA; the road from Nablus to Hawara is in Area A, which is. And protesters who have attempted to march to settlements along PA-controlled roads have also found themselves turned back. It is an extraordinary arrangement: the security forces of a country under occupation are being subcontracted by third parties outside the region to prevent resistance to the occupying power, even as that power continues to grab more land. This is, not surprisingly, a source of considerable anger and shame in the West Bank.”
The Palestinian security force is largely trained in Jordan at the US- built International Police Training Center (created to train Iraqi security after the 2003 invasion). In October 2009 the Wall Street Journal reported: “[Palestinian] recruits are trained in Jordan by Jordanian police, under the supervision of American, Canadian, and British officers.” The number of military trainers in the West Bank varied slightly but in mid-2010 18 Canadian troops worked with six British and ten US soldiers under Dayton’s command. “The Canadian contribution is invaluable,” explained Dayton. Canadians are particularly useful because “US personnel have travel restrictions when operating in the West Bank. But, our British and Canadian members do not.” Calling them his “eyes and ears” Dayton said: “The Canadians … are organized in teams we call road warriors, and they move around the West Bank daily visiting Palestinian security leaders, gauging local conditions.”
Part of the US Security Coordinator office in Jerusalem, the Canadian military mission in the West Bank (dubbed Operation PROTEUS) includes RCMP officers as well as officials from Foreign Affairs, Justice Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency. In a September 2010 interview with the Jerusalem Post then deputy foreign minister Peter Kent said Operation PROTEUS was Canada’s “second largest deployment after Afghanistan” and it receives “most of the money” from the five-year $300 million Canadian “aid” program to the Palestinians. During a visit to Israel in February, foreign minister John Baird told the Globe and Mail he was “incredibly thrilled” by the West Bank security situation, which he said benefited Israel.
In effect, Canada has helped to build a security apparatus to protect a corrupt PA led by Mahmoud Abbas, whose electoral mandate expired in January 2009, but whom the Israeli government prefers over Hamas.
Don’t expect the Conservative government to sever this “aid”.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for skipping the 67th session of the UN General Assembly to attend a private ceremony where he received an award from a Jewish-sponsored organization.
Passing up the opportunity to address the General Assembly, Harper chose to receive the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF) award from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Thursday.
The Canadian official seized the opportunity to level criticism at the UN and accused its members of using the world body as a “forum to single out Israel for criticism.”
Harper further added that the policies of the Israeli regime are not to blame for “the pathologies present in that part of the world,” while reaffirming Canada’s support for Tel Aviv.
However, the Canadian prime minister’s decision not to speak at the opening of the General Assembly drew harsh criticism in Canada from opposition leaders, who called the move “absolutely ridiculous.”
“I think the message is that Canada, that the Harper government doesn’t care about the United Nations,” said Bob Rae, the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
This is the second consecutive year that Harper has shunned the UN event, preferring to send Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in his place.
Many in Canada are concerned about Harper’s conservative policies as he is also accused of locking his government behind a wall of secrecy, defunding democratic institutions and giving away Canada’s sovereignty to the UK and the Israeli regime.
Mérida – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the 4th most popular president in the Americas, according to a new study of presidential approval ratings in the region.
The study, by Mexican polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, gives President Chavez a “high” approval rating of 64%, gaining 6 percentage points since the firm’s last study and jumping up the table of presidential popularity levels.
The findings come less than two weeks before Chavez seeks re-election on October 7 against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.
According to the study, which measured the approval ratings of 20 leaders in the Americas by compiling public opinion polls from their respective countries, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is the most popular president in the Americas with an “outstanding” approval rating of 80%.
“Rafael Correa repeats his first place with 80% (a point less than his previous evaluation), maintaining the approval with which his presidency began almost five years ago,” the ‘Approval of Leaders: America and the World’ report stated.
He is followed by Maurico Funes of El Salvador and Guatemalan president Otto Perez, on 72% and 69% respectively.
Chavez and Correa are joined at the top of the popularity table by other presidents considered left or centre left, with Brazil’s Dilma Roussef on 5th with 62% approval, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega on 7th place with a popularity of 59%.
