Saturday, November 17, 2012

Without Shelter, Gazans Huddle in Winter Weather Hoping for Deliverance

Amid Relentless Israeli Bombing, Gaza Families Huddle Together Hoping For Safety

  by Rami Al Meghari - IMEMC News

The Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City has been especially hard-hit by Israel’s relentless bombing.  

“All the children and elder members of our family squeeze onto these mattresses when night falls,” Naeema Dalloul, mother of seven, told The Electronic Intifada on Saturday afternoon as deafening bomb explosions could be heard in the background.

More than 15 members of the Dalloul family now sleep in one room of their home in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood, a densely-populated area in the southeast of Gaza City.

Dalloul and her children normally live in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood to the west, but when Israel began its intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, she moved to her parents’ home in al-Zaytoun.
“When the air strikes began on Wednesday I was on the phone with my husband, who is now traveling. I was concerned about my seven children, so I moved here to stay with them,” Dalloul said. “But as you see the attacks are widespread and no one seems safe.”

In fact, the al-Zaytoun neighborhood has been one of the most heavily bombed areas.

Medical sources and human rights organizations said the death toll in the current Israeli assault had reached approximately 40 by Saturday afternoon, with at least seven children among the dead. Hundreds more are reported injured.

On Saturday, at least one person was killed and seven injured in attacks on al-Zaytoun.

Terrifying nights

The constant sound of bombs is taking its toll on the children.
“My little four-year old daughter, Tala, just hides behind me whenever there is a loud Israeli airstrike heard in the background,” Dalloul said. “This time is rather scary and no one can predict how things will turn out. But we are trying to cope as best as we can.”

The children are so scared at night, even the older ones, that when they want to get up to use the bathroom at night they insist that their mother goes with them.

Dalloul’s own mother, known as Um Fathi, who is in her late 70s and hails originally from the city of Bir al-Saba (Beersheva) in historic Palestine, sat in a chair watching TV along with other family members.

“Israeli attacks on Bir al-Saba forced my family to flee,” Um Fathi said, recalling her family’s 1948 flight from their hometown in what is now called Israel. “But now I encourage all my children and grandchildren not to succumb and remain steadfast and not to flee. We should not leave. We will remain steadfast.”
“Whenever I hear an airstrike I put my hands on my ears and feel so scared,” said nine-year-old Wisam Dalloul, who appeared frightened as the sound of bombs continued. “I don’t know what’s going on and as I see on TV, children like myself are being killed or injured.”

Wisam’s father Yehya, a taxi driver, is the breadwinner for the entire family, including his sister Naeema and her children, and his aging mother.
“As you see, I am stuck at home and unable to work as the streets are almost empty and the situation is highly risky,” Yehya said. “Once, I wanted to go out, but my five children and wife insisted I should not go out,” the young father stated.

Worry about protracted attack

Yehya is doing his best to keep the family supplied with essentials.

“For the moment, I have enough supplies like food, cooking gas and other things,” he said. “But the question here is what if this situation continues? As a taxi driver, once I go to work, I can provide for my family. But if I stay idle at home, I don’t know how I will manage.”

Upstairs lives Muhammad Dalloul, a 25-year-old graduate student, one of many members of the extended Dalloul family who live in close proximity to each other in the neighborhood.

“Every 15 minutes we hear a loud explosion just very close, as if the aircrafts have a timer that is set to automatically fire rockets on Gaza.”

Muhammad said that he stays up all night following the news. “That’s all I can do,” he said. “Of course, I do not go out because of the risk unless it’s an emergency.”

No shelters

Muhammad’s mother, Um Muhammad, who is in her late 40s, said that she and her two sons also sleep in one room of their small home that they believe to be the most safe.

“The current Israeli attacks are not as big as those of the 2009 Israeli war,” she said, “yet their strikes continue unabated and we seem to be waiting for our fate. We are still strong and able to cope, God willing.”

Um Muhammad pointed out that there are no air raid shelters in Gaza and fears what could happen. “We are pretty sure that our enemy is careless with our lives,” she said.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip, this article was first published on the electronic intifada, IMEMC got the permission of the writer to run it. 

Deciphering the Cohen Commission Report

The Recommendations of the Cohen Commission Report

by Ray Grigg

After three years of evidence, study and writing, Justice Bruce Cohen has finally submitted his $26 million Report on the disappearance of the Fraser River sockeye salmon. Despite being written in the restrained language of the judiciary, it is explicitly and implicitly explosive, condemning of the federal government's environmental policies, scathing in its assessment of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and critical of the salmon farming industry.

One of the most impressive qualities of Justice Cohen's report is its perspective. While it acknowledges the deleterious effect on wild salmon from warming oceans and rivers due to global climate change, it recognizes that the longterm future of wild salmon is bleak without the proper funding, research and supervision by the federal government. Such a splendid, valuable and crucially important natural resource cannot continue to exist if it is not properly protected, managed and appreciated. According to Justice Cohen, the federal government's abdication of its responsibility for this ecological treasure has been unwise and “troubling”.

The predominance of politics over responsibility is echoed in the actions and inactions of DFO. While Justice Cohen praises the efforts of lower level fisheries officials who work heroically in a regime of ongoing constraints, his Report highlights DFO's contradictory goals of promoting salmon farming while being mandated to protect wild salmon. The two are mutually exclusive. His comments are an unequivocal condemnation of political interference within DFO and, by implication, confirmation of the detrimental effects of salmon farming on wild salmon.

Noteworthy is the fact that, of the 75 recommendations made by Justice Cohen, a disproportionally high number — 11 of them — deal specifically with salmon farming and the constraints that need to be placed on this industry if wild salmon are to prosper. Since global climate change, impaired ocean conditions, pollution and habitat loss are threats difficult to address, the negative effects of salmon farming become particularly conspicuous because they can be corrected immediately and easily by simple administrative measures.

Justice Cohen is explicit in some of these recommendations. For example, #16 and #17 specify that siting of salmon farms along the migration routes of wild fish be reviewed based on current scientific knowledge, and that those farms in the migration routes of Fraser River sockeye should be relocated.

Salmon farms in the Discovery Islands are of particular concern. #14 calls for a moratorium on all farmed salmon expansion located there. #18 specifies that, “If at any time between now and September 30, 2020, the minister of fisheries and oceans determines that net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon, he or she should promptly order that those salmon farms cease operations.” And #19 is more prescriptive and comprehensive. After appropriate “research and analysis”, net-pen salmon farming should be prohibited in the Discovery Islands if any more than “a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon” is determined.

The Discovery Islands area is a noted geographical constriction between Vancouver Island and the mainland where most migrating Fraser River fish are forced to travel. With only nine of its 70 farms are located there, the salmon farming industry would experience limited economic impact should these sites be closed. Perhaps, then, the industry should close them voluntarily to ensure the safe passage of migrating salmon, avoid the cost of multiple studies, and take an ethically high position by exercising the Precautionary Principle. This would be a symbolic gesture of good faith since extensive studies have already implicated these salmon farms in the transfer of sea lice and disease to the migrating wild fish.

Justice Cohen's Report, however, has much wider implications than just the Discovery Islands. While he was mandated to review only the cause of the collapse in Fraser River sockeye, his recommendations clearly apply to other wild salmon. Recommendation #68 acknowledges that disease and sea lice are likely emanating from all salmon farms, clear recognition that concentrating large numbers of contained fish in confined conditions creates breeding sites for pathogens and parasites which are an obvious threat to virtually every salmon swimming within proximity of the net-pens. Many salmon farms happen to be located along migration routes where the most damage is done. Indeed, the entire salmon farming industry, as it is presently practiced, is under suspicion.

Perhaps the most damning assessment of the tripartite fiasco created by government, DFO and salmon farming is captured in just a few words by Justice Cohen. “I accept the evidence that devastating disease could sweep through the wild populations, killing large numbers of wild fish without scientists being aware of it.” This dramatically and succinctly summarizes the deplorable state of the present situation. DFO has so blatantly mismanaged, compromised and neglected wild salmon that it has no idea of what is happening to them, why it is happening, and wouldn't know if it did happen.

The source of such “devastating disease”, although not expressly stated by Justice Cohen, points directly to the salmon farming industry. This is what Justice Cohen would have deduced after reconvening his Commission for three days of exceptional hearings in December, 2011, to hear new evidence of the unprecedented presence in BC’s wild salmon of infectious salmon anemia (ISAv) — an alien disease that could only have reached the West Coast with farmed fish.

Wild salmon are failing because they are being subjected to undue risks. The thrust of Justice Cohen's recommendations is to first exercise precaution in our management of this crucial resource, and then to use open, serious and thorough research to identify and eliminate these risks.

IMEMC Hack Attacks: Israel's Cyber War Proving Too a Failure

The War On Gaza, And The Cyber War On IMEMC

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

Since Israel started its ethnic cleansing war against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the IMEMC, as it always did and will always do, started extensive coverage on the war, revealing Israeli crimes against children and infants in the coastal region; similar to previous wars, another war started against the IMEMC, a cyber-war carried out by extremist fascist Zionists who do not want the truth to come out.

