In an interview last October 9th on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the renowned and award-winning documentarian, Michael Moore lied vulgarly about his encounter with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during the Venice Film Festival this past September. In the interview, Moore responds to Kimmel’s request for an explanation of a photo of Moore with President Hugo Chávez. Apparently embarrased about the encounter with one of Latin America’s most prominent and influential heads of state, Moore proceeded to completely make up a fairy-tale, attempting to pass it off as reality.
With a straight face, Moore stated he met President Chávez at 2 o’clock in the morning, after he and his wife had settled into bed in their Venice hotel room and heard a scandalous noise coming from the floor above. Moore states that he called down to the reception to find out “what the hell was going on”. “It’s the president of Venezuela”, the hotel clerk allegedly told Moore. Well, Michael couldn’t believe it, so despite his wife telling him “don’t go”, Moore set out, determined to find out if the true source of the scandal was really the Venezuelan president, the polemic Hugo Chávez.
Incrediously, Moore says he went upstairs and knocked right on Chávez’s door and a large man answered, who Moore claims was the president’s “bodyguard”. Chávez was right behind him and caught a glimpse of Moore and yelled out “Michael Moore, come on in!”. Anyone who has ever traveled or been close to President Chávez knows very well that it is absolutely impossible to just “go knock on his door”. Presidential security lines the hallways, elevators and all entrance points. Take it from someone who knows first hand. Moore’s story is complete and utter fiction. Also the man Moore identified in the interview as Chávez’s “bodyguard” is actually Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, but hey, all latinos look alike!
The tale continues. Moore says he entered the room and a “bottle and a half of tequila later”, he was writing Chávez’s speeches! Of course, Michael, all of us Latin Americans drink tequila! Man, he couldn’t even get his alcohol right in his fairy tale! Tequila is Mexican, Michael. Venezuela makes rum. Get it straight. And anyway, President Chávez does not drink at all and is well known for his anti-alcohol position. But in Moore’s story, latinos are all a bunch of partiers! No work, just party, drinks and fun at 2am!
Moore is exceptionally full of himself towards the end of the interview with Jimmy Kimmel. He says Chávez asked him for advice about his upcoming United Nations speech. Moore sternly told the South American president to “say sorry for calling Bush the devil, “el diablo”” during his last UN intervention. And to say this time around it’s all about the “hope”! Way to defend Bush, Michael! Wait, didn’t you write, direct and film Farhenheit 9/11? Right, but when someone “non-US” tells it like it is, you get way patriotic. I get it.
The interview ended with Michael fully praising himself for yet another one of President Chávez’s brilliant United Nations’ speeches. “When I heard the first few lines of his speech”, says Moore, “it was exactly what I had written for him!” Michael, Michael. Don’t you know that Chávez doesn’t use a teleprompter? Where we come from, speeches are made from the heart and soul, and not written by an elite team of 20 writers and then read from transparent screens. And Michael, do you really think that flattering yourself at this point, after you have lied so tremendously, is appropriate? Arrogantly, Moore joked that Chávez should give him a “year of free gasoline” for writing his speech. At least he didn’t say bananas.
Michael Moore has been known for his documentary work; filming and telling “facts”. But on this ocassion, Moore has turned into the worst of yellow journalists, a liar and story-teller on the big screen. Despite the fact that Moore insisted ”no cameras” document his meeting with President Chávez in Venice, the official Venezuelan presidential press snapped a few photos, and there were many witnesses. The photographs evidence a Michael Moore and a President Chávez serenly sitting in two chairs talking. No tequila, no parties, no scandals, just a normal meeting between a head of state and an invited guest. In fact, the real meeting lasted three hours, without tequila.
Michael Moore prohibited cameras in the meeting because, per his own words, it wasn’t “convenient” for him to been seen with Chávez. Despite the fact that every presidential meeting has been documented by the official press, this time, they defered to Moore with respect. He was, after all, an admired figure by millions of Venezuela. But, the presidential press was able to capture a few photos of the encounter. These photos now are the key evidence to expose Michael Moore’s vulgar lies about his meeting with President Chávez.
Moore’s comentaries about President Chávez asking him to “help” write his United Nations speech demonstrate Moore’s extreme ego. President Chávez is one of the most brilliant speakers in the world, with an immense capacity to bring together a variety of ideas while being coherent. Of course, Chávez nourishes his speeches and talks with ideas, experiencies and the writings of many, but for those of us who spend almost every day listening and watching President Chávez, we know that nobody writes his speeches, not even him! He speaks from his heart, and not from a teleprompter!
Moore’s declarations against President Chávez are offensive and insulting and a clear sign of his hipocresy and lack of ethic. How many times has we heard President Chávez acclaim Moore’s books and documentaries? And most recently, Chávez announced that Moore’s latest documentary, “Capitalism, a love story”, would premiere here in Venezuela.
Moore’s response to this admiration, acclaim and support is to lie and ridicule President Chávez and the people of Venezuela, and to attempt, lamely, to justify his meeting with Chávez. Because in the end, this whole ridiculous tale told by Moore about his “meeting” with President Chávez is an attempt to avoid admitting before the US media that he met for three hours with the South American “dictator”. And he probably learned a lot, and liked it!
Michael Moore is a most unfortunate coward.
(See the videoclip here )
Saturday, October 31, 2009
While I don't have any details about this, I am confident that the deal between Zelaya and the putchistas included a blanket immunity from prosecution for all those involved in the coup - from Micheletti himself down to the thugs in uniform who assaulted demonstrators. At this phase, such a concession on Zelaya's side was probably inevitable, but it also shows that nothing has been solved. Furthermore, AP describes the deal as a "power sharing agreement" - which probably means that all the key positions (military, police, etc) will remain in the hands of the coup leaders.
There will now be an election and we can be sure that the US-backed putchistas will do everything in their power, whether legal or illegal, to get rid of Zelaya.
Still, this agreement is, I believe, a rather substantial setback for the US Empire. If anything, the standoff between the coup regime and the entire Latin American continent - with the notable exception of the US-backed regime in Colombia - has shown that the entire continent can close ranks an oppose Fascist takeovers.
The standoff around the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa has also served to further alienate "moderate" countries such as Brazil, of course, but also Argentina and Chile. As for the core countries of the resistance against the US Empire (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador), they appear fully vindicated in their stance against the coup regime and the opening of new US military bases in Colombia.
Whatever the outcome in Honduras, the US Empire is clearly loosing the battle for South America. The coup in Honduras is a mess, if only because of the length of the standoff and the rhetorical zig-zags of Hillary Clinton on who is to blame for the situation. The only thing the Obama Administration has "achieved" since it came to power is to further alienate Latin Americans and Uncle Sam's last and only ally on the continent - Colombia - will find itself even more isolated than before.
As for Zelaya, one would hope that he will not be deceived by his tactical victory: his situation is still dire. The USA as a long history of subverting far more stable government than the one which will temporarily stay in power this Fall. There is no way Zelaya can tackle this threat on his own and his best, if not only, chance is now to get substantial political and security assistance from abroad. This will be very hard to do right under the collective noses of the CIA & Co., but it is nonetheless essential.
But most importantly, Zelaya now needs to appeal to the people of Honduras and tell them that each and every one of them must do everything he or she can to preserve democracy in Honduras. The example of the 2002 coup in Venezuela must always be heeded: only the massive rejection of Carmona and his thugs by the people of Venezuela prevented a Fascist military regime from maintaining its grip on power.
US imperialism in Latin America has always relied only wealthy landowners, international corporations, death squads, assassins and terrorists. The resistance to Uncle Sam must therefore rely on the one powerful force it has on its side: the people. If Zelaya is not deceived by all sorts of promises and threats which will now come his way and if he succeeds in playing the "peoples card" correctly - he will probably prevail. But time is running out and he must take action very rapidly.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
NATO’s reputation as the guardian of peace on Earth is in tatters these days. Once avowedly an alliance of North America and Western Europe to fight the communist hordes of Eurasia, it morphed into something quite difference with the collapse of the socialist bloc two decades ago. It now pretends to unite all of Europe to fight the Muslim hordes wherever they be found and, of course the Russians, just for good measure.
To do this, it expanded rapidly in the past decade, and now has a Partnership for Peace with ex-Soviet hopefuls. It also has various formulas to incorporate Western-oriented Muslim nations, including the Mediterranean Dialogue (which includes Israel) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) minus Saudi and Oman). Morocco and Israel are further blessed as “major non-NATO allies” of the US. Even more ambitious is the GCC+2 (+ Egypt and Jordan), heralded in 2007 as the “NATO of the Middle East”, but then once-upon-a-time so was the ill-fated Baghdad Pact, originally called the Middle East Treaty Organisation (METO). The real “NATO of the Middle East ” is of course US+1. (Note: this is a revised and slightly expanded version of the original paragraph. VS).
