Thursday, July 23, 2009

Anti-Israel Protest Losing Momentum

The anything to do with Israel is evil campaign has been continuing. The most recent attack is report of alleged IDF abuses during Operation Cast Lead. The reporta had no way of validating the truth behind the allegations or even verifying that the testimony was more than just hearsay. The British have revoked licenses to supply the Israeli Navy with ammunition for their boats.

Despite these moves, support for the protests against Israel has been fading fast. A combination of gerneral apathy, more interesting world events and a proper response by the Jewish community have all softened the blow in attacks against Israel.

The BDS (Boycott) campaign against Israel had been hailed as the ultimate way to collapse the Israeli economy the same way it helped bring change in South Africa. The biggest hole in the campaign was to focus on certain companies, rather than holding to true moral values. The Jewish community has brought another major hole to the BDS campaign by offering financial support to those exposed to boycott efforts.

There have been a number of boycott failures this year. A call to boycott Israeli wine in Toronto resulted in the targeted store being sold out in 10 minutes and the small group of protestors overwhelmed by support for Israel from the Jewish community. A call to boycott and deshelve Israeli products at Trader's Joe got such a poor turnout, the organizers didn't bother publicizing the event happened. The Dead Sea Scrolls now being displayed at the ROM in Toronto. Palestinians leadership cried foul, declaring the Scrolls to be part of stolen Palestinian heritage. This sad and desperate claim once again rallied the Jewish Community, driving up ticket sales. It also exposed the Palestinian pitfall of trying to claim ownership on anything that helps their cause.

Free Gaza is an organization that runs celebrity filled boats to run the blockade to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. They like playing the hero. How the aid is delivered is far more important than the aid reaching the intended recipients. The fact that over a hundred truck loads of aid pass through Israel into Gaza each day, (far greater than what they can get on their boats) is not relevant to their cause.

Their most recent run lead them into some public relations mistakes. They originally filed their travel plan to Cyprus authorities, as heading to Egypt. It was only after being out to sea that they changed their course to Gaza. The ability to change course is legal, but they never had any intent of going to Egypt. They may not have even recieved permission to leave port if they were honest with local authorities. They seemed shocked that Israel has control over Gaza waters. Egypt gave up claims to Gaza long ago and it is not like they tried to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority. They claimed to be in mortal danger after the Navy threatened to open fire on them. They didn't even receive a wanring shot. Their first mate said that they would be boarded and arrested. That is exactly what happened. No surprises, no real danger.

Throughout the ordeal they did their best to cry foul. They tried claiming they had no desire to go to Israel. Their manifest of the aid they were bringing kept changing. One report said they each carried a bag of cement while, their Twitter account said they only had a symbolic bag of cement. There cries for media attention fell mostly on deaf ears. When the British deportees were returned to London, they got out maybe a dozen supporters and zero media coverage.

There have been a lot of world events taking the focus off of Israel. The defeat of the Tamil Tigers in Somalia, Health Care Reform in the United States, Garbage Strike in Toronto, Michael Jackson's death and the election results in Iran. Iranian officials have even found a way to blame Israel for the protests in Iran.

Barak Obama has been pumping up the pressure on Israel, while the world focuses on more relevant issues. Some of the apathy can be attributed to other world events. If even some of the public has noticed some of the inconsistancies with criticism towards Israel. It makes the world a better place for Israeli's and Jews around the world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Double Voting on Knesset Plenum Unethical

It only took 6 years but MK Ronnie Bar-On has finally been reprimanded in a double voting incident. The Knesset uses an electronic voting system. The results of all votes can be tabulated quickly and accurately. The system is fast and effective when it is not being tampered with.

Bar-On had decided after voting for himself he would also vote on behalf of
MK Inbal Gavrieli. The evidence of the case suggests that he probably voted how she would have voted. He may have even had permission to cast the vote. As this was only an ethical breach without any apparent harm done there will be no further punishment.

It is every MKs job to be present in their seats for voting. If they miss a vote than it is their own responsibility. The ethics committee was correct in handing down a harsh rebuke over the incident. The Knesset already has a long standing reputation for corruption. The Israeli electoral system does not leave very much room to hold politicians accountable for their individual actions. The rebuke is welcome. Hopfully it will serve as a warning to others to act on behalf of themselves and their constituants.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Attempt to Downgrade Bet Shemesh from Israeli City to Illeagal Settlemen

Last Friday there was a major accident along highway 38 outside of Bet Shemesh. A car crossed the centre line and hit another car head on. 6 people were killed in the accident. Palestinian main stream media also reported this tragedy.

