In a recent article, seasoned veteran of the Zionist Left Uri Avnery claimed that the influx of Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel, living in self-imposed ghettos, is what pushed the country to the right politically. Lia Tarachansky counters that the Russian-speaking community never ‘mingled’ with other Israelis because it was never invited to do so, and that Avnery is ignoring the many contributions the immigrants made to the country.
By Lia Tarachansky
I was born in Kiev into a shifting, uncertain reality. While I was only learning to read, my parents split, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor blew up and the Soviet Union collapsed. I was too young to understand what was happening when we evacuated the city and prepared for what would turn into years of economic devastation.
One night my mother woke my sister and I and told us to pack only what we absolutely couldn’t live without because we were moving to Israel. She told us Tel Aviv was lined with promenades where banana-eating monkeys sit in palm trees and that there we will no longer be “The Jews” because in Israel, everyone is Jewish.
In typical Soviet paranoia we weren’t allowed to tell anyone we were leaving. When we finally made it to the Romanian border after days on the train, we were stripped of our citizenship and promised we will never set foot again in the land where my parents and grandparents were born. My mother didn’t care. To this day she remains a dedicated Zionist even after learning that monkeys don’t sit in palm trees, that not only Jews live in Israel, and that indeed we are not all free.
I went from being the only Jew in my Soviet kindergarten to being the only Russian in my Israeli elementary school. My mother went from being a computer engineer to changing diapers in a retirement home. In the Soviet Union we were hated because of our “piatii punkt” or “fifth clause” after the first and last name, date and place of birth; our nationality clause would read “Jew” on our identity documents. This is why the cynicism that dominates our community in Israel is so strong. We went from the façade of “equality for all comrades” to the façade of “equality for all Jews.”
Months later the rest of the Soviet immigration came, changing the demography of Israel just as it was coming out of the First Intifada. Once again, we were in the middle of uncertainty, discovering the Palestinians through the stories of our Israeli colleagues, bus drivers, and school teachers.
In his latest column, entitled “The Russians Came”, former Israeli Knesset member, renowned activist, and globally syndicated writer Uri Avnery wrote about our immigration. Despite often disagreeing with him, I read his columns regularly because he writes about interesting historical anecdotes picked up from being involved in the Israeli Left for 65 years. My criticism is the same as Tikva Honig-Parnass’s – that while he calls himself “post-Zionist,” Avnery represents the Israeli Left, which for the most part refuses to reject Jewish supremacy, Israeli colonialism, and draws the red line only at 1967, ignoring the entire ethnocratic ideology on which Israel was built in 1948. I’ve kept my criticisms to myself because Left sectarian politics and identity issues don’t interest me, but then I read Avnery’s latest column and my jaw dropped.
He complains that unlike previous waves of Jewish immigration to Israel, the Soviet immigrants “have not mingled at all.” That we remain “a separate community, living in a self-made ghetto.”
I don’t need to tell this publication’s readers that Israel is not kind to “the Other.” Like all our non-Ashkenazi predecessors, the Soviet immigrants couldn’t find professional work, faced discrimination on the street and were constantly harassed for not speaking the language well enough. We were stereotyped into gangsters, fascists, prostitutes, and street-cleaning PhDs. We were pressured to leave our culture and language behind to fit into the dominant “Israeliness” as many in my generation chose to do.
There was nothing self-made about our isolation. Most of the Russian-speaking community hasn’t mingled with other Israelis because it was never invited to do so. It was dumped with no government programs and no investment, to fend for itself in what in 1991 was a struggling economy emerging out of conflict. Even during the so-called “Israeli Summer” in 2011, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets, the handful of us who came out to demonstrate week after week were received with either tokenism or suspicion.
Avnery complains that we “continue to speak Russian,” and read our own Russian newspapers, “all of them rabidly nationalist and racist,” which is why, he claims, we all vote for Israel Beiteinu. Watching Channel 9, the Russian-language Israeli TV station, I agree that it is indeed abhorrent, but it is so because it emerged from a state with no history of independent media into a state with a complacent, nationalistic, and war-mongering media.
What enraged me was not only that Avnery doesn’t talk about the contribution the Soviet immigration made to the boom in the high-tech industry on which Israel now depends, about how we revolutionized theater and cinema, or how we, like my family, were encouraged to move to the settlements in the West Bank while the ink on the Oslo agreements hadn’t even dried.
What enraged me was his accusation that it was the Soviet immigration which turned Israel to the right. He comes to this insane conclusion that “the Arabs and many of the Ashkenazim [Western European Jews] belong to the peace camp, all the others are solidly right-wing.”
We had come out of Soviet anti-Semitism into a country in conflict, where we were told that the violence we were seeing was driven by rabid Jew-hatred. It is no wonder that we transferred much of our fear and distrust of Soviet anti-Semitism to the Palestinians. Now, more than 20 years later, Israelis are witnessing the result.
We didn’t make Israel a colonial state. Like every wave of immigration before us, we did our best to fit into it. Avnery portrays the Ashkenazim as the peace-seekers, but it was the European colonial mentality that started and perpetuates this mess. Some settlers are violent but what they are doing in the West Bank doesn’t come close to what Avnery and the Ashkenazim did to the Palestinians in 1948 when more than 500 villages were demolished and two-thirds of the population was kicked out.
Overbearing dominant nationalism creates overbearing nationalistic citizens. I will therefore conclude with Tikva Honig-Parnass’ words. She, like Avnery, fought in the 1948 war and took part in the mass dispossession of the Palestinians. “There was never an actual schism between Left and Right about the central premises of Zionism. The only difference… was in the sequence of the stages that the project of an exclusivist Jewish state in the entire area of historical Palestine had to take in order to achieve its aims.”
Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Canadian filmmaker and journalist. Her work has appeared on The Real News Network, Al Jazeera, USA Today, and The Huffington Post. Tarachansky’s upcoming documentary, Seven Deadly Myths, profiles Israeli denial of the events of 1948 and the roots of the modern conflict. The trailer and details on how to support it are available online at www.sevendeadlymyths.com.
2:53PM EST November 21. 2012 - When the Israeli Defense Forces first announced it had killed top Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari last week, Twitter was its medium of choice.
Using the Twitter handle @IDFspokesperson, the IDF communications tweeted a photo of Jabari with the word "Eliminated" stamped across his face, along with a list of his alleged offenses. The IDF also uploaded a video of the attack that killed him to YouTube.
In response, Hamas' military wing — Twitter handle @AlqassamBrigade — tweeted: "Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)."
As the conflict in Gaza intensifies and claims more lives, a new front has opened up: Both sides are now battling it out in social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook in an intense public relations offensive.
In addition to Facebook and Twitter accounts, the IDF is also on Tumblr and Pinterest, posting photos of the military operation and of day-to-day army life. The Israeli military also is streaming images from drone cameras to Twitter posts.
In return, Hamas has been offering frequent updates on its mortar and rocket attacks on Israeli targets, apparently including military bases. Grass-roots activists are using social media to keep Palestinians up to date, said Maath Musleh, lecturer in media and human rights at AlQuds-Bard College in Jerusalem.
"The Israeli army cannot manipulate information and the imparting of information as easily as they used to," he said. "In terms of getting information out, the Palestinian network, especially on Twitter, is doing a great job. We are covering the events through people on the ground and trusted media sources."
The Israeli strategy marks a departure from previous conflicts with Palestinian territories and is in large part down to negative response to how they have handled the media in the past, experts say.
In 2008-09's Operation Cast Lead, the IDF banned journalists from entering Gaza. Rather, the IDF set up a YouTube channel inform reporters, a move that dissatisfied many journalists who wanted to see the action for themselves and gave rise to criticism that the IDF was interfering with news coverage.
More complaints came from the news media in 2010 when Israeli commandos boarded a ship from Turkey to prevent it from running a sea blockage of Gaza. Nine people were killed, and survivors on board told journalists the victims were peaceful activists who were killed by the Israelis.
The IDF denied the accusation, but it took hours before it released video of the event that showed the commandos were attacked as they boarded the ship. In the hours it took the IDF to release the video, speculation led to widely varying reports both on the sequence of events and number of casualties.
"Since then, the IDF has invested heavily in its social media operation," said Rebecca Stein, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University who has studied the IDF's use of social media.
"It has realized it has to talk in the vernacular of social media – its output is more polished," she says.
Philip Howard, a fellow at Princeton University who specializes in social media and political Islam, said it is likely it is likely that Israel's tweets before the initial airstrikes were first time an army has provided advance warning of an attack using social media.
"There are examples of military officers blogging or posting things that enemy governments dislike," he said. "But this was no slip-up; there was a deliberate strategy to 'get ahead' of social media by tweeting in advance."
He said media positioning plays almost as important a role in modern conflicts as positioning the troops.
"The IDF's communications people probably thought they could get some strategic advantage by being the first to tweet about activities," he said.
"The pictures and stories coming out of Gaza over social media will probably have a more global impact because they may be seen to be the victims. So the IDF probably thought they could dominate the international news story, set the tone and frame events by tweeting first."
This time around, journalists are allowed to enter Gaza. A 24-hour government press office has been set up to issue press cards to reporters. The Israeli government has streamlined its information gathering from the battlefield to regular news conferences. Media tours have been organized by the Government Press Office to the locations of rocket attacks from Gaza.
The operation's coverage inside Israel differs greatly from its coverage abroad. Even the operation's name, "Pillar of Cloud" in Hebrew, was translated by the Israeli army as "Pillar of Defense" for the English-language media. "Pillar of Cloud" is a biblical reference to God taking the form of a cloud to protect the Israelites against the Egyptians.
Despite the apparent smoothness of the Israeli media operation, it is a strategy that could backfire. On Monday, the hackers group Anonymous said it hacked into 87 Israeli websites in response to threats by the government to cut Gaza's telecommunications links.
"We are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch," the group said in a post on its website.
The group threatened the Israeli government with the "full and unbridled wrath of Anonymous" if it shuts down Internet access in Gaza.
Tuesday, 8 March, 2011 10:33
On 28 January 2011, the David and Ahikam Tours Company (link to Hebrew website) took a group of Jewish-Israeli hikers over the lands of the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar in the Hebron governorate. Youths from the village saw the group and threw stones. The hikers shot back, using live ammunition, wounding 23-year-old Bila Mohammad Abed Al-Qador and killing 17-year-old Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl.