Whatever the US/NATO schemes and their pretexts, the results in recent years have been less than impressive. The communist hordes were soon replaced by the Russian and/or Muslim ones, and, despite the Mediterranean Dialogue and the GCC+2, the Muslim ones are multipying daily. Even NATOphiles realise something is amiss. The newly appointed secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was so eager to transform the organisation he gave up his job as prime minister of Denmark, making him the highest ranking politician to take over NATO. “I want to modernise, transform and reform so that NATO adapts to the security environment of the 21st century.”
Rasmussen points to the bloated bureaucracy, with its more than 300 committees -- all requiring decisions by consensus, and 13,000 personnel scattered across Western Europe at NATO’s many military bases. When France rejoining the integrated military structure in April, it had to send 900 military staff to the various NATO commands. “In a rapidly changing security environment, we have to make sure that NATO is able to make rapid moves,” asserts Fogh Rasmussen wistfully.
But his biggest move so far to reform the dinosaur was to appoint an “outsider”, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, to lead a group of 12 experts to work out a new strategic concept. Albright is hardly an outsider, being a key actor in the NATO bombing of Serbia which led to the creation of the first NATO satellite -- Kosovo, touted as a great success by NATOphiles, but as a violation of international law and relations by just about everyone else. It remains a basket-case, shunned by the likes of China, India and Russia. So don’t hold your breath that Albright will spearhead a radical reinvention of NATO.
NATOphiles ignore the obvious question about the organisation: why didn’t it just disband when its mission to crush Communism was successful and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved? They also don’t seem to feel it necessary to explain why a northern Atlantic organisation should expand into Eurasia and fight wars in Central Asia; why the UN is not the more appropriate forum for world security issues. The UN, famous for its own bureaucracy, has undergone considerable reform in the last decade and is certainly no more dysfunctional than NATO. It also has the advantage of bringing North, South, East and West together, guaranteeing a modicum of world consensus for any military action.
There is no hint within the NATO fortress that such questions will worry Albright’s experts, or that they will consense towards anything other than making NATO an even greater threat to the diplomatic resolution of world problems.
Others are not twiddling their thumbs, however. The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on. Russia has been picking up the pieces in its foreign affairs since the regional alliance of Soviet days broke up and its place in the world as a counterweight to American diktat was lost. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) was formed in 2002, bringing together Russia, Central Asian states Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, as well as Armenia and Belarus, and has been picking up steam in the past year, despite the difficulty of dealing with unpredictable member-dictators.
It is truly a regional pact with a legitimate reason for existing, unlike NATO. It was recognised by both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the UN as such in 2007, and there has been talk of it becoming the genesis of a defence arm for the SCO. NATO’s battering in Afghanistan has reduced it to asking for Russia’s -- really the CSTO’s -- participation in the Afghanistan operation, most obviously as the “northern corridor” transport route from Europe to Northern Afghanistan via CSTO member-states.
The CSTO is now working openly on a UN cooperation declaration similar to the one passed in September 2008 with NATO -- behind UN members’ backs -- to work together against terrorism, drug and arms trafficking, and as part of peacekeeping missions under UN command. In addition to the UN, the CSTO has relations with the EU and the OSCE.
There is even talk of squaring the circle between the CSTO and NATO. Says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, “Compared to the previous situation, when NATO did not want even to hear about the OSCE, now many officials and experts say that the CSTO can be a very useful partner.” CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordiuzha is less naive: “We proposed to NATO to cooperate in several spheres, including those regarding fighting illegal drug trafficking, but NATO has its own position.” Ironically, NATO’s Partnership for Peace includes all CSTO countries, so NATO has been cooperating with the CSTO by default all along, whether it likes it or not.
In addition to this startling outcome of NATO’s failure in Afghanistan, there are several interesting developments percolating that will soon provide a window into just which direction NATO will go in its latest mutation. Ukraine and Georgia are committed to join NATO, both with leaders swept into power by carefully orchestrated Western-backed campaigns, but who are now widely reviled. Does NATO still have the will and the way to snatch them up?
Another development is the recent mutual recognition of Turkey and Armenia, long-time foes. This reconciliation finessed their outstanding differences -- Armenia’s occupation of almost 20 per cent of Turkey’s natural ally Azerbaijan, and Turkey’s refusal to accept greater responsibility for the tragedy of ethnic Armenians who died fleeing civil war in 1915-17.
The EU took the credit for bringing the two sides together and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to the signing ceremony, but it is far from clear which “side” will benefit most. Will NATO-member Turkey help usher CSTO-member Armenia into the Western fold? Or will Russia-friendly Armenia draw Turkey the other way? Will the EU’s spurning of Muslim Turkey and its desire to snag tiny Christian Armenia widen the growing rift between an increasingly independent and pro-Muslim Turkey and the West? Will Azerbaijan join NATO in a huff? Will Turkey dust off its Ottoman past and reinvent itself as a major regional power? The situation is far too complex to make any firm predictions.
Russia’s staunch defence of Iran in the face of Western threats and its increasing assertiveness in the face of NATO expansion are widely admired in the Muslim world, Turkey being no exception. Last year Moscow embraced Ankara ’s proposal for a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform as a mechanism for political dialogue, stability and crisis management in a region covering Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Russia noted Turkey’s refusal to assist the US in invading Iraq or to allow a US warship into the Black Sea following Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia last year. Early this year, a Turkish mission visited Abkhazia.
During a state visit to Moscow by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in February, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev made a straightforward proposal to set up a Russian-Turkish axis. “The August crisis showed that we can deal with problems in the region by ourselves, without the involvement of outside powers,” Medvedev told a joint press conference. The Turkish leader effectively agreed, pointing to “substantially close or identical positions” the two countries took on “an absolute majority” of international issues.
But world politics is not all win-lose. Both Russia and the US, as members of the Minsk Group founded by the OECD to resolve the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, want to see that stand-off resolved peacefully. Making it happen would be a feather in US President and Nobel laureate Barack Obama’s cap and a concrete step in improving relations with Russia. A truly win-win situation.
As NATO continues to flounder and power continues to shift away from the US towards BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the SCO, issues like the above will be shaped by a complex of forces, and their outcomes will not be enforced by any one diktat. Just as NATO’s Cold War nemesis unravelled with unpredicted speed, the seemingly immutable Western military alliance could find itself paralysed not only by its infamous bureaucracy, but by countervailing forces on the ascendant outside of its orbit.
All the Kosovos, Georgias and Azerbaijans, all the GCC+2s, Dialogues and Partnerships in the world won’t be able to stave off the inevitable. Indeed, they can only act as a millstone, pulling NATO deeper into the quagmire it itself created during its short post-Cold War life as world policeman.
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Yes, I am a survivor, for I have managed to survive all the scary accounts of the Holocaust: the one about the soap (1), the one about the lamp shades, the one about the camps, the mass shooting, the one about the gas (2) and the one about the death march (3). I just managed to survive them all.
In spite of all these fear inflicting stories, that were purposely installed in my soul since I opened my eyes for the first time, I have become a functional and even a successful human being. I somehow survived the horror against all odds. I even manage to love my neighbour. In spite of all these fearful, traumatic indoctrination I miraculously managed to master my cheering alto saxophone rather than the sobbing violin.
In fact, I have already decided that in case the Queen, or any other member of the Royal Family should ever consider to make me into a ‘Sir’ for my bebop achievements, or even for facing Zionist barbarism with my bare pen, I will immediately change my surname from Atzmon to Vive, just to become the first and only Sir Vive.
I am also totally against Holocaust denial
I clearly resent those who deny the genocides that are taking place in the name of the Holocaust. Palestine is one example, Iraq is another and the one that is set for Iran, is probably too scary to contemplate.
The Holocaust is a relatively new religion (4). It lacks mercy or compassion, instead it promises revenge through retribution. For its followers, it is somehow liberating because it allows them to punish whoever they like as long they gain some pleasure. This may explain why the Israelis ended up punishing the Palestinians for crimes that were committed by Europeans. It is rather clear that the newly emerging religion is not just about ‘eye for an eye’; it is actually an eye for thousands and thousands of eyes.
A month ago, while visiting in Auschwitz, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak left a note in the official visitors book: ‘a strong Israel is both the comfort and the revenge’(5). No one could summarise the aspiration of the religion any better. The Holocaust religion doesn’t offer redemption. It is a crude violent manifestation of sheer collective brutality. It cannot resolve anything, for aggression can only lead to more and more aggression. In the Holocaust religion there is neither room for peace or grace. Take it from Barak, revenge is where they find comfort.
To deny the danger posed by the Holocaust religion and its followers is to be complicit in a growing crime against humanity and against every possible human value.
I am also in total support of the Jewish National Project
Some believe that after 2000 years of ‘phantasmic Diaspora’ Jews are indeed entitled to an imaginary ‘national home land of their own’. The Zionists apparently meant it sincerely. The Jewish state is now realistic enough to have turned the entire Middle East into a ticking bomb.
Reviewing the Israeli record of crimes against humanity in the last six decades doesn’t leave much room for speculation. We are dealing here with a pathological sinister society. Hence, as much as some of us may agree that Jews should enjoy a hypothetical right for a land of their own, planet Earth is certainly not the ideal location for such an affair.