The problem with the Palestinian news source is that they reported Bet Shemesh as being a settlement. Bet Shemesh is located in Israel proper by any definition. The intentional misuse of terminology is a great cause for concern.

There is an old expression that the winners write the history books. With today's technology the truth goes to whoever can spin their side of the story the best before history has a chance to sort the facts out. Truth can easily be lost in the rush for a good story. A simply placed wrong word creates the impression that Bet Shemesh is to be included in the demand to stop settlement growth. The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly said they want the 1967 borders no more, no less. However, when it comes to actually negotiating are they going to try to claim Bet Shemesh is a settlement and demand it as part of negotiations. After all their media reports that it is a settlement.

The Palestinians have rejected as a non-starter having the Old City of Jerusalem being declared an International City under the United Nations. Some Palestinian officials have responded that they want a 'United' Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian State. Not only do they want full control over the Kotel (the spiritual centre of the Jewish people) but they are willing to claim territory that they do not have a claim to.

For people who may face having their homes traded in for an empty peace deal, this careless use of language are cause for concern. Those who live in this part of the world who have to live with the fallout of an agreement have cause for concern. How can there be trust when terminology can so easily be changed in an attempt to cease more territory?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

G8 Calls for the Immediate Release of Gilad Shalit

The G8 held their annual summit in 2009. This year they also invited the G5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) as guests, since the environment was a keyissue. In the course of their meetings they did adopt statements regarding Israel.

G8 Statement Middle East Coverage Starts on Page 6 of 10

Here are the highlights:

The achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East remains crucial for the international community.

We also call on the Parties to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap – including the unequivocal rejection of violence, terrorism and incitement, and a freeze in settlement activity, including “natural growth” – and on Arab states to take meaningful steps toward normalization with Israel and to provide political and economic support to the Palestinian Authority.

We call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. We also call for the immediate opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza, in a manner that respects Israel’s security. .

We look forward to a comprehensive peace between Israel and all its neighbours, also building upon the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which will be a key element of this regional process.

...we urge a resumption of peace negotiations also on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks.

We underscore the importance of regional partnerships in areas of education, economic development, science and technology, and health, as outlined in President Obama’s speech in Cairo.

It is great that they called for the release of Gilad Shalit. The statement could be better categorized as a whimper. The statement did not appear to make news anywhere outside of Israel. There is a massive move by the United States to establish that Jewish homes as the biggest threat to any sort of real peace. Since the Obama speach the Palestinian Authority has once again clarified they will accept nothing less than what they have been asking for the entire time. Practical compromises are unacceptable and they will not negotiate until an offer they could accept is on the table. Syria has made a number of statements that if they don't get back the Golan Heights they are prepared to take it by force. The Egyptian government who has had a 30 years of 'normalized relations' with Israel, is appealing a court ruling to strip citzenship from Egyptians who have married Arab Israelis. Hizzbolah has kindly infomred the newly elected Lebanese government that the new Government was not to interfere with their defence of the Southern border. In the last few months UNIFIL has found a number of weapons in violation of UN Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the 2nd Lebanon War.

Hamas has effectivly tied Israel's hands with the capture of Gilad Shalit. The purpose of his capture continues to be to cause pain and suffering for Israeli society. In violation of the Geneva convention he has been denied access to the Red Cross and denied communication with his parents. Both acts make his captivity a war crime. To add to the cruelty they refuse to confirm if he is alive or dead, eventhough they are bargaining as if he is alive. The price for his release is and has always been 1000 prisoners including 450 serving life sentences.

The pain of Shalit's captivity is felt across Israel. It is a topic of conversation. There are signs and posters all over the place. It is felt when a mother watches her 18 year old go off to do his army service. It is felt by the soldiers both new and doing mandatory reserved duty who feel he is abandoned. It is felt by families of terrorist victims who may one day watch the orchestrators of their nightmares go free without any rehabilitation or remorse.

