This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rising From Frustrated Impotence to Global Power

"Yes [Putin] is authoritarian, yes he uses extralegal methods to put down opposition and dissent, but it's small potatoes to what our allies do on a daily basis."
Norman Pereira, Russian historian, Dalhousie University

"The Russian mantra is that Russia is a great power [which is actually somewhat dubious -- land mass and nuclear weapons aside], and the Kremlin has been able to project that image on the international arena."
Jeanne Wilson, Russian foreign policy expert, Wheaten College, Wheaten, Illinois
Vladimir Putin answers questions from the press at the October 2016 BRICS Summit. Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru

"Due to the consequences of the Ukrainian crisis, the new Concept now includes a special point that covers Moscow’s readiness to oppose any attempt to using human rights as an instrument of political pressure and interference in the internal affairs of any state in order to unseat legitimate governments."
"Over the past four years, Russia has taken a number of steps to limit various organizations activities on its territory. For example, a law on “foreign agents” was passed, according to which any organizations that are engaged in political activity, operate on the territory of the Russian Federation and receive funding from abroad will be registered in a separate list."
"These organizations are required to provide a report on their activities and on the composition of their governing bodies twice a year. In addition, large sums of transferred money are also to be controlled. Besides that, the activity of the United States Agency for International Development is now completely prohibited in Russia."
The National Interest
Russia was bereft of its friends and allies, all of whom hastily dissolved their relationship with Russia on the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The former satellites of the USSR took little time in abandoning the sinking ship of the grimly controlling nation that assured them that all were equal under the aegis of the USSR, even while they were being manipulated and forced to abandon any thought of reverting to their previous status as autonomous sovereign nations, held firmly in the grip of a superpower.

While Russia was left to mourn the sudden collapse of its eastern European empire, the freed nations got on with being who they were untrammeled by the status they had so long chafed under, as appendages of Russia. Finding itself alone, little wonder Moscow was bitter and resolved to get on with its own future, stumbling badly on the way before recovering itself as a reinvented Greater Russian Federation. Made all the more greater by availing itself of parts of Georgia and Ukraine.

The Kremlin's assertiveness in world affairs signalled a resolve to return to the days of USSR influence as a reborn world power. One which, despite a flailing economy still focused on re-building its military arsenal and deploying its troops in what it considered to be troublespots where a Russian presence could guarantee growing influence and prestige. Succeeding where others failed, as for example, Syria. That their president chose to invest in the military despite economic problems at home sat surprisingly well with most Russians.

Their pride and their honour, after all, were being restored. They too, like their president, yearned for a return of their influential past where pride and honour resided; easy enough to forget the hardships and disappointments and fears of the past, as though the threat of the Siberian gulag never existed. Of course, influence was still there, in the permanent Security Council seat alongside China, France, Britain and the United States, where Russia could exercise its censure options alongside China, its uneasy partner in roguishness.

As for Russia's destabilizing effect in eastern Europe, one could convincingly argue that this is Russia's neighbourhood, the near-abroad, so that the presence of NATO, reassuring the Baltic states that they would be defended against Russian incursion is as popular with Russians as a Russian presence in Canada would be to the United States; similar in fact to the Russian presence in Cuba, abutting the United States and we know what happened then in nuclear diplomacy.

Russia never managed to doff the mantle of  'Cold War enemy status' despite a brief initial love affair that never solidified with the United States when George W. Bush declared that looking deep into Vladimir Putin's eyes he could see someone he would have no problem getting along with. Obama and Putin have no such love affair. And that is a matter that may change in the very near future when Obama is no longer in the Oval Office and a Putin-collegial Trump will be.

Fort Russ News

Mr. Obama's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats as an expression of piqued retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American election which failed to secure Hillary Clinton the presidency to ensure the prolongation of the Obama doctrine in foreign affairs was coolly received by Mr. Putin of whom Mr. Obama once said: "The truth is, actually, Putin, in all of our meetings, is scrupulously polite, very frank", but which failed to result in a cementing of good relations between the two seems on the cusp of turning full circle.

