Silver Lining

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Category Archives: Canada

New video shows Canadian police use-of-force incident

Press TV

A new video has surfaced in Canada, showing a man being tackled to the ground and punched repeatedly by Ottawa police, in yet another instance of police brutality in the North American country, Press TV reports.

According to Ottawa police, they responded to a call about a man attempting to hit a security staff member with a metal pole.

Police claimed that when they arrived at the scene another man attempted to punch a police officer in the face.

However, the gruesome video of the incident captured by a bystander shows a police officer punching the man repeatedly in the head and upper body at least 10 times while other officers pinned him down to the ground.

Following the release of the video, Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the professional standards section of the Ottawa police force will investigate the incident.

Although, reports said Bordeleau later sent an internal email to the force’s rank-and-file saying he maintains confidence in his officers.

“Always remember that the public has confidence in you and that you have my confidence and respect for the service you provide every day,” Bordeleau wrote.

The two men, who were caught in the video and were arrested, face charges of resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and causing disturbance.

Last month, police in the Canadian city of Toronto came under fire for the fatal shooting of a teenager whose family members said suffered from mental illness.

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Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ listed as a ‘terrorist’ organization by EU: Canada plays major role

by Yves Engler, source

The one-sided extremism of the Conservative government’s support for Israel just keeps growing.

The latest example is Ottawa helping convince the European Union to list Hezbollah’s military wing as a “terrorist” organization. After that decision was taken, Foreign Minister John Baird declared, “We are thrilled that the European Union unanimously has agreed to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. We’ve been pushing for this.”

The National Post detailed Canada’s behind the scenes effort to get the EU to list Hezbollah as a “terrorist” organization. Despite opposition from the Lebanese government, a Foreign Affairs official told the paper that this was “a clear priority that was set out by the minister.” Canadian diplomats held bilateral talks with various European countries and also pushed for Hezbollah to be listed at numerous multilateral meetings. At both a recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime meeting and a UN conference on radicalization in Europe, Canadian officials pressed key EU officials to define Hezbollah as a “terrorist” group.

Canadian law enforcement and security officials were also part of the lobbying effort. Reportedly, they’ve been feeding their European counterparts information about the supposed threat Hezbollah poses to both Canada and Europe.

The Conservatives push to get the EU to list Hezbollah was given a boost when six Israelis were killed in Bulgaria last July. Within hours of the bus bombing Israel claimed Hezbollah was responsible, yet more than a year later it’s still unclear exactly who committed this crime.

With a Canadian passport holder allegedly implicated in the bombing, Ottawa jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the investigation. Presumably, Canadian investigators shared information with their Bulgarian counterparts designed to steer them towards the conclusion that Hezbollah was responsible.

In response to the EU listing Hezbollah’ s military wing as a terrorist group its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said:

Why are you not defining the State of Israel as a terrorist organization, why do not you define the military wing of Israel, ie. The IDF, as a terrorist organization, while you Europeans recognize that Israel occupies Arab land and has not implemented international resolutions for decades. The whole world is witness to the Israeli massacres.

Nasrallah raises an important point that Canadian foreign affairs professionals must be familiar with. It’s a simple fact that the IDF and other branches of the Israeli government have killed far more civilians than the military wing of Hezbollah.

The Israeli military and its allies in Lebanon alone have killed thousands of civilians. In fact, Hezbollah was created in large part to fight the Israeli occupation of that country. Israel has also conducted scores of targeted assassinations (Google “list of Israel assassinations”) in many countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Certainly Canadian foreign affairs officials must remember Gerald Bull, a Canadian engineer and designer of the “supergun” who was shot dead, allegedly by the Mossad, outside his residence in Belgium. And what about members of the current Israeli government who support illegal settlers and their killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians?

But apparently none of this “terrorism” bothers Stephen Harper’s government. The Conservatives are either ignorant or relish their hypocrisy.

Allowed to support the IDF (it’s even subsidized), Canadians can go to jail for sending money to a group operating a school or medical clinic in Lebanon “directly or indirectly” associated with Hezbollah, which comprises an important part of the Lebanese governmental and social service structure.

Dozens of Canadian companies sell to the Israeli army and many groups with charitable status promote the IDF. The Canadian Jewish News is full of advertisements for such groups: “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base”, reads one ad while another calls itself “[the Libi Fund] For Strengthening Israel’s Defense.” Established in 1971 the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada (ASI) provides financial and moral support to active duty soldiers. A June 2009 Canadian Jewish News ad explained “the Association for the soldiers of Israel invites you to show your support for the brave youth of the IDF at our gala dinner.”

Prominent Toronto couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, who own or control more than two thirds of Chapters/Indigo/Coles bookstores, created the “Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers”. Reisman and Schwartz provide up to $3 million per year for post-military scholarships to individuals without family in Israel who join the IDF. After completing their military service these non-Israeli “lone soldiers” gain access to this scholarship money. For the IDF high command — the Heseg Board has included a number of generals and a former head of Mossad — “lone soldiers” are of value beyond their military capacities. Foreigners volunteering to fight for Israel are a powerful symbol to pressure Israelis weary of IDF behaviour. Schwartz and Reisman’s support for Heseg has spurred a campaign to boycott Chapters/Indigo/ Coles, which controls 70% of Canada’s retail book trade.

The Harper government is plowing full steam ahead with its support for Israel. Double standards and morality be damned.

Canadian Museum refuses to label aboriginal suffering genocide

Press TV

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights is the birth-child of deceased media mogul Israel Asper. It is due to open in 2014 but the museum’s curators have already come under criticism.

There is a perception that the museum will emphasize the suffering of certain ethnic groups over others. And this belief was confirmed this week when it emerged that the centuries long attempts to destroy Canada’s aboriginal communities will not be referred to as “genocide” in the museum.

Legal experts observe that Canada’s residential school system which seized children from aboriginal families and forced them to study in Catholic and Anglican schools is consistent with this definition of genocide.

Critics accuse Zionist historians and curators of treating Jewish suffering as unique and more worthy of remembrance than the suffering of other groups. Hence Jewish suffering gets referred to by such ethnic-exceptionalists as a “Holocaust” with a capital “H” while aboriginals struggle to get their massive suffering recognized “a genocide”.

Ukrainian Canadians have also butted heads with the museum’s curators. Many Ukrainian-Canadians, like aboriginal Canadians, feel their historic suffering is being underemphasized by the museum’s curators for political and ideological reasons.

Canada continues heavy-handed media repression

Press TV

Canada is seeing an increasing number of its journalists and photographers being criminalized and arrested by law enforcement officers for recording incidents involving police brutality, Press TV reports.

On numerous occasions, Canadians have been taken into custody after legally documenting police incidents.

Among the most notable cases is the arrest of Jennifer Pawluck in April after she posted a photo online of someone else’s graffiti depicting a Montreal police commander, Ian Lafreniere, negatively. She was later charged with criminal harassment.

