Posts from our progressive community

Is Stephen Harper's War on Marijuana Going Up in Smoke?

Montreal Simon - 2 hours 41 min ago


He has made the Great War on Marijuana the main weapon in his assault on Justin Trudeau.

Making it sound like Trudeau's plans to legalize weed would corrupt Canada's youth and turn us into a nation of junkies...



But sadly for Great Leader most Canadians don't seem to share his reactionary views. 
Read more »

The Deliberate Ambiguity of Occupation

Rusty Idols - 7 hours 20 min ago
Israel has a policy of deliberate ambiguity about whether its control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is 'occupation'. Every other country on Earth including their closest ally the US says it is an occupation, Israel coyly argues it both is and isn't depending on which definition gives them the most flexibility under international law in any given scenario. 

In practice this leaves the Palestinians dispossessed, discriminated against and in the West Bank without recourse to the law when bands of violent, fanatical settlers descend from their hilltop bandit nests to attack Palestinian homes and crops and savagely assault any Palestinians who resist. 

 The Israeli police stand and watch.

It's time to stop coddling this sleazy little semantics game.

Le Monde diplomatique argues giving them three more years to the 50th Anniversary of the Occupation to once and for all define what they are doing as occupation or not. If its an occupation they are legally required to begin the process of withdrawal, if its not an occupation they are legally required to give full and equal legal citizenship rights to all the population under their control.

They have been allowed to be vague on this subject for almost FIFTY YEARS.

No longer.sdnxry5z7g

Dahiyeh - It's How Israel Wages "Peace"

Politics and its Discontents - 7 hours 24 min ago
“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.” - Major-General Gadi Eisenkot, IDF.



That was Israeli strategy in the 2006 invasion of southern Lebanon. It's Israeli strategy today in Gaza. Disproportionate power.. immense damage and destruction... by plan. It's a strategy not targeted at an armed opponent. This is a strategy targeted directly at civilians - the young, the elderly, women and children - the cannon fodder that are least able to get out of the way when you come calling.

C'mon, Justin. Remind me again about Israel's "commitment to peace."

There's even a name for it. It's called the Dahiyeh Doctrine, named for the Beirut suburb that Israeli warplanes carpet bombed.

It's all about inflicting civilian casualties, destroying their homes and depriving them of essential services - electricity, water, sewage plants - hospitals, schools - all of which Israel has destroyed in the past month in Gaza as part of its "commitment to peace."

Israel waged this sort of peace in Gaza before and it became the subject of the 2009 Goldstone Report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council. I expect our parliamentary greaseballs - Steve, Justin and Tommy Boy - never got a copy. That the very same doctrine is happening again - today - according to the very same game plan - is no coincidence. It's also a war crime unless, that is, your name is Harper, Trudeau or Mulcair.

MoS, The Disaffected Lib


Recommend this Post

Canada-Israel Solidarity Rally

Creekside - 11 hours 28 min ago


Yesterday while this carnage was going on and Chris Gunness from UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, was breaking down in tears on live TV after 19 were killed and 125 wounded in the latest attack on a UN school in Gaza, which the UN accused Israel of carrying out after being warned 17 times that civilians were seeking shelter there ...


[Gunness : "UNRWA is overwhelmed in #Gaza  - we have reached breaking point, our staff are being killed, our shelters overflowing. Where will it end?]



... fifty miles away at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Liberal MPs Carolyn Bennett and John McCallum, Con MPs David Sweet and Ted Opitz, Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, and former Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein were leading the Canada-Israel Solidarity Rally in singing O Canada and Hatikva.

Con MP Randy Hoback not shown in photo.

The Jerusalem Post reported in advance that the event would also include a broadcasted appearance by John Baird

For all I know they may have also broadcast this :



The Solidarity Rally Lib/Con MPs and senators did not, needless to say, visit Gaza or the West Bank.

But prior to the group giving their "fact-finding mission" report to the Government of Canada, here are some of their advance observations from the trip. 