The IMEMC stands strong and firm, is and will always be committed to its principles that defend human rights, to expose the war crimes carried out against the Palestinian people, not only during this war, but throughout the years of illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

All attempts to silence the IMEMC, and any grassroots media agency, are attempts to silence the truth, to silence the real voices that refuse to submit to corporate greed and control.

The war on Gaza continues, more and more civilians, including children and infants, are being killed, murdered, massacred and burnt.

And the cyber war against us continues to expand and escalate, but we are, and will always remain strong, despite our nonexistent financial resources, we are rich with determination, and will continue to fight those Zionist hackers who attempt to silence us, and force our site offline.

They do not want you, our precocious readers around the world, to see and hear the truth, they want to kill the truth so that only corporate-run media agencies, that serve their warmongering masters continue to dominate the news, and continue to feed the public lies.

The war on Gaza continues, more children and women are being killed and injured; 30 Palestinians, including several children, have been killed since Wednesday, and more than 255 Palestinians have been injured; 100 children, women and elderly are among the wounded.

List of Palestinians Killed By Israeli shells so far;

1. Ahmad Al-Ja’bary, leader of Hamas’ Military Wing.
2. Mohammad Al-Hamss.
3. Ranan Arafat, 3 years old.
4. Omar Al-Mash-Harawi, 10 months.
5. Issam Abu Al-Ma’za.
6. Mohammad Al-Kaseeh.
7. Hiba Al-Mash-Harawi, 19 years old and six months pregnant.
8. Mohammad Abu Sawaween, elderly.
9. Habes Masmas.
10. Wael Al-Ghalbaan.
11. Hisham Al-Ghalbaan.
12. Rani Hammad (his wife gave birth to a boy shortly after he was killed)
13. Khaled Abu An-Nassr.
14. Marwan Abu Al-Qomsaan, elderly.
15. Waleed Al-Abadla, 4 years old.
16. Haneen Tafesh, 10 months old.
17. Odai Jamal Nasser, 16 years old.
18. Fares Al-Basyouni, 9 years old.
19. Mohammad Eyad Sa’dallah, 4 years old.
20. Tahrir Suleiman.
21. Ayman Al-Abed Abu Warda.
22. Ismail Qandeel.
23. Younis Kamal Tafesh.
24. Mohammad Salman.
25. Amjad Abu Jalal.
26. Ziad Abu Jalal.
27. Ahmad Abu Jalal.
28. Hasan Al Hailma’.
29. Khaled Ash-Sha’er.
30. Ayman Salim.

The Zionists do not want you to read about that, they do not want you to hear and see the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in different parts of occupied Palestine, especially in the besieged and improvised Gaza Strip.

The war, and the cyber war, goes on and we will continue our coverage of the news, we will resist, and we will continue to refuse to be silenced.

Silence is complicity, as the illegal war against the children of Gaza continues, the illegal cyber war continues, and the IMEMC will never be silenced.

Every time there is an Israeli military escalation on Gaza, cyber-attacks against the IMEMC intensify, and our determination grows stronger.

We practice our right to the Freedom of Information, Freedom of Press, that’s why we refuse corporate money, and corporate domination.

We do not have money, but we have the will and the determination to keep reporting, to keep revealing the truth, to keep telling the world that occupation is a crime, and peace can only be achieved when the occupation ends and the Palestinians receive their full and internationally-guaranteed rights as stated by numerous Security Council and United Nations resolutions.

We do not wish harm for anybody, we do not and will never support racism against any person, religions, or any nation in this world. We are all born equal and that is how we shall live.

Corporate media agencies continue to twist and ignore the truth, and continue their one-sided reporting that sides with Israel and ignores the fact that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is the problem, and the very core of the conflict.

Zionists attempt to silence us, and silence grassroots media agencies, but we shall overcome and we will prevail, as we are on the side of the truth, unlike them, we are not on the side of lies and deceit.

Note: On Saturday November 17, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported;

The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli Occupation Forces in the course of the offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been ongoing for the fourth consecutive day has increased to 37, including 17 civilians. The civilian deaths include 6 children and 2 women.

Additionally, 394 Palestinians, including 381 civilians, have been wounded – this number includes 107 children and 64 women. Dozens of civilian and governmental facilities have been also destroyed.

Israeli airstrikes over the past 24 hours have been intense and severe, and have targeted civilian and governmental facilities located in densely-populated areas, causing civilian causalities, contrary to Israeli forces’ claims that they do not target civilians and civilian property. Israeli missiles have also hit populated houses.

Gaza in Plain Terms: Just What is Israel Attacking?


 Let Us Now Speak Plainly 

by Arthur Silber - Power of Narrative

The most striking and significant quality of our national conversation "is one of overwhelming, oppressive and suffocating unreality. It is as if everyone knows, but will never acknowledge, that we may speak only in code, and that we may only utilize the safe, empty phrases that we have agreed are 'acceptable' -- phrases and language that are safe precisely because they have been drained of all correspondence to facts. It is as if everyone realizes, but will never state, that we are engaged in an elaborate charade, a pageant of gesture and indication, where substance and specific meaning have been banned. ... [T]he truth is not merely unpleasant, an uninvited guest who makes conversation difficult and awkward. Truth is the enemy; truth is to be destroyed."

Gaza is a concentration camp. It is not like a concentration camp. It is not a metaphorical or figurative concentration camp. It is a concentration camp. Our culture, our political leaders, and the cacophony of voices in the media have all agreed that this truth must never be spoken. If one wanted to be momentarily charitable about people's absolute refusal to recognize the obvious, one might argue that a land area of approximately 140 square miles, containing a population of roughly 1.7 million people, could not possibly be a concentration camp. But size and the number of prisoners are not the distinguishing characteristics of a concentration camp. The most essential characteristic of a concentration camp is what is permitted, and what is not. Only one question matters: Under what conditions are the people within its borders permitted to live?

Israel controls most of Gaza's land borders, just as Israel controls the air space above it and the waters that border Gaza on the west. The sole exception is the small border with Egypt, and Israel subjects that border to attacks whenever it chooses. In essence, nothing is permitted in or out of Gaza without Israel's permission. When Israel imposes severe restrictions on what and who is allowed to enter and leave Gaza, the consequences are catastrophic, as Uri Avnery explained a few years ago:
The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.
Israel imposes conditions on Gaza and its inhabitants that necessarily result in a slow, long, lingering death. Unjustified but quick murder, murder which occurs in an instant, is a terrible crime. How are we to describe the crime that sentences a huge number of people to death, but does so in a manner that ensures the unendurable pain will last for years, that pain and deprivation can never be forgotten, that agony becomes the increasingly overwhelming component of a human being's existence?

I speak here of the necessary, inevitable final consequence of the policy Israel has chosen with deliberation and great care. Yes, people in Gaza still go about their lives to the extent they can. They still enjoy the company of family and friends; they continue to celebrate birthdays and holidays. They seize those rare, precious moments of happiness that circumstances allow. That they have moments of reprieve from the horror that ultimately awaits them does not make the horror imposed on them better. It makes it worse, infinitely, unimaginably worse. Israel's policy is that of a monstrous sadist, a sadist who finds hideous pleasure in subjecting its victims to pain that lasts a lifetime.

We are forbidden to say this.

Because we may never say this, some of those determined to remain in a state of almost perfect ignorance will be heard to complain: "But surely nothing justifies the violence of the Palestinians themselves, or their firing rockets into Israel!" Gaza is a concentration camp. The inhabitants of Gaza act in defense of their lives, to the extent the hell to which they are condemned can be called "life" at all. That is: "When you leave people no choice but to engage in violence, they'll engage in violence." This, too, must never be acknowledged.

The torture that Israel inflicts on Gaza is of a rare, uncommon refinement; this is torture that is endlessly inventive, forever finding new ways of prolonging the suffering of its victims. Consider:
In 2010, Israel relaxed its economic siege following an international outcry over its deadly raid of a Turkish-flagged humanitarian flotilla, allowing Gazans to legally import more consumer goods. Hamas took the opportunity to transform the tunnels, which were previously used for only basic consumer goods, into a government-sanctioned trade route for raw construction materials and cheap Egyptian petrol, fueling the economic boom of 2011 and 2012.

The rapid, subterranean inflow through the tunnels spurred a bustling construction sector that accounted for 27 percent of job growth in the Gaza Strip in 2011, private sector groups say.

The economy improved so much that, according to a September poll released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, just 9 percent of Palestinians believe the blockade on Gaza is the most serious problem facing Palestinian society today. ...

Devastated by the economic siege, during which 30 percent of Gaza’s businesses closed, the economy grew a staggering 20 percent in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Per capita gross domestic product also increased by 19 percent in 2011.

“The role the [Hamas] government is playing is a positive one. It facilitated the entrance of construction materials, and allowed them to be delivered at reasonable prices,” Nasser Al Helow, a Gazan business mogul with real estate investments and an import business, said in July.