In September 2012, Jakub Markiewicz, a 16-year-old, was arrested by police when he filmed security guards and police officers detaining a man at a shopping mall in the British Columbia city of Burnaby. Markiewicz was never officially charged over the incident.

Furthermore, officers at Vancouver International airport confiscated in 2007 a video taken by Paul Pritchard, showing police officers tasering a Polish immigrant to death.

Pitchard finally filed a lawsuit against the police in a bid to retrieve the footage.

The recording was later used as evidence against the police and the involved officers eventually admitted that they had misled the public in several statements about the tasering death.

Meanwhile, critics say that the so-called “tough on crime” agenda by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has given many Canadian police officers the impression that they are above the law.

They also say that the impression has led to the increase criminalization of Canadians, who were serving the public interest when they documented incidents involving the police.

Natives and ‘Israel’: Manipulating genocide- Canada

(Nakba, Palestine-file photo)

by Eric Walberg, source

This month, Canada’s media solemnly related “the sad truth that the country engaged in a deliberate policy of attempted genocide against First Nations people”, referring to government-sponsored abuse of Native children a century ago, which Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Peter Bryce exposed in 1907, but which was hushed up.

Bryce was fired and the post of chief medical officer abolished in 1919.

This, of course, is a terrible crime, though the facts have long been known (the study referred to was published in 2006). A study published by Ian Mosby in May this year added fuel to the fire, revealing that from 1942-1952, the government conducted “nutritional experiments” on Native children in the infamous residential schools, where milk rations were halved for years, essential vitamins not issued, and dental services withheld as gum health was a measuring tool for scientists and any care would distort research.

The media splash was made by Phil Fontaine, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Bernie Farber, senior vice-president of Gemini Power Corporation and former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress (since 2011 the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-CIJA).

This is not the first time that CIJA has expressed ‘support’ for beleaguered Natives. For years now, just as hundreds of Canadian MPs, MPPs, police officials, what-have-you are invited regularly on junkets to Israel by CIJA or other pro-Israeli groups, CIJA self-proclaimed “social activists” are now courting local Native groups with similar free trips. For instance, Winnipeg CIJA official Shelley Faintuch organized a 10-day Cree Youth Leadership Development Mission to Israel in 2012 and again this year with the support Norway House Cree Nation Chief Ron Evans “to develop the next generation of First Nations leaders by looking through the lens of Israel’s inspiring story.”

Why would Canadian Jewish leaders suddenly take such an interest in Natives and support their struggle for reparations from the Canadian government for the centuries of colonial subjugation and exploitation? Is it altruism, because of the Jewish tradition of being ‘a light unto peoples’? This is what CIJA would have us believe, with its claims to “profound cultural and historical similarities”, “striving for acceptance, equal rights, rights to their own land”.

There is another, very different explanation. The Native resistance movement has continued to grow in the past half century. And anyone with even a slight awareness of how Natives in Canada were dispossessed and abused by colonial settlers can easily see the parallel between Canada’s Natives and the Palestinians, who have suffered a century of identical treatment by Jews immigrating to Palestine, which the latter arbitrarily renamed ‘Israel’ in 1948. As Natives become more aware of their common struggle with other aboriginal peoples around the world, they are bound to identify with the Palestinians and their struggle against the colonial settlers.

So it makes perfect sense for Canada’s Zionists to be proactive, to try to convince Canada’s Natives that it is the (largely European and American) Jews who are indigenous to Palestine, not the native Arabs. The story the Cree are told on their Youth Leadership Development Missions is that Israelis, like the Natives, are merely trying to reassert their legitimate indigenous rights to their land. The screaming headlines about the Canadian government “genocide” against the Natives a century ago just happen to be accompanied by self-serving lectures about the Nazi Holocaust, the ‘Final Solution’, and even allusions to the infamous Dr Mengele experimenting on Jewish victims.

This shameful manipulation of events surrounding a genuine Native tragedy is despicable. It is also a direct slap in the face for Prime Minister Harper with his fawning allegiance to Israel, as codified by one of his first foreign relations moves-the public security cooperation “partnership” with Israel signed in 2008. Does Farber have no allegiance to Canada’s prime minister? Isn’t his sudden embrace of Native resistance just a tad duplicitous?

Gemini Power’s VP is not only a corporate fat cat, but a self-proclaimed “social activist” who according to Wikipedia “works in partnership with First Nations to help develop sustainable business”. This translates into: convince the Natives to sell out to resource-hungry corporations like Gemini Power and their government lackeys, intent on building such wonders as liquefied natural gas terminals on the west coast, chromite mining and smelting projects in the James Bay, and tar sands oil production in Alberta.

Is it possible that before Farber published his article in the Toronto Star 19 July, he had a pow wow with Chief Harper, apologizing for the comparison of Canadian government officials to Nazi genocidal maniacs, but explaining that it was all part of a larger win-win plan for them both to defraud the hapless Natives of their resources? What are a few ‘slings and arrows’ between a corporate honcho and his government lackey?

Harper can use all the help he can muster these days, given that the bulk of the Native community is supporting not Israel, but Idle No More, which has declared war on the Conservatives’ attempt to replace the government’s treaty obligations with market mechanisms in Bills C-45 and C-38.

Farber failed to mention the fact that Israel itself conducted similar ‘Dr Mengele’ experiments on its own Jewish citizens-north African and Ethiopian Jews, who swallowed the Zionist propaganda and fled their traditional homes and cultures to live in the ‘Jewish state’. According to the documentary “100,000 Radiation” shown on Israeli TV in 2003, starting in 1951, the American army paid the Israeli Health Ministry to radiate children to test for side effects of radiation. An entire generation of Sephardi youths were unwittingly used as guinea pigs.

Yet another Israeli TV documentary aired in 2012 revealed that until recently, Ethiopian Jews were forcibly injected with Depo-Provera, a drug to make them sterile, before they were allowed to immigrate to Israel.

Is Zionist media control so all-powerful as to prevent Canadians and especially Canadian Natives from seeing through the bald-faced lies that Israel and its lobbyist tell, and the truths they hide?

It isn’t just Harper who is being duped. Cree Chief Ron Evans personally suffered under the ‘Dr Mengele’ experiments, which were conducted on the Norway House and Le Pas Cree beginning in 1942. But instead of putting two and two together, Evans was coopted by CIJA’s Winnipeg affiliate to sponsor the Cree ‘Missions to Israel’, where he pronounced the Jewish people “the true, historic indigenous people of Israel”.

Then there are the Ontario Natives with their ‘great white hope’ Bob Rae, a strong supporter of Israel whose wife was a VP of the CJC. Rae left the NDP in 2002 for refusing to embrace globalization and open markets, and is now the Natives’ negotiator with the mining interests in the James Bay ‘ring of fire’. However nice elder statesman Rae may be, his common interests-economic and political-with Farber remain, and there can be no doubt that at best the Natives will get lots of millions of dollars, but you can be sure that the option of “No to chromite mining!” is not on the table.