It never occurred to the Israeli media to ask why the youths had thrown stones. Here are some thoughts. It could have been that they mistook the group for settler scouts looking for a place to start a new outpost. Maybe they were frustrated at the military raids in their village two days before. Maybe they were angry that settlers had killed19-year-old Oday Maher Hamza Qadous near Nablus the day before. Or maybe they understood the group to be exactly what it was and wanted them off Palestinian land. In all likelihood they threw stones because throwing stones at any facet of the occupation is a boy’s rite of passage in the occupied territories. The Israeli press didn’t attempt to find out and only reported the hikers’ experience, in heroic and terrifying language:
“[Shimi] Prazot, 32, added, “our group included 12-year-olds, women over the age of 60, and no one had planned for a situation like that. We didn’t even know where to run to … I asked anyone in our group who had a weapon to cover the seniors’ and children’s escape. I cocked my personal weapon and hid behind a boulder”.
I wonder why no one in the group predicted such a possibility considering that the tour took place on occupied land in the heart of the West Bank. I also wonder how the media would have portrayed a group of Palestinian hikers touring the hills of Haifa being attacked by Israeli teenagers throwing stones.
The next day Israeli forces opened fireon Ikhlayl’s funeral, wounding 40.
Apart from Jerusalem, Hebron is the only Palestinian city in the West Bank inside which settlers have set up outposts. Shortly after the occupation began, religious Israelis went ‘on tour’ there. They never left. Their presence meant the displacement over time of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents from the Old City and decades of violent conflict, escalating in a 1994 massacre where settler Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinians were in the Ibrahimi mosque; a further 125 were wounded. Known to the Palestinians as the Sanctuary of Abraham (or the Ibrahimi Mosque, al-Haram al-Ibrahimi) and to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs (or Me’arat ha-Machpela), it is holy to both faiths as the place where Abraham is believed to be buried.
Ha’aretz columnist, Gideon Levy, writes about the Minister’s programme and the effect it will have on school children, saying, “They will return from Hebron excited at having touched the ancient stones and even more blinded from not having touched the people who lived alongside those stones. They will see nothing and learn nothing.” If the Minister insists on taking the school children to Hebron, says Levy, he should show them a full picture, of “the Jewish tradition and the Jewish injustice.”
Years after moving out of the settlements where I grew up, I took such a trip. It was organized by Breaking the Silence,an Israeli organization of veterans who had served in the occupation army, and now work with Palestinians to expose Israelis and internationals to a different view of Hebron. Had the students taken such a tour, they would have seen a ceiling of wire mesh above the streets of the Old City to stop the Israeli settlers who live above the marketplace throwing garbage and bricks on the Palestinians below. (Now they dump sewage and water.) The schoolchildren would also have seen the occupation at work with its administrative classifications, its checkpoints, soldiers, permits, walls and army jeeps. Of course it’s only a matter of time before they participate in it themselves when they reach conscription age.
David and Ahikam Tours are more forthright. Unlike the Minister, they don’t speak in code. For years they have organized Israeli nature and historic hiking tours throughout the occupied West Bank under the motto, “Where the Jewish traveler passes, the Jewish border shall pass”. And it is thanks to the tireless work of settlers that today’s schoolchildren can walk around their autonomous Jewish enclaves inside Hebron, carved out by displacing the former Palestinian residents.
That, in essence, is why Minister Sa’ar can talk about taking schoolchildren to Hebron, and not, say, to Nablus, which is equally significant from a historic point of view.
In their publicity, the organizers ask anyone traveling to the assembly points (at various settlements) to notify them if they have extra spaces for fellow hikers, to pack water and snacks, and to let them know if they intend to bring guns. Right now the tour company is advertising a hike through the hills where I grew up, near the settlement of Ariel (built on the lands of the Palestinian villages of Yasouf, Iskaka, Marda, Hares and Kifl Hares and the town of Salfit). At the bottom of the page the organizers kindly notify travelers that they “take no responsibility for their safety and security.” Like me growing up and the schoolchildren in Minister Sa’ar’s plan, the hikers will be shown a selective picture, far removed from the wall and the checkpoints. And they will believe, as I did, that they are on the frontlines of a fight to restore some glorious and distant ancient time.
The tour company itself is named after two soldiers who were killed while hiking through the occupied West Bank. “Ahikam and David followed the words of the scriptures,” say the organizers, “to ensure that each place where our foot shall pass will be our inheritance. They went to feel the spirit of the zealots and warriors of Bar Kokhba…where they fell as zealous warriors for the name of God and the name of the land of Israel which they loved so.”
This passage communicates the ideology behind these tours. It builds on the Zionist selectivity we were taught in our schools, claiming a Jewish right over the land and erasing that of the Palestinians who have lived there for centuries. It prepares us for army service and it underlines the legal designation of Palestinians as ‘foreigners’ making them outsiders, as the Romans once were. Referencing Bar Kokhba demonstrates that the organizers see themselves as revolutionaries, fighting as he did, in 132 AD, against the Roman emperor Hadrian in the Third Jewish Revolt.
The comparison is really quite ironic because Hadrian, in his frustration at the renewed Jewish rebellion against foreign rule, prevented Jews from traveling to Jerusalem, burned their religious texts on Temple Mount, and attempted to erase their memory and titles from maps. We may no longer be living in Roman times, but the colonial spirit has not been lost.
When four of the participants in the tour of Beit Ummar were arrested as part of an investigation into the death of Ikhlayl, protesters assembled outside the Jerusalem Magistrates Court holding signs that read “It’s our right to tour Eretz Israel”, “To the arrested – thanks to you we are alive today - the hikers”, and most ironically, “Where is the right to self-defense?”
Perhaps it is precisely because the balance of power here is so lopsided that this logic doesn’t even seem strange; that going into a militarily occupied area (recognized even by Israel as under Palestinian rule) and packing sandwiches with M16 rifles still makes teenagers with stones the aggressors. When Minister Sa’ar’s program begins and schoolchildren start traveling to occupied Hebron in armored cars surrounded by dozens if not hundreds of soldiers and police officers, the military show of force will also be justified as self-defense. And if any clashes do occur, the dehumanization of the Palestinians Gideon Levy refers to as at the heart of the occupation, will only strengthen the nationalistic narrative that brought these children there in the first place.
Lia Tarachansky (email@example.com) is an Israeli-Canadian journalist and the director of the upcoming documentary, Seven Deadly Myths. Most recently she worked as a Middle East correspondent with The Real News Network. Her writings and videos are available at www.liatarachansky.com
As said earlier, it is customary at this point of the proceedings to sound remorseful, and I would indeed like to voice my regrets regarding one particular aspect of that day's events: if there is remorse in my heart, it is that, just as I argued during the trial, I did not play a prominent role in the protest that day, and thus did not fulfill my duty to do everything within my power to change the unbearable situation of Gaza's inhabitants, and bring to an end Israel's control over the Palestinians.
His Honor has stated during the court case, and will most likely state again in the future, that a trial is not a matter of politics, but of law. To this I reply that there is hardly anything to this trial except political disagreement. This Court may have impeded the mounting of an appropriate defense when it refused to hear arguments regarding political selectiveness in the Police's conduct, but even from the testimonies which were admitted, it became clear such a selectiveness exists.
The subject of my alleged offense, as well as the motivation behind it were political. This is something that cannot be sidestepped. The State of Israel maintains an illegitimate, inhuman and illegal siege on the Gaza Strip, which still is occupied territory according to international law. This siege, carried out in my name and in yours as well, sir, in fact in all of our names, is a cruel collective punishment inflicted on ordinary citizens, residents of the Gaza strip, subjects-without-rights under Israeli occupation.
In the face of this reality, and as a stance against it, we chose on January 31st, 2008, to exercise the freedom of speech afforded to Jewish citizens of Israel. However, it appears that here in our one-of-many-faux-democracies in the Middle East, even this freedom is no longer freely granted, even to society's privileged sons.
I am not surprised by the Court's decision to convict me despite having no doubt in my mind that our actions on that day correspond to the most basic, elementary definitions of a person's right to protest.
Indeed, as the Prosecution pointed out, a suspended prison sentence hung over my head at the time of the bicycle protest, having been convicted before under an identical article of law. And, although I still maintain I did not commit any offense whatsoever, I was aware of the possibility that under Israeli justice, my suspended sentence would be imposed.
I must add that, if His Honor decides to go ahead and impose my suspended prison sentence, I will go to prison wholeheartedly and with my head held high. It will be the justice system itself, I believe, that ought to lower its eyes in the face of the suffering inflicted on Gaza's inhabitants, just like it lowers its eyes and averts its vision each and every day when faced with the realities of the occupation.
Friday, 29 October 2010 08:04
The bill Mr. Rotem defended allows communities of more than 500 residents to establish committees that can bar "anyone who does not suit the residents' cultural and social perspectives, or who does not have sufficient funds to build a home." Arab Members of Knesset alleged its main purpose is to weed out Israeli-Palestinians. A year ago MK Rotem defended his bill and position, saying, "When I want to establish a Jewish town, I am not ashamed of it."
The bill comes after the Supreme Court ruled such committees were illegal. The simplest solution - bypass the Supreme Court. One of MK Rotem's other legal fights is for a controversial bill that will establish a separate court that will deal with constitutional issues (though Israel doesn't have a constitution) and will forbid any court, including the Supreme Court, from ruling on them.
So where's the uproar? Perhaps a better question is why be surprised? Laws like these only further cement the already long history of segregation in Israel. By already existing laws non-Jews in Israel canï¿½t own property in 93% of the land, and in hundreds of rural communities entrance committees already bar property sales to non-Jews. More importantly, way back in 1958 the Basic Law dealing with the Knesset banned any candidate from running for the Israeli parliament if they do not recognize the ï¿½State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.ï¿½ As in, not a state of all its peoples.
But the lack of surprise in the Israeli society has probably more to do with the fact that in 2009 it had the quietest year of at least a decade. No resistance? So why care? I'll leave the speculations on the origins of the Israeli political coma to Gideon Levy. Whatever the reason, when Yisrael Beitenu makes the headlines you canï¿½t hear a peep on the Israeli street. I guess that's because the party of the bar-bouncer-turned-foreign-
Its MK, David Rotem, who appreciates the usefulness of a Saturday Arab, conveniently trained in refrigerator mechanics, was also one of the many MKs behind the push for the infamous Loyalty Oath. According to what passed last week by 20 of the government's 28 ministers, any person who's not Jewish will have to swear allegiance to "the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," if he or she wishes to become a citizen.