Meanwhile, two months ahead of his re-election bid against Republican rival Mitt Romney, US President Barack Obama placed 10th in the study, receiving a “medium” approval rating of 49%. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was classed on a “very low” popularity of 37%, putting him down on 16th place.
The study highlights a north-south divide, with South American presidents enjoying an average approval of 50%, against 44% for leaders from the North of the hemisphere.
Many rightist presidents have dropped in popularity since the earlier 2012 study by Consulta Mitofsky, and find themselves on the bottom half of the table. Colombian president Juan Manual Santos still figures on the top half of the table with 54% approval, yet has dropped 13 percentage points and has lost his “high” approval rating.
Furthermore, Mexico’s Felipe Calderon placed 11th (46%), while Paraguayan President Federico Franco and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera share 17th place on 36%. Franco was came to power through an “institutional coup” in June by the Paraguayan Senate, and is less popular than deposed leftist president Fernando Lugo, who had 44% popularity in August 2011.
However, the findings aren’t all good news for South America’s “pink tide” governments, with 12th, 13th, and 14th places going to Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (43%), Bolivia’s Evo Morales (41%) and Peru’s Ollanta Humala (40%) respectively.
The last places in the poll are occupied by the presidents of Honduras and Costa Rica, on approval ratings of 14% and 13%. The full study in Spanish can be accessed here.
- Ecuador’s Correa and El Salvador’ Funes, leaders with the highest approval-rate (en.mercopress.com)
On 7 September, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced that Canada is suspending all diplomatic relations with Iran, expelling all Iranian diplomats, closing its embassy in Tehran, and authorizing Turkey to act on Canada’s behalf for consular services there. Baird cited Iran’s enmity with Israel, its support of Syria and terrorism. “Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” Baird said at the Asia Pacific Economic Conference in Vladivostok, Russia.
Canada has not had a full ambassador in Iran since 2007. Relations between the two countries cooled after Iranian-Canadian free-lance photographer Zahra Kazemi died in Iran in 2003 under disputed circumstances, and went from bad to worse under the Conservative government in power in Ottawa since then.
While indeed Iran has been the nation most outspokenly critic of Israel, and is actively working to thwart the Western-backed insurgency in Syria, there is no evidence of its support for “terrorism”. It is in fact the victim of terrorism on the part of Israel and the US, which boast about assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and destroying Iranian computers with viruses made-to-order, among other officially-sponsored acts of subversion.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast suggested that the real reason for Harper’s latest targeting of Iran was because of Iran’s successful hosting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran in August. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Tehran’s hosting of the 16th NAM Summit was a “humiliating defeat” for the West.
Humiliation is indeed the operative word for Canada in particular. The past five years of Conservative rule in Canada under the fiercely pro-Israeli Prime Minister Stephen Harper have brought nothing but disgrace to Canada internationally, and this present move adds further humiliation.
As if scripted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately commended Canada’s decision. With good cause, as it looks suspiciously like a response to a direct Israeli request. Canadian foreign policy is now made in consultation with Israeli advisers under a public security cooperation “partnership” signed in 2008 by Canada and Israel to “protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats”. Israel security agents now officially assist Canada’s security services, the RCMP and CSIS, in profiling Canadians citizens who are Muslims and monitoring individuals and/or organisations in Canada involved in supporting the rights of Palestinians and other such nefarious activities.
The barring of British MP George Galloway from entering Canada in 2009 on a North American tour was done as a result of this cooperation. Baird’s claim that Iran supports terrorism is one that Israeli agents have been making in Ottawa under this partnership. Harper has publicly stated he is convinced that Iran is trying “beyond any doubt” to develop nuclear weapons, with ‘evidence’ supplied by these advisers, though it is unlikely that such claims convince anyone, but rather merely confirm public perception of his devotion to Israel.
“It’s hard to find a country friendlier to Israel than Canada these days,” chirped Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on his official visit in 2010. He is right. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives:
-called Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon a “measured response” (Two Canadian UN peacekeepers were targeted and killed by Israeli in the invasion. Harper refused to protest, asking rhetorically in parliament what they were doing there in the first place.)
