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Monthly Archives: June 2010

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JUDITH TIMSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The only part of this piece worth reading is the way Judith Timson starts it with her and the kiddies having a gay old time at a past Pride Parade, describing it the way some suburban housewife might describe the family’s being at Disney World. She only left out Granny.

“The mood was celebratory on that early summer day as we stood shoulder to shoulder with a gay elementary-school vice-principal….”

Note the use of words like “celebratory” and “early summer day” to set a mood.

And don’t you just love the “shoulder to shoulder” bit, as though Ms. Timson were describing a World War II rally for Rosie the Riveter or describing her participation in a March on Selma Alabama in the 1950s?

This is a classic technique of the propagandist: it might be called the benign, fairy dream, and its purpose is merely to serve as a prop to be knocked over by what follows.

The insincerity here almost grips one like an unwanted waft of heavy cheap cologne.

Gay Pride’s history is not like that at all.

Anything resembling Ms. Timson’s fairy story is a very recent, rather sanitized occurrence. I lived in Toronto during the days of police raids and arbitrary arrests. And anyone knows, or should know, that the Pride Parade was early on treated in Toronto as a somewhat shameful, reluctantly-permitted event.

Much like the way Toronto always had, years ago, a grim King Billy Parade instead of a joyous St. Patrick’s Parade.

The point is that gay people have a history of fighting injustice and oppression, and many of them are still at it, and those latter are the ones who insisted on the right to express themselves on Israeli apartheid.

And I’m sorry, Ms. Timson, but the word “apartheid” is absolutely accurate. We have Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu and Jimmy Carter as just some of our star witnesses for the state of affairs in Israel, all honourable men with an intimate understanding of injustice and abuse, Jimmy Carter, by the way, having been labelled an anti-Semite in Israel for stating the plain truth.

Once Jews very much shared that quality we see in many gays, ready to defend the downtrodden, but today it does seem a majority of them serve as apologists for abuse and injustice and killing instead, just so long as the abuse and injustice and killing are done by Israel.

This is a shameful column, written to defend the indefensible, but I’m thankful there are a lot of others, brave gay people in Toronto, ready to stand both for free speech and against oppression.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is an absolutely unbalanced editorial, reminding one of the kind of brain-dead stuff Marcus Gee used to pound out on the Middle East, rewrites of official Israeli press releases.

Who is doing the killing?

Who is depriving people of normal commerce?

Who arrogantly commits piracy on the high seas?

Who runs around stealing passports and murdering people?

Who holds 10,000 people in prison without proper legal procedure?

Who, after Hamas was elected in a clean election, immediately arrested members of the elected body?

Who, after Hamas was elected in a clean election, immediately threatened its leader with assassination?

Who keeps Gaza surrounded by automated radar-operated gun towers which blast anything which moves within a couple of thousand yards?

When was the last time Hamas killed an Israeli politician?

When was the last time Hamas arrested members of Israel’s legislature?

When was the last time Hamas invaded Israel?

Israel’s behavior is the only serious obstacle here.

Every thinking person knows you must talk to your opponents to have peace, yet who refuses to talk to Hamas?

Hamas may not like Israel, but it is not, and never could be, in a position to seriously threaten Israel. To say anything else is paranoid rubbish.

Israel wants the people of Gaza reduced to groveling submission, without even the right to self-determination, and, indeed, it really prefers to make them so miserable they leave their homes.

Hamas does not rule in the West Bank. Do we see peace there? No, every week Israelis steal more homes or farms and continue to keep millions under constant threat and abuse.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MARGARET WENTE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Well, we sure know you’re not, Ms. Wente.

One cannot help believing you keep your television tuned to Fox television around the clock for inspiration in your work.

Inspiration for the right-wing attitudes you so clearly imported from the American Midwest and continue feverishly to promote.
______________________

Everyone should listen to the interview done last Saturday, June 19, by the redoubtable interviewer, Kathleen Petty, on CBC Radio’s The House.

Quebecor’s VP, Kory Teneycke, praised here by Ms. Wente, appeared on the show for God knows what reason since he answered not a single question, and Ms. Petty, as always, was prepared with meaningful questions and hard facts, the kinds of things so notably missing from many of Ms. Wente’s efforts.

Teneycke exhibited impatience, a tone suggestive of anger, and did not answer one factual question. He referred to entertainment value in blubbering about the new network, nothing about honesty or facts. He was genuinely pathetic.

If Teneycke’s performance on The House suggests the new network’s ability to inform, it’s going to be a sad dumb-show.

But fans of the stupidities of Fox – a network which makes no effort at honesty or balance or often even facts, and which specializes in commentary on the level of Rush Limbaugh – apparently including Ms. Wente, will be happy.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL POST

“…it has provoked some American neoconservatives, previously firm friends of the Turks, into unrestrained fury.”

Neo-cons and unrestrained fury are old friends.

This group of crypto-fascists has spent years advocating virtually unrestrained use of American power, wars all over the globe, and especially in the Middle East.

Western Asia – a vast region of many proud and ancient peoples – cannot be expected to keep mildly accepting such stuff – piled high as it has been with many genuine atrocities.

Iraq was a ghastly mistake – a million killed and two or three million made exiles, and the United States didn’t even have the decency to accept a good share of the exiles. They left it to poor lands like Syria to stagger under the humanitarian burden.