Hence, I would urge NASA to join in and to make a special effort to find a suitable alternative planet for the Zionist homeland in outer space or even in another galaxy. The Galactic Zionist project would signify the immediate move from ‘promised land’ to ‘promised planet’. I would enthusiastically stress that rather than searching for ‘a land with no people for a people with no land’, what we really want is a ‘lonely planet’. It can even be a ‘desert’ for they claim to know how to make the desert bloom. In a planet of their own the galactic Zionists wouldn’t need to oppress anyone, they wouldn’t ethnically cleanse either, they wouldn’t have to lock the indigenous people in concentration camps, for there won’t be any indigenous people around to abuse, starve, murder and cleanse. They wouldn’t have to pour white phosphorous over their neighbours for there won’t be any neighbours. I would highly recommend NASA to search for a planet with very low gravity just to make it light for people to wander around. After all, we want the new galactic Zionists to enjoy their futuristic project as much as the Palestinians and many others may enjoy their absence.
So here I am, a proper Jew after all: I am a survivor, I oppose Holocaust denial, I support the Jewish national aspiration. Even the chief Rabbi of Britain cannot ask for more than that.
(1) Acknowledged recently to be a ‘myth’ by the Israeli holocaust museum Yad Vashem
(2) A historical fact protected by European Law.
(3) A slightly confusing narrative. If the Nazis were interested in annihilating the entire European Jewish population as suggested by the orthodox Zionist holocaust narrative, then it is rather ambiguous as to just what led them to march what was left of European Jewry, into their crumbling Nazi fatherland at a time when it was clear that they were losing the war. The two narratives i.e. ‘annihilation’ and ‘death march’, seem to oppose each other. The issue deserves further elaboration. I would just suggest that the reasonable answers I have come across may severely damage the Zionist holocaust narrative.
(4) The Israeli Philosophy professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz was probably the first to define the holocaust as the ‘new Jewish religion’.
Friday, October 23, 2009
A war of titans seems to be starting, but luckily not a bloody one this time. Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin to make film about 2008 Georgian war, but another star, Emir Kusturica, seems ready to fire back with a hit.
It’s probably the first time Georgia has hosted such big Hollywood stars, and not only hosts, but enjoys taking center stage in a new movie by a renowned director. Renny Harlin, who made blockbuster Die Hard 2, has begun working on a movie about the 2008 August war between Georgia and South Ossetia. It is reported the film hasn’t got a name yet and, for the moment, is simply called “Georgia”.
And the star of “Godfather 3” and “The Untouchables”, Cuban-born Andy Garcia, will be playing Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. He came to stay in Tbilisi for only two days. First, several of the scenes are to be shot at the president’s residence, and on the second day the film crew will move to Rustaveli Avenue, where Saakashvili was holding a military parade during the five-day war, Svobodnaya Pressa reports.
The drama focuses on an American journalist who comes under fire, with his cameraman, in Georgia. There are only two questions on the agenda for both journalists: to stay alive and be objective.
The film is to be released in English and will last about two hours. It’s planned that it will be finished by November and the premiere will take place next year in May. As the main roles will be played by Hollywood actors, their Georgian colleagues will only get supporting roles.
For or against?
The Finnish filmmaker made a name for himself as the director of such action adventures as “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, “Deep Blue Sea” as well as “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master”.
The director insists he’s not going to take sides in the 2008 conflict. According to him, however, the movie is going to make a strong anti-war statement.
Harlin said that when he got the script he realized it was what he had been looking for:
“A great human story with tragic, serious overtones. I saw it as my opportunity to use my experience in action films to tell the story of a complex conflict that is impartial, but makes a strong antiwar statement,” he told Variety back in August of this year.
However, Georgia hasn’t acknowledged that it actually started the war and continues to blame Russia, while the international community and the world media now state this fact openly.
So, it’s not yet known whether Georgian authorities are planning to use the screenplay as yet another instrument to blacken the Russian side and again complain upon hearing a threat from Russia – not from a rostrum but from the cinema screen this time – which, obviously, seems to exist only in their imagination.
Will Kusturica strike back?
There has been speculation that the renowned Serb filmmaker Emir Kusturica is going to present his version of what happened in South Ossetia last year. Svobodnaya Pressa writes that for that, he had already visited the Republic to see the ruined Tskhinval with his own eyes and to talk to eyewitnesses.
According to the news site, the Cannes Award-winning director has called the August actions by the Georgian side “a dirty staging”, saying that the fact the aggression in South Ossetia was meant to be masked by the Olympics when all eyes were on the games is “clearly showing the world we live in” and demonstrated that Saakashvili’s actions are not as “democratic” as he claimed.
But Svobodnaya Pressa also reports that the Georgian film directors, led by Keti Dolodze, addressed their famous Serb colleague, asking him “not to go on a leash of the Kremlin propagandists and their Tskhinval marionettes”. They are said to have recommended Kusturica come to Tbilisi to get an idea of the Georgian view on the tragic events of 2008. However, there’ve been no reports whether Harlin had ever been advised to visit Tshinval for the same purpose, to get an objective picture of what had happened.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Monday that Kusturica will not be making the film because of his having “a binding contract for the next four years”.
Commentary: this is so lame.... Now that even the EU has - reluctantly - admitted that it was Georgia which started the 4 day long "08.08.08" war there are really very few options left for the USraelian Empire to help its puppet in the Caucasus. Just like a faithful dog would, Hollywood comes to serve it's master as soon as it hears its whistle and, voila, we are going to have a movie about the proxy war which NATO unleashed against Russia in the summer of 2008. I think that the main goal of this production will not even be to make Saakashvili look good - the guys is a crackpot and the Empire seems to want to replace him by another, more obedient, puppet (possibly Nino Burjanadze). I bet you the main goal will be to conceal the magnitude of the US financed, equipped and trained Georgian Army. Do you remember that when the conflict began Western "experts" confidently predicted that the Georgian military would be a "tough nut to crack" for Russia? After all, if the Georgians were trained by AMERICANS (the "best in the world!"), and supplied with AMERICAN hardware (the "best in the world!") they should easily overcome the "poorly equipped", "poorly commanded" and "poorly trained" Russian military. Well, in fact, of course, Russia cracked the presumed "tough nut" in 4 days and that is a very bad sign for all the new NATO allies in Central Europe and NATO wannabes like the Ukraine. So having NATO support is not nearly as good as, well, Hollywood movies would make you believe!
I have always said that the US military and NATO are not nearly as "good" as some naively believe it to me. The absolutely dismal performance of the US and NATO in Afghanistan, in particular when contrasted with the performance of the Soviet 40th Army, is an excellent indicator of what kind of military the Empire really has: one which is good at "winning" against more or less defenseless enemies. But does it have the brains, the spine and, most importantly, the balls to take on a real fighting force like, say, the Taliban?! Of course not.
The Russian 58th Army - the one who obliterated the Georgian military - is the Army which succeeded in crushing the Chechen insurgents - an enemy far more formidable, I would say, than any force in Afghanistan (with the possible exception of the Panshir Tadjiks). No wonder it took it only 4 days to absolutely and comprehensively crush the Georgian military even though the Georgian attack was a total surprise for the Russia (here, a clear failure of the GRU to adequately warn the Kremlin).
So this is the real purpose of this movie, I believe: to hide as best can be the magnitude of the military defeat of Georgia in this war. So will Andy Garcia eat his tie like Saakashvili did? That does not really matter as long as the public does not imagine the NATO generals in Brussels eating out their ties!
Earlier today in a conference in Jerusalem titled “Facing Tomorrow”, Israel's leading politicians shared their vision of Israel's future.
Following the recent agreement announced by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s chief, Mohammad ElBaradei regarding Iranian Uranium enrichment, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called on the international community “to give Iran a deadline for halting its nuclear program and impose additional sanctions against Tehran”. For some reason the Israelis are convinced that Nuclear energy is a ‘Jew only property’. The Jewish state insists on keeping its neighbours in a state of nuclear panic alert.
Tzipi Livni, another dedicated warmonger, is now an enthusiastic supporter of the ‘Two State Solution’. “Establishment of a Palestinian state is the only way of preserving Israel's Jewish character”, she said. At last, the Left and right Wing Zionists are in agreement with each other. Someone should remind the ‘born again dove’ Livni that the Jewish state she refers to is located on stolen Palestinian land, Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Haifa and are all part of occupied Greater Palestine.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas (an Israeli religious party) blamed the Palestinians for the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “Unfortunately, the other side [Palestinians] lacks the ability to make brave decisions,” he said.
Minister Yishai is absolutely right. The Palestinians are not ‘brave’ enough to agree to live in concentration camps, they do not agree to the occupation of their land either. These facts take the Jewish leadership by total surprise. I’ll tell you why. The history of the Holocaust teaches us that the Jewish leadership at the time was actually very willing to collaborate with the Nazis all the way through. In fact it was the Judenrate* that managed and organised the mass deportation of European Jews from the ghettos to the camps. To follow Yishai’s logic, unlike the Palestinians, the Nazi era Jewish councils were taking some brave decisions. Seemingly the Palestinians are not ‘brave’ enough to do the same.
Even President Obama engaged himself with issues to do with the Jewish future. Here is his message to the conference:
"The American people and the Israeli people share a faith in the future, a belief that democracies can shape their own destiny and that opportunities should be available to all"
The only question to be asked here, is whether President Obama meant ‘opportunities for all’, or did he mean opportunities for Jews only? As far as Nuclear energy is concerned, already in June President Obama reiterated that Iran has some “right to nuclear energy provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful”. I would urge Obama to accept that opportunities for nuclear weapons should also be ‘available to all’. Not just the Israelis but every country in the region. In order to be consistent Obama has to choose between either clearing Israel of its pile of WMD or otherwise encourage every other country in the region to pile up nuclear bombs just to restrain Israel's proven murderous inclinations by power of deterrence.
However, far more crucial at this stage is to urge Obama to make it clear to the Israelis that by saying ‘opportunities should be available to all” he refers also to Palestinian children who are starved and slaughtered by the Israeli armed forces on a daily basis.
By now, after ten months in office, President Obama should grasp that the notion of ‘opportunities to all’ is not just foreign but in total opposition to the philosophy of the Jewish state, an apartheid racially orientated state
* Judenräte (singular Judenrat; for "Jewish council") were administrative bodies that the Nazis required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland and later in the occupied territories of the USSR.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In an interview last October 9th on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the renowned and award-winning documentarian, Michael Moore lied vulgarly about his encounter with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during the Venice Film Festival this past September. In the interview, Moore responds to Kimmel’s request for an explanation of a photo of Moore with President Hugo Chávez. Apparently embarrased about the encounter with one of Latin America’s most prominent and influential heads of state, Moore proceeded to completely make up a fairy-tale, attempting to pass it off as reality.
Commantary: I am, frankly, dismayed to have to post this here. I did, however, watch Michael Moore's interview with Jimmy Kimmel and his account is absolutely not credible as anybody who has some personal knowledge of Latin American can easily confirm. I have no idea why Micheal Moore told all the idiotics stories he did, but I can only come to one conclusion: he is trying to get some "brownie points" from some powerful individual or circles. This is very sad. I can forgive Michal Moore for his frankly, shall we say, naive support for the "bomber of Kosovo" Gen. W. Clark, but I cannot find an excuse of calumnies against a man whose courage Michael Moore would do well to tr to emulate. I like Moore's movies, they are not perfect, but they are good, I think, at making the semi-comatose American public think a little about important issues. But what Michael Moore did with Jimmy Kimmel is an absolute disgrace. I have to agree with Eva - Michael Moore is a most unfortunate coward.
If Obama was awarded the Nobel for winning the elections in a racist society despite his being African American, Evo deserves it for winning them in his country despite his being a native and his having delivered on his promises.
For the first time, in both countries a member of their respective ethnic groups has won the presidency.
I had said several times that Obama is a smart and cultivated man in a social and political system he believes in. He wishes to bring healthcare to nearly 50 million Americans, to rescue the economy from its profound crisis and to improve the US image which has deteriorated as a result of genocidal wars and torture. He neither conceives nor wishes to change his country’s political and economic system; nor could he do it.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to three American presidents, one former president and one candidate to the presidency.
The first one was Theodore Roosevelt elected in 1901. He was one of the Rough Riders who landed in Cuba with his riders but with no horses in the wake of the US intervention in 1898 aimed at preventing the independence of our homeland.
The second was Thomas Woodrow Wilson who dragged the United States to the first war for the distribution of the world. The extremely severe conditions he imposed on a vanquished Germany, through the Versailles Treaty, set the foundations for the emergence of fascism and the breakout of World War II.
The third has been Barack Obama.
Carter was the ex-president who received the Nobel Prize a few years after leaving office. He was certainly one of the few presidents of that country who would not order the murder of an adversary, as others did. He returned the Panama Canal, opened the US Interests Section in Havana and prevented large budget deficits as well as the squandering of money to the benefit of the military-industrial complex, as Reagan did.
The candidate was Al Gore –when he already was vicepresident. He was the best informed American politician on the dreadful consequences of climate change. As a candidate to the presidency, he was the victim of an electoral fraud and stripped of his victory by W. Bush.
The views have been deeply divided with regards to the choice for this award. Many people question ethical concepts or perceive obvious contradictions in the unexpected decision.
They would have rather seen the Prize given for an accomplished task. The Nobel Peace Prize has not always been presented to people deserving that distinction. On occasions it has been received by resentful and arrogant persons, or even worse. Upon hearing the news, Lech Walesa scornfully said: “Who, Obama? It’s too soon. He has not had time to do anything.”
In our press and in CubaDebate, honest revolutionary comrades have expressed their criticism. One of them wrote: “The same week in which Obama was granted the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Senate passed the largest military budget in its history: 626 billion dollars.” Another journalist commented during the TV News: “What has Obama done to deserve that award?” And still another asked: “And what about the Afghan war and the increased number of bombings?” These views are based on reality.
In Rome, film maker Michael Moore made a scathing comment: “Congratulations, President Obama, for the Nobel Peace Prize; now, please, earn it.”
I am sure that Obama agrees with Moore’s phrase. He is clever enough to understand the circumstances around this case. He knows he has not earned that award yet. That day in the morning he said that he was under the impression that he did not deserve to be in the company of so many inspiring personalities who have been honored with that prize.
It is said that the celebrated committee that assigns the Nobel Peace Prize is made up of five persons who are all members of the Swedish Parliament. A spokesman said it was a unanimous vote. One wonders whether or not the prizewinner was consulted and if such a decision can be made without giving him previous notice.
The moral judgment would be different depending on whether or not he had previous knowledge of the Prize’s allocation. The same could be said of those who decided to present it to him.
Perhaps it would be worthwhile creating the Nobel Transparency Prize.
Bolivia is a country with large oil and gas depots as well as the largest known reserves of lithium, a mineral currently in great demand for the storage and use of energy.
Before his sixth birthday, Evo Morales, a very poor native peasant, walked through The Andes with his father tending the llama of his native community. He walked with them for 15 days to the market where they were sold in order to purchase food for the community. In response to a question I asked him about that peculiar experience Evo told me that “he took shelter under the one-thousand stars hotel,” a beautiful way of describing the clear skies on the mountains where telescopes are sometimes placed.
In those difficult days of his childhood, the only alternative of the peasants in his community was to cut sugarcane in the Argentinean province of Jujuy, where part of the Aymara community went to work during the harvesting season.
Not far from La Higuera, where after being wounded and disarmed Che [Guevara] was murdered on October 9, 1967, Evo –who had been born on the 26th of that same month in the year 1959—was not yet 8 years old. He learned how to read and write in Spanish in a small public school he had to walk to, which was located 3.2 miles away from the one-room shack he shared with his parents and siblings.
During his hazardous childhood, Evo would go wherever there was a teacher. It was from his race that he learned three ethical principles: don’t lie, don’t steal and don’t be weak.
At the age of 13, his father allowed him to move to San Pedro de Oruro to study his senior high school. One of his biographers has related that he did better in Geography, History and Philosophy than in Physics and Mathematics. The most important thing is that, in order to pay for school, Evo woke up a two in the morning to work as a baker, a construction worker or any other physical job. He attended school in the afternoon. His classmates admired him and helped him. From his early childhood he learned how to play wind instruments and even was a trumpet player in a prestigious band in Oruro.
As a teenager he organized and was the captain of his community’s soccer team.
But, access to the University was beyond reach for a poor Aymara native.
After completing his senior high school, he did military service and then returned to his community on the mountain tops. Later, poverty and natural disasters forced the family to migrate to the subtropical area known as El Chapare, where they managed to have a plot of ground. His father passed away in 1983, when he was 23 years old. He worked hard on the ground but he was a born fighter; he organized the workers and created trade unions thus filling up a space unattended by the government.
The conditions for a social revolution in Bolivia had been maturing in the past 50 years. The revolution broke out in that country with Victor Paz Estensoro’s Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR, by its Spanish acronym) on April 9, 1952, that is, before the start of our armed struggle. The revolutionary miners defeated the repressive forces and the MNR seized power.
The revolutionary objectives in Bolivia were not attained and in 1956, according to some well-informed people, the process started to decline. On January 1st, 1959, the Revolution triumphed in Cuba, and three years later, in January 1962, our homeland was expelled from the OAS. Bolivia abstained from voting. Later, every other government, except Mexico’s, severed relations with Cuba.
The divisions in the international revolutionary movement had an impact on Bolivia. Time would have to pass with over 40 years of blockade on Cuba; neoliberalism and its devastating consequences; the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the ALBA; and above all, Evo and his MAS in Bolivia.
It would be hard to try summing up his rich history in a few pages.
I shall only say that Evo has prevailed over the wicked and slanderous imperialist campaigns, its coups and interference in the internal affairs of that country and defended Bolivia’s sovereignty and the right of its thousand-year-old people to have their traditions respected. “Coca is not cocaine,” he blurted out to the largest marihuana producer and drug consumer in the world, whose market has sustained the organized crime that is taking thousands of lives in Mexico every year. Two of the countries where the Yankee troops and their military bases are stationed are the largest drug producers on the planet.
The deadly trap of drug-trafficking has failed to catch Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador, revolutionary countries members of ALBA like Cuba which are aware of what they can and should do to bring healthcare, education and wellbeing to their peoples. They do not need foreign troops to combat drug-trafficking.
Bolivia is fostering a wonderful program under the leadership of an Aymara president with the support of his people.
Illiteracy was eradicated in less than three years: 824,101 Bolivian learned how to read and write; 24,699 did so also in Aymara and 13,599 in Quechua. Bolivia is the third country free of illiteracy, following Cuba and Venezuela.
It provides free healthcare to millions of people who had never had it before. It is one of the seven countries in the world with the largest reduction of infant mortality rate in the last five years and with a real possibility to meet the Millennium Goals before the year 2015, with a similar accomplishment regarding maternal deaths. It has conducted eye surgery on 454,161 persons, 75,974 of them Brazilians, Argentineans, Peruvians and Paraguayans.
Bolivia has set forth an ambitious social program: every child attending school from first to eighth grade is receiving an annual grant to pay for the school material. This benefits nearly two million students.
More than 700,000 persons over 60 years of age are receiving a bonus equivalent to some 342 dollars annually.
Every pregnant woman and child under two years of age is receiving an additional benefit of approximately 257 dollars.
Bolivia, one of the three poorest nations in the hemisphere, has brought under state control the country’s most important energy and mineral resources while respecting and compensating every single affected interest. It is advancing carefully because it does not want to take a step backward. Its hard currency reserves have been growing, and now they are no less than three times higher than they were at the beginning of Evo’s mandate. It is one of the countries making a better use of external cooperation and it is a strong advocate of the environment.
In a very short time, Bolivia has been able to establish the Biometric Electoral Register and approximately 4.7 million voters have registered, that is, nearly a million more than in the last electoral roll that in January 2009 included 3.8 million.
There will be elections on December 6. Surely, the people’s support for their President will increase. Nothing has stopped his growing prestige and popularity.
Why is he not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
I understand his great disadvantage: he is not the President of the United States of America.
Fidel Castro Ruz
A top American scientist who once worked for the Pentagon and the US space agency NASA was arrested Monday and charged with attempted spying for Israel, the Department of Justice said.
The Justice Department said Stewart David Nozette, 52, of suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information to an individual he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer.
In Tel Aviv, where the story broke late at night, Israeli government officials had no immediate comment.
Nozette was arrested Monday by FBI agents. He is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Washington on Tuesday.
"The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious and should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider compromising our nation's secrets for profit," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.
In addition to stints with NASA and the Department of Energy, Nozette worked at the White House on the National Space Council under then-president George H.W. Bush in 1989 and 1990.
"From 1989 through 2006, Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defense," the Justice Department said.
He developed the Clementine biostatic radar experiment that purportedly discovered water on the south pole of the moon. He worked from approximately 1990 to 1999 at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where he designed highly advanced technology.
In early September, Nozette received a phone call from a person "purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer, but who was in fact an undercover employee of the FBI," the DOJ said.
"Nozette met with the UCE (undercover employee) that day and discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence," informing the agent that "he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information."
The scientist offered to "answer questions about this information in exchange for money."
Over the next several weeks, Nozette and the undercover agent exchanged envelopes of money for answers to lists of questions about US satellite technology.
"In addition, Nozette allegedly offered to reveal additional classified information that directly concerned nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, and other major weapons systems," DOJ said.
FBI agents retrieved a manila envelope left by Nozette in a designated location this month that "contained information classified as both top secret and secret that concerned US satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy."
Since the arrest and conviction of Jonathan Pollard for spying for Israel, all Israeli officials, including intelligence officers, are instructed to avoid any activity that could be interpreted as information harvesting in the United States, and to reject any approach by American or other citizens who seek to volunteer and provide intelligence or espionage services for Israel.
In 2005, two former pro-Israel lobbyists with AIPAC were charged with conspiring to communicate national defense information to unauthorized personnel, in violation of the 1917 Espionage Act. The indictment said the classified material included information about the al-Qaida terror network, the bombing of the Khobar Towers dormitory in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel, and U.S. policy in Iran. The case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman was eventually dropped.
Commentary: The really interesting story here is that the FBI conducts sting operations posing as Mossad operatives. This, in the world of intelligence, is a very telling thing to do as it basically shows that the FBI is trying to distrupt such (real) efforts by the Israelis. I don't think that such an operation would be authorized without the knowledge of the White House and that, in turn, suggests to me that there are at least some elements in the current Administration who are trying to curb some of the most obnoxious operations of the Isarelis in the USA. Either that, or there is infighting inside the Mossad (again). Either way, it is worth keeping an eye on this story.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Remember when Saddam did the same thing? He got himself invaded ASAP.
There are clear signs that the regime in Washington is preparing to fight in a few more regions of the world: Iran is surrounded by Imperial forces, Colombia has not become a de-facto staging post for Imperial strikes in Latin America, and the new AFRICOM paves the way for military interventions in Africa. Looks bad, for sure, but these are mostly hollow threats.
Israel in the USA will probably strike at Iran, but they will achieve little, if anything, with such an attack. In Latin America the best the Empire can do is assassinate Chavez and/or Morales, but that is unlikely to reverse the trends in the continent. In fact, such an assassination could backfire rather powerfully. Looks like even the overthrow of Zelaya in Honduras is, at best, a 50/50 right now and it might actually collapse with time.
Russia and China are both absolutely beyond Imperial reach by now. Russia, in particular, is extremely stable and solidly anti-Imperial in its polices and pro-American political forces have basically disappeared from the political map. I am not so sure about China, but I see no reasons to doubt the basic stability and power of the Chinese polity.
My sense therefore is that the USraelian Empire just does not have the means to prevent a gradual dumping of the Greenback by most of the economic key players out there. The main obstacle which everybody faces in dumping the dollar is, of course, the huge foreign exchange reserves most of these countries hold in dollars. A rapid devaluation of the dollar would have a very bad effect on such countries are China or Saudi Arabia. Others, such as Russia, Iran and Latin America will probably do much better.
Russia, in particular, was sanctioned for its victory against the Imperial proxy Georgia in 2008 by a large disinvestment campaign by the Western financial elites. Well, maybe that disinvestment will end up helping Russia in the long term.
Whatever the modalities of this will be, it appears rather clear that from now on the Greenback's future can only be one thing: a slow-motion crash.
Part II - The Emperor Has No Clothes: Of Genes and Memes
This is the second in a three part series that deals with the phenomenon we call "the State of Israel." This can only be a rudimentary sketch, of course, as the subject is vast and this essay must be very brief. Israel is not a nation-state like other nation-states, which accounts for the hysterical attempts of the Zionists to sell the idea that it is. Israel is what used to be called a Rube Goldberg machine , in this case a jury-rigged attempt to create a modern state out of nothing but an ideology consisting of tribal fantasies and deep-seated paranoia, and to do so through the violent colonization of an already well-established society. An excellent piece on this topic is Interpreting the Zionist Dream, by Gilad Atzmon. To put it another way, an ideology had to be constructed, a people had to be invented; a colony had to be planted in an arbitrarily chosen place, populated by this newly invented people who in turn had to be swindled into thinking they were doing something that made some sort of sense. That the con artists who pulled off this real estate scam were successful is a marvel that never ceases to astonish me.
Everything that happens is the result of previous causes and conditions, so how do we account for the establishment and continued existence of this house of cards known as Israel? I am going to take an unusual approach to this question, which involves understanding genes and memes. Charles Darwin, in his seminal works, On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, described the evolution of all living beings, including human beings. What he called the process of natural selection is now understood to be mediated through the mutations of genes, biochemical strands of coded information that make possible the replication of life forms. However, human genetic revolution effectively stopped occurring some five thousand years ago. Jared Diamond, in his masterful work, Guns, Germs and Steel, takes up where Darwin left off, describing the process of cultural evolution. He enumerates a broad set of conditions that are conducive to technological and economic development, but he postulates no mechanism similar to genes. A number of people are of the opinion that cultural evolution is mediated by a set of different transmitters of information, analogous to genes, that have been termed memes. Rather than consisting of biochemical units that together constitute a code, memes are mental in nature, consisting of patterned connections in the brain, which when strung together emerge as thoughts. As memes are culturally transmitted thoughts, they must be spread through the agency of language. The emerging science of memetics is new and not yet part of the canon - there is still a great deal of work to be done in that area - but the notion of memes has become popular and comes in handy when one tries to understand why people do what they do, particularly when it appears to be clearly against their own self-interest.
Memes are cultural replicators, just as genes replicate the information that organize the development of life forms. As memes are unconscious, we aren't aware of how they form our thoughts and ideas, which can lead to bizarre results. Memes that reinforce one another become "complex memes." To quote Roger Cohen, in an article in the NYT writes, "here’s Netanyahu’s summary of the struggle of our age: 'It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.'." The insanity of the Zionist project is encapsulated in those words, the projection onto the "other" of one's own psychopathology. It is Mr. Hyde pontificating about the primitive and dangerous Dr. Jeckyl. Cohen merely calls it "facile and unhelpful." The Nobel Prize winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, in his 'Waiting for the Barbarians,' illuminates this myopic, Eurocentric supremacist view and where it leads to. Until Cohen and myriads of other Gatekeepers like him wake up and see Israel and Zionism for what they are, the sufferings of tens of millions of people will just continue.
The most complex memes become organized into belief systems, in which all the various elements are solidified into one seamless whole. They manifest as ideologies and religions. Israel is the embodiment of the ideological belief system called Zionism, supported by its symbiotic religion, the Holycause. They are like the two sides of a sacred scroll, placed in a Sanctum Sanctorum dedicated to their new God, the Golem (a creature, like all gods, of their own making). If one can break the seal and take a peek inside, what do we find? - a little boy pissing his pants. Like all schoolyard bullies, imitating their abusers, the Israelis are craven cowards underneath all the macho bravado. When the media announced that primitive weapons like Scuds were being fired by the Iraqis, or Qassams by the Palestinians, all of Israeli society would go bananas in a paroxysm of fear, hiding in basements, taping up windows, donning gas masks and the like. In south Lebanon they ran like rabbits when they met any organized resistance. But they become ecstatic when their "boys" are murdering civilians by the hundreds - 85% of Israelis approved of the Gaza Massacre. It is a very sick society.
By Brenda Heard
“Part of the functions of reports such as this is to attempt, albeit in a very small way, to restore the dignity of those whose rights have been violated in the most fundamental way of all –the arbitrary deprivation of life. It is important that the international community asserts formally and unequivocally that such violence to the most basic fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals should not be overlooked and should be condemned.”
The tragic tale of the Samouni family of Gaza has become well known. “We feel [we are] in an exile, even though we are in our homeland, on our land,” says Salah Samouni in a recent Haaretz article. “We sit and envy the dead. They are the ones who are at rest.” The interesting part, though, is not the renewed images of the dead. The interesting part is the backdrop of suggestion: the Samouni family felt that their longstanding, amicable relationship with the Israeli powers would protect them; they were naively mistaken. They were to be victims to the Dahiya Doctrine.
The Haaretz report states that Salah’s father, Talal, ‘had been employed by Jews’ for nearly 40 years and that whenever he was sick, ‘the employer would call, ask after his health, and forbid him to come to work before he had recovered.’” They had managed to get along.
Haaretz notes that the “Samounis were always confident that, in the event of any military invasions into Gaza, they could always manage to get along with the Israeli army. Until 2005, before Israel's disengagement from the Strip, the Jewish settlement of Netzarim was located right next door, and several family members worked there from time to time. When the joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols were active, Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security officials sometimes asked the Samounis to ‘lend’ them a tractor to flatten a patch of land or repair the Salah al-Din Road (for example, when a diplomatic convoy needed to pass through).
While Samouni family members worked on their tractors, gathering sand, the soldiers would watch them. ‘When the soldiers wanted us to leave, they would fire above our heads. That's what experience taught me,’ recalls Salah Samouni. . . . The older men of the family. . . worked in Israel until the 1990s in different localities, including Bat Yam, Moshav Asseret (near Gedera) and the ‘Glicksman Plant.’ They all believed that the Hebrew they had learned would assist and if necessary save them during encounters with soldiers.”
Even up until the mass killing, the Samouni family still clung naively to the notion that their working relationship with the IDF would protect them. Haaretz reports that “on January 4, under orders from the army, Salah Samouni and the rest of the family left their home, which had been turned into a military position, and moved to the other, the home of Wael [Samouni], located on the southern side of the street. The fact that it was the soldiers who had relocated them, had seen the faces of the children and the older women, and the fact that the soldiers were positioned in locations surrounding the house just tens of meters away, instilled in the family a certain amount of confidence - despite the IDF fire from the air, from the sea and from the land, despite the hunger and the thirst.”
And then the IDF shelled that home, killing 21 of the Samouni family. Their usefulness had expired.
The Samouni’s had not thrown stones at Israeli tanks and had not waved angry fists at Israeli soldiers. Instead, they had worked dutifully for the Jewish population and had learned its language. But they were not spared. They were not spared because they had not themselves been Jewish. They were not spared because “peaceful co-existence” is merely a phrase bandied about by politicians seeking camouflage.
On 18 January 2009, reports Haaretz, “after the IDF left the Gaza Strip, the rescue teams returned to the neighborhood. Wael's house was found in ruins: IDF bulldozers had demolished it entirely - with the corpses inside.” Evidence destroyed. When Haaretz questioned Israeli military about the behaviour of the military forces in the Samouni family's neighbourhood, an IDF spokesman said that all of the claims had been examined, and that ‘Upon completion of the examination, the findings will be taken to the military advocate general, who will decide about the need to take additional steps.’” Whether the Haaretz article intended genuine concern or a subtle sneer, it works both ways.
The Goldstone Mission, however, was not convinced of the usefulness of Israeli self-investigation. Paragraph 1629 of the Goldstone Report notes that the “Mission concludes that there are serious doubts about the willingness of Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way as required by international law.” This long-term unwillingness to abide by international law is so thoroughly documented in the Report that the UN Human Rights Council on 16 October 2009 not only expressed “serious concern at the lack of implementation by the occupying Power, Israel, of previously adopted resolutions and recommendations of the Council relating to the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” but also condemned the “non-cooperation by the occupying power, Israel, with the independent international fact-finding [Goldstone] mission.”
The common denominator of the Haaretz article and the Goldstone Report and the UN Human Rights Council Report is the challenge to the Israeli military concept known as the “Dahiya doctrine.” The Goldstone Report states that “The Israeli military conception of what was necessary in a future war with Hamas seems to have been developed from at least the time of the 2006 conflict in southern Lebanon. It finds its origin in a military doctrine that views disproportionate destruction and creating maximum disruption in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve military and political goals.” (¶1209)
In supporting the Goldstone Report, the UN Human Rights Council has acknowledged the premise that the responsibility for the most recent Lebanon and Gaza wars lies squarely with one unique factor: Israeli political goals. The UN-welcomed Report notes historical context by underscoring that the “specific means Israel has adopted to meet its military objectives in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Lebanon have repeatedly been censured by the United Nations Security Council, especially its attacks on houses. The military operations from 27 December to 18 January did not occur in a vacuum, either in terms of proximate causes in relation to the Hamas/Israeli dynamics or in relation to the development of Israeli military thinking about how best to describe the nature of its military objectives.” (¶1189)
The Goldstone Report, while situated within the Gaza conflict of 2008, found itself striking at the root of that conflict, a root that stretches back at least two years prior:
“In its operations in southern Lebanon in 2006, there emerged from Israeli military thinking a concept known as the Dahiya doctrine, as a result of the approach taken to the Beirut neighbourhood of that name. Major General Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli Northern Command chief, expressed the premise of the doctrine: ‘What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.’
After the war in southern Lebanon in 2006, a number of senior former military figures appeared to develop the thinking that underlay the strategy set out by Gen. Eiskenot. In particular Major General (Ret.) Giora Eiland has argued that, in the event of another war with Hizbullah, the target must not be the defeat of Hizbullah but ‘the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure and intense suffering among the population… Serious damage to the Republic of Lebanon, the destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can influence Hizbollah’s behaviour more than anything else’.” (¶1191—1192)
The Report again points to the similarity of goals and strategies of Israeli policies in both Lebanon and Gaza and quotes at length the October 2008 reflections of Col. (Ret.) Gabriel Siboni:
“With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy's actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as quickly as possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and every launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power elite… In Lebanon, attacks should both aim at Hizbollah’s military capabilities and should target economic interests and the centres of civilian power that support the organization. Moreover, the closer the relationship between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Government, the more the elements of the Lebanese State infrastructure should be targeted. Such a response will create a lasting memory among … Lebanese decision makers, thereby increasing Israeli deterrence and reducing the likelihood of hostilities against Israel for an extended period. At the same time, it will force Syria, Hizbollah, and Lebanon to commit to lengthy and resource-intensive reconstruction programmes… This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well. There, the IDF will be required to strike hard at Hamas and to refrain from the cat and mouse games of searching for Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF should not be expected to stop the rocket and missile fire against the Israeli home front through attacks on the launchers themselves, but by means of imposing a ceasefire on the enemy.” (¶1193)
The Report emphasises that the Dahiya Doctrine of debilitating punishment was far from bluster. The Mission, states the Report has been “able to conclude from a review of the facts on the ground that it witnessed for itself that what is prescribed as the best strategy appears to have been precisely what was put into practice.” (¶1195) In fact, the Report continues, the “operations were carefully planned in all their phases. Legal opinions and advice were given throughout the planning stages and at certain operational levels during the campaign. There were almost no mistakes made according to the Government of Israel. It is in these circumstances that the Mission concludes that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” (¶1690) What was born in Lebanon in 2006 as a bombardment of the Dahiya district of Beirut had evolved into the blitzkrieg of Gaza.
In challenging the Dahiya Doctrine, the UN Human Rights Council confirms the ultimate finding of the Goldstone Report: aggressive annihilation in the quest for political gain violates the rule of law which safeguards the balance of civilised societies. It is not merely the vicious act which must be condemned, but the concept itself. It is agreed that the responsibility for these atrocities lies “in the first place with those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw the operations.” (¶1692) In carrying forward the recommendations of the Report, the UN Human Rights Council supports the principles of international law and that Israel’s “longstanding impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations.” (¶1761) These are facts that, unlike the Samouni family home, can not be demolished and reduced to rubble.
By Brenda Heard
Friends of Lebanon
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Teflon cloak Israel has tried to wrap itself in since Operation Cast Lead, the invasion of Gaza in December 2008, looks as strong as ever in Canada. "Canada is so friendly that there was no need to convince or explain anything to anyone. We need allies like this in the international arena," gushed Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in July. Toronto's new Israeli consul, Amir Gissin, recently announced his Toronto staff would be expanded, despite the fact that Canada already has more Israeli diplomatic staff per capita than any other country in the world, due to "the city's large Israeli population" and the fact that Toronto is "an arena for Israel from a PR, cultural and commercial point of view". He also said it "reflects the importance of the Toronto Jewish community" in supporting Israel. Indeed, there are an estimated 100,000 Israelis who prefer the joys of living in Canada to facing the violence-charged daily life of Israel, and many Canadian Jews who opt for instant citizenship in Israel. Toronto Jews have been generous in their support of Israel since its founding.
Three Israel-related events this year have stayed in the headlines, reflecting the importance of Israel in Canadian political and cultural life.
First, Canadian Ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was recently honoured at Canada Park -- built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law -- as one of hundreds of donors who helped establish the park on the ruins of three Palestinian villages. Just north of Jerusalem, it was founded in the early 1970s following Israel's occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war. It is hugely popular for walks and picnics with the Israeli public, who are by and large unaware that they are in Palestinian territory that is officially a closed military zone. Former Israeli parliamentarian Uri Avnery has described the park's creation as an act of complicity in "ethnic cleansing" and Canada's involvement as "cover to a war crime". About 5,000 Palestinians were expelled from the area during the war. A plaque bearing Allen's name is attached to a stone wall constructed from the rubble of Palestinian homes razed by the Israeli army. The Jewish National Fund, treated as a charity for tax purposes, establishes and manages such parks on behalf of Jewish people worldwide. Canada Park is believed to be the only example, outside East Jerusalem, of the JNF becoming directly involved in managing land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Then there is the wildly popular exhibition "Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World,"at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), a joint project with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), funded by the Toronto Tanenbaum family dynasty who coincidentally were instrumental in the creation of Canada Park. This exhibition provided a fitting gala premier for the museum's ultra-modern wing designed by Israeli-American Daniel Libeskind. Libeskind, whose parents were Polish Holocaust survivors, also designed the Berlin Jewish Museum, the Felix Nussbaum Museum in Osnabruck, Germany, and the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen. The Dead Sea Scrolls, regarded as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century and including what is purported to be the oldest known version of the Old Testament (150BC-70CE), were found by a Bedouin shepherd in caves near Qumran, near the Dead Sea, and later by the Palestine Archaeological Museum (also known as the Rockefeller Museum) in a joint expedition with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Ecole Biblique Française between 1947-1956. The Scrolls were displayed at the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem until 1967, when they were seized and relocated to the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem. Since 1967, additional (illegal) excavations and findings by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) took place in Qumran and the surrounding area, and artefacts continue to be (illegally) appropriated by Israel, under the auspices of the IAA.
Under international law and in accordance with Canada's and Israel's obligations as signatories to the 1954 UNESCO protocol for the "Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict", Israel is not entitled to these artefacts. The repatriation of the Scrolls and millions of other artefacts to Palestine remains a key issue for those seeking peace and justice in the Middle East. In 2005, Canada signed other UNESCO conventions and protocols specifically aimed at preventing the removal and the exhibition of illegally removed artefacts from occupied territories, and adopted domestic Canadian legislation -- the Cultural Property Export and Import Act -- which makes it a criminal offense to import cultural property in violation of the conventions. The ROM, for its own part, is a member of the Canadian Museums Association whose Ethics Guidelines states that "museums must guard against any direct or indirect participation in the illicit traffic in cultural and natural objects that are: stolen, illegally imported or exported from another state, including those that are occupied or war-stricken." The 1954 Convention clearly requires Canada to "take into custody cultural property imported into its territory either directly or indirectly from any occupied territory" and "return, at the close of hostilities, to the competent authorities of the territory previously occupied, cultural property which is in its territory."
Israel not only continues to illegally excavate in occupied Palestinian territory but dismisses international law altogether (despite its UNESCO pledges), using archeology and discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls to reinforce the Zionist national narrative and the colonial project upon which the state was founded. Supposedly a science removed from political, religious, or ideological bias, archeology under the IAA is the very antithesis of this, being rooted in Biblical mythology. Artefacts like the Scrolls are, according to Amos Elon, "almost titles of real estate, like deeds of possession to a contested country". Like British, French, and German imperialist functionaries before them, Israeli archeologists sift through the many layers of historical evidence in search of what will prove their belief that they are indeed God's Chosen People, ignoring or rather destroying the intervening layers and interpreting finds to suit their needs. The thousands of years of non-Jewish Arab civilisation don't matter. Historian Keith Whitelam says in The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History, the modern state of Israel has "cast its shadow of influence backwards to claim previous periods as its 'prehistory'." The IAA is just as much a steamroller, flattening indigenous Palestine, as the Israeli Defence Forces, in their policy of archeological apartheid. Committee Against Israeli Apapartheid (CAIA) activist Ali Mustafa writes that Israeli archeology is explicitly categorised by the IAA as either Jewish/Israeli or Arab/Muslim in a process whereby ancient artefacts that supposedly belong to the Biblical era are actively sought after, while supposedly encouraging Palestinians to do the same concerning later Islamic periods. Following the Oslo peace process, Israel claimed it was prepared to assign jurisdiction of all "Arab" and "Muslim" archeological sites in the West Bank over to the PA; however, the offer was flatly refused, and the PA instead demanded control over all sites, as well as an immediate return of artefacts seized since 1967. The logic is simple: conflate all Palestinian history as Islamic (openly disregarding Christian and secular influences), and apply these reductive and simplistic binary terms to all artefacts ignoring the region's shared past and overlapping cultural heritage. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the Scrolls should be seized by ROM and the Canadian government under their international obligations and held or handed over to UNESCO until their ownership is determined, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation concluded in June that "the museum feels the scrolls are legally held and both the federal and provincial government have expressed their support of the exhibition."
The third event is the Toronto International Film Festival's "City to city Spotlight on Tel Aviv", in cooperation with the Israeli Embassy and the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation. Along with the ROM exhibition, this PR scheme was to be the centre- piece of Israeli Consul Gissin's special Canadian "Brand Israel" campaign, dreamed up in 2008 on his arrival in Toronto, using the same mass marketing techniques of "The Israel Project", launched in 2002 in the US, to present a more "benign" vision of Israel to the Canadian public. The Israel Project uses "grassroots" encounter groups to hone their propaganda efforts. Canadian partners in the Project's Canadian spin-off included Sidney Greenberg of Astral Mediaand David Asper of Canwest Global Communications, arguably the most powerful media magnates in Canada, who are funding a million dollar media and advertising campaign aimed at changing Canadian perceptions of Israel.
"Brand Israel" is intended to take the focus off Israel's treatment of Palestinians and refocus it on achievements in medicine, science and culture. In "The Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary", Frank Luntz explains: "Americans want a team to cheer for. Let the public know GOOD things about Israel ... The language of Israel is the language of America: 'democracy', 'freedom', 'security', and 'peace'". Fleshing out how to rebrand Israeli atrocities, Gissin made it clear that his mission was to "make Israel relevant" to Canadians and use Toronto as a test market for the Israel brand during his term. The lessons learned from Toronto would inform the worldwide launch of Brand Israel in the coming years, Gissin said. Official Brand Israel logos and advertising can be found across Toronto in bus shelters, on billboards, on radio and TV. Gissin said the ad blitz would be "an attack on all the senses." The idea was to see "how to introduce a brand into Toronto" with emphasis on "grassroots" exposure, to promote Tel Aviv as a city of peace, untouched by the wars Israel has waged since 1948, despite the fact that many Palestinian communities were destroyed and Jaffa annexed to make way for the emergence of modern-day Tel Aviv.
But all is not well in the Land of Nod. The Canadian government regularly opines it is assiduously monitoring anti-Semitism despite the absence of anti-Jewish sentiment and despite the pro- Jewish nature of the media in this most laid-back, multicultural of nations. But Canadian "grassroots" are not limited to pro-Israeli marketing groups. Despite mainstream media subservience to Canada's vigorous and large pro-Israeli lobby, some people have had enough. Zionist propaganda efforts in this "so friendly" country have increasingly met with resistance, and all the Israeli consuls in the world cannot undo the damage that Israeli war crimes have done and continue to do, as the siege in Gaza and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements continue.
There are now strong citizen groups fighting Canada's official support of every Israeli government whim. There are many Jewish anti-Zionist groups, such as Jews for a Just Peace, Jewish Voices for Peace, Not in Our Name, Women in Solidarity with Palestine, Independent Jewish Voices, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAZ). Nonspecifically Jewish groups include Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Palestine House, Canada Palestine Association, and the above-mentioned CAIA, which has grown rapidly with centres in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Anti-Zionist activists have been holding vigils regularly at the Toronto Israeli Consulate for eight years now. They are organising the sixth Anti-Apartheid Week to be held soon on more than 25 university campuses across the country, and demonstrations and fundraising events on behalf of Palestinians are held regularly. IJAZ has launched a campaign "Divest from Israel: Support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel", which includes stickering Israeli products in stores, requesting stores to de-shelve Israeli products, targetting businesses, organisations or government officials that support Israel, "organise a public tachlit service, a ritual that symbolises the casting away of our misdeeds, to spiritually divest from Zionist narratives and mythology and to atone for the ways that we have fallen short in countering them."
Allen's support for Canada Park, implicitly condoning Israel's ruthless ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, has landed him in hot water. He had to deny any personal contribution to Canada Park, an External Affairs spokesperson insisting that he had not made a personal donation and that his name had been included as a benefactor when his parents gave their contribution. Uri Davis, an Israeli scholar and human rights activist who has co- authored a book on the JNF calls Canada Park "a crime against humanity that has been financed by and implicates not only the Canadian government but every taxpayer in Canada." Canada Park is particularly sensitive for Israel because it lies outside the country's internationally-recognised borders. The Palestinian inhabitants' expulsion, Eitan Bronstein, director of the Israeli NGO Zochrot (Remembering), said, was a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing of villagers who put up no resistance."We have photographs of the Israeli army carrying out the expulsions," he tells tourists, holding up a series of laminated cards. According to Zochrot, 86 Palestinian villages lie buried underneath JNF parks. Zochrot activists regularly select a destroyed village, taking Palestinian refugees with them as they place a handmade sign detailing the village's name in Arabic and Hebrew. Within days, the signs are removed. Bronstein said he believes signs erected by official bodies may have a greater impact in opening Israeli minds. "In a recent newspaper interview, a senior JNF official admitted that it would be hard to stop our campaign," he said. "Slowly we believe Israelis can be made to appreciate that their state exists at the expense of another people. Only then are Israelis likely to be ready to think about making peace."
With Zochrot's efforts in mind, Uri Davis joined in an application to the Canadian tax authorities to overturn the JNF's charitable status and said attempts to rename Canada Park "Ayalon Park" over the past decade suggested that the Canadian authorities were already concerned about the prospect of the country's involvement in the park coming under scrutiny. In April, before the ROM exhibition opened, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and executives at the ROM were sent letters of protest from senior officials of the Palestinian Authority, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, declaring that the scrolls were in fact illegally seized by Israel following its occupation and annexation of the West Bank in 1967 and calling for their repatriation. The ROM exhibition inspired a campaign of protest led by the CJPME trying to get ROM officials to adjust the display of the artifacts to reflect the fact that the Scrolls were confiscated from East Jerusalem during Israel's 1967 invasion and occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, to use "West Bank (Israeli-occupied)" and East and West Jerusalem with 1948 Armistice borders on maps. CJPME's Thomas Woodley said, "We would like there to be a balanced narrative. The ROM is presenting the scrolls entirely from the Israeli perspective. There's no discussion about what happened between their discovery and their exhibition today."
ROM met with CJPME members and initially agreed to make changes and even distribute an additional leaflet to be inserted into the museum's brochure. Friday pickets were held throughout the summer to inform the public about the theft of the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, a visit by Al-Ahram Weekly to the exhibition revealed that no such changes were made, and the history of their discovery in Jordan and seizure in 1967 was finessed. ROM's PR spokesperson Marilynn Friedman declined to answer questions about why ROM reneged on promises to accommodate CJPME's concerns.Woodley said ROM director Thorsell was receptive, and assumes that the IAA vetoed any changes that would detract from the Zionist narrative. Tens of thousands of innocent schoolchildren are being respectfully shepherded through subterranean, darkened halls, and left with the impression that the ancient "Israelis" inhabited the kingdom of "Judea", that their "descendants" heroically prevented the "pillaging of the Scrolls by Bedouin" and are the rightful owners. The mythical kingdoms of 10th-3rd century BC Palestine -- for which there is no conclusive evidence -- are carefully delineated and explained in commentaries as if they are actual history. A dazzling success story for the most part for Gissin's "Brand Israel".
The dust-up, however, continues to provide a platform for activists to educate Canadians and empowers demonstrators at the nearby Israeli consulate. It has provided a 6-month platform for re-rebranding Israel as the centre of 21st-century apartheid. And no amount of slick PR can undo the fact that merely by continuing to exist, despite all odds, Palestinians endure as testimony to the injustice of "The Israel Project" in all its manifestations. Palestinians only have survival itself as proof of the crimes committed against them, choosing to maintain traditional dress, religious faith (both Christian and Islamic), and the historical memory of the Nakba as their most meaningful and durable expressions of resistance. Though former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir notoriously declared that "there is no such thing as Palestinians," Palestinian academic Edward Said more accurately explained that, "In the case of a political identity that's being threatened, culture is a way of fighting against extinction and obliteration." The battle being waged over the Scrolls is not so much about any particular ethnic, religious, or even cultural-based claim, but more importantly a means of opposing Zionist colonial discourse.
Finally, TIFF's cozying up to the Israeli propaganda machine blew up into a global scandal, as a spontaneous movement of protest among a few filmmakers turned into an international incident, bringing 1,500 signatures from prominent Israeli public figures and the likes of Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Guy Maddin, Walter Bernstein, and Harry Belafonte to the now historic "Toronto Declaration". Leading Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, the catalyst for the declaration, refused to screen his latest film "Covered" in protest. Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla withdrew his feature film debut "Heliopolis", as did Ahmed Maher ("The Traveller"). The protesters were denounced in the mainstream media, called "opportunists, hypocrites, fascists, censors, storm- troopers, apartheid-supporters, intolerant totalitarians, a mob of homophobic anti-Semitic terrorist regime supporters" acting "effectively [as] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's local fifth column" by Canadian film producer Robert Lantos. Yet the protest overshadowed the festival itself and was a godsend for educating the wider public, which could not help but hear about the unprecedented protest, despite mainstream media indifference or hostility. Greyson condemned the opportunism of TIFF for its complicity with the Israeli consulate's "Brand Israel" campaign. "I'm reminded of last year, when the opening night party for 'Passchendaele' featured real soldiers posing on a Canadian Armed Forces tank. Many of us were disturbed by this uncritical collaboration with the Canadian army, currently fighting in Afghanistan. So I have to ask: who is politicising TIFF? Why hasn't TIFF explicitly explained and repudiated the perceived Brand Israel connection, beyond vague disavowals? What's the extent of Israeli sponsorship, beyond airfare, receptions, and the Mayor's presence? Why an exclusive programme of Israeli state-sponsored features, when shorts could have provided critical alternative voices?"
Opponents of Greyson wrote to York University, demanding that he be investigated, fired, even deported. In a delightful irony, the popular 2nd Toronto Palestinian Film Festival opened just a few weeks after TIFF closed. "It feels like the days of the first anti-apartheid struggle back in the 1970s," enthused one activist. BDS is already a buzzword among politically-aware Canadians. Of course, there was much momentum back then from the successful anti-Vietnam War movement, the Zionist control of mainstream was less stifling, and there was much stronger political awareness in those Cold War years. But the anti-apartheid movement eventually brought everyone on board, even the notorious Margaret Thatcher, who seeing the writing on the wall, joined in. This anti-apartheid struggle phase two is picking up steam, even among Israel's best friends. In presenting the Toronto Declaration, Greyson explained that he had just returned from South Africa, where he visited the Hector Pieterson Museum, dedicated to the memory of the 1976 Soweto massacre, where over 500 school children and anti-apartheid activists were killed by security forces. Among other things, the museum documents how this event became a turning point for the world, "a line in the sand, a moment when we ostriches finally woke up and expressed our outrage against South Africa's apartheid regime. During my visit to the museum, the 2008 words of former Israeli Education Minister Shulamit Aloni echoed in my head: 'Israel practices a brutal form of apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp.'" Greyson was overwhelmed by the outpouring of protest at TIFF and predicted that "Gaza represents a similar turning point to Soweto, a similar line in the sand. A moment when it's imperative to speak out against the outrages of the Occupation."
You can reach Eric Walberg at http://ericwalberg.com
a version of this article appears at http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/968/cu3.htm