“This affected unemployment and stimulated other economic sectors,” he said.
Live!, said Israel, at least a little bit, at least for a little while. As in the case of a man dying of thirst, the Gazans eagerly drank the water they so desperately needed. They fiercely seized the brief opportunity they were provided. They lived to the degree they could, and some conditions temporarily improved in significant ways.

But Gaza was still a concentration camp:
Since that initial boom, Egypt closed many of the commercial tunnels in reaction to a deadly militant attack on Egyptian soldiers near the Gaza border. The closures curbed some of the freewheeling economic activity.

Construction imports are now down 45 percent and food imports 30 percent, according to October data released by the Portland Trust, a private sector group in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Forty-four percent of Gazan refugees are still reliant on food aid, while 60 percent of households are either food-insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity, according to the United Nations Relief Works Agency.

This poverty is likely to deepen in the wake of the ongoing Israeli military offensive. Gaza is still closed to exports through Israeli crossings, which hampers efforts to build a full-fledged economy free from foreign aid.

But a surplus of raw materials already in Gaza because of the boom, an uptick in trade through the Israeli crossings and the ease with which fuel is transported through the tunnels — in thin hoses requiring little solid infrastructure — means the economy has not yet received a knockout blow, economists say.
That "knockout blow" is all too likely to be delivered in the near future.

It is close to impossible to describe sadism of this kind in the required terms. To subject a vast number of human beings to unimaginable suffering, then to hold out the brief promise of life and perhaps even a measurable degree of happiness -- only to snatch all of it away once more ... The scope of this particular evil seeks to protect itself from judgment and condemnation by making itself ungraspable to anyone who is still recognizably human.

As has happened every time before, the world watches -- and the world does nothing. More horrifying is the fact that the most powerful nation on earth, the United States, supports this evil and guarantees that it will not only continue, but very probably get still worse. Any individual who expected a different response from the United States in any respect at all has blinded himself to the nature of the United States generally, and to the significance of the Obama administration more particularly. For the Obama administration has engaged in a worldwide campaign of death for four years, and promises to continue the campaign into the indefinite future.

And Obama and his fellow murderers repeatedly proclaim their "right" to murder any innocent human being wherever he may be in the world, for any reason they invent and even for no reason at all. A nation led by a group of serial murderers will hardly object to another country's program of sadism. That Israel's practice of sadism is so remarkably creative -- that it inflicts pain and suffering in an endless variety of ways, over a prolonged period of time -- is likely only to provoke envy on the part of Obama and his fellow murderers, and perhaps the thought that Israel might have some very useful ideas worthy of adoption.

This is evil of an unusual kind, evil that delights in its own cruelty, evil that seeks no end other than the satisfaction of watching its victims suffer for years on end, with a glimmer of hope offered now and then -- but solely for the purpose of making the suffering to come even more painful.

And there is no end in sight.

War-Worn Maple Leaf Offers No Shelter from World Admonition

Mirror, Mirror on the Canadian Wall

by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice

The divemaster on a boat moored at the site of Ras Mohammed in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt asked the people on the deck where they hailed from. My dive buddy volunteered that she was from Hungary and I from Canada. Another man at the back said that he was from Canada as well.

Afterwards, he shuffled over behind me and asked, “Are you really from Canada?”

I said, “Yes.”1

He responded, “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m really from the US.”

This was in 1998. At that time some Americans were still wearing Canadian flags on their backpacks to hide their country of origin. Another incident in 2002 made clear to me why they would do so. I was walking from my apartment in Aqaba, Jordan when a throng of young children began throwing rocks at me and shouting, “Yankee go home.” The children, roughly aged 9 to 12, were well aware of America’s role in the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Does that maple leaf on a knapsack curry much favor today? Yves Engler delves into that in his latest book, The Ugly Canadian (Fernwood Publishing and Red Publishing), with a focus on the corporatist, neoliberal, and militaristic foreign policy of the Stephen Harper government and his Conservative Party.

Engler writes with a purpose in mind: “Only when enough of us care is there a possibility of developing a counterweight to the narrow self-interests of corporations and wealth holders. Only if Canadians of good will and social conscience act together to demand a foreign policy based on solidarity and mutual support will there be any possibility of achieving that goal.”

“The Conservatives simply don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. In fact, their political godfathers celebrate international hostility. To a large extent the Conservatives take their foreign policy cues from the right wing of the US Republican Party.”

The Ugly Canadian examines the rightward tilt on environmentalism, corporatism (particularly its lobbying for the mining sector), militarism, meddling in Islamic countries, and its unstinting support for the apartheid, occupier state of Israel.

Engler opens the first chapter, “Tar Sands Diplomacy” with a warning: “No issue threatens humankind more than anthropogenic global warming.” The vast scientific consensus on this is undeniable; yet, Canada backed out of its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol under Harper, who once wrote “Kyoto [Protocol] is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”

Canada has been criticized for “bullying” and “arm-twisting” developing countries to achieve its preferred agenda which favors development of the heavy, dirty bitumen in Alberta. The Conservatives have sidestepped democratic idealism to push this agenda as when the Climate Change Accountability Act was defeated without debate and holding a snap vote in the Senate when opposition senators were not present.

Despite the deleterious environmental consequences, the Harper policy is full bore for the Tar Sands. Any opposition is to be discouraged. Canada has gone so far as to muzzle government scientists and cut funding for independent climate scientists.

In April 2012, Harper claimed, “Canadians are justly proud of our mining industry for its elevated sense of corporate social responsibility.”

Engler asks, “But how do Canadians feel about diplomacy that facilitates razing mountaintops, poisoning rivers and ignoring indigenous rights in dozens of countries around the world? Do most of us want our tax dollars promoting the narrow self-interest of wealthy shareholders at the expense of common people living in some poor part of the world?”

To be fair, Canada’s mining sector was negatively stigmatized before Harper formed a government.2 That reputation precedes Canada these days. In Chiapas, Mexico, governor-general Michaëlle Jean and deputy foreign minister Peter Kent were told “Canada get out.”

Engler writes, “Pick almost any country in the Global South — from Papua New Guinea to Ghana, Ecuador and the Philippines — and you will find a Canadian-run mine that has caused environmental devastation or been the scene of violent confrontations.”

The Ugly Canadian criticizes NGO complicity with the Canadian government over mining interests:

[Canadian International Development Agency] CIDA-funded NGO-mining contracts are problematic for a number of reasons. First, taxpayers should not subsidize the social responsibilities of highly profitable mining companies. In addition to this obvious point, such CIDA contracts further weaken NGOs critical of Canadian operations while strengthening those groups willing to defend and work with mining companies.

The Ugly Canadian notes an October 2011 Globe and Mail Business magazine report of 19 Tanzanian villagers being killed by police and security guards at the North Mara mine while usually searching for gold. An aberration?

In 1994 Canada’s Kahama Mining Corporation had the Tanzanian police forcibly evacuate artisanal miners from the gold-rich Bulyanhulu area while the company bulldozers filled in the shafts. However, 57 miners were buried alive, an allegation affirmed by the Lawyer’s Environmental Action Team of Tanzania.2 Sadly, it seems that the lesson learned from similar violence against village gold miners is that mining corporations in collusion with the Canadian government and Tanzanian police can gloss over massacres.

Harper’s government follows the western imperialist line in the Middle East. Thus, as The Ugly Canadian makes known, Canada supported Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt; it supports the Al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain and the Saud regime, but it opposed the Libya government aligned with Gaddafi and seeks to undermine the Assad government in Syria.

Gaddafi was tortured and murdered. Engler writes that Harper “celebrated the dictator’s summary execution.” I would challenge Engler’s statement that Gaddafi was a dictator; it smacks of accepting western state propaganda at face value. Gaddafi has been known as a leader of the revolution, but he declared “separation of the state from the revolution” and vested power in the masses. The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was the most economically advanced state in Africa.

It is well known within social justice circles that Stephen Harper is the best friend of the Israeli Right (although leaders of Canada’s other political parties vie for that dubious distinction).

Extremists are drawn to Harper’s Conservatives. Engler argues, “… that at the base of Harper’s brand of neoconservatism is a coalition of extreme pro-US capitalists and right-wing Christians. Uncritical support for Israel is a key ‘principle’ uniting this base.”3

The Ugly Canadian relates how Harper immediately distanced Canada from the Hamas government, and when a Palestine Authority-Hamas unity government was in the works, he sought to destroy it. Harper has engaged in financial blackmail to aid Israel internationally. Harper’s party even supports tax write-offs for illegal Israeli settlements.

Lebanon and Iran and are usually depicted by Israeli and Zionist media as enemies of Israel and the West. Consequently, Harper has been a steadfast denouncer of Iran.

Engler provides examples of the demonization: “Conservative officials compared Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler and the prime minister claimed Iran’s leaders ‘frighten me.’ In January 2012 Harper told a Calgary radio station ‘Iran… is the world’s most serious threat to international peace and security.’”