Afghanistan was another ghastly mistake: only the goal of vengeance describes what has happened there. Any reasonable expectations by the U.S. of justice could have been met through diplomacy and economic pressures and police work.

Pakistan is being bombed on the flimsiest of excuses. Families and poor villagers are being murdered weekly – under Obama’s watch – in the name of trying to get a few “suspected” bad guys. The victims are in the hundreds, and it has terribly increased civil unrest in that land.

Yemen has been bombed. Recent evidence of the use of cluster bombs in the deaths of about fifty people has come to light.

Somalia has been kept under terrible pressure.

Israel has over the last few years called for attacks on Syria and Iran, buzzing the presidential palace in Damascus with jets and weekly making serious threats towards Iran.

Israel has, of course, invaded Lebanon.

It has treated an elected government and a whole people in Gaza to inhumane and anti-democratic pressure.

Somewhere in the heart of every thoughtful person in this region of the world, the idea will have occurred that American policy is just slightly skewed against them, all for the sake of a small new country of immigrants, most of whom have little sympathy with the people or traditions of the place to which they chose to migrate.

Now, most of these events, to one degree or another, center on some concept of keeping Israel going. That certainly, and not oil, was the reason for all that killing in Iraq.

The people of Western Asia are perfectly aware of that. Their views are based on what they see and hear from friends and relatives, not on the sanitized stuff seen on Fox or CNN or ABC.

And then they see Israel behaving even worse than the Somali pirates on the high seas, the pirates generally not killing any of their victims, and they see the United States saying it is just fine.

Well, it is not just fine. It is completely unacceptable.

Of course, coupled with this is everyone’s growing realization that Israel does not play by any rules but its own. It lied, cheated, and stole to build nuclear weapons. It thought nothing of sharing such weapons with a ghastly state like South Africa, all for benefit of some access to strategic materials.

It started the Six Day war to expand its territory, and continues a glacially-paced process of ethnic-cleansing to absorb those captured territories, minus their people. It steals and forges anyone’s passports over and over again to carry out murderous operations. It even ferociously attacked – a two hour assault with every weapon Israel’s air force had – a United States’ military ship in the Six Day war in an effort to drag the U.S. into the war.

And one or two of the most damaging spies in American history were Americans working on Israel’s behalf. Jonathon Pollard was perhaps the worst, yet Israel actually traded in some of the secrets he stole with the Russians and has never stopped asking for his release.

These states see Israel is always forgiven, indeed more than forgiven, Israel being the receiving end of the most extraordinary foreign aid package in history, five hundred dollars per year per Israeli, year after year after year, the virtual subsidy of a society. After all, there are many poor lands where the annual per capita income is not that large.

Erdogan has been friendly and reasonable in the past towards Israel, especially considering the fact that conservative Muslims are a large part of his secular state. But Israel’s behavior kicked him in the teeth, it having been Turkish forces (NATO) that inspected the convoy to make sure there were no weapons. Also, of course, Turkish humanitarians were on board and some were killed, others having been defamed by Israel’s early efforts afterwards to squirm out of what it had done before the eyes of the world.

What is one to make of these events, if you are a reasonable person who loves peace and democratic values?

I can only conclude Israel’s hubris and utterly unethical behavior and America’s unjust favoritism have driven the world pretty close to the brink of despair, and that likely is more keenly felt in those lands than elsewhere.

More unrest would be felt were more of these countries democracies. But many like “moderate” Egypt are hidden dictatorships, and people do not readily express their frustration and disillusion. Ironically, it is a place like undemocratic Egypt where Israel finds its best partner, while never stopping to remind everyone of how Israel is the only democracy in the region (and many might say, judging by acts rather than words, it’s a good thing there are not more such).

The Obama experience also undoubtedly adds to the great weight of these matters. With a name like his, and being the first black man elected president, Obama naturally raised new hopes for justice, and, indeed, Obama sounded good on the Mideast originally, seeming to understand that only American pressure on Israel can produce genuine peace.

But in far less than two years, all that has changed. Obama seemingly accepts every insult (Biden’s treatment on a visit) and bloody excess of Israel’s, just as Bush did, and Obama is the Commander-in-Chief whose orders see Muslims bombed in several countries.

In most important matters, Obama has proved himself little different to Bush, just a more polished and charming version.

He has left all those people with perhaps less hope than ever, a very dangerous situation.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“Desperate measures don’t have to be stupid measures…”

Jeffrey Simpson, as one who regards your analyses often with admiration, I must say you could not be more wrongheaded here. This column suggests a party insider blubbering.

Getting rid of a political liability like Ignatieff is not extreme: it is the most usual, work-a-day politics, much like dumping a poorly performing minister.

Even further, since Ignatieff was never properly elected as leader, being parachuted into both his riding a few years ago and then into the leadership by backroom insiders, he is owed nothing by most voters.

And one might perhaps have developed a different view, had he taken command and proved a Trudeau of Chretien, but, no, he has proved a Stanfield. Actually that is unfair to Stanfield, because, despite his weaknesses as a politician, he was an admirably honorable man.

Ignatieff is uninspiring and even boring, and he is unimaginative, surprisingly so, considering his much-vaunted academic background.

And when it comes to honor, Ignatieff stands before us in a badly tarnished suit of armor indeed. I can never respect a man who has said the things he has said in the past, most especially one pretending to be liberal (in the best sense of that word).