Con MP Randy Hoback : ‘An opportunity to ask tough questions
“How often do you get the chance to get firsthand information about what’s going on in Israel in regards to both the rocket bombs coming out of Gaza and reaction from Israel.”"It’s very interesting, there’s a lot of things that people don’t understand. Hamas is the issue here, it’s not the Palestinian people. Hamas is a terrorist organization, their whole goal is [getting] Israel off this earth. This group isn’t a group that you can sit down and talk with and negotiate a peace settlement. It isn’t a group that wants to be your friend, they basically want to annihilate Israel which is very sad. They are willing to put children in front of bombs and willing to put rocket launchers inside of schools and inside of mosques, basically do whatever they have to do to win their so called war. So it makes it tough when they do these things.”Senator Grafstein
“I’m absolutely amazed about how strong and how supportive Israel has been in this war effort, but more important than that at how united they’ve been and how calm, cool and collected they’ve been.”Mark Regev would be so proud


.

Harper's Reign Of Terror - Part Five

Politics and its Discontents - 12 hours 16 min ago

As in the previous installments, this post examines the Harper regime's unrelenting attacks on nonprofits that in any way oppose or criticize its agenda. The latest target is CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev), whose website lists the following as its mission:

CoDevelopment Canada is a B.C.-based NGO that works for social change and global education in the Americas. Founded in 1985 by a group of activists who wanted to go beyond financial aid, CoDev builds partnerships between like-minded organizations in Canada and Latin America to foster learning, social change, and community empowerment. These partnerships educate Canadians about Latin America and allow them to directly support the region. Such connections build solidarity, mutual understanding and ultimately improve prospects for a fairer global order.

For most people, those would seem to be commendable and progressive goals. For Stephen Harper and his cabal, they are reflective of a subversive organization that needs to be frightened into silence.

As reported in today's Star, CoDev has passed its two recent CRA audits, one in 2009, its first in 25 years and one last year, the latter conducted by three auditors — two of them political-activity specialists. Both appear to be part of the pattern discussed in previous posts:

Many of the charities under audit have been critics of government policy, including CoDev, a trade union-funded group that has raised questions about Canada's free-trade deal with Colombia, among other issues.

Indeed, on its website, CoDev offers a trenchant critique of Canada's free-trade deal with both Honduras and Colombia entitled Honduras deal: Another example of Canada’s poor record on trade and human rights

So is CoDev in the clear, after passing two audits? Not at all. Here is the latest cudgel from the Harper toolbox of intimidation as it continues its direction of the CRA investigations:

[CoDev] faces the crippling prospect of translating every scrap of paper it receives from 17 partners in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and elsewhere from Spanish into either English or French.

The demand, set out in a January compliance letter from the CRA, will start to bite this fall as the tiny four-person shop begins to receive banker's boxes full of Spanish-language documents from its Latin American projects, including taxi chits and bus fare receipts.

The group's executive director, Barbara Wood, says the newly imposed requirement will drain away scarce resources, yet must be carried out or CoDev risks losing its charitable status.

The CRA demands suggest the vexatious nature of the persecution:

Among CRA's new demands: the official CoDev mission statement had to be rewritten to cite each human rights law in all 11 Latin American countries that CoDev's partners try to uphold. That meant a lengthy four-page annex to the statement, in English translation.

But the most onerous condition, Wood said, is the major translation project ahead, which involves thousands of receipts.

“The amount of work is unbelievable,” she said. “The rules seem to have been applied differently in 2009 than they were now . . . We're a really small team and this is a huge amount of work.”


Typically, the CRA has turned aside inquiries, citing the confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act.

For anyone following the Harper pattern of harassment and intimidation, no further explanation is needed.Recommend this Post

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - 13 hours 47 min ago
Here, on how we should take Germany's rightful concern over investor-state dispute settlement provisions as an opportunity to reevaluate what we expect to accomplish through trade and investment agreements such as CETA.

For further reading...
- Peter Clark, Michael Geist and Scott Sinclair discuss Germany's objections to new trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. in particular, while reminding us why we should be wary of handing undue power to the corporate sector as well. And Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder and Rhea Tamara Hoffmann discuss (PDF) Germany's past experience with ISDS in detail.
- Meanwhile, Patricia Ranald notes that similar issues are developing as Australia debates an agreement with South Korea.
- Finally, Thomas Walkom and Jim Stanford weigh in with their own concerns about CETA, while the Council of Canadians applauds Germany's stance.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 14 hours 13 min ago
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a burgeoning wealth gap is particularly obvious when it comes to retirement security:
Quaint as it now seems, not long ago this was considered a good basic plan: Work hard all your life and then retire with a comfortable pension.

In recent times, a new plan has replaced it: Work hard all your life and then all bets are off.