Clearly, the Natives need a new deal with corporate Canada. That is what Idle No More is all about. But the option of “No!” must be on the table, not just “How much money will we get to let the corporations destroy our land?”

There are hints of what a new dispensation might entail, and the suddenly pro-Native Zionist supporters like Farber and Rae have nothing to contribute to it. The 1987 Gwaii Haanas National Park and Haida Heritage Site allows Haida to regulate logging and maintain their sacred forests, permitting sustainable use of some natural resources. Thomas Berger calls for re-tribalization of lands: “As long as the land is a corporate asset, it will be vulnerable.”

Canada allows spy agency to use information obtained through torture

Press TV

Canada has given the country’s spy agency permission to use information extracted from suspects through torture, despite claims that it would never use such data, Press TV reports.

Canada’s intelligence services, including the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), have recently been given an annual budget of about $400 million to use and share information extracted through the use of torture, despite the Canadian government saying it does not condone such acts.

Human rights activists condemned the move, arguing that Canada is propagating the use of torture.

“Whenever information obtained under torture is used by other people, whoever that may be – a police officer, a government agency, a journalist, anyone – then all that is doing is encouraging the torturers to continue to torture. It’s essentially creating a market,” said Robert Alexander Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

In a directive, issued in December 2010, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was given permission to employ such information in cases where it claimed ‘public safety is at stake’.

The move is part of a broader, so-called Five Eyes intelligent sharing network involving the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

“All that does is [to] deepen the concern that this is very clearly now deeply entrenched policy in Canada, that the government is prepared to allow security and policing agencies to make use of information that may have been obtained under torture and that raises very serious international human rights concerns,” said Neve.

This comes despite the fact that in 2009, Canada’s then-Public Safety Minister had pledged that the government would never use information obtained by torture.

The use of torture during confessions has been widely criticized by human rights groups that say the practice may cause people to lie or make false admissions.

Canadian aid to Palestinians serves ‘Israel’

by Yves Engler, source

A recently uncovered government document confirms that Ottawa has delivered millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority in a bid to advance Israel’s interests. The internal memorandum also sheds light on Canada’s efforts to build a security apparatus to protect the Palestinian Authority from popular disgust over its compliance in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement building.

Last week Postmedia’s Lee Berthiaume reported on a Canadian International Development Agency note outlining Israel’s desire for Canada to continue its $300 million five-year “aid” program to the Palestinians, which the Conservatives threatened to severe after the PA pursued UN statehood last fall.

“There have been increasing references in the past months during high-level bilateral meetings with the Israelis about the importance and value they place on Canada’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority, most notably in security/justice reform,” reads the November 2nd 2012 note signed by CIDA president Margaret Biggs. “The Israelis have noted the importance of Canada’s contribution to the relative stability achieved through extensive security co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

The heavily censored note suggests the goal of the Canadian “aid” is to protect a corrupt PA from popular backlash. Biggs explains that “the emergence of popular protests on the Palestinian street against the Palestinian Authority is worrying and the Israelis have been imploring the international donor community to continue to support the Palestinian Authority.”

These recent revelations from CIDA confirm the highly politicized nature of Canadian aid to the Palestinians. After Hamas won legislative elections in January 2006 the Conservatives made Canada the first country (after Israel) to cut off funding to the PA.

When Hamas officials were ousted from the Palestinian unity government in June 2007, the Conservatives immediately contributed $8 million “in direct support to the new government.” Then in December 2007 the Conservatives announced a five-year $300 million aid program to the Palestinians, which was largely designed to serve Israel’s interests.

As a Saint John Telegraph-Journal headline explained at the time: “Canada’s aid to Palestine benefits Israel, foreign affairs minister says.”

In January 2008 Maxime Bernier, then Canada’s foreign minister, said: “We are doing that [providing aid to the PA] because we want Israel to be able to live in peace and security with its neighbors.”

Most of the Canadian aid money has gone to building up a Palestinian security force overseen by a US general. The immediate impetus of the Canadian aid was to create a Palestinian security force “to ensure that the PA maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas,” as Canadian Ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted as saying by the Canadian Jewish News.

American General Keith Dayton, in charge of organizing a 10,000-member Palestinian security force, even admitted that he was strengthening Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah against Hamas, telling a US audience in May 2009 his force was “working against illegal Hamas activities.” According to Al Jazeera, between 2007 and early 2011 PA security forces arrested some 10,000 suspected Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

The broader aim of the US-Canada-Britain initiated Palestinian security reform was to build a force to patrol the West Bank and Gaza. In a 2011 profile of Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Allison, “Dayton’s chief of liaison in the West Bank” for a year, Allison’s hometown newspaper the Times & Transcript reported: “The Dayton team was concerned with enhancing security on the West Bank of Palestine and was all geared towards looking after and ensuring the security of Israel.”

“We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians,” Dayton told the Associated Press in June 2009, “unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the State of Israel and they agree to it.” For instance, Israel’s notorious internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, vets all of the Palestinian recruits, according to US government reports.

The Israelis supported Dayton’s force as a way to keep the West Bank population under control. Like all colonial authorities throughout history, Israel looked to compliant locals to take up the occupation’s security burden.

Writing in the July 2011 London Review of Books, Adam Shatz detailed how “The PA already uses the American-trained National Security Force to undermine efforts by Palestinians to challenge the occupation.”

He continued: “It is an extraordinary arrangement: the security forces of a country under occupation are being subcontracted by third parties outside the region to prevent resistance to the occupying power, even as that power continues to grab more land. “This is, not surprisingly, a source of considerable anger and shame in the West Bank.”

The Palestinian security force is largely trained in Jordan at the U.S.-built International Police Training Center (established to train Iraqi security after the 2003 invasion). In October 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported: “[Palestinian] recruits are trained in Jordan by Jordanian police, under the supervision of American, Canadian and British officers. The number of military trainers in the West Bank varied slightly but in mid-2010, eighteen Canadian troops worked with six British and ten US soldiers under Dayton’s command.”

The Canadian contribution is invaluable,” explained Dayton to The Maple Leaf, the monthly publication of the Canadian army. Canadians are particularly useful because, Dayton said, “US personnel have travel restrictions when operating in the West Bank. But, our British and Canadian members do not.”

Calling them his “eyes and ears” Dayton added: “The Canadians … are organized in teams we call road warriors, and they move around the West Bank daily visiting Palestinian security leaders, gauging local conditions.”

Part of the U.S. Security Coordinator office in Jerusalem, the Canadian military mission in the West Bank (dubbed Operation PROTEUS) includes Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers as well as officials from the foreign ministry, Justice Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency.

In a September 2010 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Peter Kent, then Canada’s deputy foreign minister, said Operation PROTEUS was Canada’s “second largest deployment after Afghanistan” and it receives “most of the money” from the five-year $300 million Canadian “aid” program to the PA.

During a visit to the Middle East in January 2012, foreign minister John Baird told The Globe and Mail he was “incredibly thrilled” by the West Bank security situation, which he said benefited Israel.