He is a crypto-neo-con. He is anti-democratic. His is no genuine voice for human rights, despite the risible pretensions of his past chair at Harvard. He comes off as a wine-and-cheese fop without having any of the devastating wit of a Disraeli.

I think my views in this have some valid application, because I’m the kind of voter the Liberals are seeking, progressive in all social matters and traditional and sound in finances, as well as one who votes for integrity and character regardless of party.

And for me, those qualifiers mean I can never vote for Ignatieff.

I am deeply distressed over the national political impasse we are at. Ignatieff can never be elected prime minister. Harper can never command a majority.

Yet the narrow extremist Harper is cunning and aggressive, and he is permitted to rule much as though he had a majority, and the man is trashing all our traditions of civility and decency in politics, aping every shabby view and technique of Newt Gingrich twenty years ago.

We need change, but not just empty gasbag change.

Until sentiments in Quebec come into a new balance, the only genuine changes I see possible are leadership change in the Liberal Party and a merger or coalition with the NDP.

Parties appear and disappear over time. They are not a set of Egyptian pyramids to stand forever. In Britain, the Whigs disappeared, the Peelites disappeared, the Liberals disappeared, and today Labour is fading.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

“Either way, Israel doesn’t necessarily need Saudi airspace as it has other capabilities”

Do Israel and its apologists ever learn anything?

I think not, because it is the nature of ideologues and extremists virtually to be unable to alter their dark obsessions.

The threat to attack Iran is dangerous, destabilizing, and truly reflects unbalanced thinking.

It only confirms the world’s growing view of Israel as out of control and acting outside all the laws of nations.

First, Iran is in a position to do some very unpleasant things in retaliation for an attack. This is not an impotent little country, possessing as it does some pretty sophisticated missiles and armaments, and it sits on one of the world’s most important arteries of commerce.

Second, it is extremely doubtful for many reasons that Israel has the capacity to carry out its threats.

Only this morning, the Saudis characterized The Times‘ report on use of Saudi airspace as flatly wrong and against national policies. The deception work of Mossad?

Third, Israel, despite its twenty four hour-a-day garrison-state status, has many vulnerabilities, being a small geographical area loaded with possible targets.

Iran does not need nuclear weapons to successfully target places like the Dimona nuclear facility, Israel’s illicit nuclear weapons factory. Or Israeli power plants.

Iran is perfectly able to send not puny homemade rockets with firecracker tips – the dreaded Qassams which provided Israel’s shabby excuse for killing 400 children and a thousand others.

[see:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_NtgXlrcvXZA/SWfEpYDqzwI/AAAAAAAAZm0/v8qp2yKvyVo/s1600-h/ROCKET+qassam37.jpg ]

No, Iran’s arsenal includes missiles like Shahab-3.

[see:
http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/militarysumfolder/shahab-3.html ]

Iran also has capable anti-ship missiles, as Hezbollah demonstrated by nearly sinking an Israeli military ship during Israel’s atrocity in Southern Lebanon.

Fourth, the knowledge for nuclear operations does not go away. They are classic examples of the genie and the bottle.

Fifth, even were a strike possible for Israel, the chance of destroying all of the existing protected and distributed facilities with effect is remote.

Sixth, Iran would certainly set about on its own Manhattan Project after any strike, a priority national program. Indeed, it is quite possible Iran is not working towards nuclear weapons now, but after any strike, it would set them at the highest priority, and they do have the human and material resources to do so.

Seventh, the entire world would react to Israel’s hypocrisy. Only today we have another story in The Guardian about Israel’s proliferation activities with apartheid South Africa.

[see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/03/south-africa-nuclear-trigger-israel ]

These stories and indeed South Africa’s recent publication of papers concerning its secret dealing with Israel on nuclear weapons reflect changing attitudes towards Israel, for they would previously have been suppressed as Israel tried hard to do.

Israel is an illicit nuclear power – having lied, cheated, and stolen its way to getting there – and it is no longer possible to hide that fact. In the current IAEA talks, Israel as a subject is insisted upon despite the pathetic efforts of the U.S. to suppress the subject.

You can live outside rule of law for a while, as Israel clearly demonstrates, but you cannot sustain an indefinite position of hypocrisy and threat and deception towards much of the world. Even Ghadaffi learned you eventually have to come in from the cold.

The only sensible approach to preventing proliferation in the Middle East is to make the region a nuclear-free zone, and that very much includes Israel.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

My, how refreshing to read Ignatieff actually speaking to an important issue.

It could not be clearer what Harper is doing.

The Globe has even published one of Tom Flanagan’s trashy columns in which the American neo-con advisor to Harper said in defending prorogation that it was a good idea not to let discrediting information be released concerning Canadian military activities.

Of course, the trouble is that Ignatieff is utterly impotent to do anything.

He can’t normally even speak to great issues, much less act on them.

When we need a hero, we have a clownish idiot-savant.

A coalition or merger cannot come too soon.

Harper is a miserable Republican extremist with a tyrant’s temperament, and he is a good chess player with Ignatieff no match.

Harper’s behavior reminds me of a saying by the late Lyndon Johnson, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in”

Only in Harper’s case, he is inside the tent pissing in.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Wendell Murray is right: there is a huge capacity in America for increasing taxes.