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the postwar years — has been effectively tossed aside, as corporations have become more insatiable in their demands and governments have increasingly abandoned workers.
...
In what amounts to a radical overhaul, [the Con government] announced last April that it intends to change long-standing legislation governing workplace pensions in ways that would allow employers (private sector and Crown corporations) to walk away from pension commitments they made to employees, even after those employees have paid into the plans throughout their working years.
...
Workplace pensions were always expected to be a key part of that retirement security. Unlike many European countries, where public pensions were generous enough to serve as the centerpiece of a retiree’s income, the Canadian government kept public pension benefits low and encouraged workers to rely on workplace pensions.

That worked fine for those who were able to negotiate workplace pensions with an employer — generally those who had a union to represent them. In such cases, both the employer and the employees typically contributed to the plan, under terms that specified what benefits would be paid out to employees in their retirement.

Employers now want to be able to fundamentally rewrite the terms of those workplace pension deals so that, if the market plunges and the pension fund declines, the pay-outs will be less — in effect, shifting the risk from the company to the retiree.
...
It’s striking, however, that a bold embrace of risk is only expected of those in the lower echelons of the corporate world. At the top, executives cling to old-world notions — like securing comfortable retirements. - And Regina civic workers are taking action to make sure the city keeps its pension promises - rather than either demanding concessions now, or changing the rules so it can unilaterally slash benefits later.

- Brian Iler suggests that the Cons' charity crackdown could have been avoided if Canada adopted a definition of charity work which included promoting public debate on political issues. But while that change might have given current charities more confidence as to the result of the current round of government-directed audits, it wouldn't have done much to avoid the needless expense of going through the audit process in the first place.

- Meanwhile, Kaylie Tiessen is hopeful that Ontario is ready for a serious conversation about the need for more revenue to fund public services.

- Kayle Hatt studies the federal government's cuts to summer student programs. And CBC reports that Calgary's decision to outsource park maintenance work has led to temporary foreign workers taking the place of students who would otherwise be able to use a summer income to fund their education.

- Finally, the Ottawa Citizen identifies one of the surest signs of an ethically bankrupt government - while noting that the Harper Cons and Alberta's PCs are just two of the governing parties who seem to be treating that lack of ethics as a goal to be pursued:
There seems to be an epidemic in Canada of rogue staffers doing unethical things their political bosses would never, ever sanction.

The most famous is Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wrote a large cheque to a sitting senator. Then there’s the OPP search-warrant document alleging that David Livingston, the chief of staff for former Premier Dalton McGuinty, hired someone to purge emails during the transition to Kathleen Wynne’s premiership. There is the ongoing mystery about the voter-suppression phone calls in several federal ridings in 2011 “by a person or persons currently unknown to this court,” in the words of Federal Court Judge Richard G. Mosley.

Now there is a leaked, draft auditor’s report about former Alberta Premier Alison Redford, suggesting her staff manipulated airplane bookings so that she could treat the planes as personal limos.
...
An ethical organization does not build plausible deniability into its hierarchies and relationships; it does not have any reason to. The fact that it seems to be built in to Canadian political culture, in more than one party, in more than one province, is sickening.

Retirement Is For The Rich

Northern Reflections - 14 hours 37 min ago

                                                                                 http://lewisbarton.com


There used to be a social contract in this country. One of the clauses in that unwritten document was,"if you work hard all your life, you can retire in comfort." But neo-conservatives have shredded that contract. Linda McQuaig writes:

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the postwar years — has been effectively tossed aside, as corporations have become more insatiable in their demands and governments have increasingly abandoned workers.
Stephen Harper has relentlessly spearheaded the corporate agenda:

Stephen Harper’s government hiked the eligibility age for Old Age Security benefits to 67, effectively depriving all future Canadian retirees of two years of basic retirement income.And it has steadfastly refused to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan, leaving retired Canadians with an average income of $18,000 a year in public pension benefits — far less than what a full-time minimum wage earner makes in Ontario.
The prime minister has no intention of halting the juggernaut:

And now, the Harper government is engaging in a fresh frontal assault on the retirement incomes of beleagured Canadian workers.