Under Harper, Canada’s image on the defense front has undergone a wholesale makeover. Gone is the burnished image of Canada as blue-helmeted peacekeepers and in is the image of Canada, the warrior nation.

The image is proudly proclaimed. Defense minister Peter MacKay boasted: “… We are big players in NATO. We’re a country that has become a go-to nation in response to situations like what we’re seeing in Libya, what we saw in Haiti.”

Engler sees a creeping militaristic jingoism in Canadian society. That militarism is captured by unions, the media, and by shirts reading “Support the Troops.” More worryingly, Engler finds, was the “vicious” browbeating of 16 University of Regina professors for opposing the “unquestioning glorification of military action.”

As with other western countries in the aftermath of 9-11, Canada has become a securitized state where “Canadian private security companies face no controls on professional background, criminal history, humanitarian training etc.”

What does it mean for Canada to be a Warrior State? As The Ugly Canadian makes clear, it means lying and deception.

“The Conservatives repeatedly lied about Canada’s role in Afghanistan. They deceived Canadians about prisoner abuse, development aid and the reason for fighting.”

It means war crimes: “A JTF2 [roughly, a Canadian SAS or Delta Force) member said he felt his commanders ‘encouraged’ them to commit war crimes” … including shooting surrendering Afghans.

It means braggadocio: Engler quotes Captain Ray Wiss who praised Canadian troops as “the best at killing people … We are killing a lot more of them than they are of us, and we have been extraordinarily successful …” 

Harper has pursued a hardline right-wing approach in the western hemisphere. Harper supported the overthrow of Honduran president Zelaya. The Ugly Canadian says “particular corporate interests motivated Ottawa’s hostility towards Zelaya.” In particular, Montréal-based Gildan, one of the world’s biggest blank T-shirt makers with half of its production located in Honduras.

Harper’s support for the coup in Honduras had the additional goal of stymieing progressivism occurring throughout “Latin America.” To this end, writes Engler, the Conservatives sought to bolster right-wing governments with “aid” redirected from Africa.

Neoliberalism is a major plank in the Harper platform. Therefore, Canada blocked a Tobin tax for banking transactions, contrary to its OECD partners.

Engler proposes that a multi-issue network be established with a countrywide popular education campaign to “Stop Harper’s Crimes Against Humanity,” to build a coalition of the various organizations already working on these issues… ultimately leading to “a popular tribunal with high profile judges to investigate Harper’s crimes against humanity…”

Engler knows where of he speaks. He was involved in organizing with others to bring about the defeat of former Liberal Foreign Affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew.

Some Canadians used to feel smug when Americans were saddled with the awkward and violent presidency of George W. Bush. Only Americans would vote for a warmongering leader. Today that smugness has been wiped away. Harper may be more glib than Bush, but in many ways he stands even farther to the Right. The Ugly Canadian is a damning indictment of cruel, selfish capitalism that dominates federal politics in Canada today. It evinces that ugliness can befall any people anywhere.

Zealous patriotism is the vehicle that drives home the ugliness. The Ugly Canadian proffers a way out of ugliness: caring enough to do something about it is absolutely essential for social justice.


  1. I do not, however, label myself as a Canadian. I am born in the traditional territories of First Nations, and I do not recognize the rights of invaders to dispossess peoples anywhere. []
  2. See Kim Petersen, “Canadian Predation in Africa,” Dissident Voice, 5 June 2003. [] []
  3. Yves Engler covered Canada’s support for Israel in Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid. See my review: “The New Canadian Paradigm: Embracing Apartheid,” Dissident Voice, 2 March 2010. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Kim.

Memory War in Israel: Operation 'Cloud Pillar' Begs Mass Amnesia

The correct name for this war is "Operation Short Memory"

by Uri Avnery - Gush Shalom

The name chosen for the new war in Gaza is "operation Cloud Pillar". A far more appropriate name would have been "Operation Short Memory" Said former Knesset member Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom activist.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu is counting on the public's short memory. Netanyahu counts upon people forgetting that dozens and even hundreds of "liquidations" had been carried out and they did not solve any problem - always there was somebody replacing those who were killed, and more than once the new one was more capable and more radical.

"Netanyahu counts on people not remembering that four years ago Israel went to war in Gaza, killing 1300 civilians in three weeks – which otherwise did not make any significant change in the situation. Netanyahu counts on people failing to remember that just yesterday morning the media reported on people in the communities of the South heaving a sigh of relief at the complete cessation of missiles from Gaza. 

"Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have taken the decision - for the second time in a row the State of Israel will conduct general elections under the shadow of war in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire which already started to stabilize had been broken and shattered to pieces. The inhabitants of te communities of southern Israel, who just started to breathe freely, are sent right back to air raid alarms and the running to shelters.

"At the price of great suffering on both sides of the border, the government's aim had been accomplished: the social issues, which threatened to assume prominence in these elections, have been pushed aside and removed from the agenda of the elections campaign. Forgotten, too, is the brave attempt of Mahmud Abbas to address the Israeli public opinion. In the coming weeks, the headlines will be filled with constant war and death, destruction and bloodshed. When it ends at last, it will be revealed that no goal has been achieved and that the problems remain the same, or perhaps got worse."

Vancouver Comes Out for Gaza Sunday


by CAP

2 PM – Sunday November 18 2012
Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson Side)
Hornby and Robson St – Vancouver
Invite all your friends on facebook

Israel’s attack on Gaza continues as Israeli officials continue to threaten a “ground invasion,” while the Canadian government expresses its utmost support for the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, which has so far killed over 30 Palestinians. Dozens of bombing raids continue daily.

In Vancouver and hundreds of cities around the world, voices have risen in the streets in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian people under Israeli fire.
The transnational Palestinian Youth Movement has called upon people around the world to come back to the streets on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Join us on the Robson Side of the Vancouver Art Gallery at 2 PM on Sunday. As Israel threatens to “escalate,” our resistance and solidarity must escalate!

See video of the Vancouver Thursday night march and read report at the Media Co-Op.

Call from PYM:

In an effort to amplify our outrage against Operation Pillar of Defense and support the people of Gaza, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) urges all members and allies to demonstrate, protest, and hold sit-ins in as many cities as possible on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18th. Let the world hear our indignation to end this brutal invasion! .

We urge all people of conscience from around the world to take to the streets and protest against this heinous offensive being launched by the imperialist Zionist state against the people of Gaza. We implore you to stand up and resist this reprehensible act of aggression against our people. Do not let one more Palestinian life be lost.

Stand with our people in Gaza as they heroically sacrifice their lives and remain at the forefront of our struggle for liberation, return, and justice. We must continue to amplify our voices in praise and support, for their unwavering and steadfast resistance against this vile Zionist attack that indiscriminately annihilates Palestinians.

It is the time to harness the revolutionary power that has kept our resistance alive, despite our darkest moments, and that now lives in the hearts of our Arab brothers and sisters fighting for dignity. Their struggle is not isolated from nor has ever forgotten the Palestinian struggle for liberation and return. Without their sacrifices, we would not have approached a new, powerfully re-positioned Arab world that is morally and physically reinforcing renewed efforts of Palestinian resistance against Zionism’s intolerable imperialist assault on the Arab nation. Our hunger for justice and freedom can only be nourished by exercising our legitimate right to resist.

This offensive is being carried out right now, today, with the complicity of our silence, with the support of our governments and international institutions, and is part and parcel of the global imperialist system that wreaks havoc and destroys other communities throughout the world.

Declare loud and clear, that we will no longer be bullied into non-existence and complicity. Let us not wait for this offensive to escalate and be remembered as another Palestinian massacre, like those we have born witness to since 1948. It is our duty and time to uplift the banner of justice, until return and liberation to all of historic Palestine.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Shale Gas Bubble Ready to Pop?

Shale Gas Will be the Next Bubble to Pop – An Interview with Arthur Berman

by James Stafford -

The "shale revolution" has been grabbing a great deal of headlines for some time now. A favourite topic of investors, sector commentators and analysts – many of whom claim we are about to enter a new energy era with cheap and abundant shale gas leading the charge. But on closer examination the incredible claims and figures behind many of the plays just don't add up. To help us to look past the hype and take a critical look at whether shale really is the golden goose many believe it to be or just another over-hyped bubble that is about to pop, we were fortunate to speak with energy expert Arthur Berman.

Arthur is a geological consultant with thirty-four years of experience in petroleum exploration and production. He is currently consulting for several E&P companies and capital groups in the energy sector. He frequently gives keynote addresses for investment conferences and is interviewed about energy topics on television, radio, and national print and web publications including CNBC, CNN, Platt's Energy Week, BNN, Bloomberg, Platt's, Financial Times, and New York Times. You can find out more about Arthur by visiting his website:

In the interview Arthur talks about:

· Why shale gas will be the next bubble to pop

· Why Japan can't afford to abandon nuclear power

· Why the United States shouldn't turn its back on Canada's tar sands

· Why renewables won't make a meaningful impact for many years

· Why the shale boom will not have a big impact on foreign policy

· Why Romney and Obama know next to nothing about fossil fuel energy

James Stafford: How do you see the shale boom impacting U.S. foreign policy?