In effect, Canada has helped to build a security apparatus to protect a corrupt PA led by Mahmoud Abbas, whose electoral mandate expired in January 2009, but whom the Israeli government prefers over Hamas.

Canada and Israeli apartheid: Why are the Harper conservatives so pro-“Israel”?

by James Cairns, source

The Canadian government has been a strong supporter of Israel since the country was founded in 1948 through the expulsion of most of the indigenous Palestinian population from their homes. In its friendly treatment of Israel, Canada has long played an important international role in covering up the violent dispossession of Palestinians and the apartheid system that maintains and normalizes their oppression.

Yet even by the standards of Canadian complicity in Israeli apartheid, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have taken support for Israel to a whole new level. Harper’s government has declared that “Israel has no greater friend in the world today than Canada.” A leading Israeli newspaper calls Harper “Netanyahu’s closest ally” and “the foreign leader friendliest to Israel.” When the Palestinian Authority sought greater recognition at the UN in 2012, Canada threatened to cut off aid to Palestine.

The Harper Conservatives’ approach marks a significant break with Canadian government policy of the past sixty years. Although Canada has always been pro-Israel, it has traditionally represented itself as more of a neutral party in disputes between Israelis and Palestinians, and indeed has acted less one-sidedly in the past. In 1967, for example, Canada supported the UN resolution demanding Israel withdraw troops from newly-occupied Palestinian lands and calling for a just settlement of refugees. This sort of position is inconceivable today. Political scientist Harold Waller is clear about the current government’s shift: “I think Harper’s backing of Israel is unprecedented for any Canadian prime minister. He’s much more a staunch supporter of Israel than any of his predecessors.”

Describing Harper’s pro-Israel policy as extreme need not contradict the fact that Canada has always been complicit in Israeli apartheid. In fact, if Palestine solidarity activists in Canada are to clearly identify the challenges and openings faced in our current organizing context, we need to address the question: why are the Harper Conservatives so extremely pro-Israel?

Incomplete Answers

Harper’s Israel cheerleading has become so passionate as to puzzle some in his own ranks. For example, even Canadian government officials, including former ambassadors to Israel, have argued that Canada’s extreme pro-Israel stance weakens Canada’s reputation in the international arena. Others wonder why Harper would pursue a policy that more than half of Canadians disapprove of. In contrast to the suggestion that the Harper government’s policy is illogical (because it tarnishes Canada’s international reputation or because it risks alienating voters or for some other reason), I want to suggest that there is in fact a clear logic to the government’s support for Israel when interpreted in the context of a much broader policy shift.

This argument is different than the main ones on offer. The government’s own explanation can be dispensed with immediately. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s claim that “Israel is worthy of our support because it is a society that shares so many values with Canada – freedom… democracy… human rights and the rule of law” is absurd not only because of the apartheid character of Israel but because Canada itself is built on the dispossession of indigenous people at home and abroad and has a long track record of befriending all sorts of brutal, anti-democratic regimes (Pinochet’s Chile, Suharto’s Indonesia, and Mubarek’s Egypt, to name just a few).

But the answers typically offered by both mainstream and radical commentators are also inadequate. They tend to focus on the power of the “Israel lobby” and Conservative electoral strategy. For example, the CBC radio show The Current aired an episode called “Jewish Voters” that began: “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s staunch support for Israel appears to be attracting a sizeable number of Jewish voters, many of whom have traditionally voted Liberal.” In the run-up to the 2011 federal election, much was made about Harper’s Israel policy as a strategy for winning close ridings in Toronto and Montreal.

Approaching the question from the radical left, Yves Engler argues that “rather than ‘Jewish votes’ Harper’s ‘Israel no matter what’ policy has more to do with mobilizing his rightwing, evangelical base on an issue (unlike abortion) that has limited electoral downside.” Other radicals assert that Canada has a default interest in supporting the Israeli state because the two have a shared history of settler colonialism.

There is probably some truth in both these viewpoints. Like all major political parties, the Conservative Party is crucially motivated by a quest for votes. But it is misguided to attribute such a significant policy change to electoral struggles in a few urban ridings, especially when polls suggest that the Conservative brand of extreme support for Israel is actually out of step with a majority of Canadians. More importantly, explaining a major policy shift as a result of vote-seeking is inconsistent with a critical understanding of state and society that recognizes that what states do is crucially shaped by their role in reproducing capitalism in the part of the world in which they are located. Radicals need to be careful not to reproduce mainstream assumptions about the main forces that shape how governments act.

What about the other common explanation, that Canada backs Israel because both are colonial states? It’s true that both Canada and Israel were built on the dispossession and displacement of indigenous peoples, and both work hard to hide their unjust foundations beneath the mask of liberal democracy. But many states around the world that were not built upon settler colonialism are also strong supporters of Israel. The fact that both Canada and Israel are settler colonial states is worth considering, as I do below. But this fact alone does not explain why the Conservative government has so drastically changed Canadian policy toward Israel since taking office. After all, Canada has always been a settler colonial state but its support for Israel has only become so extreme under the current government.

The Logic of Harper’s Israel Policy

If we are to understand Harper’s Israel policy more fully, we need to view it in the broader context of the government’s overhauling of domestic affairs and repositioning of Canada’s place in the world. To be more specific, it’s clear that in an increasingly competitive global economy, the Harper government is staking Canada’s future on becoming a leader in the field of natural resource extraction and related hi-tech industries. It recognizes Israel as a model of this sort of economy and the type of social system required to support it. Israel is a trailblazer in a range of neoliberal strategies that the Harper government desperately wants to profit from and mimic.

By neoliberalism, I mean a socio-economic model in which the state plays a very active role in pushing land, goods, services, and human capacities for labour onto the market where they can be bought and sold for profit. The budding relationship between the Canadian and Israeli states reflects the Harper government’s particular neoliberal strategy for Canadian capitalism.

The Harper government has been explicit about its intent to reshape politics and economics in Canada, and its actions confirm this commitment. Harper is seeking to turn Canada into an “energy superpower,” where a top priority of the state is establishing the conditions for the aggressive advance of the extractive industries and related ventures at home and abroad. The prime minister’s words are instructive: “We are an emerging energy superpower. We want to sell our energy to people who want to buy our energy. It’s that simple.” Realizing this goal is the government’s core project.

To do this, more and more people, land, and services must be driven into the market, because the market is the only place that profits are made. This ongoing process has been called “accumulation by dispossession” by the geographer David Harvey.[1] Anything that obstructs the buying and selling of land, resources, labour, and social support systems is treated as an obstacle to be demolished.

For example, one of the key planks of Harper’s aboriginal policy has been to privatize reserve land, breaking up the legal basis of collective ownership and opening up indigenous lands to capitalist development.[2] Shiri Pasternak writes that “collectively held indigenous lands continue to pose major barriers to capitalist expansion” because massive deposits of minerals and fossil fuels and “over half of large intact forest landscapes are found on lands in historical Aboriginal treaty areas.” In order for Harper’s energy superpower to thrive, indigenous rights must be extinguished and indigenous people forced off their lands.