In what amounts to a radical overhaul, it announced last April that it intends to change long-standing legislation governing workplace pensions in ways that would allow employers (private sector and Crown corporations) to walk away from pension commitments they made to employees, even after those employees have paid into the plans throughout their working years.
All of this has been done under the radar. And the Harperites intend to keep it that way. It makes it easier to serve their clientele:

Employers now want to be able to fundamentally rewrite the terms of those workplace pension deals so that, if the market plunges and the pension fund declines, the pay-outs will be less — in effect, shifting the risk from the company to the retiree.

When it comes to new hires, many employers now offer only the new-style pensions. But the legislation proposed by Harper would create a way for employers to open up existing pension deals — effectively changing the rules in mid-stream, after workers have spent years paying into their plans.
While employees wont be able to afford retirement, CEO's will do just fine:

The Royal Bank, the country’s largest bank, switched over to the new-style pension system in 2011, so that all new employees will be obliged to face a risky pension future.

RBC CEO Gordon Nixon didn’t see the need to modify his own pension deal, however. When he retires later this week at the age of 57, he’ll receive a pension of $1.68 million a year, which will rise to an even more comfortable $2 million a year when he turns 65.
It's another example of how the champions of accountability are doing everything they can to remain unaccountable.

The new rule is: only the rich get to retire.


The Blinkered Worldview of Stephen Harper

Politics and its Discontents - 16 hours 16 min ago

Recently, I wrote a series of posts on Stephen Harper's misuse of the Canadian Revenue Agency through the orchestration of audits on nonprofits that criticize his policies. For Dear Leader, life is uncomplicated: you are either with him or against him, and if you fall into the latter category and have a certain public prominence, the knock on the door may not be far off.

One of my readers, Troy Thomas, made the following comment:

You know, this is how First Nations have been treated for decades, so I'll share what usually happens to First Nations.

Audits aren't the end. They're a means.

A First Nations band which is getting uppity, i.e. publicly complaining about not getting properly funded or complaining about interference, will get audited.
The auditor, that bribe-able one from the USA, Delasomething, [Deloitte] will find in its report what the government asked for it to find.

The government, using the fictitious audit as an excuse, will force the uppity First Nations band to take on the expense of the audit, and then force the uppity First Nations band to take on the expense of a private for-profit third-party firm, which will do what the band used to do for a third or a quarter of the cost.
So, from experience, expect more than the audits. Expect the government to slide its own people into these charities, by using the audits as its reasons: "Oh, these charities are improperly run! They need experience from the private sector in order to do as they're supposed to!"

Something like that.


It now appears that Mr. Harper has yet another weapon with which to further undermine opposition and divide Canadians even further: the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which, as reported in The Toronto Star, requires First Nations communities across the country to publish a range of annual business and financial records, including salaries and benefits.

The communities were previously only required to submit these records to the government without sharing them with the public.

While the average remuneration reported is quite modest, there are exceptions:

- the Snuneymuxw First Nation in B.C., revealed that Eric Wesley, a councillor, received $307,201 in contracts for construction related services in the last fiscal year from his own community.

- Chief John Thunder of the Buffalo Point First Nation in Manitoba earned $129,398 for the year in salaries and benefits. The community he represents is made up of less than 200 people.

So what might be the strategic value of making this information public, as opposed to simply making it available to band members?

Given the government's distasteful paternalism toward aboriginals, vilification of their leaders will create even greater disharmony than already exists within their communities; the greater the disunity, the less chance of speaking with one voice.

Given First nations' concerns over Harper's pipeline obsession and his total disregard for environmental concerns, undermining aboriginal leadership will work in favour of the Prime Minister's monomania.

And how have First Nations' people reacted to this latest attempt to discredit them?

“Everything points to (an attempt) to build on the propaganda that aboriginal governments are dishonest,” said Ghislain Picard, interim chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in an interview. “That’s the thinking that’s out there and that’s what they keep building on.”

Picard said the government is always trying to find ways to discredit First Nations people in Canada.

“It reflects the ideology of this government since 2006,” said Picard. “They’re already working very hard to find that one community that might be outside what they would (describe) as the model First Nation and then just pass that brush over to all First Nations.”


While Stephen Harper insists it is all about transparency, about the only thing really transparent here are his motives.Recommend this Post

The Children of Gaza and the Bestiality of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 20:03


It was an act of unspeakable barbarity. One that has been condemned by governments all over the world. 

The US and UN have condemned the shelling of a school housing displaced civilians in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the attack, which killed 16, was "outrageous".