The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that a Netanyahu confidante explained the bill by saying, "What we demand of the Palestinians, we must demand of our own citizens too." But this begs the question of who are these people who will be forced to swear allegiance to a state of one ethnicity yet claiming to be democratic for all? According to Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, the answer is - Palestinians from the territories (or Arab people from other states) who wish to marry Israelis.
So what Netanyahu's confidante should have said is "what we demand of the Palestinians in the territories we shall demand of Palestinians in Israel." And when this bill passes the Knesset assembly in the coming months it will most certainly be held as precedent in Israel's (backup-negotiations-stopper) demand that various Palestinian leaders recognize it as a Jewish state. For the record, the PLO already recognized Israel but refuses to recognize it a state of the Jewish people. Again, at least a fifth of Israel is Palestinian, i.e. not Jewish.
But MK Rotem, who by the way resides in the settlement colony of Efrat (near Betlehem), didn't stop there. Among the many legal amendments proposed by him is one that will have every Israeli citizen swear this oath. Israel is at least one-fifth non-Jewish.
Another infamous Yisrael Beiteinu proposal includes the criminalization of Nakba (1948) commemorations. But it's too easy to blame the visible villains. To be fair, Yisrael Beiteinu (literally "Israel is our home") is not exactly unique in this effort. Other parties are latching on to its political vigor with their own proposals. Even the Kadima party whose leader Tzipi Livni is the so-called Opposition Leader has signed on. Livni, who until recent weeks decided to keep a low profile, is now suddenly resurfacing as the vocal critic of all things Netanyahu. But where was Livni during the absent political fight that would have led to the settlement construction "freeze" being extended?
Her party's members signed on to a number of what the Association for Civil Rights in Israel calls "anti-democratic Knesset bills". Kadima ministers supported the anti-boycott law that imposes severe fines on anyone who supports or assists those who support the global boycott movement of Israeli products.
A Kadima MK, Gideon Ezra also put forward a bill that would ban (the Palestinian) residents of East Jerusalem from serving as tour guides in the city. "The bill proposes that a guide leading a group of over 11 people, or traveling in more than one vehicle, must be a citizen of Israel," however when Israel annexed the enormous area running from southern Ramallah to northern Bethlehem calling it East Jerusalem, it did not give those (Palestinians) living there citizenships. It gave them permanent residency cards and is now slowly revoking many.
The bill says these residents ought to be banned from providing tours to the area, which is home to the majority of the cement-portion of Israel's segregation wall and where Palestinians lived for centuries, because "they often present anti-Israeli positions to groups of tourists that they guide." I wonder why the law doesnï¿½t care about these ï¿½anti-Israeliï¿½ positions being presented to 10 tourists or less.
Needless to say the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Labor party are behind each of the repressive laws before Knesset as well, but their support is politically negligent because though Labor was once Israel's long-ruling party, it is nothing but a shadow of its decomposing corpse today. As for Likud, one only had to see Lieberman challenge Netanyahu at the UN last month to see how careful its MKs are from even siding with their own leader.
The reason Yisrael Beiteinu gets away with this kind of damage is because it couples it with efforts to separate religion and state, something Israelï¿½s secular majority is quite fond of. Once again MK Rotem swings into action by threatening to propose a law that will disband the Chief Rabinnate Council.
It is this face of the party that got it elected in the first place, and it is this face that masks the dangerous one underneath that revolutionizes our legislation. Sadly, it is now necessary to assume that it is also this face that will serve it as the central opposition force to Likud and Netanyahu in the coming elections. Dare I say it, all hail Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman!
But the fallout of all this fervor is catastrophic to our already fragile society. Not the least of these is the proposed new anti-terror law. The proposal will further loosen the definitions of what is an "act of terror", what is a "terror organization" and who is a "member of a terror organization" and institutionalize some of the draconian measures Israel currently practices under emergency regulations.
As former MK and long-time peace activist Uri Avnery put it: "Yitzhak Herzog, the Minister of Welfare in the Netanyahu government, a member of the Labor party, the grandson of a Chief Rabbi and the son of a President, said a few days ago that ï¿½fascism is touching the margins of our societyï¿½. He was wrong: fascism is not only touching the margins, it is touching the government in which he is serving, and the Knesset, of which he is a member."
Such conclusions are now common in Israel. When over the summer Liebermanï¿½s party passed a law through the ministerial committee that cut off government funding to any group engaged in ï¿½disloyalï¿½ activities (including most human rights groups), MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) preempted this trend and called it out. "This is a law to establish a 'thought police.' It's an Orwellian Big Brother law."
Lia Tarachansky is the Middle East correspondent for The Real News Network (TRNN). She's been based with TRNN in Toronto, Washington D.C., and Israel/Palestine. Lia works on two series, Israel & International Law and Who benefits from the Israeli occupation? She is currently filming her first documentary, Seven Deadly Myths (www.sevendeadlymyths.net)Read Original
Published at Mondoweiss, March 3rd, 2010.
Iï¿½m too distracted to fall asleep. Everyone is quietly snoring. The sun rises ever so slowly and the wings of the plane rudely cut through the calmness of the clouds. Itï¿½s hard to believe that the intensity of the sun repeats itself with this beauty every day. That itï¿½s not for this special day that led me to be on this flight, on my way to Barcelona. I guess my mind makes it negligible just to maintain every-day continuity. Canï¿½t comprehend all of chaos theory at once.
So how did I get on this flight? Around 9 p.m. last night I found out that The Real News got an in-kind donation to send me to Barcelona to cover the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. By midnight I was packed up and by 2 am I was at the airport. Someone thought this tribunal was so important and had the kind of faith in my reporting that frankly makes me terrified.
Last month I took international friends to the airport. When internationals fly alone out of Israel, they get a ï¿½6ï¿½ or a ï¿½5ï¿½. This number is a sticker you get on your passport and bags that helps the Israeli airport security evaluate your level of Zionism. ï¿½1ï¿½ is awesome, ï¿½6ï¿½ is youï¿½re fucked. 1 is reserved for white Jewish Israelis, 2 is for white Jewish non-Israelis and friendly internationals, 3 is a suspicious Israeli or international, 4 is sometimes given to non-white Israelis, 5 is for Arab Israelis or questionable internationals, and 6 is for Palestinians, Muslims, and hostile internationals. Hostile is defined as not Zionist or suspected of questioning Zionism. Anything above a 3 means interrogation. Of course these are my definitions based on the people Iï¿½ve talked to whoï¿½ve gotten one of the six. I donï¿½t know what the official language they use says.
In most airports they ask you the benign questions of ï¿½did you pack your own bag?ï¿½ In Israel they try to find out how Zionist you are. If youï¿½re an international whoï¿½s been here youï¿½ve experienced the invasive questions about your love of Israel so you know itï¿½s always better to bring along an Israeli for protection. My presence with them meant I answered all the questions for them and the fact that I grew up in a settlement landed them a 2- the best grade they could get as non citizens. We rehearsed for hours.
So I enter the line confident and on cloud number nine from excitement. After all, Iï¿½m going to Barcelona! To cover the Russell Tribunal! My Israeli-Palestinian roommate tells me heï¿½ll wait while I answer the security ladyï¿½s questions. She sees I speak Hebrew, she asks if I packed my own bags and she gives me a ï¿½1ï¿½ as expected. Iï¿½m white and Iï¿½m an Israeli, therefore Iï¿½m probably a Zionist. High from excitement and privilege I ask if my friend can come with me to the check-in. She says of course and asks for his ID. Her face changes.
Where it says the Jewish birthdate the line in his ID is blank. i.e. not Jewish. I.e. Palestinian.
- you know this man?
- he is my roommate
- Jaffa (a mixed Israeli-Palestinian city)
- wait here.
She looks at his last name. Itï¿½s Christian, i.e. Arab. She disappears with our passports. The roommate looks at me and we both know whatï¿½s going to happen. When she comes back her smile is gone. She tears the ï¿½1ï¿½ off my bags and angrily puts on a ï¿½3ï¿½ as though to say ï¿½you didnï¿½t tell me you have an Arab friend!ï¿½ Her face says ï¿½donï¿½t you see youï¿½re fucking it all up for us?!ï¿½
She sends me to the ï¿½otherï¿½ line where people get their bags carefully checked. All the black people are in this line, all the Arab-looking people and the non-Zionist internationals. At least theyï¿½re not pretending their racial profiling is random. As I wait in line the security manager looks me up and down. He looks confused. Everyone else is a person of colour. So he approaches me.
- Where did you come from?
- Excuse me?
- To the airport, where did you come from? Where do you live?
- Tel Aviv - Jaffa
- And where did you grow up? When did you come to Israel?
- I grew up in Ariel [a West Bank settlement], I came to Israel in 90/91
- OH! You are from Ariel!
He looks at the ï¿½3ï¿½ sticker on my bag and shrugs. He motions the security lady and whispers something in her ear. The roommate ï¿½ who was told heï¿½s not allowed to come in after he was discovered as an Arabï¿½ looks on from a distance.
- So you speak Hebrew? the bag lady asks as she symbolically opens my bag and closes it with disinterest. The Nigerian lady beside me is having her bag checked with special sticks. Every item is laid out and questioned by three security ï¿½expertsï¿½.
- I have family in Ariel, the bag-checking lady tells me with a smile as she motions me to the next line.
- You see what it means to have an Arab friend?
My roommate says and apologizes for the interrogation thatï¿½ll probably follow. I yell at him to never apologize for that again. This week is Israeli Apartheid Week. 40 Cities this year. The only analytical article in Haï¿½aretz was about a South African (white) anti-Apartheid activist who argued Israelï¿½s bad but not apartheid-bad. For some reason all the white South African activists say itï¿½s not so bad. All the black ones say its worse than they had ever imagined.
Update. Tarachansky responds to Avi, commenting:
Thanks so much for bringing this up. Although my roommate wasnï¿½t traveling with me this time, and therefore wasnï¿½t checked, he has a long history of being harassed and labelled all kinds of numbers at the Ben Gurion Airport.
Salinger gave me the confidence and guidance to start writing when I was 13. My first encounters with Salinger were in Russian because I read him in translation, but the English original is so much better. I can safely say Franny and Zoey changed my life. Down at the Dinghy and Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes [from 9 Stories] will stay with me forever. At first I was a bit offended by how harsh Weiss was with him. But then I realize it was because I, like him, refuse to separate from a sort-of childishness. Being here and in this job reinforce the worldï¿½s pressure that perhaps itï¿½s about time that I do. But how do you know youï¿½ve grow up?