-refused to condemn the invasion of Gaza in December 2008 or the siege of Gaza (the only “Nay” at the UN Human Rights Council)
-refused to condemn the Israeli murder of nine members of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2009
-opposed an attempted IAEA probe of Israel’s nuclear facilities as part of an effort to create a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East
-cut off UN humanitarian aid to Gaza because it was going through the Hamas government there
-allow goods manufactured in occupied territories by illegal settlers to be labelled “Made in Israel” under the 1997 Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement 1997.
And as is the case in the Obama/Romney ‘race’ next door, there is no peep of protest from Canada’s opposition liberals or socialists. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae (whose wife Arlene Perly is past vice president of the Canadian Jewish Congress) met with Netanyahu on his official visit to Canada in February this year, and afterwards said the visit “gives all Canadians the chance to reflect on the deep friendship and strong ties between Israel and Canada”.
In a bizarre non sequitur, the ‘Liberal’ leader added, “Iran’s regime is a threat to the security of the region and the world. A nuclear armed Iran would mean the threat of even greater proliferation and instability in the region, is a direct flouting of international law, and obviously raises the deepest concerns in Israel for its security.” Apparently a very much ‘nuclear armed Israel’ which daily threatens to bomb Iran does not raise his ‘deepest concerns ‘ for Iran’s security.
After meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres during his official visit to Canada this May, New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair, told the press, “My in-laws are Holocaust survivors. Their history is part of my daily life. That’s why I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all circumstances.” Mulcair’s wife, Catherine Pinhas, was born in France to a Sephardic Jewish family from Turkey. Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East and Independent Jewish Voices criticized Mulcair for accepting financial support from pro-Israel lobbyists.
So there will be little if any protest in parliament over Harper’s unprovoked violation of diplomatic norms. In fact, rumor has it that this Canadian move is in preparation for an Israeli-US attack on Iran, though Baird demurred when asked about this as the motive for advising all Canadians to leave Iran immediately. However, the Harper government actually supports Israel’s threats of a pre-emptive air strike against Iran as being within its rights. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Americas Peter Kent told the G8 in Toronto in 2010, “It’s a matter of timing and it’s a matter of how long we can wait without taking more serious pre-emptive action.”
It appears Ottawa is ready and willing to join Israel in any attack. Harper has said, “An attack on Israel is an attack on Canada.” There have already been US-conducted military ‘exercises’ involving Canadian ships off Iran’s coast. 160 Canadian troops have died senselessly in Afghanistan over the past decade. Now Harper wants them to die for Israel in an invasion of Iran, orchestrated to look like it is in defense of Israel.
The NAM summit clearly ruffled some feathers. Iran is supported by the great majority of the world’s people and governments, both as a courageous opponent to US and Israeli imperial intrigues, and as a model for countries that want to develop independent, peaceful nuclear power as an alternative to oil. The summit strongly supported Iran on both counts.
Iranian leadership of NAM during the next three years promises to be innovative and energetic. Even as Baird embarrassed Canadians with his undocumented accusations and violations of diplomatic norms, Mehmanparast called on the UN to fulfill its obligations towards Palestinians and respond forcefully to Israel’s killing of six Palestinians in besieged Gaza last week. “As the rotating president of NAM, the Islamic Republic of Iran expects all international institutions affiliated to the United Nations to adhere to their responsibilities towards the Palestinian nation.” The hysteria in Tel Aviv, Washington, and now Ottawa is not without cause.
- Netanyahu praises embassy closure, Canada’s ‘forthright stand’ against Iran (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
Canadian Senator Lt. Gen. Roméo A. Dallaire, (Ret’d) has issued an open petition to Israel-Firster Stephen Harper’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to bring former Canadian child soldier, Omar Khadr, from America’s notorious Guantánamo Bay concentration camp to Canada.
“The case of Omar Khadr – a Canadian citizen and former child soldier – is a stain upon our society and shows a blatant disregard for Canada’s obligations under international law,” says Roméo A. Dallaire.