At the same time, the government has imposed new rules that make it virtually impossible for critics to speak at government hearings on oil-sands and pipeline development, giving exclusive voice to industry advocates. Foreign policy is also being used to further the interests of Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies. For example, in the 2013 budget the government folded the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) into the Foreign Affairs ministry, and pronounced that the job of CIDA is to support Canadian businesses overseas, and indeed partner with private corporations. Funding to universities is increasingly tied to researchers’ ability to generate knowledge that can be turned into profit.

Neoliberalism Israeli-Style

The Harper government’s extreme support for Israel becomes easier to understand when we realize that Israel is a leader in endeavours that are key to the success of Harper’s strategy.

Israel provides the Harper government a model for the integration of dispossession, research, innovation, and commercialization that has led Israeli companies to become global leaders in biotech, military, and other hi-tech industries. Adam Hannieh explains that after decades of state ownership of major industries in Israel, the 1980s and 1990s were a period of rapid privatization in which a domestic capitalist class was consolidated.[3] The core focus of the Israeli capitalist class is the hi-tech sector, where innovations in fields such as water purification, pharmaceuticals, information and communication technologies, and armaments are the basis of profit-making that depends on the commercialization of knowledge and “permanent siege” of Palestine.[4]

Postsecondary institutions in Israel are closely aligned with the private sector, and Israel’s Technion university is ranked sixth in the world for “entrepreneurship and innovation.” A course at the University of Haifa entitled “Innovation in a Nation: The Israeli Phenomenon” explains that “Israel has earned a reputation as one of the most active hubs for innovation, second only to Silicon Valley. Its ventures gain their founders multibillion dollars worth of ‘exits’ every year, promoting the country as an attractive target for acquisitions.” The Harper government’s efforts to tie postsecondary funding to private sector development, especially in science and technology, demonstrate its commitment to this framework. So does the change to CIDA mentioned above. In fact, the Harper government recently signed a foreign aid pact with Israel designed to “encourage the two countries to share strategies for international development.”

Political leaders in Canada are clear about wanting to learn from and link with Israel in order to develop a similar economic model in this country. For example, while visiting Israel in 2010, former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty explained the importance of partnering with Israeli companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals: “Teva Pharmaceuticals is a perfect example of the kind of partner we’re looking for in Israel. This is a country where scientists and academic leaders have figured out how to turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s new investments. We’re here to learn and promote the benefits of doing business with Ontario’s life sciences companies.” In April 2013, two ministers in the Harper government – Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, and Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear – announced a request for proposals under the new Canada-Israel Energy Science and Technology Fund, seeking collaborations that will “spur the development of innovative energy technologies… of interest to both countries.”

The Harper government recognizes the way in which the resources of the Israeli state have been used to create a more integrated economy, in which the needs of business determine regulatory frameworks and knowledge generated in universities, which feed into profitable technological developments that fortify the institutions of apartheid that Israel depends on for its success. This is not to suggest that the situation in Canada is identical to conditions in Israel-Palestine. But Israel is a master teacher in the modern arts of accumulation by dispossession, and Canadian governments and businesses want a piece of the action.

Importing the Matrix of Control

Of course, Harper’s neoliberal project also requires beefing up the state’s security apparatus. A successful new phase of accumulation by dispossession must guard against resistance at home and abroad and eliminate alternatives. Canada looks to Israel on this front as well, as Israel is also a global leader in the repressive “securitization” project.

At a symbolic level, Israel provides lessons in mobilizing the emotional basis of national identity to consolidate its version of neoliberal settler colonialism. This is also what the Harper government is doing through military pageantry, tough-on-crime rhetoric and legislation, and generating fear of foreign influences at the same time as the Conservative austerity agenda actually drives down most people’s standards of living.

More concretely, the Harper government is purchasing Israeli technology and partnering with Israeli organizations that prop up the Israeli economy through the theft of Palestinian land and attacks on Palestinian resistance.

As Jeff Halper argues, Israel profits by exporting elements of its “matrix of control,” the system it uses to dominate Palestinian life. In Naomi Klein’s words: “Many of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel’s status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of 24-hour-a-day showroom, a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war.”

The Harper government is developing ways to turn this into a partnership: “Canadian forces use Israeli-made drones in Afghanistan and the IDF uses Canadian-made electronics in its operations in the West Bank and Gaza.” The ministries responsible for securitization in Canada and Israel have signed a declaration committing the two countries to sharing “knowledge, expertise, experience, information, research, and best practices” and to facilitating “technical exchange cooperation, including education, training, and exercises” in the name of forging “a more structured framework for the continued cooperation on public safety issues between Canada and Israel.” Israeli security companies such as G4S, which support Israeli prisons that brutalize Palestinians, do open business in Canada. Police and military forces in Canada have received training in Israel.

Importing aspects of Israel’s matrix of control fits with the logic driving Harper’s energy superpower agenda. This new phase of accumulation by dispossession seeks to open up new lands to private development at the same time as it shuts down access to entitlements such as pensions, unemployment insurance, welfare, and environmental protections won through popular struggles of the past. Part of Harper’s project is developing mechanisms of discipline to deal with challenges to growing social and environmental injustice.

[John Bonnar]

Resistance to Harper’s agenda rages on multiple fronts, from indigenous peoples like the Embera Katio nation in Colombia (fighting against Canadian construction firms) to the inspiring Idle No More movement in Canada, as well as non-indigenous environmental and anti-capitalist activists. Pasternak notes that Canadian governments and corporations recognize that “critical infrastructure in Canada is at the mercy of Indigenous peoples, who are more rural than Canadians and have access to important arteries for economic flows: transportation corridors, energy sectors, and sites of natural resource extraction.” In the words of Idle No More activist Pamela D. Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick, “First Nations represent Canadians’ last best hope at stopping Harper from unfettered mass destruction of our shared lands, waters, plants and animals in the name of resource development.”

So while settler colonialism in Canada has always been about the violent displacement of indigenous peoples, the Harper government’s passionate defence of Israel and attacks on opposition to Israeli apartheid is also connected to its determination to defeat resistance to its agenda, at home and abroad. Canada not only supports but partners with and profits from Israel’s domination of Palestine.

Strengthening Coalitions to End Canadian Complicity in Israeli Apartheid

The Harper government’s extreme support for Israel is more complex and wider ranging than is often recognized. It is linked to Harper’s version of 21st century neoliberalism in Canada, which depends upon a new phase of accumulation by dispossession that includes a more aggressive securitization project.

Tracing out the ways in which the emergent Canada-Israel bond works in both symbolic and material ways can help Palestine solidarity organizing and anti-capitalist activism more broadly. Struggles for indigenous sovereignty, environmental protection, prison abolition, workers’ power, and economic equality are not merely allies in the sense that they share a desire for social justice and wish the best for each other. The problems we face are integrated and so require an integrated fightback. Supporting the “Sovereignty Summer” called jointly by Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, for example, could be done in solidarity with Palestinian liberation not only in the general spirit of anti-colonial resistance of peoples around the world but in substance as direct action against the Canadian and Israeli joint project in accumulation by dispossession.