It has been a race to the bottom for years in cutting taxes. From old man Reagan to lunatic Bush, there has been no limit to cutting the sources of nourishment for society’s bones and sinews, the infrastructure of government.

On top of that insanity, there has been the imposition of wars and increased military budgets – to the point, by the way, where the U.S. now spends more than the entire rest of the planet on the means of destruction – with no responsible method of accounting for their payment.

I believe Americans will not accept the kind of taxation required. Their sense of entitlement and the “I want it now, and I want it all,” syndrome are still throbbing away, much resembling teenagers with crushes, despite the economic crisis.

Obama has backed off one issue after another in response to less-than-rational pressure, and I cannot see him being tough in this matter. The truth is Americans do not want a tough president, unless by “tough” you are talking about bombing foeigners somewhere.

He sounded good on the Middle East in the beginning, looking for a genuine peace, and now I’m not sure I can tell him from George Bush, but then the mid-term Congressional elections would be sorely affected by a loss of contributions from the apologists for Israel.

He sounded good about war in the beginning, although his main stress was only the suggestive fact that he did not vote for the atrocity in Iraq, but still he runs two wars, and he has lowered himself into the ethical hell with his horrible drone attacks on Pakistan, killing many civilians and de-stabilizing that society.

He has responded in an almost ridiculous fashion to the whining complaints about the BP blow-out. I say “whining” because it is Americans themselves who insist on consuming as much gasoline as they possibly can, driving lumbering pick-up trucks and buying homes with three-car garages.

The attacks on BP are, so far as I can tell, unwarranted. Was BP indeed doing anything different to the many other operators in the Gulf? If not, then the blow-out is just bad luck, one of those one-in-a-thousand possibilities inherent in any risky business, which is certainly the nature of drilling for oil more than a mile beneath the sea.

And the attacks on Obama are unwarranted. This was not a case of a cabinet-level official totally failing to do his job, and a president just blithely going about things as usual while a city sinks and a thousand people die.

But Obama, again with mid-term elections ahead, has responded as though these attacks were warranted. His heavy-handed treatment of BP has been inappropriate and hostile to a major company from a friendly nation.

No, I don’t expect much from Obama, and that is part of the reason I expect America is headed for a dark chapter, a serious decline, dragging the rest of us with it. This is a people who appear from countless examples in their history to learn only by banging their heads into walls.

 
JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

 

Hillary Clinton has steadily moved down from “crippling” to tamer language, and the simple reason is that at first she was nodding to the Israel Lobby and now she is dealing with the reality of other Security Council members who do not view things the same way.

I believe sanctions rarely work, and rightly so: they are an inappropriate interference, invariably by America, into the economic affairs of others.

The interests of others, especially China and Russia, are not the same as the interests of the United States. Others have incentives to go around sanctions – after all, that kind of effort is the essence of capitalism at work.

There is a very great deal of hypocrisy and hubris in all such efforts as that against Iran.

I would love a world in which nuclear weapons either did not exist or were effectively neutralized by a new technology.

But we do not have such a world, and I am not comforted by the United States – a nation with the world’s worst record of aggression and overthrows and imperial expansion over the last fifty years – claiming for itself the role of God in international affairs.

And I am equally disturbed – as we all should be – by Israel’s aping the American attitude in its area of the world, playing the role of miniature geo-political replica of a superpower, determining everything that happens within a thousand miles of its borders and doing so with an illicit stock of nuclear weapons.

I cannot stress enough that Iran’s entire modern period is one without its ever attacking anyone. Indeed, it fought the aggression of others – egged on by the same United States – and in the 1950s had its democratic government overthrown by the CIA complicit with British oil interests.

And then America supported for many years, and armed to the teeth, a soulless dictator whose secret police, Savak, used to pull out the fingernails of victims in their basement torture chambers.

And today on Iran’s border, Americans, who do not belong there, occupy a neighboring country. Israel is reported to have two or three of its German-supplied Diesel submarines, armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, off the coast. America also has an armada there.

How does that look from the Iranian perspective, the world’s two biggest bullies waving weapons and harsh rhetoric at them regularly? Again, an Iran which has no record of aggression?

I’d want nuclear weapons too, and so long as others are free to brandish them, it is the correct response.

It is almost certain that the rise of another nuclear power in the region will stabilize, rather than de-stabilize, things. Europe reached a peaceful state under MAD, and there is every reason to believe the same would be true in this region.

It would, of course, mark the end of Israel’s mini-reign of terror over the region, but that would be a good thing. As we can plainly see in the Israeli case, bullies do not make peace, and well-armed bullies with no one able to resist them, are downright dangerous and continuously de-stabilizing.

The example of North Korea is extremely important. If ever there were a government which has behaved in odd ways, it is the world’s last Stalinist state. Yet clearly North Korea is not going to use its nuclear weapons to attack anyone: that would be national suicide. But clearly too, America does not treat North Korea with the same contempt it does some other states, and it is not going to invade the place any time soon.

All the Israeli propaganda about Iran is of the poorest kind, effective propaganda always being based on some truth. Iran threatens no one. President Ahmadinejad’s statements in the past have been deliberately mistranslated, and, besides, the President in modern Iran has absolutely no military authority. The man likes to poke fun at the West’s shibboleths, but that makes him neither a criminal nor a danger.