"I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable, and it demands accountability and justice. "Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children."


And defended only by those who carried it out, and by the monstrous beast Stephen Harper. 
Read more »

He has returned! He has returned!

Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 16:26
I would just briefly like to point out, as I did once in comments already I think, that the great and glorious MaxSpeak (Max Sawicky) has returned to bloggery after a VERY long hiatus caused by subjugating himself to... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

I Felt A Chill As I Read This

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 13:27
A week ago came the report of a giant crater in the Siberian permafrost discovered by a Russian helicopter crew. Russian scientists concluded the crater, about 80-metres across, was not the result of a meteor strike but probably was caused by a sub-surface methane explosion.

At the time I speculated whether this was a fluke or whether we'd be seeing more of these things in the high north before long. We didn't have to wait long for the answer.

The Siberian Times reports that reindeer herders have come across two more of these craters.

No word yet on whether anything similar is happening in the Canadian north.

MoS, the Disaffected Lib







Recommend this Post

If All You Had Were Useless Rockets, Would You Be Firing Them?

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 11:28


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

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

As for today another UN school, this one designated a refuge for Palestinian civilians. 15-dead, 90-wounded as three artillery rounds slam into the shelter.

You're dead on, Justin. That's some "commitment to peace."

MoS, The Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 10:34
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner highlights the futility of trying to answer poverty, equality and other social issues with the empty promise of low-paying "jobs! jobs! jobs!":
The central “solution” in the government’s action plan is jobs. The little money dedicated to this initiative is all directed to employment inclusion and skills training. It’s not surprising. It’s the same answer we receive when our supporters throughout the province advocate for a poverty reduction plan for B.C.
 
There are two important points to make in response. First, many people with disabilities are unable to work but they still deserve to live with dignity. Second, most people in poverty already have a job so low wage employment does not provide meaningful inclusion for anyone. The emphasis must be on good, stable jobs that provide a living wage.

While the Disability Summit was a high-profile publicity event for the government, a month before that, they quietly released a progress report on their “community poverty reduction pilot projects”. No big fanfare for the initiative launched in May 2012, which has helped only 72 families over two years, a drop in the ocean when you consider that almost 500,000 people live in poverty in B.C.

And, by help, they mean merely referring families to existing services. The assumption is that the fundamental problem for families in poverty is an inability to navigate the system of programs, services, and supports within their communities. While there are many bureaucratic barriers that do require a certain level of language and literacy, the fundamental problem is lack of income combined with high cost of living—not a failure to access services.

Despite recognizing that the provincial government is responsible for the implementation, support, and funding of the systemic themes identified during these pilot projects, including housing, food security, health, childcare, transportation, and education, this so-called poverty reduction project does nothing to address those issues.- Meanwhile, Dylan Matthews argues that a basic income would go a long way toward solving many of the basic social issues which are currently either kept in their own silos or answered with pablum about economic growth. But then, Peter Van Buren notes that poverty is plenty profitable for collection agencies and creditors among other businesses - meaning that we can expect a fight (if a despicable one) in trying to ensure a basic income for everybody.

- Dean Beeby highlights how CoDevelopment Canada Association for one is dealing with the administrative burden imposed by the Cons' crackdown on progressive charities. But Tom Henheffer is optimistic that Canada's social voices will survive the Cons' assault.

- Andrew Nikiforuk reports on the new discovery of an Alberta salt formation which may explain the pattern of spills and blowouts in the extraction of oil using steam. Presumably this will be the response to any attempt to address the newfound risk through law.

- Finally, the White House makes an economic case (PDF) for addressing climate change sooner rather than later. And PressProgress finds even the Fraser Institute endorsing Norway's management of oil reserves and revenues - even if it can't highlight the plus of managing public wealth without lamenting the possibility that people might benefit as a result.

Intellectual honesty at the National Post

Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 07:01
A few days ago, an article of mine on the targeting of progressive charities by the Canada Revenue Agency was published in a number of venues, including here and at Rabble.ca under my real name. The National Post’s elderly crank... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

The Enemy At The Top

Northern Reflections - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 06:01


                                                                       http://www.reuters.com/


Vladimir Putin's ascension to the Russian presidency for a third term was greeted with widespread public protest and charges of electoral fraud. Devon Black writes:

Putin had hoped to re-take the presidency with confidence and a strong mandate. Instead, the pressure was on him to solidify his tenuous political position.