The breadth of Harper’s neoliberal assault should provoke all sorts of discussions and actions that integrate Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions activism against Israel into struggles for social and environmental justice in the workplace, on campuses, in neighbourhoods, and throughout society.

As Adam Hanieh puts it, “It is not merely the depth of suffering or length of exile that makes the Palestinian struggle an imperative of international solidarity in the current period. It is also the central location of the struggle within the broader context of global resistance to imperialism and neoliberalism.” •

‘Canadians should be concerned: The Harperites’ love affair with “Israel”‘

(File photo)

by Yves Engler, source

While the Harper Conservative government has loudly proclaimed its close ties to Israel, most Canadians would be surprised to learn the Tories have decided to make the two countries blood brothers. In the international affairs equivalent of a Mafia initiation ceremony Canada has sworn undying loyalty and to be a faithful soldier in Israel’s cause.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Consider the following:

• Since Stephen Harper took office the two nations defence ministers and top generals have repeatedly visited each other’s country. These visits have resulted in various accords and “the [two] countries have agreed to exchange secret defense information,” according to a June 2012 CBC summary of government briefing notes.

• The week before last the head of Canadian Forces visited Israel to deepen “cooperation between the two militaries.” Reportedly, Thomas Lawson met his Israeli counterpart, the Defense Minister and various other senior military officers. According to a Jerusalem Post summary, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called for Canada and Israel to “further increase their cooperation in the fight against terror in light of the upheaval in the Middle East and Iran’s role in fueling the region’s conflicts.”

• In 2008 Canada and Israel signed a wide-ranging public security agreement and for the first time in its history in 2011 Israel named a defense attaché to Ottawa. Until at least the end of 2010 the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv served as Israel’s Contact Point Embassy to NATO, the military alliance of Western nations. The embassy served as the liaison between Israel and NATO, assisting with visits of NATO officials to Israel. According to internal government documents examined by The Dominion, Ottawa worked to strengthen Israel’s partnership with the military alliance, helping its “pursuit of a Status of Forces Agreement, getting access to the NATO Maintenance Supply Agency, [redacted].”

• In February 2010 deputy foreign minister Peter Kent implied that Canada already considered Israel a member of NATO, which operates according to the principle that an attack on any member is considered an attack against all members. Reflecting the alliance’s purported principle, Kent said “an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada” and in July 2011 defence minister Peter MacKay reiterated this position privately. According to briefing notes uncovered by CBC he told Israel’s top military commander, Gabi Ashkenazi that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.”

• At the same time as official military relations have intensified there has been an increase in weapons sharing and relations between Israeli and Canadian arms manufacturers. At a November 2011 press conference with his Israeli counterpart defense minister MacKay described the two countries’ “growing relations in the defense sector.” Among the more significant examples, the Canadian military bought the Israeli-made Heron drone for use in Afghanistan and Israel’s Elisra Electronics Systems is working on upgrading a dozen Halifax-class warships.

• Despite the Israeli Defense Force’s many human rights violations, many Canadian companies sell weapons directly to Israel. According to a 2009 Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade report, more than 140 Canadian weapons makers export products to Israel. Last year British Columbia-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates won a $90+ million contract to supply Israel Aerospace Industries with satellite technology. The December 2011 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs detailed some Canadian military exports to Israel. “Ottawa’s Allen Vanguard Corporation provides ‘counterterrorist’ equipment and training. iMPath Networks of Ottawa and Halifax design solutions for real-time video surveillance and intrusion detection technology. Mecachrome Technologies, based in Montréal and Toronto, provides components for military aircraft. And MPB Technologies of Pointe Claire, Edmonton, Airdrie and Calgary manufacturers, among other things, communications equipment and robotics for [Israeli] military use. … British Columbia-based 360 Surveillance sells technology for Israel’s apartheid wall and checkpoints.”

• Taxpayers often underwrite ties between Canadian and Israeli military companies. The multimillion dollar Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation funds research projects (including many in the “security” field) between the two countries’ corporations. (For details see Kole Kilibarda’s Canadian and Israeli Defense -Industrial and Homeland Security Ties: An Analysis).

To the extent that the dominant media questions the Harper government’s pro-Israel policies they focus on public pronouncements, UN votes and other diplomatic moves such as foreign minister John Baird’s recent meeting with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in occupied East Jerusalem (a rare occurrence designed to further legitimize Israel’s illegal control over that part of the city). But, deepening Canadian security ties with Israel may be more significant than the Conservatives anti-Palestinian public statements and UN votes.

For instance, what role do growing ties between the two countries’ military leadership play in the Conservatives extremely hostile position towards Iran? Or, is there a connection between the Canada Israel public security agreement and the RCMP’s highly suspect recent claim that two operatives with “direction and guidance” from “al-Qaeda elements in Iran” planned to blow up a major Canadian bridge? Finally, what role do growing military ties play in spurring the Conservatives’ anti-Palestinian diplomatic moves?

Though little discussed, the military is an important element of the Conservatives ‘Israel no matter what’ policy. In addition to the Jewish establishment, Christian Zionism and the role Israel plays as a Western outpost in the Middle East, the Conservatives militaristic tendencies lead them to support that country. Harper’s government, for instance, is close to the Canadian military companies that sell to Israel and do business with that country’s top-flight weapons industry. Additionally, Canadian military leaders appreciate the tactical information and expertise Israel’s well-practiced military shares.

Like a wanna-be gangster looking up to a Mafia boss, the Harperites are impressed by the large role Israel’s military plays in the country’s affairs.

Ordinary Canadians should be concerned. Very concerned.

Nothing charitable About JNF

The Lands of the Jewish National Fund

by YVES ENGLER, source

In 2010 the Auditor General apparently called on the Canada Revenue Agency to “investigate or revoke” the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status. But this request seems to have been ignored in deference to a “charity” that has long participated in the erasure of Palestinians’ presence from their historic homeland.

Through an Access to Information request Montreal-based activist Ron Saba recently received dozens of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) documents concerning the Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada. In probably the most explosive revelation, the “2010 Fall Report of the Auditor General of Canada Chapter 7 – Registered Charities” includes a question to the CRA about revoking the charitable status of the JNF. “If a registered charity undertakes illegal activities abroad, what action will the CRA take? Will the CRA investigate or revoke the registered status of the Jewish National Fund?”

While the released documents provide little more detail, apparently the Auditor General questioned whether the registered charity’s exclusionary policies conform to Canadian policy.

Shutting out Palestinian citizens of Israel, JNF lands can only be leased by Jews. A 1998 United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found that the JNF systematically discriminated against Palestinian citizens of Israel, which make up about 20% of the country’s population. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” In 2005, Israel’s high court came to similar conclusions. It found that the JNF, which owns 13 percent of the country’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest, systematically excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property. Even the most recent US State Department annual report on Israel notes: “Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.”