At any rate, when a country like Israel – which has attacked every neighbor that it has, many twice, occupies the land of others for over forty years, imposes whatever rules it pleases such as blockades or check points or identity cards or Berlin walls – shouts continuously about a country with Iran’s peaceful record, it would be laughable, were it not dangerous. In any event, it is not credible in the least.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

You lose when you choose the wrong battles.

America is fighting the people of Afghanistan, at least a very large portion of them.

That is a battle you can never win unless you are prepared to behave like Stalin’s Russia and crush everyone.

Sadly, America is being pulled in that direction. Its drone killings and air attacks have almost certainly killed far more innocent people than suspected “bad guys.”

There never has been a definable “mission” in Afghanistan, other than not-to-be-uttered task of American vengeance.

America went there, against the advice of many wise people at the time, as a response to arm-pumping bullies sitting in bars across the land watching images of the twin towers endlessly repeated over beer. It was the same belly-over-belt battle cry you get for the Superbowl.

The effort gained a modicum of international respectability by Bush-Cheney strong-arming the United Nations into passing a resolution, something which at that time, with America’s great financial and economic strengths and calling in many markers with threats and promises, was not overly difficult to achieve and something it has done a number of times.

But the real test of the international community’s belief in America’s “cause” is the numbers of troops they committed and the nature of their assignments.

The numbers are so small and the assignments are so limited that it becomes a very black joke when America sounds its trumpet about a mission vital to the whole world.

It clearly is not, else millions of troops would have poured into Afghanistan and completely occupied it. NATO fully engaged would be an awesome event, but it was never more engaged than press briefings and contingents of troops the size of a Remembrance Day parade.

Canada went there, having offended the Bush-Cheney sensibilities a few times (thank you, again, Mr. Chretien, for keeping us out of the dirty, murderous hell of Iraq) because it felt the pressure – the same kind of pressure with which the U.S. obtains U.N. resolutions – that it “owed one to the Pentagon.”

The Liberals expected the commitment to be similar to that of other NATO countries – that is, minimal – but our current wannabe-Republican government managed to put them in the worst possible spot. Pure incompetence, as was the turning over of detainees, mostly poor farmers – for torture, something they continue to hide.

Ours is a fool’s mission. Canada’s forces have done their best, but doing your best in a pointless task goes nowhere, and that is where we are, nowhere.

The Taleban need never have been our enemies. They attacked no one. And the guys we allied ourselves with are every bit as backward. Indeed, few seem aware of the fact but it was the Northern Alliance – “our” guys – who first let bin Laden stay in the country.

The Taleban, formed in the face of a murderous chaos after the Russians left to provide what locals regarded as clean government, only refused to extradite bin Laden because the U.S. provided not one scrap of evidence against him, the provision of such evidence being the normal procedure in extraditions everywhere.

The measure of American dissimulation is the absurd occasional recording of bin Laden, a man who was certainly killed in the air bombardment at the beginning, a bombardment so awful the U.S. never wanted to reveal the details, just as it has always hidden the extent of its victims in Iraq.

All the garbage about women and backwardness is just that, garbage: it was Bush-Cheney propaganda to win over soccer moms for war. Yes, Afghanistan is backward, but we have done very little in reality to change that – actually an impossible task for a vast land of 30 million – and the world is screaming with backward places and abuse against women.

In Africa, 3 million women a year suffer genital mutilation, and in many places there young girls are routinely raped by the older men in their village who are in no way held accountable. Where are the calls to invade and sort that horror out? There are none, of course, but we kid ourselves that that is why we are wasting lives and great treasure in Afghanistan.

Again, Afghanistan is a fool’s mission.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY PATRICK MARTIN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is only what we would expect of Israel, one of the most close-minded societies on earth.

They know the grotesque facts of the convoy massacre, soldiers acting like savages, and they know any impartial investigation will only document that.

Look at the character assassination which has been a small industry among Israeli apologists over the Goldstone Report into the Gaza atrocity.

Judge Goldstone is an honorable man, yet Israelis have gone to lunatic extremes, including taking back honors, to smear him.

Here are some of the early accounts of the many brave passengers on the convoy ships. These are all highly reputable sources, and Israel comes off smelling badly, to say the least:

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=129190§ionid=351020202

http://www.france24.com/en/20100605-gaza-flotilla-turkish-activists-bodies-riddled-with-bullets

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/australian-student-tells-of-his-flotilla-ordeal-20100606-xnbh.html?autostart=1

_________________

“Why don’t these “humanitarians” help Palestinians build schools and peace.”

The poor writer seems unaware that Israel won’t let building supplies in!

That seized cargo included the most basic kinds of things, including donated wheelchairs and medicine.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY MARGARET WENTE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The subjugation of women has been a feature of all major Western religions.

Christianity has a history of everything from iron chastity belts to trading women for payment, dowries.

Orthodox Judaism treats women as totally subservient to men, even today in Canada.

There is nothing unusual about Islam, except in the minds of the prejudiced, in this matter.

In general Muslims come from less-developed countries, so naturally their customs reflect ours of a few hundred years ago.
_____________________

By the way, genital mutilation is not a Muslim custom.

It is an African custom, by Africans some of whom happen to be Muslim.

There are about 3 million women each year in Africa mutilated in a village ceremony.