My step father, who has become a sort of wisdom guide in my life, always regarded my political involvement as my latching-onto childishness. I think he always thought one day Iï¿½ll grow up finally and realize thereï¿½s nothing I can do to change the world and will start living more for myself, appreciating art and raising a family. This, I think, is the only point on which we disagree, but then again he survived the Holocaust, the St. Petersburg siege, and Stalin, so what the fuck do I know. I think he came to that conclusion because of what happened to Akhmatova and because Brodsky was exiled.
Anyways, he always had the analysis that Salinger withdrew because like the painters Serov or Manet he put everything into his art. All that had to be in there, not more and not less, and then he turned the canvas over to the reader, so there was no point sticking around. I guess we donï¿½t know enough of the details of his life, but Iï¿½ve always shied away from the details of the lives of my favourite artists. Maybe I was/am afraid of what I would find.
I hope Salinger did end up writing more books when he was in seclusion, I hope someone will publish them.
Israel at 61
Our national denial of the events of 1948, of the dispossession of at least 418 Palestinian villages, is at the root of our so-called conflict. Many historians have uncovered what has actually happened, though the Israeli state and its educational system refuse to change the denial narrative.
Until it is recognized, no peace talks can take place in good faith. Maram Massarweh, a Palestinian descendent of survivors of the 1948 expulsion from al-Haram (Sidna Ali) illuminates this in a testimony to Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to the commemoration of the uncovered events of that year.
â€œThis denial has been the method chosen by Jewish society to cope with the story of the Nakba in general.â€ She then poses two questions we have been running away from for more than six decades. â€œIs Israeli-Jewish society so immersed in its own pain that it is emotionally unavailable to deal with or acknowledge the suffering of others? Is there a competition here on degrees of pain, as if pain is a monopoly, or has the right to be a victim been appropriated?â€ I hope not.
Al-Nakba, I think, is not the right term. At least not for the Israelis. I agree with historian Ilan Pappe, who in a 2006 article wrote, â€œThe term Nakba does not directly imply any reference to who is behind the catastrophe -- anything can cause the destruction of Palestine, even the Palestinians themselves. Not so when the term ethnic cleansing is used. It implies an accusation and reference to the culprits of/for the events that took place not only in the past but happen also in the present.â€
On November 4, 1995, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right wing Jewish Israeli for â€œcompromisingâ€ with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat over the Oslo Accords.
While their historic handshake may have won them the Nobel Peace Prize, illegal Jewish settlements continued to expand in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rabin has thus become remembered as Israelâ€™s most â€œdovishâ€ leader, but in early July 1948, he gave Moshe Dayan the order to expel the Palestinians of al-Lydd and the surrounding Ramla region.
Today, al-Lydd doesnâ€™t exist. Its symbols and names have been erased and replaced. It is renamed Lod and is a Jewish-majority town with a large Arab minority of 1948 refugees, most from neighbouring areas.
In school, we were taught that in April 1948, surrounding Arab nations went on the offensive against the Jews and that we miraculously withstood their wrath in an attempt to â€œdrive us into the sea,â€ thus creating the State of Israel.
In The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe draws a different picture. Writing on the Arab League Army, he notes that, â€œIn general, the [ALA] adopted a defensive policy and focused on organizing the people's fortification lines in cooperation with the national committees.â€
Another Israeli claim is that the infant country was faced with massive militaries, but Pappe illustrates that by the end of May, 1948 (only nine days after Israel declared itself independent) this wasnâ€™t the case. Thanks to arms deals with the USSR and the Eastern Bloc, he reports Israel â€œpossessed artillery unmatched not only by the Arab troops inside Palestine, but by all the Arab Armies put together.â€
Instead, Pappe goes on to illustrate how David Ben Gurion, the leader of the pre-state Jewish Agency, and Israelâ€™s first Prime Minister developed a plan by which the Jewish militant forces, Haganah, Irgun, and Palmach, would ethnically cleanse the areas the Agency coveted for a Jewish State by force. They were nearly entirely successful.
Al-Lydd wasnâ€™t a tough fight for the Israeli forces. Roughly 5000 faced-off with a resistance of 1500 local men who surrendered after a few short hours.
Al-Lydd was the sight of one of the first Israeli air bombardment. It was also the site of the biggest massacre of the war. The Israeli troops left behind them a depopulated town, and 426 dead men, women and children. One hundred and seventy-six were machine gunned in a mosque for attempting to resist the expulsion.
Another Israeli historian, Benny Morris, argues this expulsion was strategically calculated to secure to route from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Today, driving along this route, one can still see rusting tanks on the countryside.
Turning the truth upside down â€œis typical for a young nation, and it's part of nation-building, that the establishment would try to shape history and dictate history, and provide some kind of national mythology,â€ says Tom Segev, Israeli historian and journalist. It is time we turn the truth right side up.
In 1948, as Israeli forces expelled the residents of al-Lydd, they set them marching East, towards the West Bank and Jordan. Hundreds died on the way. Today, ethnic cleansing in Israel is far less dramatic, and far more systemic and invisible.
Through legal tools (such as the Building and Planning Law), Israel has institutionalized the restriction of housing sales to Arab citizens in Jewish areas. It prevents Arabs from building homes by denying them building permits, and if they build regardless, demolishes them. Since 1967, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions reports that 24,145 houses have been demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Last year, on the 60th anniversary of 1948 the Committeeâ€™s founder and director, Jeff Halper, asked, â€œCan we really expect to 'win?' To frustrate the Palestinian aspirations for freedom in their homeland forever? And if we do, what kind of society will we have, what will our children inherit?â€
Back in Lod, a Palestinian municipal council member, Aaraf Muharab, attempts to answer this question in his testimony to Zochrot. â€œJews here think that they are continuing the path of [Zionism founder, Theodor] Hertzel â€¦ You're talking here about a demographic problem and that is the basis of racism. If Jews don't relate to the Nakba as a one-time event, maybe they will understand what is happening today."
A peace agreement cannot begin to take shape until the systemic denial of history is reversed. As our first Prime Minister put it, "If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. This is natural, as we have taken their country. There has been anti-Semitism, Nazis, but was that their fault? They see only one thing, we have come here and stolen their country, why should they accept that?"
In another 1948 testimony to Zochrot, Ziyad Mahajneh, a survivor of the al-Lujjan expulsion makes a plea that brings to mind a metaphor once told to me by an indigenous Haudenosaunee woman in Canada. She described the white manâ€™s occupation of North America as a guest who entered her home, but then took over the living room. He then took over her kitchen, and bedroom, until her family was forced to live in the moldy basement. The white man would then store his garbage in the basement, and so her family developed illnesses. When they protested and sued, the white manâ€™s courts forced him to build floors and refurnish the basement. When he was done, he demanded her family be grateful for all he has done for them. But in the end of the day -- the garbage was never thrown out, and her family is left living in the moldy basement of the home they once knew.
â€œI imagine that my plot there is a few tens of dunums, or a few hundreds maybe, because my father had six sons,â€ says Mahajneh. â€œBut take everything. Give me just a room.â€
Today, Israelâ€™s idea of a room for Palestinians is a seemingly never-ending project of ethnic cleansing. It takes shape in the form of a fragmented West Bank, divided by Jewish settlements and ethnically restricted roads.This cannot change until Israel admits the house it occupies must be shared.
OTTAWA, ON- Aug 6th, 2008- what began as a fairly balanced description of the historical record of the creation of Israel in Palestine, quickly became yet another bipartisan speech of the Liberal party. Strongly criticizing Stephen Harper and the Conservative Partyâ€™s actions in regard to Israel/Palestine, Liberal Party External Affairs critic Bob Rae failed to provide any concrete actions his own party intends to take.
â€œIt was the emergence of modern Zionism that would set the stage for modern conflict,â€ He began. His proposed solution to this roughly century-long conflict is â€œrecognition of two states, new governance for Jerusalem, limited right of return, and generous funding of a Palestinian state.â€
Contradicting himself several times throughout his speech, Rae paid lip service to the social justice movement while adding to the pile of anti-Iran rhetoric.
â€œIranâ€™s president is a holocaust denier and refers to Israel by what can only be described as the most hateful of terms.â€ (see video)
He further added to the confusion by concluding â€œitâ€™s the parties themselves that are going to have to resolve the conflict.â€
Stating and reiterating that he believes Canada should adhere to international law, principles, and values, he was not so adamant on Canadaâ€™s attitude towards the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of the Occupation of the West Bank, the construction of the separation wall, and the building of settlements.
â€œObviously there is some ambiguity in the [UN] Resolution 242, which is obviously not accidental, which allows for some flexibility.â€ Yet, he stated that â€œa resolution of the conflict has to be dependent on withdrawal from the [Israeli West Bank] settlements. In order for a Palestinian state to be viable in cannot be a jigsaw puzzle.â€
When asked to convey concrete description of what this means in practical terms, he elusively answered, â€œwhat is it that weâ€™re going to be able to persuade Israelis to do?â€
â€œIf you say there is a universal right of return, I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s on. Itâ€™s contradictory to the UN actually,â€ said Rae.
His comment was in reference to UN Resolution 194 which does not deny the right of return, but actually stipulates that â€œrefugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.â€
Raeâ€™s dodgy flip flopping between identifying as Member of Parliament, external critic, historian, lawyer, and the son of a former Ambassador continued throughout the question and answer period.
The audience clapped as various members asked pointed questions, leaving Rae with a mouthful of stumbles. Asked how he expects the Palestinian people to come to the negotiation table considering the desperate conditions they live in, Rae expressed â€œI donâ€™t think anyone in the world is looking for a desperate deal. Thereâ€™s no question the conditions in Gaza have deteriorated.â€ He added, â€œI personally do not hold Israel solely responsible for those conditions,â€ later admitting he did not visit the strip.
When questioned why, he explained â€œitâ€™s difficult for international leaders to go to Gaza without it looking like a political move.â€
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Published in The Dominion Weblogs, June 24th, 2008
The past month has been a hotbed of indigenous social justice activity in Ottawa. The Algonquin community of Barriere Lake has organized and carried out several actions alongside local organizers and ally groups.
On June 26th, 2008 a dozen Algonquins and supporters occupied the office of MP Lawrence Cannon, Stephen Harperâ€™s Quebec Lieutenant. Cannon is the also the Minister of Transportation and MP Responsible for the Pontiac Region in Quebec, in which Barriere Lake is located.