The release of Gilad Shalit on favourable terms unleashes a multitude of options for the Israeli government. It would allow for the possibility of support of lifting the siege on Gaza or reasonable land concessions. It allows Israel to once and for all put the ball in the court of Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon. The decision to live in peace would fall exclusivly into their hands.

If the world leaders really care about making peace they need to take greater efforts to freeing Shalit. As long as the nation feels the pain of his captivity the government cannot consider any more sacrifices to an ever increasingly mythical goal.


This blog was started in the aftermath of the October 2007 Ontario election. I had been writting about politics on and off since 2006. I have now added all of the old posts to the blog.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Did Harper Eat the Cookie?

On Friday Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the funeral of former Governer General Romeo LeBlanc. He accepted communion when it was offered. The video footage seems to show that he did not immediatley eat the wafer. It is possible he ate it immediatly after the camera panned away. In this case the correct course of action was to immediatly eat the wafer.

Some Catholics have expressed concern that Harper has slighted Catholicism. Treating the host inappropriatly is a major issue. During the Middle Ages, Jews would be found guilty on trumpped up charges of Desecration of the Host. The penalty for cookie torture was death and would sometimes extend to the community at large and not just the accused. Keeping the wafer instead of eating it is a major insult. A spokesperson for Harper said that he did swallow the wafer.

As a Protestant he would normally not be allowed to take Communion. However as he is the Head of State there may be an exception to this rule. There is an accepted custom of crossing arms to indicate to the priest that one will not accept Communion. It stands to reason that people would have been just as offended by that decision sighting the exception to the rule. As a Protestant Harper would be more used to the idea that everyone eats the wafer at the same time. He could very easily have noticed right after the camera panned away that nobody else was waiting.

It took 5 days for the story to break. Despite the number of people standing around him, there doesn't seem to be any eye witnesses. Both are more indicative of a slow news day than a major story. Harper is scheduled to meet with the Pope this week. He should simply ask the Pope what the correct protical should be to avoid such silly problems in the future.

Update: Senate Speaker Honourable Noel A. Kinsella has confirmed he witnessed Harper consuming the host.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Toronto - More than the Garbage Smells

The City of Toronto strike continues to drag on. There are reports that both side are prepared for a 6 week strike. As always the losers are the citizens who are unable to access community services. CUPE and City Council seem to be clueless at the anger felt by residents about the strike.

On Wednesday, CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan wrote about the strike in the Toronto Star. He talked about the historical importance of unions and their goal to provide every worker with a 'liveable' wage. He does not feel it is fair to publish workers for an economy collapse caused by risks taken by the rich in attempts to further line their pockets. Rank and file union members have claimed they can relate to the economic suffering of others because they had to live with Rae days or 8 years without a raise under Mel Lastman.

Union demands have hurt the economy, especially in the auto sector. There is a reasons aside from nationality why companies like Honda and Toyota were not jumping in line for government handouts. Unreasonable labour rates, plus union red tape can cut into the pofitability of a company. If a company can't make money then they are not going to have any employees. The fact that the union doesn't flinch at complaining about reduced sick benefits to people who have lost their jobs or live in fear of losing their jobs during the economic colapse.

City council is doing their fair share of not connecting to tax payers. Call from an emergency council meeting to slash roll back this year's raise. An oppurtunity to take action didn't make it to the floor for consideration, when the decision was made to freeze union salaries. Excuses from councillors range from their portion gets donated, to the meeting would cost too much, to it is a 'cost of living' increase and not a raise. Mayor Miller's excuse is that the city stopped the practise of tying their salaries to contracts the city negotiates, recognizing it was a conflict of interest.

Over the years City Council has called on taxpayers to tighten their builts. Tax increases and new taxes have been standard to help with city finances. City Council has still not managed to roll back a single perk to show that they are prepared to stand with residents and tighten their built. The overall savings to the city budget would be minimal. An act of do as I do, instead of do as I say would go a long way to gaining respect from residents.

The Gay Pride Parade was too important to allow the strike to allow it to be cancelled. The same effort and care was not placed on Canada Day celebrations. City Council and it's unionized employees are out of sink with the needs of the community. They are willing to allow everyone else to suffer in order to stick to their ideoligical guns. In Toronto voters are consistent in re re-electing the same politicians over and over again. If they continue to be treated like garbage and taken for granted, there is a slim chance that will not be true for the next election.That seems like a risk all the important players are willing to take.