Actually the backwardness there makes Afghanistan look good.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY PATRICK MARTIN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL
 
“Hamas does not maintain an independent judiciary with rule of law.
“Homosexuality is a crime in Gaza, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Gays are lucky to make it to prison, they are frequently murdered if exposed.
“There have been no free elections in Gaza since Hamas overthrew the Presidential Authority.”

 

Oh, please, spare us the highly selective statistics.

A Palestinian who marries an Israeli and the children of such a marriage are punished under Israeli law in a number of ways.

A Christian, under Israeli law, who goes to Israel to do the same proselytizing he or she does anywhere else is to be deported.

Israel is 19% Arabic – not by choice but because those people are the descendents of Palestinians who refused to run from Irgun and Stern Terror in the 1940s – but under Israeli law these Israeli passport holders are second-class citizens.

Israel has an elaborate set of discriminatory rules against non-Jewish citizens. Just holding a passport is not enough for what anyone anywhere else would call equal treatment. You must be part of the class of “the Jewish nation” which Israeli law and courts recognize as something higher and more exclusive than mere citizenship by birth.

Indeed, a senior minister of Netanyahu’s government, Lieberman, favors the deportation of Arabs with Israeli citizenship, and his is a view with a good deal of support in Israel. There are many quotes from prominent Israelis, even rabbis, calling the Palestinians, vermin. How would you like to try making a life with that hanging over your head?

Those are just some of the unfair laws against Arabs and others living as part of Israel proper. The other 4 million or so Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation – Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem – are treated terribly as is plain to the whole world.

Any backward law in Gaza, as against homosexuality, rather pales in comparison to the endless abuse of 4 million people with check points, arrests, assassinations, torture, stealing more land, stealing more water, and a set of regulations against these people designed to make them frustrated enough to leave.
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“And now, it would appear that some believe the Israelis will be defeated by obtuse and willfully- ignorant remarks.”

No thoughtful person wants Israel “defeated,” whatever that means anyway.

That is a classic straw-man argument, against the rules of logic.

What honest critics want is an Israel which returns to its borders and treats its neighbors as human beings.

What critics want is the end of Israel’s string of atrocities.

And what Israel’s critics want is an end of the ghastly lies and misrepresentations which stream like Noah’s flood from Israeli apologists with every incident of Israel’s behaving the bloody bully.
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“Israel will get through this, alone as in the past.”

Another Israeli apologists’ myth.

Alone? When has Israel ever got through anything alone?

With $3 billion assistance per year from America?

Plus a great power’s guarantee of defence?

With billions in gifts and loans from the Jewish people of North America?

With billions in reparations from Germany – deserved, of course, but hardly standing-alone stuff?

With a free-trade treaty with the United States that many countries would give a great deal to have?

With a constant flow of technical and intelligence assistance from the United States, something no other place on earth receives?

With favorable treatment for its products in Europe?

So bent in Israel’s favor are international arrangements that Israel exports farm produce which is the most subsidized on the planet, using precious water in a dry region whose actual economic cost is many times the value of exported produce.

And, of course, when you can just take someone else’s land and water for your economy, you do have a remarkable advantage, don’t you?

And even more, when everyone is afraid to criticize your most brutal actions, you have still another special advantage.

Stand alone is the last thing Israel does: it’s rather like claiming bravery for what is basically cowardice.
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“Funny how those who stole land from the Jews 1200 years ago are complaining how those people stole land from them 70 years ago.”

No one stole land from Israelis 1200 years ago.

The Roman conquered the region in the first century of the Common Era.

There is no record of the Roman’s turning out the inhabitants, and, indeed, expelling the natives was not the practice of Rome.

One Israeli professor eloquently argues that the Palestinians are the true descendants of the ancient Israelis.

Now, as for the “70 years ago,” that is precisely the point of Israel’s critics.

The whole world, including Arab states like Saudi Arabia, accepts or is willing to accept Israel’s existence, despite the rather bloody and unfair events of 70 years ago.

But do we see Israel within the borders of 70 years ago?

No, we see it spreading constantly, its borders always changing, more land and more homes seized from others. Land taken, farms taken, people turned out with nothing.

We see a suppurating wound of abuse to approximately 4 million people (Gaza and the West Bank) who do not live inside the recognized borders of Israel.

We see Israel not permitting even a democratic government (Gaza) to exist without arrests, assassinations, and a horrible blockade.

There would be no problem were Israel to return to its proper borders and to begin treating its neighbors with respect and decency.

Saying anything else just is just ignoring reality.

And saying anything else supports the efforts of an imperial apartheid power imposing its will on everyone a thousand miles around its ever expanding borders.

Which all means insisting that Israel is a democracy only makes one glad there are not more such democracies

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“The refreshing openness shown by some MPs to continuing Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2011 is welcome”

Welcome by whom?

Who writes such rubbish as an editorial?

Afghanistan is the biggest waste of life and treasure in Canadian modern history.

We have no purpose there at all, other than “owing one to the Pentagon.”

President Karzai and the other parties there are perfectly capable of sorting things out themselves.

One thing is sure, occupation by foreign soldiers hinders Afghanistan’s ability to mend its affairs.
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Americano reminds us, if we needed reminding, of the mindset that gave the world the holocaust of Vietnam, the atrocities of Cambodia, the savagery of Iraq, and the stupid blundering of Afghanistan.