If Vladimir Putin was able to convince his American counterpart that working together on the Syria file by sidestepping red lines and failing to arm Syrian rebel groups sufficiently to allow them to successfully challenge the vicious brute who presented himself as the only alternative in Syria to terrorism by slaughtering a half-million of his own people as terrorists, the incoming American president should be putty in his hands.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Righteously Preaching to the Disinterested

"It is not a question of dictating to the parties ... Only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to peace. No one will do it in their place."
"The world cannot, should not resign itself to the status quo."
French President Francois Hollande

"[A two-state solution is] threatened [and must be reinforced]."
"Given where things are going and what is happening, that is particularly important [to endorse the communique resulting from the Paris Mideast peace conference]."
"This is not the right time [for the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem]. We think it's ill-advised."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

"[Israel and the Palestinians are urged to] officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution."
Mideast peace conference closing declaration
Thomas Samson, Reuters -- Paris Peace Conference

"We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them - indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis - and which is taking place just days before the transition to a new American President when the U.S. will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement."
"There are risks therefore that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace."
British Foreign Office statement 
So here it is, a statement issued by a consensus of sanctimonious opinion arrived at when representatives of 72 nations, called together by the Government of France to sit in judgement on a nation desperate to preserve itself from the forces seeking endlessly to destroy it, intimating that this nation of Jews -- among an ocean of hostile Islamic nations supporting the inalienable rights of Palestinians to covet and challenge by whatever means manipulable to take ownership of heritage Judaic land and sacred sites -- is to blame for the inability of both sides to come to a peaceful accommodation.

Israelis, who have experienced constant violent assaults on civilians by Palestinians who have systematically been incited from childhood to their adult years to view Jews as interlopers and threats to the Arabs' aspirations to take possession of a geography they claim as theirs, while prodding the international community through public relations and slanderous BDS campaigns to view Israel as an illegitimate state, are held responsible for the 'plight' of the Palestinians. That plight resulting from the original refusal to accept the partition offered by the United Nations.

Consolidated over the years by one refusal after another to accept Israeli offers for settlement of geographical disputes, turning that refusal into a permanent state of 'oppressive occupation' forced on Palestinians by an 'apartheid' state. The global community appears to feel comfortable with naming Israel an apartheid state, responsible for the stalemate in negotiations, even while 20 percent of the Israeli population represents Israeli Palestinian citizens of the state. Among them Arab Christians, Kurds and Druze, all Israeli citizens.

And the Palestinian Authority which steadfastly refuses to recognize a Jewish State, and which has stated unequivocally that no Jews would ever be permitted to live amongst Arabs in a Palestinian State, celebrates itself as a noble and courageous 'resistance' to the apartheid occupier. The state of 'occupation' thrust upon Israel, resulting from never-ending violent assaults by Palestinians. Israel surrendered all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority represented by Fatah. Which their rivals Hamas, championing the destruction of Israel, wrested from Fatah, to use the Strip as a launching pad for rockets aimed at Israel.

That's quite the precedent for clearing any Jewish presence out of land claimed by Palestinians, despite the very real fact that the lands that settler-communities are on in the "West Bank" represent land traditionally part of the ancient Judaic empire. Now, 72 nations focus on what they convince themselves is Israeli intransigence to sue for peace with the unfortunate Palestinians. And nations which are themselves embroiled in domestic human rights abuses sit in judgement on a nation whose actions are based on humanitarian, liberal-democratic values and survival.

The final declaration of the Paris conference that wrapped up on Sunday afternoon did give brief mention to PA incitement and "terror" in reference to attacks on Israel, but this, it seems, is an issue readily overlooked, as though with the general consensus that Israel's very presence is a provocation of Palestinians. John Kerry, like his president, now voices his contempt for Israel which failed to take the advice of the Obama administration conveyed by its Secretary of State; payback time tastes so bitter-sweet to the outgoing.

And what do the Palestinians think about the conference? Depends on who you're asking. Official PA representatives are pleased no end, since it was largely their perspective for Western consumption that was being expressed on the part of the conference. "Today two states is possible; tomorrow … [it] might be too late, because Israel is slipping into a situation in which it will be an apartheid state by de jure and by de facto", according to Mohammad Shtayyeh, senior adviser on negotiations to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, using the language beloved of the West.

Yet, according to a recent poll undertaken by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, most Palestinians claim to believe the two-state solution is no longer viable. "We want a one-state solution where we return to our lands. I want to go back to my country. I don’t care who will rule me. There will be elections, I will have a vote",  claimed Nashat Salhieh, a refugee living in the Al-Amari refugee camp not far from Mr. Abbas’s headquarters in Ramallah.

Even the Palestinians themselves are fed up with negotiations that have not gone anywhere. Now, 36 percent of Palestinians support a single state and some, as far as they're concerned claim they would willingly live under Jewish rule, that in fact their lives were better before the Palestinian Authority was formed to administer the two territories semi-autonomously, that Israeli employers had treated them better and paid them on time. Reflecting the reality of internal divisions, a stagnant economy, and widespread corruption.

