Archive for June 2010

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TORONTO’S GAY PRIDE PARADE AND THE ANTI-ISRAELI APARTHEID GROUP OF MARCHERS – A SAD ATTEMPT TO DEMONIZE THEM

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 COMMENT: HAMAS IS STILL THE PROBLEM? I DON’T THINK SO

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 COMMENT: THE GLOBE AND MAIL’S MATCHLESS LIGHT-WEIGHT MARGARET WENTE ASKS WHO’S AFRAID OF RIGHT-WING NORTH TELEVISION?

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 COMMENT: IS OBAMA LOSING THE MODERATE MUSLIMS? A SUMMARY OF WHAT THINGS LOOK LIKE FROM WESTERN ASIA

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 COMMENT: CANADA’S POLITICAL IMPASSE AND THE FUTURE OF THE LIBERAL PARTY

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 COMMENT: FURTHER TO IRAN SANCTIONS: THE INSANE IDEA OF ISRAEL ATTACKING IRAN – THE CONSEQUENCES ARE INCALCULABLE

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 COMMENT: IGNATIEFF RAISES HIS WEAK VOICE ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY HARPER IS DELIBERATING USING UP TIME IN REACHING AN AGREEMENT OVER PAPERS ON ABUSE OF DETAINEES

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.