Omar Khadr, who turns 26 this year – was captured in 2002 by America’s Afghan collaborators, Northern Alliance warlords, for killing a US army medic while visiting his parents’ family in Afghanistan at the age of 15. He was first kept at the US detention facility at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan before being transfered to Guantánamo Bay. Omar was tried as “a terrorist” and not a juvenile prisoner, by a military commission conceived by Israel-Firster former vice-president Dick Cheney and his Zionist advisers.
Omar was sentenced to 40 year in jail via a kangroo trail which was unrelated to any other form of US justice or the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – which specifically recognizes “the special needs of those children who are particularly vulnerable to recruitment or use in hostilities,” and requires its signatories to promote “the physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict.”
Both the US and Canada are signatory to the Optional Protocol. The way Omar has been tortured, humiliated and kept in isolation at Guantánamo Bay for the last ten years and the way Ottawa has abdicated its responsibilities towards him – should be a source of shame for the moral citizens of both countries.
A declassified report prepared by US Department of Defense (DoD) deputy inspector-general in September 2009 – admitted that detainees in custody of the US military were interrogated while drugged with powerful antipsychotic and other medications that “could impair an individual’s ability to provide accurate information“.
Omar’s defense lawyers have asked the federal court to force Vic Toews to make decision as to whether Khadr can return to Canada to serve his remaining sentence.
Just days ago, Marine Col. Jeffrey Colwell, chief defense counsel for military commissions openly chastised Canada for crippling US efforts to enter into plea agreements: If the US “can’t carry through on their end of the bargain, it has a chilling effect on the willingness of others to plead. There was an expectation by all parties involved that Khadr was going to be home last fall. It’s July, and he’s not.”
The pro-Israeli groups have turned Khadr’s case into an Islamophobia war. For example, the Toronto book launch of Omar Khadr, Oh Canada was met by threats of violence and a demonstration by the the Jewish Defense League, a Jewish militant group which is declared a terrorist group by FBI and known for violence at Canadian Campuses.
Israeli propaganda and hacker website, BlazingCatFur, put the headline: “Vic Toews, Canadian Minister of Public Safety can Block Omar Khadr’s return to Canada by refusing to sign the ‘Prisoner Transfer Agreement’.”
Vic Toews’ parents and grandparents were immigrants from Ukraine.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Harper government promises to support a belligerent/illegal/brutal occupier and serial violator of international humanitarian law. (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
Last week, the Canadian government received a formal request for the return of Omar Khadr from Guantánamo Bay. Julie Carmichael, an aide to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, told the Globe and Mail, “The government of Canada has just received a completed application for the transfer of prisoner Omar Ahmed Khadr. A decision will be made on this file in accordance with Canadian law.”
Khadr, who was seized at the age of 15 after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, accepted a plea deal in his war crimes trial at Guantánamo in October 2010, on the basis that he would serve an eight-year sentence, but with only one year to be served in Guantánamo.
However, as the Globe and Mail described it, the government of Stephen Harper “has been reluctant to accept Mr. Khadr,” and “diplomatic wrangling over his transfer has persisted.” Despite this, as I noted last month, the US government has been putting pressure on the Canadian government, because US officials need other prisoners to be reassured that, if they accept plea deals in exchange for providing evidence against other prisoners, the terms of those plea deals will be honored.
Playing this down, and also playing down Canada’s own responsibility towards Khadr, a Canadian official explained, “The United States basically asked Canada for a diplomatic favor and Canada previously agreed to look at a request of this nature favorably. The US needs to get rid of this guy for their own reasons.” The source added that the Americans were “bending over backwards” to ensure Khadr’s return, and would have to “bend their way around a number of their own rules” to make that happen, and also suggested that Vic Toews had “little choice but to accept Mr. Khadr’s return, which would happen at US expense.”
All of the above was economical with the truth, because Canada’s involvement in accepting the return of Khadr was obviously discussed at the time of the plea deal, and the talk of doing favors is, therefore, designed only to make the Canadian government appear tough.