â€œWe came here today to demand a meeting with the minister,â€ said Acting Chief Benjamin Nottoway in front of the MPâ€™s office in Buckingham, QC. His demand of the minister was â€œto call for a leadership reselection in our community. We hope to get a response by today, or we will stay here as long as it takes.â€
The aboriginal activists and allies unfortunately could not stay, as by five in the evening they were forced to leave the office. Six were arrested, detained, and released later in the night, greeted by a crowd of cheering supporters.
The chiefâ€™s promise to continue putting pressure on the minister was not in vain as on July 16th almost a hundred members of the reserve of 450 came to Ottawa for a three-day protest and camp-out.
Weâ€™re here to demand the minister live up to the promise that he made to us,â€ said former chief Jean-Morice Matchewan. â€œThey never kept one promise that they made to us,â€ he continued.
The former chief led the community in protest all through the late 1980s and early 1990s as the reserve prevented clear-cutting on its land and forced the government to sign a monumental agreement in 1991. Last September Matchewan was forced to step down due to charges laid against him as police found a weapon in his vehicle during hunting season. Current Acting Chief Nottoway alleges this was a set up for a Securite Quebec-backed coup dâ€™etat which took place on the reserve last March.
One of the last reserves in Canada to follow a traditional form of governance, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are also one of the last to maintain their traditional language. In March the government imposed the band council system on the reserve and appointed Casey Ratt as the chief. Nottoway says Ratt doesnâ€™t actually live on the reserve. â€œHe has an apartment in Val Dâ€™orâ€¦ but heâ€™s never had a house in our community.â€
Matchewan called for the government to â€œreview its decision to impose the Chief and Counsel. No government is allowed to overthrow another government. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re here, to straighten out this mess that theyâ€™ve created.â€
â€œThe minority faction represents about 20% of the community,â€ explained Maggie Shreiner, â€œwhereas 80% of the community supports the traditional leadership of Barriere Lake. Itâ€™s been very divisive in the community.â€
A member of the Montreal-based Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective, Shreiner assisted in the organizing of MP Cannonâ€™s office occupation and the coordination of the later three-day camp-out alongside Ottawa activists.
In spite of the government imposition, aboriginal leaders continue to recognize the traditional governance of the reserve. A July 16th press release explained, â€œthe Algonquin Nation Secretariat (ANS), the Tribal Council representing the Algonquin First Nations of Barriere Lake, Wolf Lake, and Timiskaming, continues to recognize and work with deposed Chief Nottaway and his Council.â€
Assembling first outside the Ministry of Transportation where the MPâ€™s Ottawa-based office is located, the Algonquins later protested outside the building of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) in Gatineau.
â€œThey havenâ€™t done anything much[sic] in our community,â€ said Nottoway of INAC. â€œThey just want to break the agreement they signed in 1991.â€
Another demand the Algonquins have presented to the government was allowing their children to speak Algonquin in school. Government-hired teachers currently prevent the children from doing so. Marylynn Poucachiche, Youth Representative to the Traditional Tribunal, called this â€œa throwback to residential schools.â€
â€œWeâ€™re probably going to go ahead with the leadership reselectionâ€ Nottoway said, suggesting the Algonquins will do so with or without the governmentâ€™s overseeing. â€œIf the government doesnâ€™t give a positive responseâ€ he promised the Algonquins will be back by the beginning of August. â€œWeâ€™re not going to give up, we never give up. We donâ€™t even know what give up is.â€
Published in (Cult)ure Magazine on March 24th, 2008 (photo by Ryan Davies)
Growing up Jewish in North America can be about as thrilling as a gefilte fish in Matzah ball soup. It can also be revolutionary, as two Jewish activists, Ben and Corey, explain to me how it shaped their dreams and views. They speak of how they pushed away from the blindfolding and brainwashing of Zionism.
â€œI grew up in Toronto. My motherâ€™s from Montreal and my Fatherâ€™s from Winnipegâ€ tells Ben Saifer. Now living in Ottawa, he is an activist with Not In Our Name (NION): Jews Against Israeli Wars. â€œI grew up relatively secular. Weâ€™d go to synagogue on the high holidays, but I think it was mostly for the tradition, as opposed to any particularly religious sentiment.â€
During the Second World War, Benâ€™s paternal grandfather served as a soldier on the Canadian side while his maternal grandparents fled from Romania and Austria. â€œThey lost a lot of close friends and family members during the Holocaust and were forced to constantly be on the run in order to stay alive.â€
Growing up Jewish, he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and went to Jewish summer camp.
Listening to him speak Iâ€™m thrown back by how strong Jewish traditions are among the Diaspora. When I was growing up in Palestine/Israel the closest Iâ€™d come to the Star of David was seeing it on the flag.
Corey Balsam is another organizer with NION, and a student of Human Rights (part of the Public Affairs and Policy Management program) at Carleton University. â€œI grew up in Ottawa in the Jewish community, so I had Hebrew school after day school.â€ Attending the very multicultural day school Leslie Park, he was exposed to people with origins spanning the globe. â€œOne of my best friends growing up was Palestinian,â€ he says.
â€œMy father doesnâ€™t care about the Settlements,â€ Corey tells me, â€œas long as we [the Jews] have a place to go if we are ever persecuted again. Itâ€™s derived from his experiences as the child of a Holocaust survivor.â€
In the late eighteenth century, modern Zionists dreamed of Jewish people around the world having a new homeland. But this was based upon, among other things, the myth that historical Palestine was â€˜a land without a people for a people without a landâ€™. This became the ideological basis for modern political Zionism, and has also been used to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Slowly, Ben, Corey and I have woken up and learned to separate Judaism from Zionism, history from propaganda, and defence from offence. Ben recounts the personal metamorphosis that was triggered upon joining the mailing list of the Jewish Student Association during his first year of university.
â€œOne day I received an e-mail telling me that some guy named Norman Finkelstein was coming to give a talk on campus. Iâ€™d never heard of him, but the email was very aggressive, instructing me not to attend because Finkelstein [was] horribleâ€¦ [It said that he] dominates the microphone, and spreads propaganda. [But] I was not impressed by this heavy handed approach.â€ Ben attended the talk anyway.
â€œIt was a very charged environment and seeing that this was my first exposure to critical analysis of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, [Finkelsteinâ€™s] words were quite provocative. When I returned to my dorm room that night, something fundamental had changed. I was pretty broken.â€
He continues, â€œI really had a strong break from the Jewish Community as I started learning more about Israel and Zionism,â€ adding that it was pushed by â€œthe fact that there seemed to be unquestioning support and an endless supply of justifications for this unbelievable oppressionâ€ against the Palestinians. Today, in organizing with NION, he feels heâ€™s made a round-a-bout homecoming.
â€œA lot of the people I organize with now are Jewish, so I feel like Iâ€™m strongly reconnecting with the Jewish Community.â€
Meanwhile, Coreyâ€™s awakening has its roots in the Birthright-Taglit program â€“ a trip free of charge for all Jews, funded by the â€œgovernment of Israel, independent Jewish philanthropists, and Jewish communities throughout the world,â€ according to the organizationâ€™s website.
During the trip, which runs ten days, participants climb Mount Mossadah, visit Tel-Aviv night-clubs (where Birthright pays for their drinks) and relax on the beaches of the resort town of Eilat. Needless to say, they do not visit Palestine.
â€œItâ€™s just a party,â€ he tells me. But the party left a strange taste in his mouth. Before going, Corey started reading a book that talked about massacres against the Palestinians perpetrated by Israeli Offence Forces during the Deir Yassin Massacre of 1948. â€œI hadnâ€™t given that much thought to [the regionâ€™s] politics at that point, but I was reading this book on the trip and was telling everyone â€˜did you know about this? Did you know about this?â€™â€
â€œI remember one guy saying â€˜Shhhâ€¦ I know, but weâ€™re not supposed to talk about it.â€™ And at that point it was pretty awakening for me.â€
â€œThe birthright trip is very effective. In spite of all my questioning, Iâ€™m pretty sure I left more â€˜pro-Israeliâ€™ than I was prior,â€ says Corey. â€œBut there was one thing that I absolutely rejected. One day the president of the trip was talking to us. He was saying that if we have an opinion against Israel, we should come to Israel and express it. But if weâ€™re out there, we have to stand with Israel and defend it, no matter what. And I immediately put up my hand and said â€˜no! This is ridiculous!â€™â€
Recounting getting into activism, Ben tells me: â€œLast year I organized a big dialogue event. Thatâ€™s where my entry point was â€“ talking about justice and peace. I think dialogue is important for our local community, but when dealing with a horrible injustice like apartheid in Palestine/Israel, dialogue must be seen as an entry point to action, not as the end in itself.â€
â€œAll my activism is motivated by what happened to my own family during the Holocaust. Despite its skewed usage by various pro-Israel organizations, the phrase â€˜never againâ€™ does not give Israel free rein to ethnically cleanse, occupy, and oppress the Palestinian people. On the contrary, â€˜never againâ€™ means that we will never allow any people, Jewish or otherwise, to be persecuted. I have come to realize that it is only by taking a principled and unapologetic stand for justice that I can ever hope to live up to this powerful phrase.â€ Corey agrees.
Much effort is expended to ensure that Jewish people around the world are oblivious to the resolvable issues of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Such oblivion is perpetuated by entities such as the mainstream media, the Israeli government, or the forces within the United States that go far to support Israelâ€™s actions. They would rather keep us holding onto the wishful belief that Israel is that safe-haven that will save us from our persecutors. But a growing number of us are awakening to the nightmare endured by the Palestinians. We are waking up to see Israelâ€™s actions as oppressive and genocidal and we will stand for nothing short of justice and real peace.
**This article was selected for the 2008 Best of Rabble 2.0 Book**
Woman with a Mango- Meera Karanunananthan
History, as is Art History, is sprinkled with great leaders who have fast-tracked the course of developments. They more often than not were individuals who have brought to the day an unmatched ingenuity, imagination, and drive. Their influence is often accounted for only in retrospect through the eyes of the follower, the student, or the descendant.
Through these eyes we see (mostly) men of strong character of (mostly) weak will power. They are (mostly) white and are (mostly) from Europe. They are men of influence and presence. Men of their times, in both vision and oppression.