Arthur Berman: Well, not very much is my simple answer.

A lot of investors from other parts of the world, particularly the oil-rich parts have been making somewhat high-risk investments in the United States for many years and, for a long time, those investments were in real estate.

Now these people have shifted their focus and are putting cash into shale. There are two important things going on here, one is that the capital isn't going to last forever, especially since shale gas is a commercial failure. Shale gas has lost hundreds of billions of dollars and investors will not keep on pumping money into something that doesn't generate a return.

The second thing that nobody thinks very much about is the decline rates shale reservoirs experience. Well, I've looked at this. The decline rates are incredibly high. In the Eagleford shale, which is supposed to be the mother of all shale oil plays, the annual decline rate is higher than 42%.

They're going to have to drill hundreds, almost 1000 wells in the Eagleford shale, every year, to keep production flat. Just for one play, we're talking about $10 or $12 billion a year just to replace supply. I add all these things up and it starts to approach the amount of money needed to bail out the banking industry. Where is that money going to come from? Do you see what I'm saying?

James Stafford: You've been noted suggesting that shale gas will be the next bubble to collapse. How do you think this will occur and what will the effects be?

Arthur Berman: Well, it depends, as with all collapses, on how quickly the collapse occurs. I guess the worst-case scenario would be that several large companies find themselves in financial distress.

Chesapeake Energy recently had a very close call. They had to sell, I don't know how many, billions of dollars worth of assets just to maintain paying their obligations, and that's the kind of scenario I'm talking about. You may have a couple of big bankruptcies or takeovers and everybody pulls back, all the money evaporates, all the capital goes away. That's the worst-case scenario.

James Stafford: Energy became a big part of the election race, but what did you make of the energy policies and promises that were being made by both candidates?

Arthur Berman: Mitt Romney, particularly, talked about how the United States would be able to achieve energy independence in five years. Well, that's garbage.

Anybody who knows anything about oil, gas and coal, knows that that's absurd. We were producing a little over 6 million barrels a day thanks to an all-out effort in the shale oil play. We consume 15 million barrels of oil a day and that leaves the gap of 9 million barrels per day. At the peak of U.S. production, in 1970, the U.S. produced 10.6 million barrels per day. Like I said, either the guy doesn't know what he's talking about, or is making a big joke of it.

Obama didn't talk so much . . . He's a hugely green agenda kind of president and I'm not opposed to that, but he's certainly not for the oil and gas business. It wasn't until he got serious about thinking about his re-election that he decided to take credit for what really happened.

James Stafford: Japan recently announced that they are going to be phasing out nuclear power. What are your views on nuclear? Are we in a position to abandon this energy source?

Arthur Berman: No. Japan is a special case. The disaster at Fukushima, the nuclear reactor, was right on top of a major fault. So, that was a dumb place to put it.

To wholesale abandon nuclear power because one reactor was incredibly stupidly planned, to me seems like a bit of a . . . well, I can't tell people how they should react, but if I were a Japanese citizen, and the truth was that we have no oil, we have no coal, we have no natural gas, the next question is, "Well, if we get rid of nuclear, what are we going to do?"

It's a really good question to ask. If you don't have anything of your own, how are you going to get what you need? The answer is that they have to import LNG and that's very expensive.

Right now, natural gas is selling in Japan for $17 per million BTUs. You can buy the same BTUs in Europe for $9 today, or in the US for $3.25

James Stafford: What about Germany's decision to also phase out nuclear power?

Arthur Berman: For Germany to abandon nuclear… that decision is truly delusional because they haven't had any problems over there. Nor is Germany particularly earthquake prone or tsunami prone. They have forced themselves into a love relationship with Russia.

James Stafford: What are your views on Canada's tar sands? Are they a rich source of oil that the U.S. needs to exploit? Or do you think they're a carbon bomb, which could do irreparable damage to the climate?

Arthur Berman: Well, that's a very good question. I suppose they're both, as are virtually all things that burn. Right? They're a very rich source of oil. And they're dirty. It requires a lot of natural gas heating to convert them into some usable form, a lot of processing, but here's the thing, if the United States doesn't buy that oil from Canada, do you think Canada's just going to say, "Oh. Okay. Nevermind. We'll forget about all this."

No. They're going to sell it somewhere else. They'll probably sell it to Asia. So, the issue of the carbon bomb doesn't get resolved by the United States not taking the oil.

So, to me, that's off the table. Yes. I think it's an incredibly sensible play to get your oil from a neighbour, and a neighbour who you trust, and it doesn't require overseas transport and probably getting involved in periodic revolutions and civil uprisings.

James Stafford: Is there any technology, any development you see coming in the future that can help us get where we need to be? Is conservation really the only answer or do you have any hopes for some of the alternative energy technologies, such as solar or, even, some of these more advanced technologies such as Andrea Rossi's E-cat machine?

Arthur Berman: Oh. I have all the enthusiasm for technology that you could ask for. I'm a scientist and I love technology but I heard a very good presentation several years ago on your exact question and the man who gave a talk said, "I'm going to give you a rule to live by. If it's not on the shelf today, then a solution is no sooner than ten years in the future." So, when you talk about E-cat and you talk about algae and all this kind of stuff, it's not on the shelf today. So, that means it's in some sort of pilot stage of testing.

Work harder guys. Work harder and faster because you've got a lot of work to do. So, yes, I'm enthusiastic. I think there are some great ideas out there but I don't see any of them helping us in the coming five to ten-year period.

James Stafford: Environmentalists talk about the evil of fossil fuels, but have they really done their research to see how vital it is to pretty much everything that we base our modern lives upon?

Arthur Berman: Well, that's exactly right. My oldest son and his family until recently lived in California, and in California people think electricity comes from the wall. They don't have any idea that most of their electricity comes from horrible coal-fired power plants in New Mexico and Arizona. As long as they don't have to see it, they don't have a problem.

But, in this world, and in this life, we're all connected and if you see something you don't like, there's a good possibility that whatever they're doing there has something to do with something you're using. So, this is an issue.


A Mistakenly Honest Moment from BBC Gaza Coverage

UK Chief Rabbi: "I Think It Has Got to do With Iran"    

by Alan Hart - Redress

There was a fascinating moment on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme this morning when Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, answered a question honestly because he thought he was off the air.

That was enough to cause a craven BBC (dictionary definition of craven: “cowardly”) to apologize for the fact that one its presenters had caught him off-guard. So what did he say?

The gaffe

He had just completed his on-air (live) contribution to the programme’s two-minute “Thought for the Day” slot. He spoke in support of the BBC’s annual Children In Need appeal which, as he said, is focused on “the right of every child to be safe and secure and reach their own potential”. Given that Israel’s leaders have no qualms about impoverishing and killing Palestinian children, I would have been impressed if he had said “every child includes Palestinian children”. But he didn’t make any reference to them.

When the daily speaker comes to the end of his or her two-minutes, that’s it. The presenter says “Thank you” and you hear no more from the speaker. But not this morning. Evan Davis, one of this morning’s two presenters said, “Jonathan, before you go, any thoughts on what’s going on in Israel and Gaza at the moment?”

After an audible sigh, the chief rabbi replied: “I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.” You can listen to a recording of the event below.

Co-presenter Sarah Montague was clearly alarmed that he didn’t know his remarks were still being broadcast and she whispered, “We’re live.”

The chief rabbi then put himself back into broadcasting mode and said the crisis demanded “a continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but for the whole region”.

Behind the gaffe

The question which his off-guard comment triggered in my mind was this: In what way could Israel’s latest war (in all but name) on the Gaza Strip be “to do with Iran”, at least in part?

There are, it seems to me, three possible answers.

One can be deduced from an Israeli army statement yesterday that claimed Hamas had turned the Gaza Strip in a “front-line base for Iran”. That could indicate an Israeli military perception that this base needed to be taken out.

Another possible answer is that Binyamin Netanyahu authorized Israel’s air and naval bombardment to demonstrate that he is a man of action as well as words (verbal threats). The point here is that having talked up the need for an attack on Iran and then being seen to be backing off because many of his own military and intelligence chiefs (past and present) effectively joined with President Barack Obama in saying “Don’t do it”, he needed to prove that he was prepared to continue the Zionist tradition of teaching the Arabs lessons by the application of brute force. “We Israelis are still the masters.”

A third possible answer is that it is still in his mind to attack Iran at some point but he knows that before doing so he must protect Israel’s rear by putting all who would strike at Israel from within the Gaza Strip out of action.

The bigger question waiting for an answer is whether or not Greater Israel will be more or less secure when the current war (in all but name) is over. If it ends up being less secure than it was before the assassination of Hamas’s military chief, there might be some reason to hope that enough Israelis will want to say goodbye to Netanyahu and deny him another term in office.