There is a strong case to be made that the JNF’s bylaws and operations violate Canadian policy and law. Discrimination in the provision of housing is illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act and a September 2003 CRA Public Policy Statement titled “Registering Charities that Promote Racial Equality” is clear that racial equality is a stated aim of Canadian charitable policy. Registered charities that operate abroad are supposed to adhere to domestic policy or else lose their ability to provide donors with tax subsidies. “An organization is not charitable at law if its activities are contrary to Canadian public policy”, explains the CRA.

But, the CRA and politicians in Ottawa have shown little interest in applying the rules in the JNF’s case. They seem to have ignored the call to investigate whether the JNF’s practices contravene Canadian law. In particular, the CRA has not properly addressed the question of whether the JNF is a racist organization.

Instead of launching a proper investigation, CRA officials have prepared misleading responses to those calling on the agency to revoke the JNF’s charitable status. The internal documents suggest the CRA has spent hundreds of hours devising strategies to respond to complaints about the JNF and covering up what Ron Saba has dubbed “the Racist JNF Tax Fraud.”

This public relations strategy is spelled out explicitly in a document of “Media Lines” on the JNF prepared for use by the Canada Revenue Agency’s media handlers. It notes that Saba has been “questioning the legitimacy of the charitable status of the JNF” through a “wide distribution list, including members of Parliament, senators, Canadian and international media and human rights and social justice groups.” The document also expresses concerns that while “the JNF has not generated any mainstream media coverage” so far, “because of Mr. Saba’s wide distribution list, the potential for media interest remains.”

As part of the effort to protect the JNF from scrutiny, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Caitlin Workman emailed former colleagues at the CRA in 2011 suggesting they “monitor” an Independent Jewish Voices sponsored talk in Ottawa. Under the headline “Event you may want to monitor” Workman sent a May 13 communication stating “author of the Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, will give a talk on Canada and the Jewish National Fund”.

The tax agency’s protection should not be surprising as Conservative officials have strongly backed the JNF even though the internal documents show that since 2007 six different Conservative ministers have received documentation detailing the racist nature of JNF policies (at least two of the ministers circulated the information).

Over the past nine months immigration minister Jason Kenney and foreign minister John Baird have spoken at JNF galas while environment minister Peter Kent toured southern Israel with officials from the organization in December. At the end of the year prime minister Stephen Harper is set to be honoured at the JNF Negev Dinner in Toronto, which will be the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister has spoken to a JNF gala in the organization’s 100 year history.

Hopefully, thousands of protesters will greet Harper. While getting the prime minister to speak is obviously a boon for the JNF, it also provides a unique opportunity to draw attention to an institution that most people are unfamiliar with.

It’s time to turn Independent Jewish Voices’ nascent campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status into a major element of pro-Palestinian activism in Canada. Groups elsewhere have had successes on this front recently.

In 2011 Stop the JNF in England pushed Prime Minister, David Cameron, to withdraw his patron status from the JNF and since then 68 MPs have endorsed a bill to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.” In Scotland the Green Party and Friends of the Earth have endorsed the Stop the JNF campaign while last year legendary US folksinger Pete Seeger distanced himself from an event with the JNF and a board member of the US organization quit in protest over the JNF’s role in the eviction of a Palestinian family from East Jerusalem. At the start of this year Stop The JNF prompted the new owners of a major South African toy retailer, “Reggies”, to sever ties with the organization.

While the political climate is more difficult in this country, there’s no reason that a major campaign can’t bring successes. If made aware most Canadians would be uncomfortable with the idea that public money is supporting an openly racist institution. They would also be appalled by the JNF Canada’s direct (and documented) role in displacing Palestinians since the late 1920s.

While it’s hard to imagine the CRA under Stephen Harper revoking the JNF’s charitable status – at least without a lengthy and expensive legal battle – the campaign can play an important educational purpose. The organization is at the heart of Israeli apartheid and drawing attention to this institution is a way to discuss the racism intrinsic to Zionism.

‘Canada accused of exploiting terror-related incidents’

Canada premier accused of inciting hatred of aborigines

Press TV

A Canadian women’s group has accused the country’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper of inciting hatred of the indigenous people in the country by falling short of condemning racial practices against them.

Ellen Gabriel of the ‘Indigenous Women of Turtle Island’ highlighted on Friday that so far she has observed a powerful and rising amount of racist reactions against the protests organized by the ‘Idle No More’ movement over aboriginal treaty rights.

The Canadian government’s failure to meet the demands of the First Nations has triggered many protests across the country.

On January 16, hundreds of demonstrators, many carrying flags and signs calling on the federal government to listen to aboriginal concerns, blocked one of the two access roads to the Ambassador Bridge, which is the major trade crossing from southern Ontario to the US.

Several other protest rallies had also been held or planned in cities nationwide, blocking rail and roadways, including the TransCanada Highway, as well as targeting oil sands mining in Western Canada.

Indigenous communities in Canada, also known as the First Nations, say they are frustrated with Ottawa’s failure to address the social and economic grievances facing many of Canada’s 1.2 million aborigines.

Canadian aborigines are also angry at government’s Bill C-45, which seeks to change the rules about aboriginal land.

The protests have intensified in the North American country after Theresa Spence, the Chief of Attawapiskat First Nation in Northern Ontario, went on a hunger strike on December 11, 2012 over the violation of the rights of the Canadian natives. She has demanded a meeting between the Canadian premier and Governor General David Johnston and First Nations leaders on the troubles of aboriginal people.

The Assembly of First Nations has also renewed its calls for a meeting with Harper and Johnston on January 24.

This comes as Spence said in a statement issued on Friday that she is growing feeble, but is still determined to see the January 24 meeting take place.

“I pray that Canada will come to the table soon, as time isn’t on my side and as each day passes, so does our health,” Spence said about herself and her co-hunger striker, Manitoba elder Raymond Robinson.

Many of Canada’s natives live in poor conditions with unsafe drinking water, inadequate housing, addiction, and high suicide rates.

The hypocrisy of “Israel’s” supporters: Subsidizing land theft

by Yves Engler, source

The double standard of Israel-no-matter-what supporters can reach spectacular proportions. The recent case of Liberal Party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau’s speech proves the point and also illustrates the tactics employed to demonize the Islamic community.

Montreal-based anti-Muslim website Point de Bascule and pro-Israel Jewish group B’nai Brith successfully turned Trudeau’s speech to the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference last weekend into a controversy. With help from some right-wing media outlets they made a big deal of the fact that one of (17) sponsors of the Toronto event has been accused of aiding Hamas by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

In a bid to quiet the controversy the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN), which is challenging the CRA’s accusations in court, withdrew its sponsorship of the conference. Operating in a dozen countries, IRFAN is a leading Canadian Muslim charity that sponsored four thousand orphans at its high point.