This is nothing new, as the Canadian government has persistently ignored Khadr’s rights, abandoning him at the age of 15, when officials were supposed to call for his rehabilitation as part of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which both Canada and the US are signatories. Moreover, the Canadian government has done nothing to prevent the kind of racism that has involved a regular outpouring of hostility towards Khadr. This is so out of control that numerous Canadian citizens have decided that it is appropriate to talk of not allowing Khadr to return to Canada, even though he was born in Canada and is a Canadian citizen.
Typical of this was a poll conducted last week on CBC News’s “Your Community Blog,” which asked the question, “Should Omar Khadr be allowed to return to Canada?” as though there was a legal option to prevent his return, when there is not. Fortunately, 53 percent of those who voted said yes, compared to 43 percent who said no, although that is still an alarmingly large minority of Canadian citizens who don’t understand what nationality and citizenship mean, and who also don’t seem to believe that a prison sentence — and any notion of punishment — should be finite.
These voices include journalist and Sun TV host Ezra Levant, who has written an entire hate-filled book about the alleged threat posed by Khadr, but whose approach is “so obsessional that it sometimes seems like a manifestation of clinical mental illness,” as another journalist, Jonathan Kay, recently explained.
Moreover, last Thursday, as the Toronto Sun explained in a news report, Vic Toews conceded that the government would not block Khadr’s return. Some commentators had speculated that the government “was considering using a clause in the International Transfer of Offenders Act to keep … Khadr out of Canada on national security grounds.”
Toews explained, “Under the International Transfer of Offenders Act, he is a Canadian citizen. He is also a Canadian citizen under the Charter which entitles him to come back to Canada, eventually.” He added, “The issue is when does he come back to Canada? That’s a determination I have to make and I haven’t made any decision in that respect yet.”
A decision is expected soon, but in the meantime opponents of Khadr’s return should also reflect that, under Canadian law, he will be “eligible for parole next year after completing one-third of his sentence, and statutory release after completing two-thirds.” Toews pointed out that “it would be up to the National Parole Board to decide when to integrate Khadr back into society.” The Toronto Sun also pointed out that the government was “bracing for a multimillion-dollar lawsuit,” based on the fallout from a Canadian Supreme Court ruling in 2010 — conveniently ignored by the government — which stated unambiguously that Khadr’s rights were violated in US custody.
In defense of Khadr — and providing some necessary humility — the Toronto Star ran an editorial last Thursday, pointing out that “the abuse he has suffered with the complicity of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government and that of its Liberal predecessors has shamed Canada,” adding, “His expected return from Guantánamo Bay, while welcome, does us no great credit either.”
Seeing through the official line about Canada doing the US a favour, the Star noted, “Such is the shabby close to an infamous case in which Ottawa refused to go to bat for one of our own,” and delivered the following verdict on Khadr’s US ordeal:
US President Barack Obama once declared Gitmo a “legal black hole” predicated on a “dangerously flawed legal approach” that “compromised our core values.” Khadr finally buckled to that ugly system in 2010 and surrendered the guilty plea to murder and war crimes that it was designed to elicit. His plea bargain was a “hellish decision” to preclude trial in a sham court and the risk of a life sentence.
The Star also reminded readers that Khadr “was pushed to fight in Afghanistan by his al-Qaida-linked father,” and that US officials “threatened him with gang rape, denied him counsel, deprived him of sleep, and set a precedent by charging him with war crimes as a juvenile.” Also noting that he had “spent far more time behind bars than he would have in Canada, had he been convicted here in a credible court of murder as a young offender,” the Star concluded its pertinent editorial by stating:
[A]s Canada’s allies successfully lobbied to free their nationals from Gitmo, the Harper government wilfully neglected Khadr. It never forcefully protested his mistreatment, criticized his prosecution, or asked for leniency. It took the obtuse view that justice was taking its course. It washed its hands of a young Canadian, leaving him to his fate. It failed a citizen, and disgraced itself.
It is rare, at Guantánamo, for another government to have behaved as appallingly as the US, but in Khadr’s case it has long been clear, to anyone capable of viewing it objectively, that the Canadian government has matched America’s abuse towards Khadr every step of the way, and it is time for this disgraceful situation to be brought to an end.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield.