Friday, June 18, 2010

Someone in the mainstream press notices. . .

Something wholly new is emerging in Canada, in all the spaces where the Left used to be, in its activist constituencies, its traditional institutions, and its lexicon. Whatever name you want to give the thing, its noticeable features include a betrayal of progressive internationalism, a pathetic weakness for conspiracy theories, and a routine apologetics for antisemitism and terror. Its outlook is generally parochial, but its global engagements tend to align with fascism’s contemporary Islamist variants, even to the point of objective support for the Taliban.

In the Ottawa Citizen, John Robson notices "a cancer on the political left":

Please recognize that there is an enemy to your left and it is creeping up on you. I realize you believe you have adversaries and enemies on the right. I am not convinced you draw a sufficiently careful distinction between the merely misguided and the genuinely malign to that side but I grant that the latter do exist. Including anti-Semites in the fever swamps of the right. But they inhabit the fever swamps of the left as well. I am increasingly persuaded that anti-Semitism is an infallible badge of vile extremism everywhere. And if you look hard to your left you will see a loathsome horde dripping its slime and heading your way.


Blogger Ian H said...

Bob Rae takes a strong stand in The Mark News:

"Why Layton Has to Fire Libby Davies"

Ian H

11:05 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Bob Rae has lost most of my previous respect with his cheap rhetoric. No, Libby did not "call for more violence", no she did not "call for the end of Israel". Now, apparently, criticism of Israel should get you fired from the NDP. This hysterical witch-hunt is almost as revolting as the ranting of the few anti-semitic loons on the left.

12:00 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

"You all know Israel investigates itself constantly over the Gaza blockade, the Lebanon incursion, the withdrawal from Gaza and everything else"

Right. What a relief to those who were killed during the invasion of Gaza-international credible investigations rejected by Israel. As these lines are jotted out the Palestinian Israeli activists Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said languished in prison cells after being detained without charges and accused by Israel’s internal security service of unspecified crimes against the state. “Security reasons” was the only reason the Shin Bet offered for imprisoning the activists. The Mizrahi Israeli peace activist Ezra Nawi had also been freshly imprisoned, sentenced to a month in jail and three years probation for placing his body between Israeli bulldozers and Palestinian homes.

On the other side of the Green Line, Palestinian medical students were recently refused entry to Jerusalem after they rejected a Shin Bet officer’s demand that they spy on fellow students at Al-Quds University. They were thus prevented from continuing their medical training. As usual, the Shin Bet offered “security reasons” as its explanation for denying the students their education.

Notice how this writer never even mentions the occupation or attempts to speak to the Palestinian experience. No what we have is lame and blind worship of a state which is-its important to state this fact-occupying another peoples land. This invisibility of Palestinians is in fact a kind of insidious racism which frames far too many of these discusssions. The left can in fact do much better

12:04 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

"You all know that in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Gaza dissent brings death. Yet the very existence of Israel seems increasingly offensive to some of you. The naive still ask why the left dislikes Israel despite its democratic openness."

This is a prime example of the illogic of the discussion; that you are either for Israel of for Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia are loathsome examples of dictatorship and repression and represent the worst aspects of regressive Islam. But we don't count them as allies or friends (well, except for Saudi Arabia, and then only for the most machiavellian of reasons). We expect them to be repressive and loathsome because that is that they are. That we holds Israel to a much higher standard is something that commentators such as Robson should encourage. Does he really want Israel to be judged alongside Iran, or would he rather it be judged in comparison to, say, Holland, or the UK, or other western democracies?

12:13 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

RE: Judged in comparison to, say, Holland, or the UK, or other western democracies?

All fine and good, JC. When Holland, the UK or any other western democracy finds itself in the same predicament as Israel, maybe that's the time to make those kind of judgments. Can you really expect to be taken seriously when you equate Israel's situation to that of Holland? Are you for real? Your argument, at the present time, is totally bogus.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

When the UK faced terrorist attacks from the IRA, it somehow managed to get by without bombarding Londonderry with high explosives. But nevertheless it did fall far short of civilized behavior, as was recently, and very belatedly, admitted. So yes, Israel should be held to a higher standard than its neighbors. You seem to disagree. So you then think that Israel deserves to be judged alongside Iran?

1:39 PM  
Blogger Bernard von Schulmann said...

The important thing in the middle east is to focus on the where the oppression is and push for human rights and democracy there.

The treatment of Arabs in Israel is the best an Arab can expect in the Middle East.

The Arabs in the occupied territories live conditions that suck but there has be a responsibility taken in the Arabic world about the conflict and the implications of it.

Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia need to come to the defense of Israel. They need to publicly admit that life is better for all people in Israel than in their own countries. They need to admit that their lack of free press, free speech and such is a large part of the cause of the problems in the middle east.

They also need to take the hardest line in the world against anti-semitism.

As long as the countries around Israel act as if Israel is the enemy, there can not be an end to the occupation.

The realpolitik is that the 63 years of belligerence against Israel by a country like Syria means that Israel needs to take action to protect the people.

The onus in the middle east lies with the Arabic countries, they hold the key to peace.

So everyone is certain, I find Netenyahu a loathsome politician. I completely oppose the existence of the religious parties in Israel - there is no place in politics for overt religion. I also know there are people in Israel that are racists f**ks.

At the same time, no one has been as oppressive of the Palestinians as Hamas. Hamas will not allow free media reports from Gaza, they will not allow free speech, they encourage violence against their opposition.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Democracy in Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be great. But since this would lead to the rise of Islamic parties, it is actively opposed by the USA and Israel. They would much rather have semi-predictable dictatorships. This is the sort of doublespeak and hypocrisy that one is faced with in ME realpolitik.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

"As long as the countries around Israel act as if Israel is the enemy, there can not be an end to the occupation.

The realpolitik is that the 63 years of belligerence against Israel by a country like Syria means that Israel needs to take action to protect the people."

All the countries around Israel (except Iran) signed the Beirut Declaration offering peace to Israel if it would end the occupation and return to its 1967 borders (and commit to an undefined "just" solution for the refugees"). You say the occupation must continue until surrounding countries accept Israel. They have. It appears that it is the occupation and Israeli intransigence that is the sticking point.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

I should add, the Beirut Declaration / Arab Peace Initiative, which you would have thought would have been welcomed with jubilation by Israel, was met with a deafening silence in most western media. In Israel itself, rather than being hailed as a breakthrough, the response was tepid at best. What conclusions should be brought from this reaction?

2:13 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Israel rejected it because it left unresolved the issue of refugees and it was and still is believed that the ultimate aim was to force Israel to accept all of them. That being said, my own feeling is that israel should have called the Arab Nations' bluff and accepted the deal.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Bernard von Schulmann said...

Last time I checked Israel said they were open to talking about the Beirut Declaration, as I understand negotiations are going on.

The declaration as it stands is the position of one side and is missing a lot of detail.

There are statements within the declaration that are impossible to do such as "all Israelis to accept this initiative" The government can agree but it can force the people to agree as it is a democracy.

It is also missing discussion of how Israel will feel secure and is ambiguous about diplomatic recognition and the right of Israel to exist.

The Arab League has sent envoys to Israel, as I understand it there are negotiations going on and the Arab League is in the process of discussing what is acceptable and what is not.

The biggest opposition to the plan are from Hezbollah and Hamas.

As an act of good faith Saudi Arabia and Syria could recognize Israel and have normal diplomatic relations.

The single biggest stumbling blocks will be East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. By international law, Israel has a very strong claim to retain the Golan, much stronger than many other places other countries are accepted as owning.

But until the people of the Arabic countries are free, the outcome of this process could end looking more like the Iron Curtain than an open border.

The ultimate goal needs to secular democracies in the whole region, taking the focus away from this simply continues the major problem of the region, the oppression of people by their own governments.

3:04 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Vilde-I'm curious as to whether you consider the Arab regimes who have peace treaties with Israel including the despicable regime, with its lifetime president, who enforces the Israeli siege to be permanent enemies of Israel? Also it seems obvious to me that if there was more awareness of the immense loss Palestinians suffered in 1948 and less attempts to shut down that dialogue, under the often false guise of calling Israel's existence into question, then perhaps we'd understand why the 1967 borders represent a minimum baseline demand for Palestinians-a historic concession for a people who have faced waves of dispossession. Erase 1948 and its easier to not talk about the expulsions of 1967. Heck the facts of the ground already work against the very possibility of Palestinians gaining self determination in 22 per cent of their historic homeland. Even social democrats like Layton hardly cling or advocate for the principles of resolution 242. The fact is that the liberal left, especially in Canada, is weak on Palestinian rights and fearing an electoral backlash is too willing to jettison social justice principles-its silence normalizing the status quo

3:06 PM  
Blogger Brian from Toronto said...

We owe a lot of thanks to the blogger who interviewed Libby Davies and to Thomas Mulcair for calling her on her statements.

John Robson's column is just the latest benefit.

It would be wonderful if Davies were forced to resign - replaced by Mucair (in my dreams).

But it's not going to happen, and neither is Davies ever going to clarify her position on BDS.

They'll just hunker down and wait for it to blow over.

Realistically, the best I can see coming out of this is Mulcair defecting to teh Liberals (because realistically he's the one who Layton is going to punish).

4:10 PM  
Blogger Brian from Toronto said...

What I find fascinating about the Davies affair is that her supporters aren't claiming she made a mistake - got her dates mmixed up or whatever, as Davies herself is claiming.

Rather, they're claiming she's right - the occupation really did begin in 1948.