Though George Washington owned almost 400 slaves, he is still celebrated as the great leader of the United States. Though Wilhelm Richard Wagner was openly racist and his operas are known to have influenced Nazi Germany, he is still recognized worldwide for his talent.
Similarly, Paul Gauguin, a remarkable painter who shaped modern art unequivocally, was a man of pathologies. His sexual tourism and escapades are well documented, yet he remains in the eternal hall-of-fame of Post-Impressionism. Though his acts today would have landed him in prison if not the electric chair, in 1921 he was sainted by the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.
Artistically, he inspired Primitivism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism and others. Indirectly, he helped in the establishment of non-representational art, which after his 1903 death engulfed most of the 20th Century. Socially, he inspired and contributed to more than a century of inherent racism, which sees people of colour as primitive, simple-minded, and passive, and views women of colour as erotic adventures. His legacy, then, is not only one of great art, but is also one of sexual predation, sexism, and racism.
Yes, he was a man of his times, but the argument here is not that one's contributions to the world must be weighed against one's character. Rather, this is an attempt at an analysis of a legacy, which to a large extent forms today's prejudices.
Born in Paris, Gauguin spent his childhood in Peru. On a voyage there at the age of three, his father passed away, leaving his half-Peruvian mother to take care of him and his siblings. His exposure to art outside of Europe began there, and never stopped influencing him, even after his move back to France. A prominent stockbroker, he spent his free time painting, eventually giving up the profession for the pursuit of art full-time.
A family man he was not, as his biographer Nancy Mowll Mathews remarks 100 years after his death: "I discovered that Gauguin was a bully and an abusive husband." She continues to speak on his abandonment of his family in the pursuit of impregnation of other women, "God, the man had a lot of children. He loved the whole idea of someone getting pregnant and showing the world that he still had it."
Gauguin eventually contracted syphillis from which he eventually died. To deal with the painful symptoms, he self-medicated with opium, morphine, and other drugs.
Gauguin's art has influenced an image of women of colour that continues to plant seeds of racism throughout the world.
His timeless question, "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?," placed in a painting of the same name is a stark example. Its portrayal of women of colour in various nude poses suggests them as the origins of an ever-progressing humanity.
Travelling to Brittania, and later to Eastern colonies, he settled on the Island of Tahiti on his second visit there, where most of his women of colour paintings originated. He saw them as symbols of liberation from the overly complicated and cultivated Europe. In them he saw a symbol of primitivism and simplicity, of returning back to the roots of humanity at its most primal stages.
In his famous Noa Noa: The Tahitian Journal, he remarks on these thoughts and gives vivid descriptions of his sexual desires and preoccupations.
"In the sunlight it was all an orgy in chrome. They told me that she was of Tonga origin. I greeted her; she smiled and sat down beside me. 'Aren't you afraid of me?' I asked. 'Aira (no).' Do you wish to live in my hut for always?' 'Eha (yes).'"
His influence shapes much of the racism inside the same art history texts that contribute to his celebrated greatness. "[Gauguin] abandoned the sophistication and materialization of ParisÃ¢eÂ¦ He painted simple people who possessed intense imaginations and naÃƒÂ¯ve piety,Ã¢e states Penelope J.E. Davies in her book Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition.
It is precisely for this reason that Meera Karunananthan Ã¢e" who, in addition to being an artist, is also a writer who contributes to rabble.ca Ã¢e" has taken on artistic reinterpretation of his work. Her interest in the issue of the sexual exploitation of children stems from the fact that her native Sri Lanka has a reputation as a paedophile's paradise and is a primary source of sex tourism for Europe and North America.
Karunananthan developed an idea of responding to Gauguin's vision of women of colour with her own. His passively tranquil Two Tahitian Women with Mango Blossoms, depicting Eve-like Tahitian women took on an active role in Karunananthan's interpretation. Here, the woman on the left is thought to be Pahura, the mother of his son, who was 14 when Gauguin met her while in his 50s. Karunananthan has reproduced Pahura as an adolescent girl to highlight the predatory nature of Gauguin's relationship with the young girl. The older woman on the right is shown confronting Gauguin in an attempt to challenge his representation of Tahitian women as passive and sexually available. "I wanted to reproduce their art in a way that exposed their patriarchy," she says.
After sharing her idea with Dr. Joann St. Lewis, the ball started rolling on the unique event taking place this Saturday in Ottawa. A panel discussion including Rosalie Favell and Dipna Horra will focus on a critical inter-disciplinary anthology of race in the Canadian context. It will then be followed by an exhibition, Corrective Lenses, that includes works by female artists from Ottawa, Montreal, and Turkey.
"We must challenge and question the racism of these paintings," says Karunananthan. "As an artist, I can recognize these as great painters. For example [Gauguin's] use of colour and texture is inspiring. But we have to understand how they've influenced our society."
Indeed Gauguin has inspired many artists, including a young group of Symbolists which form Les Nabis, who specifically used Gauguin as their adviser and motivator. His artistic genius is dwarfed only by the global recognition of his works, even during his life.
However, his legacy did not stop there. We must look now to this group of brave women who will take GauguinÃ¢e(TM)s work out of the museum and into its social and political context.Read Original
Published in The Dominion Weblog, June 26th, 2008
The Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective, based in Montreal, as well as Algonquin representatives from Barriere Lake itself have vowed they will not leave the office until their demands are met. They have been threatened with arrest, and are welcoming support from anyone willing or able to assemble in Buckingham, QC.
Algonquin media liaisons inside the office occupation were unreachable, but Django, a spokesperson of the Solidarity Collective answered a few questions. Speaking to the situation on the ground he noted that â€œon the inside the police have asked some of the people to leave peacefully. There were three people that left [because they] werenâ€™t willing to be arrested. [Those were] a cameraman and two Algonquins.â€ When asked what he predicts will take place later in the day, he replied â€œweâ€™re still waiting for the demands to be met. The office normally closes at 4:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. so weâ€™re thinking thatâ€™s probably the time [the police are] going to try and do the arrests.â€
Interestingly, the police officers are on somewhat of a strike. â€œTheyâ€™re putting pressure to get contracts,â€ said Django. â€œExcept for the Sergeant, all the officers are wearing army fatigues or jeans because theyâ€™re kind of on strike. Essentially I get the feeling they donâ€™t really want to do the arrests. Most of them look like they donâ€™t want to be here.â€
Organizers say the office occupation will continue until the demands are met or until the occupying protesters are arrested. They stressed the need for continued support as well.
â€œTheyâ€™re thirsty, please bring water and foodâ€ advises Django.
Invited by the Economic Club of Toronto, the candidate was met with a vocal and articulate opposition outside hotelâ€™s entrance. A press conference organized by the Council of Canadians outside the main doors saw the attention of such news service agencies as the CBC, the A Channel, and even CNN.
A crowd of roughly 100 protesters from the Student Coalition Against War, No War/Paix, Graduate Students Association of the University of Ottawa, and even Babies Against McCain assembled to show their disdain to the visit. Maude Barlow, president of the Council explained NAFTA and free trade are a major part of the reason for the protest. â€œWe are particularly concerned about three things. One is the energy provisions that disproportionately force us to share our energy with the U.S. The second is water, and the third major issue is that corporations have a right to sue [as individuals] under NAFTA.â€ If McCain is elected, Ms. Barlow predicts it will be â€œmore of the Bush agenda.â€ She warns that
the world cannot afford another George [W.] Bush, it cannot afford the presidency of Senator McCain.â€
The senator was also received coldly by the Prime Minister who was out of town during the visit. According to the National Post â€œMr. Harper's advisors are concerned about the appearance of interference or favouritism in the middle of a fiercely-fought U.S. presidential campaign.â€ But the Council of Canadians thought otherwise. To add creativity to an otherwise predictable event, the Council brought in actors intended to represent the senator, Stephen Harper, and even a Barney look-alike called NAFTAsaurus.
Bringing forward a strong environmental agenda, the protesters held banners demanding a â€œPhase Out of Coal-Fired Plants Canada Wide.â€ Environmental issues arising from the Security and Prosperity Partnership were also brought forward, namely the increase in five fold production of the Tar Sands in Alberta. This issue was particularly pertinent as Mr. Dâ€™Aquinoâ€™s corporate lobby group, the CCCE (made up of over 100 of the top Canadian CEOs) was the body that originally composed and proposed the Partnership to President George W. Bush back in 2001.
Other issues brought forward were Senator McCainâ€™s infamous statement of the U.S. Army remaining in Iraq for another â€œ100 years.â€ â€œWe are against the visit of the warmonger, McCain. We do not want his ideas, his way of thinking. We want a change,â€ said one protester.
The only group who attended in support of the Senator was Carleton Universityâ€™s Ragen-Goldwater Society. Scott Gorry of the Society explained their presence was meant to â€œsupport conservative ideas. John McCain is a conservative so we are here to support his values.â€ When asked what these values are, Mr. Gorry named â€œsocial, economic, and political freedoms. A free market systemâ€¦ equality for everybody.â€ He continued, â€œwe believe in the Capitalism society. There [have] been more people that have been advantaged through Capitalism than the oppressive, socialist, collective societies.â€
Walking through the still devastated neighbourhoods, the poverty is simply striking. Abandoned, barely standing homes are interspersed with a few renovated ones here and there. International and national volunteers converge to pour their efforts into single projects, but what they leave behind is perhaps even more telling than what they've originally found.
As they scrape together the resources to rebuild, others see an opportunity in the devastation. A large evacuation, such as that of the 9th Ward of whose 17,000 original residents 14,000 remain displaced, produces quite a business opening. Cheap real estate has become the market of choice for opportunists as every abandoned plot boasts a "for sale" sign.
Effectively, an ethic cleansing is underway as the predominantly black population of such neighbourhoods as New Orleans East and the 9th Ward has disappeared. In the former, it is actively and aggressively being replaced by suburban, predominantly white residents. In the latter, the destruction is still too significant for a strong gentrification to take place. In the city's centre, public housing projects have decreased by 80 per cent largely thanks to home demolitions.
Residents with previous offenses or those that have ever had an encounter with the police are being evicted. Residents without employment and those with substance abuse problems, whether current or past, are also being handed eviction slips. As soon as enough residents are out the building is demolished, and an empty plot is replaced with condominiums or a parking lot.