UN Holds Emergency Security Council Meetings on Gaza Attack

UN Holds Urgent Security Council Meeting, US Stands With Israel 


Vijay Prashad: US blocks UN Security Council from condemning Israeli attack on Gaza

Killing Peace: Assassinated Hamas Negotiator Brokered Truce Hours Before Death

Israeli Negotiator: Hamas Commander Was Assassinated Hours After Receiving Truce Deal from Israel

by Democracy Now!

Israel broke an informal ceasefire on Wednesday by assassinating Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an air strike. The Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate talks between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, has revealed Jabari was assassinated just hours after he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire.

Baskin, the founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, joins us from Jerusalem. We also speak with Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer based in Gaza.

World Disgust and Protests for Israeli Aggression in Gaza

Protests Erupt Worldwide Against Israel's Bombing Campaign in Gaza


 Global demonstrations against Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud growing as death toll mounts.

Watch full multipart The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

False Equivalencies: The TragiComic BBC Coverage of Gaza Blitz

Gaza Blitz - Turmoil And Tragicomedy At The BBC

by David Cromwell and David Edwards- Media Lens

BBC News is in turmoil. Having last year dropped a report on claims of sexual abuse against the late DJ and television presenter Jimmy Savile, the flagship Newsnight programme this month wrongly implicated Tory peer Lord McAlpine in child abuse. As a result, after just 54 days in his job, the BBC director-general, George Entwistle, ‘stepped down’ on November 10. The BBC’s head of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, were then also ‘asked’ to ‘step aside’. Peter Rippon, the Newsnight editor responsible for the Savile decision, had already 'stepped aside'.

The Lord Patten-led BBC Trust, which is supposed to ensure that the BBC is run in the public interest, has once again been revealed as a useless, dangling appendage.

Newsnight’s journalistic failures on child abuse are bad enough, rightly heaping pressure on the broadcaster. But there was no comparable pressure for senior staff to 'step aside' over the BBC's truly catastrophic failure to challenge US-UK propaganda on Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and the country's supposed 'threat' to the West. This failure paved the way to war in Iraq and the subsequent brutal and bloody occupation at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. As Media Lens noted recently on Twitter: ‘If you think Newsnight failed badly now, compare with anchor Jeremy Paxman's 2009 confession on Iraq’: namely, that he and his media colleagues were ‘hoodwinked’ by propaganda about Iraq. Paxman made these extraordinary comments:

'As far as I personally was concerned, there came a point with the presentation of the so-called evidence, with the moment when Colin Powell sat down at the UN General Assembly and unveiled what he said was cast-iron evidence of things like mobile, biological weapon facilities and the like...

'When I saw all of that, I thought, well, "We know that Colin Powell is an intelligent, thoughtful man, and a sceptical man. If he believes all this to be the case, then, you know, he's seen the evidence; I haven't."’

In other words, BBC journalism ended where serious journalism, and simple common sense, begins.
How Can This Be ‘Self Defence'?

The role of BBC News as handmaiden to power is exemplified by its reporting on the latest series of brutal Israeli assaults on Gaza. On the first day of Operation Pillar of Cloud, thirteen people, including three children, were reportedly killed, and about 100 wounded. Israeli forces succeeded in their objective of ‘assassinating’ Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari in a clear act of extrajudicial state execution.

On November 16, Israel was reported to have hit 150 sites in Gaza the previous night, with 450 strikes in total. And yet the main BBC headline that morning read: 'Egypt PM arrives for Gaza mission.' What would the BBC headline have been if 450 targets in Tel Aviv had been hit by F-16 bombs, drone missiles and artillery?

The Israeli attacks have routinely been reported as 'retaliation' for Palestinian ‘militant rocket attacks’ on southern Israel. In a study of news performance in 2001, the Glasgow Media Group noted that Israelis ‘were six times as likely to be presented as “retaliating” or in some way responding than were the Palestinians.’

A BBC correspondent in Gaza said ‘there are now fears now (sic) of a major escalation of violence’. But the Israeli execution of Ahmed al-Jabari was a major escalation of violence. BBC News reported three Israeli deaths by rockets fired from Gaza with the briefest mention of the earlier deaths of ‘eleven Palestinians - mainly militants but also children’. As ever, there was no explanation of how a Gaza civilian is distinguished from a ‘militant’.

The sequence of recent events, so lacking in 'mainstream' reports, that led to Israel's massive attacks on Gaza can be summarised thus:

October 29: The BBC reports that 'Militants in Gaza have fired 26 rockets into Israel, officials say, amid a flare-up in fighting which shattered a brief ceasefire between the two sides. No injuries were reported from the barrage, in the south of the country.' The BBC said that, 'It came hours after Israeli aircraft hit targets in Gaza, after militants fired rockets following the killing by Israel of a Gazan who Israel said fired mortars at its troops.'

November 4: an innocent, apparently mentally unfit, 20-year old man, Ahmad al-Nabaheen, is shot when he wanders close to the border with Israel. Medics have to wait for six hours to be permitted to pick him up and they suspect that he may have died because of that delay.

November 8: Israeli soldiers invade Gaza, shooting and killing a 13-year old Gazan boy, Ahmad Abu Daqqa, who was playing football.

November 10: Palestinian resistance fighters attack an Israeli army jeep near the boundary with Gaza, injuring 4 Israeli occupation soldiers. An Israeli shell kills two children in Gaza. An Israeli tank later attacks a funeral service killing two more civilians, wounding more than 20 others.

November 11: Palestinian resistance fighters reportedly agree a ceasefire.

November 13: Reuters reports that truce between Palestinians and Israel appears to be holding.

November 14: Israel breaks ceasefire by killing Ahmed al-Jabari and launching intense attacks on Gaza. According to investigative journalist Gareth Porter: 'Israeli assassination of Jabari destroyed possibility of mediated Israeli-Hamas truce.'

Stop the War concluded:
'Israeli government claims that they are conducting a "defensive" operation in response to rocket fire from Hamas is not true. Israel is directly responsible for the latest round of violence and must cease attacking Gaza immediately.' (Email, November 15, 2012)

On November 15, retaliating to the escalation in Israeli violence, Hamas missile strikes launched from Gaza into southern Israel killed three people. Every violent death is a tragedy but Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, gave much-needed perspective in an article published the same day:

'While Israeli officials are quick to rattle off the numbers of projectiles fired from Gaza, rarely do they tell you what they fire into Gaza, what the effects of this fire is and what the fallout from it is.

'For example, in 2011, the projectiles fired by the Israeli military into Gaza have been responsible for the death of 108 Palestinians, of which 15 where (sic) women or children [...]

'Through September 2012, Israeli weaponry caused 55 Palestinian deaths and 257 injuries. Among these 312 casualties, 61, or roughly 20 percent, were children and 28 were female. [...] It is important to note that these figures do not represent a totality of Israeli projectiles fired into Gaza but rather only Israeli projectiles fired into Gaza which cause casualties. The total number of Israeli projectiles fired into Gaza is bound to be significantly larger.

Munayyer added: 'more Palestinians were killed in Gaza yesterday than Israelis have been killed by projectile fire from Gaza in the past three years.'

The Israel-based journalist Jonathan Cook noted via Facebook on November 15:

'Here, according to the BBC, are the five most important stories relating to Israel's attack on Gaza. (Screengrab via Nour Bakr):
'Gaza missiles fired at Tel Aviv

'Israel's Gaza rocket problem

'"Hamas targets our children"

"'Determined to follow the path of jihad"

'UK's Hague criticises Hamas'

It's Official: Canada Supports Blitzkrieg Over Gaza

Call to action on Canadian government approval of bombing of Gaza

 by The Rev. Robert Assaly

Dear Friends of peace in Palestine and Israel,

In the face of another potential slaughter of civilians in Gaza by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), it is regrettable that Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird exhibits a view that Palestinian life is not even worth a mention. His brief press release is concerned only for Israel “and its citizens.”

Rather than forthrightly contextualizing the current violence as precipitated by Israeli aerial bombing and slaughter last week, IOF violence is cast as “the struggle against terrorism, the great struggle of our generation.” Rationalization and complicity with wonton destruction and death stands in stark contrast to the view of Canadians and our tradition of peace ever since Canada was the very founder of UN peacekeeping in response to the 1956 Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Stating that only one people “has the right to defend itself,” indeed those using F-16s and tanks against densely populated civilian areas, ignores or even justifies the terror rained upon by Palestinians by the IOF. No terror is acceptable. Four years ago, the IOF decimation of an already besieged Gaza Strip left hundreds of women and children dead, and thousands injured. Ignoring this history invites a repeat.

The government of Canada ought rather to uphold Canadian values and views, refrain from further incendiary remarks, proclaim the value and dignity of each Palestinian as well as Israeli life, and call for an immediate ceasefire.