In on-line comments Davies supporters are also picking up on Harper's comparison of Davies to Helen Thomas. But again, not to disagree, but to say so what? Teh Jews should go back to Germany.

4:20 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Ahmed I'm trying to figure out the point of your first question, but I'll try and answer nevertheless. I'm grateful to the Egyptian govt. and the Jordanian govt. for haviong the courage to make peace with Israel, even if it is a cold peace, as most recently exemplified by the recent supreme court ruling in egypt that if an egyptian male marries an Israeli Jew he loses his citizenship (there are dozens of other examples).
Of course, the govts. of Egypt and to a lesser extent Jordan are dictatorships, but that's the way of the Arab world, isn't it, other than Lebanon, and it's indirectly ruled by Syria and Iran through Hezb. So why single them out, unless its specifically for the one good thing they did, namely, make peace with Israel.

It would be fabulous if democracy actually came to the Arab world, and even more fabulous if it lasted beyond one election; i am still waiting to see whether Hamas, for example, will ever hold another election since their 2007 coup in Gaza.

I agree of course that the Palestinian people have suffered terribly since 1948 but don't agree that the sole source of that suffering is Israel. Arab states and the Palestinian leadership itwself have a lot to answer for in this regard. I was just told today, for example, that a physician from Jordan with a Palestinian father who is here in vancouver on a 2-year work study program can't get Jordanian citizenship and has to apply every two years to obtain some passport that makeshim less than a citizen -- stateless in fact -- though he's lived his entire life in Jordan (which is 60% Palestinian anyway and was part of the original Palestine mandate).

I don't at all agree with you that there are "attempts to shut down that dialogue under the often false guise of calling Israel's existence into question". I think it's the other way around, that Israel's existence is continually called into question, as you often do, under the guise of Palestinian suffering and referring to 1948 as occupation.

Finally, I would very much support a peace treaty with 1967 borders, East Jerusalem (minus the Jewish quarter) as the Palestinian capital (with minor adjustments here and there). I would hope that the new Palestinian state would not have to make itself Judenrein, like Jordan is right now. Meanwhile, "apartheid" israel has more than 1 million Arab citizens.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Brian from Toronto said...

"Occupying another people's land."

Ahmed, you need to recall the reason Israel occupies the West Bank is that Jordan launched a completely unprovoked invasion and got beaten.

It continues to occupy it because when Israel offered it to Arafat, he said no. And when Israel offered it to Abbas, he said no.

I'd like to see a Palestinian leader say, yes, someday.

In the meanwhile - supposing the Palestinians want another offer - Israel has legitimate security concerns and it's up to the Palestinians to reassure Israel.

So far, the Palestinian govt has been doing things like naming soccer teams after terrorists. Not very smart if someday they want to have a state.

But that doesn't seem to be Fatah's main objective.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Brian: from the standpoint of a refugee ethnically cleansed from Israel and refused the right to return home, it is hard to dispute that an occupation began in 1948. Their house is leveled or occupied by an Israeli, and they are stuck in a refugee camp. That's simply a fact, and the unfortunate fact is, just or not, that they are not going to get that land back. This, presumably is what Libby was referring to, and it is both disingenuous and distasteful for the Bob Rae's to jump on this as if Libby was calling for the end of Israel.

Of course there is another occupation, and that is the land taken in 1967.

This isn't about Libby calling for the end of Israel. It is about trying to silence a high-profile supporter of BDS, and Bob Rae should be ashamed.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Brian from Toronto said...

Another 48-er!

I don't even have to look for them.

This is the problem with the NDP. They have their official policy - a two-state solution - and then they have the "we hate Israel" stance espoused by 90% of the members.

It begins with a fairy tale of ethnic cleansing, inlcudes support for the terrorist war known as the Intifadah and ends with the nasty notion that Israel needs a solution imposed on it.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Brian from Toronto said...

And of course while the NDP officially opposes BDS, 90% of its members and the duputy leader support sanctioning the only country in the Middle East where Libby and her spouse could live without fear for their lives.

The "we hate Israel" policy isn't even a hidden agenda. The NDP openly keeps two sets of books.

8:31 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

RE: ethnically cleansed from Israel.

Actually they were just like any other refugees from a war zone from the losing side. Ask the Germans, Greeks, etc etc. Ethnic cleansing is what Yugoslavs did, they created the term, which anti-Zionists love to foist on Israel. If Israel really was into ethnic cleansing, it wouldn't still have 1 million Arab citizens. Too much propaganda, not enough facts or historical knowledge.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Fairy tale? Nice, Brian, always a displeasure to meet the equivalent of an Ernst Zundel.

Vilde: Germans were ethnically cleansed, so were Greeks, so were Hungarians, so were Native North Americans down in the USA, for that matter. It's a common theme of human history, and hardly unique to Israel. What's so special about the Yugoslavs?