Along the way, there were countless lesser Appalachian Throwback works, from Chile to Somalia.

And America crowned its glories by so steeping itself in debt that it caused a financial collapse.

Truly, is there any country on earth more poorly run or more destructive in its actions?

China is almost a model world citizen by comparison.

And why does everyone not treat the U.S. as though these truths were obvious?

Only because of its wealth, and nothing else.

But all its stupidities are putting stress even on that for the future.

Some clown calling himself or herself “Americano” should give Canadians advice?

It’s just more proof of arrogance and ignorance beyond measure.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY PAUL KORING IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Absolutely true.

I’ve said many times that it is sickening to imagine the buzz-cut CIA thugs at consoles in a locked room pumping their arms after blowing up a target they know very little about.

Then maybe they go out for lunch.

Indeed, we know they kill many times more innocents – family members or neighbors – than suspected bad guys.

And that word “suspected” is very important. This kind of killing with no legal procedure and no field of combat is plain murder.

Imagine our cops doing the same thing to “suspects” after a drug killing in northwest Toronto?

The “Go get ’em USA” represents precisely the utterly unethical attititude that is the cause of so much of our woe.

It is an Israeli attitude, and the drones represent the Israelization of American policy.
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“…insurgents…”

What a stupid, meaningless word you’ve added to your vocabulary, Winston Churchill.

What is an insurgent?

Many of these people are in every way legitimate freedom fighters, the expression Ronald Reagan so loved.

Others are just doing what they can to hurt the soldiers who occupied their land. They are, if you will, the resistance.

None of them are alien invaders which is what that phony word ever-so-slightly suggests.

Many might benefit by reading or re-reading Orwell’s great essay, “Politics and the English Language.” It’s as fresh and meaningful as ever.

Insurgents is a cheat word invented by Pentagon PR touts.

As for a general analysis of so-called terror, read:

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/how-terror-has-lost-its-meaning/

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/when-terror-is-just-fine/

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY TABATHA SOUTHEY IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“…the man’s sense of honour isn’t worth appealing to.”

That about perfectly sums up the character of Brian Mulroney.

Should be the epitaph on his tombstone.

P.S. why don’t we take down Mulroney’s portrait in Ottawa and hawk it on e-bay?

That would likely fetch a decent sum from those who collect the grotesque and go a little way to recovering the millions he stole.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Indeed, this editorial misses the point.

Gaza is a concentration camp.

Gaza is not Israeli territory, at least not yet, although for many in Israel that is the ultimate goal – to gain the territory without its people. Gaza was a refuge for huge numbers running from the murderous terrors of Israel’s founding, the work of Irgun and Stern, and it has remained a nightmare for Israeli politicians ever since.

The current and past savage Israeli governments have figured a way to pressure the people of Gaza into surrendering everything, even their right to self-determination – there is no other logical way to see the situation.

I don’t care how many guns were imported into Gaza, they could never become a serious threat. Gaza is surrounded by automated Gatling gun towers, and Israeli Merkava tanks and F-16s equipped with Hellfire missiles are on call within minutes.

Anyone who thinks small arms are a threat to Israel is either dishonest or does not appreciate the situation in this place. Please remember, how do Americans – Israel’s provider of billions in subsidy – keep their own sense of personal security with nearby violent cities? Small arms.

Yet, here are the people of Gaza surrounded by a country armed to the teeth, a country which over the years has killed thousands of them. A country which practices such dark arts as secret service assassins, dressed as Arabs, walking the streets seeking prey (a fact not a fantasy, and many of the killings attributed to Palestinian rivalry are the work of such thugs).

Blockades are considered acts of war.

What have the poor people of Gaza done to deserve this inhuman treatment?

Some hotheads fired homemade rockets into Israel in return for Israel’s godawful policies – my, what a threat.

Now, if you lived in a place where someone treated you the way Israel does the million and half people of Gaza, do you not think you might express your frustration at endless abuse?

And consider what else Israel has done to these people. Arrested a major portion of a democratically elected government. Assassinated dozens of political suspects, along with dozens of family members and neighbors along the way. Deprived them of electricity. Deprived them of water. Deprived them of sanitation. Slaughtered 400 children plus a thousand others in the atrocity called Operation Cast Lead. Holds thousands in its prisons, mostly improperly arrested. Has them surrounded with machine guns and fencing. Puts the pressure on Egypt, who loves its American annual bribe, to stop them crossing into the border with Egypt. And still more.

This all constitutes a monstrous crime against humanity and democratic values, yet newspapers like the Globe, who would undoubtedly make noises about such crimes somewhere else, simply go along for the ride.

It is time for Israel to treat its neighbors as human beings, to reach a modus Vivendi, to talk openly even to Hamas members. Never mind the stupid, phony, endless “peace process” – a cover for delay while more land is taken – just act fairly.

There is no Hamas in power in the West Bank and Jerusalem, yet does Israel do any better there? It steals people’s homes and farms almost on a weekly basis. It treats the non-Hamas government there as beggars. People need permits and permissions to do almost any ordinary task, and they often don’t get them. They are humiliated with countless checkpoints.

No, Hamas and security are clearly not what is at work in the Gaza blockade. They are the excuse.
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The editorial is inherently dishonest.