To make your views known, write:

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister:
John Baird, Foreign Affairs Minister:
Paul Dewar, Foreign Affairs critic for the Official Opposition:
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition:
Bob Rae, Leader of the Liberal Party:
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party:

In peace and solidarity,
The Rev. Robert Assaly

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Myanmar's Rohingyas Problem

Burma Washes Its Hands of the Rohingyas 

by Peter Lee - China Matters 

The piece excerpted below originally appeared at Asia Times Online on November 12, 2012 under the title Myanmar Fixates on Rohingya Calculation. Its thesis is perhaps better represented by the title of this blog post, Burma Washes Its Hands of the Rohingyas. It can be re-posted if ATOl is credited and a link provided.
ATOl has run some excellent stories on the Rohingya situation, including but not limited to Rohingya miss boat on development by Syed Tashfin Chowdhury and Chris Stewart, and Nowhere to go for the Rohingya by Phil Radford.

My ATOl piece tiptoes close to the TL:DR (too long didn't read) danger zone since I wanted to go to considerable lengths to document the organized character of the anti-Rohingya pogrom and rebut the "ethnic strife" and "plague on both their houses" narrative that is being put out to Western audiences by almost every political and religious actor in Burma/Myanmar, up to and including Aung San Suu Kyi.

Anti-Rohingya racism has, to a certain extent, been ginned up by the military government; however, the government is building on a long-standing tradition of Buddhist/Burmese chauvinism; fueled in part by Burmese resentment at the Rohingyan role as an instrument of British political and economic penetration during the Raj times-- with communal violence between Rohingya and their local Rakhine/Arakan antagonists dating back to at least the 1930s.

The key factor in the current pogrom against the Rohingya appears to be the willingness of various key players in Burma, for a variety of sordid political and financial reasons described in the piece; a clutch of important votes in the national parliament and billions of dollars of expected revenue sharing to Rakhine state from its adjacent offshore natural gas fields-- to pander to the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

The RNDP controls Rakhine State (the home of the hapless Rohingya). It has built its political fortune on Arakan chauvinism ("Arakan" or "Rakhine" being alternative terms for the Buddhist but non-Burmese minority group on the shores of the Bay of Bengal) and its current campaign against the Rohingya may remind one of a ruthless and cynical campaign in the 1930s against a certain minority whose name begins with J by certain political party whose name began with N led by a certain guy whose name began with H in a certain European country whose name begins with G. There! Godwin's Law safely evaded.

Arakans have also had a traditionally prickly relationship with the Burma nationality that dominates the Irrawaddy basin. Arakan has a good case for calling itself the traditional Buddhist heartland of the region and is a reliable agitator for autonomy if not independence. The historical Buddha allegedly paid a miraculous visit to Arakan and personally breathed on a statue of himself cast at the order of the Arakan king, causing it to assume the Buddha's physical form. This priceless relic, the Mahamuni Buddha, was spirited away (actually sawn into pieces for convenient transport) by the Burmese to Mandalay in 1784 as war swag, where it was reassembled and resides to this day. Every morning Buddhist faithful wash the statue's face and brush its teeth. The statue has been coated to a depth of 15 cm (6 inches) by donations of gold leaf.

Although the Arakans have to make do with a replica at the original temple site of Kyauktaw and probably harbor a grudge over the removal of their statue, it has not become a flashpoint for Arakan/Burmese conflict.

Instead, the Mahamuni Buddha sparked anti-Muslim riots in 1997, in an incident that looks like regime incitement to cover up a particularly egregious incident of greed-driven Burmese junta sacrilege against the Arakanese artwork.

I will outsource this story to the lengthy Wikipedia entry on Persecution of Muslims in Burma , written by an aggrieved Burmese Muslim. Note that the ignition spark was provided by the alleged rape of a Buddhist girl by Muslims, just as the current violence in Rakhine State is traced to the alleged rape of a Buddhist girl by three men, two of whom were supposedly Rohingya :

The bronze Buddha statue in the Maha Myatmuni pagoda, originally from the Arakan, brought to Mandalay by King Bodawpaya in 1784 AD was renovated by the authorities. The Mahamyat Muni statue was broken open, leaving a gaping hole in the statue, and it was generally presumed that the regime was searching for the Padamya Myetshin, a legendary ruby that ensures victory in war to those who possess it.[37]

On 16 March 1997 beginning at about 3:30 p.m., a mob of 1,000-1,500 Buddhist monks and others shouted anti-Muslim slogans.[citation needed] They targeted the mosques first for attack, followed by Muslim shop-houses and transportation vehicles in the vicinity of mosques, damaging, destroying, looting, and trampling, burning religious books, committing acts of sacrilege. The area where the acts of damage, destruction, and looting were committed was Kaingdan, Mandalay.[38] The unrest in Mandalay began after reports of an attempted rape of a girl by Muslim men, although this was later disproved and led to speculation that the regime may have orchestrated the incident to deflect anger from the damaged statue. At least three people were killed and around 100 monks arrested.[39]

In my piece I make a reference to "Burma's Buddhist Taliban" while comparing the remarkably similar trajectory of "fundamentalist" Theravada Buddhism in South Asia and the Taliban in Central Asia as expressions of chauvinist/nationalist/cultural/religious resistance to the challenge of British imperial assimilation. As another passage from the Wikipedia entry indicates, the Taliban parallel is not just facile phrasemongering. When challenged by Taliban Islamic extremism in Afghanistan, Burmese Buddhists, at least those egged on by the government, were keen to make sure they gave as good as they got in the destruction of heathen monuments department:

2001 Anti-Muslim Riots in Taungoo In 2001,Myo Pyauk Hmar Soe Kyauk Sa Yar (or) The Fear of Losing One's Race and many other anti-Muslim pamphlets were widely distributed by monks. Many Muslims feel that this exacerbated the anti-Muslim feelings that had been provoked by the destruction in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.[40] On May 15, 2001, anti-Muslim riots broke out in Taungoo, Pegu division, resulting in the deaths of about 200 Muslims, in the destruction of 11 mosques and the setting ablaze of over 400 houses. On May 15, the first day of the anti-Muslim uprisings, about 20 Muslims who were praying in the Han Tha mosque were killed and some were beaten to death by the pro-junta forces. On May 17, Lt. General Win Myint, Secretary No.3 of the SPDC and deputy Home and Religious minister, arrived in Taungoo and curfew was imposed there until July 12, 2001.[41] Buddhist monks demanded that the ancient Hantha Mosque in Taungoo be destroyed in retaliation for the destruction in Bamiyan.[42] On May 18, however, Han Tha mosque and Taungoo Railway station mosque were razed to the ground by bulldozers owned by the SPDC junta.[43] The mosques in Taungoo remained closed as of May 2002. Muslims have been forced to worship in their homes. Local Muslim leaders complain that they are still harassed. After the violence, many local Muslims moved away from Taungoo to nearby towns and to as far away as Yangon. After two days of violence the military stepped in and the violence immediately ended.[44]

Emphasis added. To round out this post on outrages against various religious monuments, I hoped to include a picture of the Han Tha Mosque, but was unable to locate one.

A few points of interest.

First, the two colossal Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan, one 55 meters tall and the other 38 meters tall, which the Taliban obliterated at great effort and expense amid international execration, were already missing their faces in 2001. That particular act of vandalism was committed by Abdur Rahman Khan, the “Iron Amir” of Afghanistan during his campaign to subjugate the Hazara minority, whose homeland is around the town of Bamiyan, in the late 19th century. Abdur Rahman Khan’s job was to preserve Afghanistan’s role as an independent buffer state against Russia for his own benefit and for the sake of his British backers. When the Hazara rebelled, he subdued them with supreme violence to prevent Britain from perceiving a dangerous power vacuum and intervening, and used his artillery to deface the statues.

The Hazara could be termed the Rohingya of Afghanistan. They are Turkic, Persian-speaking Shi’ites whose name apparently derives from the Persian word for a force of 1,000 men, perhaps a reference to a Mongol military unit.

According to the study of the notoriously ubiquitous Central Asian "star cluster" Y chromosome identified with male line descendants of Genghis Khan, the population with the highest percentage of this gene (even higher than Mongolia and Inner Mongolia!) is the Hazara.

The Hazara are treated as outcasts and face disenfranchisement and savage repression from the Pashtun (both Abdur Rahman Khan in the 19th century and the Taliban in the 20th/21st declared jihad on the Hazara). It appears that whenever the Pashtun gain the upper hand in Bamiyan they took a knock at the Buddhist statues in order to advertise the subjugation of the Hazara, even though the Hazara are not Buddhists and the statues predate their arrival in central Afghanistan by several centuries.

There is nothing to take a knock at now. Only two hollow niches remain (though the destruction serendipitously revealed a treasure trove of Buddhist grottos hidden at the back of the statues) and UNESCO has decided it is impractical to try to rebuild the statues from the remaining rubble. Ironically, I suppose, the largest statue represented Vairocano, the Buddha of Emptiness (the other was Buddha Sakyamuni).

Second, that hotbed of Theravada Buddhist fundamentalism, Sri Lanka, made considerable efforts to save the Bamiyan statues and subsequently to buy the rubble. Sri Lanka then declared it would duplicate the destroyed statues in Sri Lanka. (Heroic efforts to preserve Buddhist relics are a hallmark of Theravada kingship and government legitimacy to this day, and Sri Lanka is no exception. Another notable example is the king of Burma's attempt to rescue Ceylon's precious Buddha’s tooth from destruction by the Portugese Inquisition in Goa in 1561.)