Putin did so by stoking nationalist fervor, crafting a narrative of a Russia beset by enemies, inside and out. Putin told a story of traditional Russians fighting back against both physical and existential threats.
And, so, he moved into Crimea and he keeps pushing the envelope.

Lawrence Martin writes that Stephen Harper's vision of economic prosperity was founded on four pillars -- jobs, taxation, trade and pipelines. But, "other than taxes, where they have cuts to boast about, the pillars are starting to look wobbly."

So, faced with unhappy citizens, both men have turned to nationalism -- which is a decidedly double edged sword. Black writes:

Again and again, history has shown that when politicians try to turn the angrier form of nationalism into political advantage, they lose control. Most recently, Europe has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic violence — related in part to the conflict in Gaza, but also linked to the rise of far-right nationalist parties like France’s National Front.

We should be wary when our own politicians try to exploit certain flavours of nationalism for political gain. There’s nothing wrong with, for example, celebrating Canada’s athletic achievements, as Prime Minster Harper did when his Vancouver Olympics jacket became ubiquitous on the 2011 campaign trail. But Harper has taken to peppering his speeches and policy positions with militaristic bombast.
Putin and Harper are creating straw men in an attempt to divert attention away from themselves. If Russians and Canadians begin to realize that the real enemy is within -- worse still, that he sits at the top of the political pyramid -- both men will be finished.


Zionism Does Not Excuse Gaza

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 05:34


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

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

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

I am a Zionist because the story of my forebears convinces me that Jews needed the homeland voted into existence by United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947, calling for the establishment of two states — one Jewish, one Arab — in Mandate Palestine. I am a Zionist who believes in the words of Israel’s founding charter of 1948 declaring that the nascent state would be based “on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.”

What I cannot accept, however, is the perversion of Zionism that has seen the inexorable growth of a Messianic Israeli nationalism claiming all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River; that has, for almost a half-century now, produced the systematic oppression of another people in the West Bank; that has led to the steady expansion of Israeli settlements on the very West Bank land of any Palestinian state; that isolates moderate Palestinians like Salam Fayyad in the name of divide-and-rule; that pursues policies that will make it impossible to remain a Jewish and democratic state; that seeks tactical advantage rather than the strategic breakthrough of a two-state peace; that blockades Gaza with 1.8 million people locked in its prison and is then surprised by the periodic eruptions of the inmates; and that responds disproportionately to attack in a way that kills hundreds of children.

The Israeli case for the bombardment of Gaza could be foolproof. If Benjamin Netanyahu had made a good-faith effort to find common cause with Palestinian moderates for peace and been rebuffed, it would be. He has not. Hamas is vile. I would happily see it destroyed. But Hamas is also the product of a situation that Israel has reinforced rather than sought to resolve.

This corrosive Israeli exercise in the control of another people, breeding the contempt of the powerful for the oppressed, is a betrayal of the Zionism in which I still believe.


MoS, the Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

Whose job is it to play by the rules?

Cathie from Canada - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 23:11
Here's one thing that I don't blame former Alberta Premier Alison Redford for doing -- taking her daughter with her on many of her government flights was the right thing to do.  This is kind of thing any parent SHOULD do, and we should expect it when we elect people with children to public office.
Now obviously, there was a serious attitude problem here, a inflated and egotistical sense of entitlement by Redford and her office staff which lead to deliberate and gleeful abuse of their access to government flights.
But here's the other thing -- a political studies professor also blames the civil service, and that goes too far:
Lightbody, the political scientist, said many people within Redford's office and various ministries would have known about the "blatant abuse" of government aircraft, yet no one spoke out publicly.
"These are people who work for the citizens of Alberta, and someone, sometime, somehow, should have said, 'No, this is wrong,'" Lightbody said."Yes, these civil servants are paid by the public, but they don't work for them.
I've worked in the civil service, and I know.  It wasn't "the public" who were in charge of my workload and my paycheque -- it was the politicians who were elected by the public to be my boss, to tell me what to do.
Civil servants did not have any ability at all to stop Redford's abuse, just as none of the staff working for the Senate could have stopped Duffy, or Brazeau, or Wallin -- as taxpayers, we should not expect civil servants to be doing this.
The people we elect are the ones to blame here, for feeding their own sense of entitlement to the point that they didn't even recognize how unethical their behaviour had became.

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