In November 2004 then opposition MP Stockwell Day, backed by the pro-Israel Canadian Coalition for Democracies, called on the Liberal government to investigate IRFAN for any ties to Hamas. The CRA investigated the group but failed to register a serious complaint. Soon after Day and the Conservatives took power, the CRA audited IRFAN again. After a series of moves against the organization, in April 2011 the CRA permanently revoked the group’s charitable status, claiming “IRFAN-Canada is an integral part of an international fundraising effort to support Hamas.”

A big part of the CRA’s supporting evidence was that IRFAN worked with the Gaza Ministry of Health and Ministry of Telecommunications, which came under Hamas’ direction after they won the 2006 election. The Mississauga-based organization tried to send a dialysis machine to Gaza and continued to support orphans in the impoverished territory with the money channeled through the Post Office controlled by the Telecommunications Ministry.

This author cannot claim any detailed knowledge of the charity, but on the surface of it the charge that IRFAN was a front for Hamas makes little sense. First of all, the group was registered with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank when the Fatah-controlled PA was waging war against Hamas. Are we to believe that CRA officials in Ottawa had a better sense of who supported Hamas then the PA in Ramallah? Additionally, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) viewed the Canadian charity as a legitimate partner. In 2009 IRFAN gave UNRWA $1.2 million to build a school for girls in Battir, a West Bank village.

The CRA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating IRFAN. It appears that the Revenue Agency wanted to help their Conservative bosses prove that Muslim Canadians financed “Hamas terror”. And the recent controversy over Trudeau’s participation in the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference demonstrates how the CRA’s accusation can be used to demonize the million-strong Canadian Muslim community and specifically to deter them from associating with the Palestinian cause.

The case against IRFAN also illustrates the flagrant double standard between how Ottawa treats charities working in Israel versus those helping the much poorer Palestinians (Gaza’s per capita income is $1,483 whereas Israel’s is $31,000). It’s illegal for Canadians to aid any group directly or indirectly associated with the elected Hamas government in Gaza yet it’s legal — and government will foot part of the bill — to finance charities linked to Israeli settlements that contravene international law.

The Conservatives have reinforced Canada’s post 9-11 anti-terrorism laws that make it illegal to directly or indirectly assist a half dozen Palestinian political organizations all the while embracing tax write-offs for illegal Israeli settlements. Guelph activist Dan Maitland emailed former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon concerning Canada Park, a Jewish National Fund of Canada initiative built on land Israel occupied after the June 1967 War (three Palestinian villages were demolished to make way for the park). In August 2010 Maitland received a reply from Keith Ashfield, national revenue minister, who refused to discuss the particulars of the case but provided “general information about registered charities and the occupied territories.” Ashfield wrote “the fact that charitable activities take place in the occupied territories is not a barrier to acquiring or maintaining charitable status.” This means Canadian organizations can openly fundraise for settlements illegal under international law and get the government to pay up to a third of the cost through tax credits for donations.

The exact amount is not known but it’s safe to assume that millions of Canadian dollars make their way to Israeli settlements annually. Every year Canadians send a few hundred million dollars in tax-deductible donations to Israeli universities, parks, immigration initiatives and, more controversially, “charities” that aid the Israeli army in one way or another.

While a number of Jewish groups publicly promote their support for the Israeli military few Jewish charities openly tout their support for those stealing Palestinian land in violation of international law. Interestingly, it appears that Christian Zionist groups are more explicit about their support for West Bank settlers. One such charity registered with Ottawa, Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), says it supports “the Jews currently living in Biblical Israel —the communities of Judea and Samaria (and previously Gaza).” Judea and Samaria is the biblical term right wing Israelis use to describe the occupied West Bank. CFOIC explains that it “provide(s) Christians with deeper insight into the significance of Judea and Samaria — the heartland of Israel — and the people who live there. This is done by bringing groups of Christians to visit the communities, and providing information about the communities on an ongoing basis; and provide financial and moral support to the Jewish communities who are developing the land in faithfulness to their God.”

So here we have the blatant double standard for all to see: The current Canadian government uses “anti-terrorism” legislation to prevent a dialysis machine from being sent to Gaza but encourages, through tax write-offs, donations to illegal settlements that have terrorized and displaced thousands of Palestinians…

Iran: Canada’s delisting of MEK terrorist group ‘dangerous’

Al Manar

Iran on Monday slammed Canada for removing an exiled Iranian trrorist group from its blacklist of terror groups, accusing it of violating its global commitments and adopting a “dangerous” move.

By delisting the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) group, Canada is “using the issue of terrorism as a tool (and) violating its international commitments,” the Iranian foreign ministry said on the website of state broadcaster IRIB.

“It is a dangerous move that can weaken international peace and security.”

Canada on December 21 announced the removal of the group from its blacklist after a similar move by the United States in September. Canada also added Iran’s Quds Force, a Special Forces unit within the Revolutionary Guards to its so-called terror list.

The Iranian foreign ministry issued a “serious warning” about the consequences of the decision to delist MEK, saying it was turning Canada into a “haven for terrorists.”

It said Iran will hold Canada responsible for preserving the security of Iranian expatriates and properties “in case of any violent and terrorist acts” by the MEK.

Iran holds the group responsible for murdering thousands of Iranian civilians and officials as well as becoming mercenaries for the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.

Ottawa orders Canadian scientific journals not to publish Iranian articles

Press TV

The Canadian government has reportedly ordered the scientific journals of the country not to publish articles authored by Iranian researchers and scientists, Press TV has learnt.
Iranian academics, who had primarily received an acceptance from the journals, have received new messages that notified them of the journals’ decision not to publish their work due to recent policies adopted by the Canadian government.

In a recent move, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research refused to publish an article by an Iranian assistant professor despite the earlier acceptance of the article.

The journal argued that it “will not be permitted to publish” the article as previously stated, citing the political and non-academic reasons. It said that Ottawa had closed down its mission in Tehran for what it called the “civil rights abuse of the citizens of Iran” and “the threat to the security of Canadian personnel and Israel.”

On September 7, the Canadian government closed its embassy in Tehran and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave Canada within five days.

In a statement, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada views Iran “as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world,” adding that Iran “routinely threatens the existence of Israel.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast censured Ottawa’s decision as undiplomatic and a move in line with the policies dictated by Israel.

“The hostile actions of the current racist Canadian government are in fact in line with the policies that are dictated by the Zionist regime (Israel) and the British government,” Mehmanparast said.

Pundits believe Canada’s move to sever diplomatic ties with Iran unveils Ottawa’s submissive attitude toward the Israeli regime.

“Canada’s abrupt move to sever all ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran manifestly springs from a strong Zionist sway which has permeated the political structure of the country,” Iranian academic Ismail Salami wrote in an op-ed published on Press TV website on September 11.

The analyst said that governed as a constitutional monarchy with British Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, Canada could be viewed as a country “supporting colonizing regimes such as Israel and seeking to isolate the peaceful nation of Iran.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Baird have time and again expressed unconditional support for Israel, and are widely believed for dancing to every tune of the Israeli regime.