The silly business over small arms is simply an excuse to maintain the blockade, while sounding superficially humanitarian about food.

A blockade is a blockade. Who in God’s name would police Israel in its agreement to the Globe’s silly proposal?

No one. The UN? Israel has already shown what it thinks of the UN, having murdered a number of UN workers when they stood in its way.

Israel has no right to blockade these poor people, full stop.

The blockade is a technique to make them give up all rights or leave, full stop.

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY PATRICK MARTIN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“No mention here of the fact that the Israelis tried to negotiate a peaceful boarding, were refused”

And would you or anyone in their right mind permit scores of heavily armed soldiers aboard your boat on the high seas, at night moreover?

Of course not.

But I say that assuming the correctness of the writer’s assertion.

We already have many reports that the Israelis muscled their way on board, indeed started shooting while some people slept in their bunks. And anyone who knows how commandos or SWAT teams work knows which version is more likely.

We have several hundred eye witnesses. Let’s see what they say.

I would be surprised if one word agrees with the assertions of Netanyahu or the Israeli Ministry of Truth or Israel’s apologists writing here.

The history of Israel’s dissimulation is so vast – from the truth about the Six Day War and Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty spy ship, at the time, to the work of spies like Jonathon Pollard against its chief benefactor or Israel’s current president’s agreeing to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa – that no one can ever believe the official word on anything.

You earn your reputation in this world, and Israel has certainly worked hard to earn hers.

Attacking every neighbor, abusing millions, assassinations, illegal mass arrests, blockades, regular theft of the property of others, building atomic weapons, lying, spying on friends, etc, etc.

Just look at Netanyahu’s words on cutting short his trip to Ottawa: the man slurred the humanitarians by asserting reports of gunfire when there were absolutely no guns on that ship, a fact ascertained in Turkey.

You work hard for a reputation the way Israel has, it seems to me you should enjoy what you’ve earned.
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“Israel can not give Hamas what it wants; the total destruction of Israel.”

Surely, those qualify as the most ridiculous words written here, but they are not just here, they are repeated mindlessly everywhere.

But they are utterly false, pure rhetoric.

Hamas has never attempted to destroy Israel, nor would it even be remotely capable of doing so if that were its desire. Yes, it has anti-Israel propaganda, but what else does it have, other than abuse and frustration?

Hamas has the military capacity of a mid-sized town’s police force, at best.

Facing it is a garrison state equipped with sophisticated jet fighters, sophisticated guided missiles, sophisticated tanks and artillery, advanced radars, access to spy satellites, a vast spy network, poison gas supplies, even nuclear weapons, plus a guarantee from the world’s superpower.

To get just a notion of Israel’s overwhelming position, see this image of one of the radar-controlled Gatling gun towers which surround Gaza, ready to riddle anything that moves:

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/photos/uncategorized/2008/12/04/e2ca3bc6713642d99f3d33082d3d7072lar.jpg

Except for those pathetic homemade rockets fired out of frustration and hopelessness, Hamas has no record of in any way attacking Israel.

To see just how pathetic those homemade rockets are, see this:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_NtgXlrcvXZA/SWfEpYDqzwI/AAAAAAAAZm0/v8qp2yKvyVo/s1600-h/ROCKET+qassam37.jpg

Now, what is Israel’s record by comparison? It has assassinated many leaders of Hamas, often wiping out families and neighbors in the process. It illegally arrested a major part of an elected government. It refuses even to talk with reasonable men, for many of the leaders of Hamas are genuinely professional people, not guerilla fighters.

Indeed, the measure of Hamas is Israel’s own past treatment of it. Israel’s secret services helped nurture it as a potential opposition to Fatah, Arafat’s party. You don’t subsidize what you are afraid of.

Well, the policy worked in achieving destructive in-fighting between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel just stands back and says look what bad people they are.

Hamas was elected for clean government. Palestinians were tired of Fatah’s corruption, but Israel never gave it so much as an opportunity to talk. Does that sound like an honest desire for peace?

Israel’s extreme response to the election actually caused Hamas to enter into a national unity government with two other parties in 2007. All Israel has done is impose an inhumane and illegal blockade, always yapping about “terrorists.” You never get peace that way, as Northern Ireland and many other examples prove.

But Israel does not want peace as most people understand that word. Israel wants more of other people’s property, minus the people. There is no other rational explanation for its whole set of behaviors.

They don’t deal with Hamas in the West Bank, do they? But do we see peace, or even decent treatment there? No, we see homes and farms seized week after week.
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“Didn’t the author say that Olmert had negotiated to lift the blockade very quickly, in return for a cessation of hostilities, but was refused when he asked for Hamas to return a kidnapped soldier as part of the deal???”

That is a perfect example of the kind of poor information and deliberately incomplete information which Israel’s apologists repeat and repeat.

The Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire: Israel broke the agreement.

No, the Palestinians would not include the return the one valuable asset they hold, the Israeli soldier. But they are perfectly ready to release him for reciprocal Israeli action as is widely known.

Remember, Israel holds somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 to 10 thousand Palestinian prisoners, most improperly arrested, some held in secret facilities, and many tortured. Even members of the cleanly-elected Hamas government were arrested shortly after the election.

The soldier is the only possession the Palestinians hold valued enough by Israel to trade for the release of a small portion of its illegal prisoners. There is nothing irrational or improper about that desire.