Eventually, a one-third replica of the larger Bamiyan statue was erected in the coastal town of Peraliya in 2006, with Japanese financial support. Instead of serving as an as a monument to Sri Lanka's Theravada Buddhist assertiveness, it became a moving commemoration of the thousands of victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami who perished in Peraliya and the vicinity.

Apparently in response to the destruction of the Bamiyan statues, China erected a 128-meter statue of Vairocana, now the largest statue in the world, in Henan Province. The “pedestal” beneath the colossus in the photograph to the left is a four-story Buddhist monastery.

In China, a replica of the smaller Bamiyan statue of Sakyamuni Buddha is being carved into a mountainside near the monumental Buddha sculpture at Leshan.

Somewhat unexpectedly, at least to the Western observer, it is possible to push the modern South Asian Buddhist's hot buttons with invocations of "jihad" and "the Muslim threat to Buddhism" and, in Burma at least, this hot button is pushed with dismaying frequency.

Unfortunately, recent events have shown that anti-Rohingya bigotry is far from a monopoly of what Westerners would term “anti-progressive and anti-democratic forces” a.k.a. the regime and its goons. It happens to be part and parcel of deeply-felt Burmese Buddhism chauvinism, chauvinism that was supercharged by the challenge of British imperialism, is now directed against the People’s Republic of China, but may be redirected at a later date against Burma’s would be benefactors/exploiters in the West.

From Asia Times

Myanmar Fixates on Rohingya Calculation

by Peter Lee

To outside observers, the carnage inflicted on the Rohingya minority - a five-month spasm of violence and de fact ethnic cleansing ostensibly stemming from the rape of a Buddhist woman by three Rohingya men - in Rakhine Province is indefensible and inexplicable.

What is even less understandable to Westerners is the virtually universal closing of ranks among local and national governments, pro and anti-government Buddhist monks, junta apologists and pro-democracy activists, President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, all uniting to deny the apparently undeniable fact that an old fashioned pogrom is taking place against Rohingya minority and other Muslims.

Friends of Myanmar are puzzled and dismayed that the progressives they have championed have joined forces with the country's most reactionary forces to deny the overwhelming evidence that Rohingya - a dark-skinned Muslim ethnic minority with cultural and linguistic ties to neighboring Bangladesh - are being driven out of their homes by a campaign of intimidation, arson, and violence in 2012 that builds upon years of marginalization and demonization.

Seventy-five thousand Rohingya IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) have been herded into camps on the outskirts of the state capital, Sittwe, and other towns.

In a sign of how bad things are, thousands of Rohingya are trying to flee to Bangladesh, even though they are not welcome there and their only possible refuge if they aren't turned back are two squalid UN-run camps surrounded by a ring of miserable unsanctioned huts.

Exasperated by Myanmar denialism, Human Rights Watch published a satellite photo showing most of the Muslim quarter of a sizable town, Kyak Pyu, burned to the ground. [1]

(As is usual in these matters, nomenclature follows political inclination. The official government identifiers are Myanmar and Rakhine State. People disinclined to legitimize the regime's terms use Burma/Arakan).

The local Rakhine government and its dominant political party, the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, or RNDP, have been at the forefront of the anti-Rohingya campaign, according to Rohingya advocate Nay San Lwin.

Writing in Turkey's Today Zaman, he asserted:

The tragic cruelty and the carnage of Rohingyas that occurred in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan (now known as Rakhine) state, is assumed to have been caused by Dr Aye Maung, member of parliament and chairman of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) because in his interview with Venus News Journal on June 14, 2012, he said, "The Rakhine state should be established in the way Israel was initially established." That's the dream of the Rakhine people. They want to drive out Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine (Arakan) state, their current leader Dr Aye Maung asserted in that interview.

In the last week of last month, a RNDP statement indicated, "Bengalis must be segregated and settled in separate, temporary places so that the Rakhines and Bengalis are not able to mix together in villages and towns in Rakhine state." "Repatriating non-citizen Bengalis to a third country in a short period of time must be discussed with the United Nations and the international community," the statement added. The RNDP also issued a statement early this year against a job announcement by CARE International in Myanmar, an NGO working in Arakan state, for using the term "Rohingya." [2]
Local Arakanese monks have been pitching in as well, according to Democratic Voice of Burma:

A group of Arakanese monks have called for Rohingya "sympathizers" to be targeted and exposed as "national traitors" while tensions again flare between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma's westernmost state.

In a document seen by DVB, the All-Arakanese Monks' Solidarity Conference have urged locals to distribute images of anyone alleged to be supporting the stateless minority group to all townships in the region, potentially opening them up to violent attacks by nationalist extremists. …
Many Arakanese monks have repeatedly called on local Buddhists to sever all relations with the Rohingya community, including trade and the provision of humanitarian aid. [3] Another ugly message was delivered courtesy of some Rakhine Buddhist university students:

Hundreds of Buddhist university students in Sittwe in Rakhine State rallied on Wednesday against Rohingya Muslims as communal tension was at a heightened pitch in western Burma, according to news service reports.

More than 800 students joined a rally to call for an end to "studying with terrorist Bengalis" and for the removal of Muslim villages on the road to the university. [4] In addition, the RNDP embarked on an active political and public relations campaign to reframe the pogrom as "sectarian clashes" in order to present its supporters - the rioters - as the injured party, especially if foreign diplomats show up to commiserate over the plight of the Rohingya.

In June, the Secretary General of the RNDP complained:

Q : We have knowledge that UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Myanmar Mr. Vijay Nambiar visited the town of Sittwe through Buthidaung and Maungdaw Townships of Rakhine state and head back straight to Yangon. However, during his trip, he did not meet the representatives of ethnic Rakhine. What's your say on this?

A: I would so much like to talk about this issue. … We feel highly upset about Mr. Nambiar's failure to meet [Rakhine ethnic representatives] despite coming to Rakhine state. That makes us wonder about the stance of UN. There was no press conference either. And that is purely a totally unpleasant situation.

Therefore it makes us wonder the true motives of Mr. Nambia, is he being bias against those of ethnic Rakhine? So, by looking at this event, it's obvious that there are people who are pulling the strings from behind; otherwise, there is no reason for such a high ranking diplomat like him to dare not to call for a press conference. For an organization like UN, which is the de-facto representative of world's democratic societies, such a big failure is a heinous diplomatic mistake. [5] When the Organization for Islamic Cooperation proposed setting up a humanitarian liaison office in the state capital of Sittwe, local "offended Buddhist" women marched through the streets of the state capital, wearing mass produced T-shirts and brandishing mass-produced banners. [6]

That's bad enough. But there was more. The national government of Thein Sein endorsed the position of the Rakhine State government and declared that the best deal for the Rohingya would be to herd them into UN camps for their own safety and then deport them to whatever third country would take them.

At the national level, the anti-Rohingya wave was not limited to the callous, knuckle-dragging authoritarians associated with the Myanmar military junta (now the pro-Western reformist regime in Nyapyidaw).

Buddhist monks and democracy activists piled on, excoriating the international community for daring to care about the Rohingya.

The leadership of the 8888 student democracy movement, while vigorously and commendably deploring the violence against the Rohingya, adamantly declared its disdain for the persecuted group:

Rohingya is not one of the ethnic groups of Myanmar at all. We see that the riot happening currently in Buthedaung and Maungdaw of Arakan State is because of the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh called "Rohingya" and mischievous provocation of some international communities. Therefore, such interfering efforts by some powerful nations on this issue (Rohingya issue), without fully understanding the ethnic groups and other situations of Burma, will be viewed as offending the sovereignty of our nation. Genetically, culturally and linguistically Rohingya is not absolutely related to any ethnicity in Myanmar … Taking advantage of our kindness and deference, if the powerful countries forced us to take responsibility for this issue, we will never accept it. Concerning with the sovereignty, if we are forced to yield by any country, we, the army and democratic force will deal the issue together as a national issue. [7] From the Western liberal perspective, the worst was the studied disdain of Aung San Suu Kyi- whose official title in the Western press appears to be "democracy icon and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi- for the plight of the Rohingya.

When pressed on the issue at Harvard University, she went Ice Queen, according to Global Post:
The forum at Harvard's Kennedy School Thursday evening was little shy of a lovefest …Until someone mentioned the "R" word.

Thanking Suu Kyi for "being our inspiration," a student from Thailand said: "You have been quite reluctant to speak up against the human-rights violations in Rakhine State against the Rohingya … Can you explain why you have been so reluctant?"

The mood in the room suddenly shifted. Suu Kyi's tone and expression changed. With an edge in her voice, she answered: "You must not forget that there have been human-rights violations on both sides of the communal divide. It's not a matter of condemning one community or the other. I condemn all human rights violations." [8]

Read the full post at China Matters.