Meanwhile thousands live in temporary housing (issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency). While the Agency's emergency funding expired on June 30, 2006, its issued trailers have produced more problems than solutions. A study commissioned by The Sierra Club identified that the trailers in which thousands live contain toxic levels of formaldehyde, arsenic, and such microorganisms as E. coli, Salmonella, and staphylococcus. Besides visible disease, being exposed to formaldehyde can lead to headaches, depression and impairment of memory according to the national Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Homelessness is worsening and the fight for the displaced people's "right of return" becomes more difficult as many are prevented from getting back to their homes by the Housing Authority of New Orleans or by a lack of federal funding access. This right of return depends first and foremost on the financial prospects of the resident. For example, one sign on what used to be a public housing project in New Orleans East reads, "if you lived here you'd be home by now," alluding to the fact that the area's former residents couldn't afford the new privatized housing. Many have lost documentation necessary for reclaiming their homes, while bureaucratic lineups make the suffering worse.
Resistance to the mass gentrification is met with nothing but police repression, as the December 2007 protests demonstrated. Opposing the demolition of undamaged public housing projects containing 4,500 living units, activists and residents were tasered, badly beaten and subjected to various chemical weapons.
But not everyone's been kicked to the curb. Various levels of government have been consistently signing multi-million dollar deals with subcontractors for demolitions, construction and other services. Appraisers, inspectors, and mediators are all paid under the blanket of the "reconstruction effort."
One such deal was signed with the Kennedy Associates and MetroplexCore corporations, who were paid millions for demolishing the 723-unit C.J. Peete public housing complex. Ties have been found between executives of the corporations and representatives on the Housing and Urban Development body responsible for the assignment. As reporter Edward T. Pound of The National Journal revealed, high-end executives of these corporations have been previously appointed by George W. Bush to the Boards of Directors of Texas universities and banks while he served as the state's governor.
As recently as April 2008, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc., a subcontractor of the Department of Defense, has been awarded a $695 million contract for "the design and construction for improvement of hurricane protection of the inner harbour navigation canal" in the city.
To keep this system rolling, New Orleans houses almost two thousand troops. Officers of the U.S. Coast Guard with M6/A1 rifles patrol every trip the public ferry takes between downtown New Orleans and the historic Algiers neighbourhood. Hummers with Army personnel are sprawled on most corners, as officers patrol the city in marked or unmarked vans.
Subcontractors such as Blackwater and Halliburton-KBR have also visited the streets of New Orleans. In a September 2005 article in The Nation, Jeremy Scahill wrote, "DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions."
As Millions of tourists continue to flood the city for its never ending partying and leave behind booming entertainment and waste management industries, politics has also come to town.
On April 21-22, Bush met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Their annual summit with the CEOs of the North American Competitiveness Council chose New Orleans as the host city as it offered a blank slate for business opportunity.
Staying at The Double Tree hotel in the heart of downtown, the leaders utilized the Army Corps of Engineers to establish a strong perimeter around themselves. Speaking to one of the officers engaged in placing cement barricades around the hotel (each with the inscription "Think Safety"), I asked whether this was part of his service. "Defending the President of the United States?!" he said, "Absolutely!"
The barricades seem a bit excessive, as it has been long known that a mass convergence like last year in Montebello wasn't going to take place. Yet, what intelligence services collecting information on resistance to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) didn't likely expect were Canadian activists.
After speaking to the local organizers, young members of over half a dozen Ontario organizations with whom I travelled to New Orleans decided to make things happen themselves.
Spending most of their free time talking to local residents in the tent city from the 9th Ward and from other neighbourhoods, they realized what was needed instead of a confrontational protest was a celebration of resistance in as safe a way as possible in order to welcome all who could join.
After discussing the details on the night of April 20, they decided upon an event called Fat Cat Tuesday. Over the next 48 hours they designed a pamphlet, printed it, and personally gave out 1800 copies of it to local residents. They collected garbage and made colourful musical instruments with decorations donated by various local groups. They consulted local activists and workers, and on the night of Tuesday, April 22 took to the streets of The French Quarter.
Leading a visible and musical snake march, they demonstrated resistance to the SPP while giving out information about it to bar owners, tourists, and delegates from the Summit, finishing at Jackson Square where Bush had delivered his three-week late speech on September 15, 2005.
Less than three years ago, while New Orleans still did not have electricity returned to most of its homes, the White House flew in generators to power the klieg lights of the Saint Louis Cathedral. Bush addressed the people of New Orleans, offering words of hope, "You need to know that our whole nation cares about you, and in the journey ahead you're not alone."
His infamous pledge, which to this day remains but a flickered light of hope most residents have long forgotten, continued with false promises:
"Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their livesÃ¢eÂ¦ the work of rescue is largely finished; the work of recovery is moving forward."
Published on Rabble.ca, March 17th, 2008
The son of Native rights activists, Powless was raised in an environment that encouraged returning to aboriginal roots. "I spent many of my formative years with my mother," he remarks, describing her as "an amazing woman and a dedicated community activist [who] helped start the Aboriginal Women's Support Centre in Ottawa." This centre, also known as the Minwaashin Lodge, runs counselling services, a woman's shelter, and cultural programs.
His father, he explains, has "dedicated his career to work for Native self-government and sovereignty, including a lot of work with the assembly of First Nations." He continues, "I've always respected my dad's workÃ¢eÂ¦ I remember at the age of six knowing he was fighting for Native rights."
His parents served as a "great influence in helping develop a Native identity," but Powless wasn't always involved. "I was never one of those high achievers," he says of his high school years. "I did well in class but couldn't be bothered for other stuff."
However, when he met his girlfriend, Trisha Nagpal, in his first year of university, his path changed. Describing her as "the most wonderful girl ever," he cites her involvement and dedication as his inspiration.
"I started off at the University of Waterloo doing Mathematical Physics. I found I had a lot of free time and wanted to use it constructively. The first engagement was of course the Aboriginal Students Council." He then got involved with the Students for Palestinian Human Rights and helped start Students Against Sweatshops as part of the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group.
"I always saw the two issues as being very much linked," he says of Palestine and Native people in Canada. "I've seen them both as cases of foreign occupation and control, of repressed peoples struggling for their rights and their self-determination. Of being up against massive states and recalcitrant populations and popular misunderstanding."
Today, as a student of Human Rights, Environmental Studies and Indigenous Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, he reflects on a transition that was central in his life. While most first year students were cramming for their final exams, writing papers and getting drunk on the weekends, Powless was spending time elsewhere.
"At the end of first year [Trisha] became sick with liver disease. She passed away shortly after. I dropped out of university and was completely devastated. I didn't even want to return to university, or to keep on living, at times."
"I am grateful I had a lot of support. My parents, family, and some good friends helped me out. I was like a wandering soul for a while." But what truly helped him change direction was a study tour trip to Guatemala with the Wilfred Laurier University in the spring of 2005.
"Seeing some really brutal realities for the first time in my life, in person, and talking to people who survived genocide really opened my eyes. I came back to Canada changed and spent a lot of time reading and reflecting, but it was the second trip that really built me up." Coming back but still feeling unable to return to classes, he enrolled in an exchange program to Mexico.
Finally returning to Canada, he says, was "extremely hard. You go through much cultural shock being back. It was depressing to put into perspective how superfluous our lives are here and how little we live for. In general, how much harm our societies do, and how little compassion we show to the rest of the world. This caused much reflection for me, but also inspired me to do something about it, at least for myself."
He then travelled to Indiana to train with the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network. He learned everything from how to plan a campaign, climb, make banner drops, and write press releases. This was how he kick-started his activist career, which at the ripe old age of 21 is simply astonishing.
Over the past two years, Powless helped found the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, served on the Board of Directors of the Youth Environmental Network, the Environmental Justice Organizing Institute of Ontario, and is currently a National Council member of the Canadian Environmental Network.
He has represented Canada with UNESCO and the UN in Spain, Indonesia, New York, and Vancouver, and continues to serve as a youth adviser to half a dozen international human rights bodies. He believes that at these bodies aboriginal voices are heard more, pointing to the recently passed UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an example.
Today, Powless looks towards implementation of this declaration, and towards the 2010 Winter Olympics on Coast Salish territory (Vancouver). "The Olympics represent a threat with the expansion of highways and ski resorts. They threaten some of the most precious ecosystems," he says, linking the fight for environmental justice with the struggle for indigenous rights.
A motivated, energetic, and truly dedicated activist, he reflects on some of the struggles he's personally been involved in. "There have been gains and losses, to say the least, but there has been an increased awareness that even I didn't expectÃ¢eÂ¦ some real genuine efforts at progress by non-natives that I take comfort in."
"But at the same time," he jokes, "We've elected the Conservatives."
Satisfied with the outcome, the Mohawk defenders of the Quarry have declared victory, consequent to which all solidarity blockades at Six Nations in Caledonia have also been removed.
Three members of the Tyendinaga Mohawks remain in custody though two were released on Monday, April 28th, 2008.
Supplies, a trailer, a barbecue, food, and some vehicles belonging to the Mohawk community have been taken by the police forces and are still not returned.
Meanwhile, non-Native allies have been assembling and delivering supplies from various Ontario cities to support the Mohawks in their struggle since Friday, April 25th, 2008.
The community estimates police surveillance will continue until Thursday when the remaining detainees are scheduled to appear in court.
For this purpose they are requesting monetary assistance with legal fees and will be holding various fundraisers.Top
A trench dug by the Mohawk blockaders was filled in by the police, which forced them to retract to a single point on Deseronto road. Most of the blockades established over the weekend have been taken down or forcibly dismantled by police.
The Quarry is now surrounded with 2-300 police officers along with intelligence and surveillance vehicles.
Of the five arrestees, detained Friday April 28th, 2008, Daniel John Doreen, 34, and Stephen Chartrand, 32, were released.
According to The Whig, the bail conditions the two had to sign include keeping away from the Quarry, reporting to police weekly; not to plan, incite or participate in any protests that "interfere with traffic on highways, airways, railways or public waterways" and not associate with the co-accused, unless for "religious or cultural ceremonies."Top
After over 200 police officers raided the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory west of Belleville, Ontario on April 22nd, 2008 actions have escalated. On the evening of Friday, April 25th, the Tyendinaga community was again under attack, while continuing the blockade intended to protect itself and its "disputed" Quarry. Currently the Nation is surrounded by a wide police perimeter that prevents access to the Quarry.
"At the centre of the dispute is the Culbertson Tract, land which rightfully belongs to the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. Community members have been occupying a gravel quarry site for over a year," according to TMT.
Allies attempting to enter the perimeter are being turned away. Only residents holding valid documentation of property ownership within the perimeter are allowed entry.