10:14 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Oh yeah..and the Irish were ethnically cleansed by the Brits, ever too, since 1169. I guess that makes me a self-hating Brit, does it?

10:22 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Brian: I support boycotting and sanctioning any country that is an obstacle to peace, and that includes Hamas-stan. If you were hoping for a knee-jerk lefty, keep looking.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Such a fairy tale that even the National Post run the following: ; alongside an editorial saying that "the Israeli ethnic cleansing was "relatively mild", and anyway Canada, Bangladesh, Ireland, Germany were also created by ethnic cleansing." That they published Heer's column was when I decided that the NP wasn't totally a lost cause, and that perhaps reason had a chance of prevailing, eventually.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Perhaps calling Brian a "Zundel" is a bit harsh. An "Ahmedinejad" is more appropriate. "Holocaust a myth" on one side, "ethnic cleansing a fairy tale" on the other.

12:28 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

The difference is the Serbs went in with the express intent to ethnically cleanse, which is why they invented the term. AS I said, if the Israelis wanted to "ethnically cleanse," there wouldn't be 1 million Arab citizens in Israel, nor would the Palestinian population overall be 6 million. Wars have always caused refugee issues. Ethnic cleansing is a politicized term, like genocide, another slur continually aimed at Israel. It has little meaning beyond the Yugoslav situation, and I certainly wouldn't apply this late-20th-century term to First Nations or the Irish or any other pre-20th-century situation. It has the same ring as calling Mohammed a child molester, which I also take big issue with.
Perhaps you should expand your middle-east reading repertoire beyond Ilan Pappe. Meanwhile, I am starting to tire of this discussion as it gets more and more semantic.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

"Holocaust a myth" on one side, "ethnic cleansing a fairy tale" on the other.

Sheesh. What's the old saying about opinions being like assholes? Well, everyone's got one.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Brian from Toronto said...

If only Jonathan had a million fingers and toes - he'd be be able to figure out that Israel was never cleansed of its Arab population.

If Jonathan had ever read any neo-Nazi literature of the sort published by Zundel and had a clue what he was talking about, Jonathan might not make such an odious comparison.

But like his hero Libby, Jonathan gladly slanders from a standpoint of total ignorance. Though - on the video - Libby at least admits she doesn't know what she's talking about.

"Ahmedinejad" is not improvement. Zundel loves Hitler. Ahmedinejad aspires to be the next one, and in the meantime contents himself with ordering the murder and rape of his fellow Iranians.

Denying the Holocaust is a prelude to repeating it. In a similar way, demonizing Israel and denying its legitiamcy
is meant as a prelude to destroying it.

But enough of Janothan's ignorance. I don't have time to write an encylopedia.

I'll just conclude by saying I'm distressed to hear that not only does Jonathan favour boycotting Israel, he favours boycotting the Palestinian Authority and any country that stands in the way of peace.

I fear we'll see a total cessation of world trade.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Brian: "Denying the Holocaust is a prelude to repeating it."

Sure. And so is denying ethnic cleansing,or calling it a "fairy tale". For instance, it's a fact that the USA was founded on ethnic cleansing and slavery (or are you going to call the trail of tears a fairy tale as well?) Admitting this does not mean "delegitimatizing the USA" or calling for all non-natives to be thrown into the ocean. And yes, there are still native Americans in the USA, despite the episodes of genocide and ethnic cleansing that accompanied its birth. Israel's ethnic cleansing was, as the NP notes, "relatively" mild compared to that in Rwanda, Armenia or elsewhere, if the term "relative" can be applied to an objective evil. There were a few massacres but no widespread or pre-meditated attempt at genocide. What it wasn't was a "fairy tale". Grow a pair.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

Ok Vilde, we've established that you have issues with semantics and footnoting. If it will make you happy, I will from now on refer to the exodus of Palestinians in 1948 as "a non-premeditated forcible movement / ejection of an ethnic group similar but not identical to that involved in Yugoslav ethnic cleansing". Is that an improvement?

4:45 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Colvin, if you think that Goldstone citing one group's opinion to support another group's opinion as the only evidence to support the very serious charge of intentionally setting out to hurt civilians is merely a "footnoting" issue, then I think my time debating with you is over. You can describe anything you want anyway you like. You are not to be taken seriously, and, outside your bubble, i suspect nobody does. cya.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...


My point is, before reconciliation must come truth. Here is Canada we can say to the Natives, "Yes, we tried to commit cultural genocide,yes we forced your kids into residential schools where they got raped. Sorry. Let's try to make things better". Can Israel say, "Yes, you were ethnically cleansed in 1948. No, because of the holocaust we don't feel secure enough to let you back in. Sorry. Let's try to make things better in the 1/2 of the land we left you." Instead of "get out of the way while we build another settlement". Is that too much to hope?

10:18 PM  

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