Earlier in the week Agent Provocateurs were deployed in the local community to incite a conflict with the Mohawk Nation. The attempt failed but prevented local allies from supporting the Nation due to fear of police retaliation.
Police have attempted to dismantle the Mohawk blockade on Friday,
and have beaten and arrested four individuals. These are Matthew James
Kunkel, 21, Clint Brant, 29, Daniel John Dorene, 34, and Steve
Chartrand, 32. They are scheduled to appear on Monday, April 28, 2008
in Napanee court. Prior to these arrests, Shawn Brent, 44, was arrested
at a traffic stop allegedly for his role in preventing racist community
members from attacking a woman and her child.
For more information on Shawn Brant's arrest see APTN footage
Security and Prosperity Partnership
Summit of the State Leaders,
New Orleans, Louisiana, April 21st-23rd, 2008
As part of an Ottawa delegation, I will be traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana to report on the upcoming Summit of the Leaders of Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. As in the spirit of Montebello, QC in August 2007 a strong mobilization is taking place to oppose this Partnership and the processes by which it operates. Meeting with Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, and Felipe Calderon will be heads of North America's top corporations. Together they will make decisions regarding harmonization of standards, border-crossing policies, and trade relations. Innumerable organizations are mobilizing a counter-summit as well as several protests and actions. For more information, please stay tuned to the Ottawa Independent Media Centre where an up-to-date news coverage will be broadcast. A feature article will be prepared at the end of the summit for Rabble.ca. For background information on the SPP please see the Integrate This! research of the Council of Canadians. Also, for information on the Gulf Coast and the current privatization efforts, see Common Frontiers, Democracy Now!, or the People's Hurricane.
Reporting from the Road:
Opening up before us is New Orleans as we finish our last leg of the trip from Mobile, Louisiana. Stories of ghosts fill our entry as they fill our first day in this town. Coming here for the People's Summit, opposing this year's Security and Prosperity Partnership, we're beginning to learn the true tales of surviving Katrina from the lives of those America has forgotten. (Read rest here)
Intermingled amongst brand new hotels and entertainment swag are
the ghosts of New Orleans. Abandoned buildings with boarded up windows
are on every side street off Canal. Hidden only by the busy flickering
of neon lights and bars begging for your undeserved business. One needs
only to turn to any of the buildings behind the flashy palm trees to
see Katrina leftovers. (Read rest here)
Arriving for the Security and Prosperity Partnership counter summit in New Orleans, Canadian activists are organizing a festive protest parade. Scheduled to take place tonight, it will be one of the only events focusing on the SPP directly. (Read rest here)
Can Sac CANSEC?
Published on Rabble, April 17th, 2008
"Do you know why they're protesting?!" yells a business man in a perfectly ironed suit. His screaming is just barely audible over the chanting and yelling of the demonstrators and police.
"They are protesting CANSEC!" I explain.
"What's CANSEC?" he asks, as I prepare for my now memorized rebuttal: "CANSEC is Canada's largest arms fair. This is the tenth year of it taking place but because it was banned from all City of Ottawa property in 1991, it now takes place at the Ottawa Congress Centre, which is technically provincial property."
"Arms fair?" comes the now predictable surprise, "There's an arms fair taking place here? In Ottawa? In Canada?"
"Yes, Canadian corporations produce much of the ammunition,
weaponry, and support technology for the U.S. military and the Canadian
Only one day into Canada's largest armsfair, the
delegates and corporations attending CANSEC have already felt Ottawa's
dissent against them. Before the conference even began, the Rideau
centre was forced to evacuate the black-tie dinner kicking off the
conference due to a fire alarm.
The conference hosted 620 corporations displaying weaponry, support, and surveillance technology and served 6-7000 delegates. Attendees ranged from government and military employees to company representatives. International delegates were also expected at the conference, namely from the United States, and due to a recently signed security deal between Canada and Israel, Israeli officials were also expected.
The first official day of the conference was faced with two actions; a Noon hour "March of the Victims of War" that demonstrated the offices of war profiteers and a 5:00 p.m. disruptive action. The later saw a crowd of roughly 60-70 demonstrators and a very loud speaker which sent the sounds of war to the delegates who attempted to enjoy a dinner inside.
A number of speeches were along with songs from the Raging Grannies. For video footage of the events please see the television footage section.
and Leave Comment...
Many organizations and individuals, including DAWN (DisAbled Women's Network of Ontario), the PPAO (Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office) and even Barbara Hall, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission have spoken in regards to faults (and strengths) within the bill.
Since these issues have been brought to our attention, we have been planning on running an awareness campaign regarding the Bill and have finally done so at the end of February and leading into the beginning of March.Top
Published in Linchpin 11/11/2007 - 01:03.
In her racy and humbly excited nature Cindy invites the audience into her idea of a better world. As she talks, describing hers and other�s projects, one really does begin to imagine the possibilities. Ideas of a better, richer, more fulfilling life, dedicated to actively and simultaneously deconstructing the oppressive systems of he current world and replacing them with healthier, anarchistic ones.
�Education is about empowering people in a disempowering time�- Cindy Milstein
In a talk entitled �Education for Freedom�, part of the unSchooling Oppression conference, Cindy Milstein builds a model of anarchism through education and education through anarchism. Personally, a deep proponent and practitioner of both, she comes from a self-made community, operating without hierarchal structures and concentrating on continual learning and action. �Much of what anarchists do is education but it�s not obvious because it doesn�t look like what we have been taught education looks like.� She explains by listing skill-shares, free schools, speaking tours, infoshops, and independent media as examples.
Greener Revolutions To Come
Human Rights Column
Published in The Peak Fall 2006
To understand how the world economy is shaped today, how it is polarized, and how food distribution within this economy is upheld, it�s impossible not to look first at The Green Revolution. This agricultural insurgency first started in Mexico in 1943, founded by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, had the purpose of feeding the developing country�s poor. By instructing the local residents on how to plant massive quantities of high-yielding crops, the plan was to provide a sufficient amount of food for all without continual import from developed countries of neither food nor goods. Ideal at first, though the imposition of the agricultural practices of the developed USA on areas of the world accustomed to traditional farming and organic produce resulted in land devastation, ecological and social crises, and the international spread of the monoculture crop. These crops, like maze, wheat, and rice, were taught to be grown in ways instructed by the developed world, which with it brought all the components of the industrial American farm.
Originated by Norman Borlaug, a U.S. plant pathologist and breeder who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, the Green Revolution was going to save the world of hunger. In 1944, Borlaug joined the Rockefeller Foundation, and was assigned to Mexico to find a way to grow maize for the local population. His plan was to introduce high-yielding crops which have undergone his selective breeding and later genetic modification processes, and to sustain their growth with insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, and various fertilizers. These agricultural practices used by the U.S. itself were considered miraculous at the time, and their introduction upon the developing world was considered an act of graciousness of the highest regard. After all, this was going to cure famine in a world with a fast growing population! Also, this provided for a testing ground for understanding how the various scientific advances in agriculture were going to pan out on a mass scale.
Latin America was the experimental laboratory of the Green Revolution which went on to spread all over the world. Horrors of starvation and insufficiencies have finally been faced with a solution, and no one stuck around to see the final results. News of the Bengal Famine, the world�s worst recorded food disaster, reached North America, and when Britain finally left India in 1947, the security of food has become a major national problem. Opening the doors to the Green Revolution was therefore an easy decision, and from the years of 1967 to 1977 India has changed from a starving nation to an agricultural hotbed. The Green Revolution has now become so successful that from 1960 to 1990 global food production has increased over 1000% and famine decreased by 20%. Caloric consumption has also increased per capita by 25%, and this has of course led to a rise in income and the standards of living.
Modern irrigation strategies brought with them tubewells and electric pumps, minimized the failures of drought by introducing drought resistant strains of crops, and added efficiency to rural areas where the supply of food was dependant upon seasonal changes. Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides have become a modern agricultural miracle for the ability to grow crops and be unaffected by various pests, fungi, infestations of herbs and insects was a blessing and provided an unlimited security over food availability from year to year. Also, the new concept of double cropping was soon to follow in the pursuit of never ending efficiency. Single cropping has been used for centuries in traditional agriculture because a rainy season happens only once a year. Industrialization solved that problem with creation of the artificial rainy season through huge irrigation projects. Water dams were built, and large water supplies were shifted away from urban areas, from living spaces, towards the production of crop. Success was so prevalent in fact that the developed world has begun to import the majority of its crops from the developing world. This allowed for an enormous shift in economy which with it brought an enormous power shift.
All the while, as farmers were beginning to enjoy the fruits of their labor, problems began to arise which the developed world did not address. The introduction of monoculture crops grown in an industrialized way by machinery to rural areas accustomed to organic agriculture manifested by hard labor of the farming family was received like a shock on the land. It has also brought with it the dependence of the developing world on equipment, chemicals, and genetically modified crops which had to be bought from the United States and Europe. The crops for which farmland has been freed, crops grown following these methods of the developed world required the machinery with which these crops were introduced. The crops, being genetically modified and foreign to this land required fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides, all of which required purchasing from the developed world. The average farmer touched by the Green Revolution has become indebted over a single decade. Some farmers have even resorted to suicide because of the overwhelming debts they had now owed and knew could never repay.
Beside the social and economic devastation which arose post-Green Revolution, environmental issues have become to come up. From top soil erosion and soil nutrient depletion caused by the various chemicals implemented, to the development of pesticide-resistant species and the drying up of aquifers, the ecological surrounding of farms led by the Revolution have experienced a great deterioration. In the aftermath of the introduction of industrial conventional farming of the United States to rural areas of the world many problems still remain unsolved. Famine is still a great problem in the majority of the world, and the population of the planet is only increasing. Production, though initially experiencing a major thrust forward, is now slowing down while its costs are only increasing and all the while the land is depleting in nutrients. In the decades following the Green Revolution, the developing world is now forced to deal with the problems which lead to the production of food most of which is today used to feed the developed world. Norman Borlaug though still adamantly argues the benefits of the Revolution exceed its negatives, and is fighting to spread these methods across the continent of Africa.
To learn more:
Green Revolution in Indian Agriculture by S.K.C.Verma
The Future of Genetically Modified Crops: Lessons from the Green Revolution by William P.Butz
The Next Green Revolution: Essential steps to a healthy, sustainable agriculture by Maura MacDermott and James E.Horne