The Christian Science Monitor interviewed Palestinians for a recent article related to the issue, where a young man, fearing employment repercussions, asked to be unnamed, and said four of his brothers were arrested in 2002 and given life sentences. He had never held any trust in a two-state solution despite having a teaching job in Jerusalem. "I always told them, [his friends] you are wrong. And now they are all like me. I want one state – a Palestinian state from the river to the sea." But he wants it to be run by "completely different leaders" than those now in power.

"We [Palestinians and Israelis] have lived with each other so long that we cannot separate from each other. I believe in one state with Israel because in my view a Palestinian state would need to be based on religion, on Islam, and this will not happen. [Palestinians want] all of [the land,] without Israel. We cannot live with the Israelis because they are uncomfortable with us and we are uncomfortable with them", said a grinning, self-contradicting Motassem, a Ramallah mechanic.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Carnage in Venezuela

"They told me: 'We are going to play a game, Little Rafael. It is called electrocution'. They shocked me on the abdomen, the neck, the penis, the butt, the back, my hands -- everywhere."
"I felt like my eardrums would explode."
"I knew nothing. I was just a quiet kid and didn't run around with anyone."
Rafael Gonzalez, 27, Barlovento, Venezuela

"Imagine how I felt as a mother."
"They [the military] killed them [men rounded up for arrest in Barlovento] like animals."
Petra Perez, Barlovento resident

"[Victims were innocent, subjected to] the most unfortunate cases of cruelty and inhuman denigrations [sic: degradation] of torture."
"The army doesn't have the preparation or the professional capacity to do crime prevention. They're not trained to do it."
Tarek William Saab, government ombudsman, Caracas Venezuela
In a jail cell outside Caracas. Many who have been arrested turned to crime because of the country’s economic woes. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Just as the Bolivarian revolution of Hugo Chavez, now inherited by President Nicolas Maduro, failed Venezuela, so too has its military, the tool of the failed government. As Venezuela reels in poverty -- despite its oil riches -- and crime always prevalent has soared as the economy descends into underdrive, food shortages has caused mass deprivation and hunger. Drawing thousands of Venezuelans to the streets in protest.

But President Maduro had a solution; he would have the military manage the pitiful food supply, with Venezuelan generals dictating how every item of food staples would be distributed. And now the military is doing such an outstanding job that markets still have empty shelves, while the military is realizing a profit. Grocers have taken to visiting illegal night markets operated by the military.

With the country verging on starvation and pediatric wards of hospitals seeing malnourished children in their death throes, the big business in the country has become food trafficking with the military at the steering wheel of the graft machine."Lately, food is a better business than drugs", mused retired General Cliver Alcala. The socialist government nationalized and neglected farms and factories so that domestic production of food shrivelled. And then the price of oil collapsed.

The Food Ministry created by Hugo Chavez can no longer afford the importation of the food required by hungry citizens in a country now incapable of producing its own food supply for self-sufficiency. Global food traders no longer are interested in selling directly to the Venezuelan government in light of graft concerns. According to one South American businessman, millions were paid in kickbacks to Venezuelan officials who work for the food ministry.

Gang members in Bolívar State, in eastern Venezuela. A constellation of armed groups have turned to kidnappings and robberies. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

But Venezuelans also have other pressing problems. The military, dispatched to provide a solution to the rising incidence of gangs and crime who are entering villages to arrest, interrogate, torture and kill those they suspect of being involved in criminal gangs. One of the world's highest rates of violent crimes distinguishes Venezuela, and that has become even more aggravated with rising unemployment and inability to procure basic life-needs.

There were 28,479 killings registered last year, to exacerbate the country's economic collapse. At one time gangs were armed by the Bolivarian movement as loyal street enforcers. Now that the country has spiralled into desperate conditions of high inflation, the disappearance of jobs and food shortages the gangs have tightened their grip over neighbourhoods and ordinary citizens themselves have turned to crime.

Now, the government has ordered the military to become involved in commando-type raids. In the rural area of Barlovento, military surprise raids followed by arrests leading to deaths have horrified the country. The military has killed hundreds of people guilty of gang activity and innocent as well. Authorities now state that 18 soldiers were arrested connected with the killings, to be brought to justice; massacres are in no one's best interests.

First the raids, the arrests, then the disappearances and finally the appearances of bodies hastily buried next to highways, some in mass graves. How much further than a country descend into chaos and self-destruction?

A funeral procession in Capaya, Venezuela, for men killed after raids by the security forces. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Interpreting Facial Expression When in Rome

"The benefits of paying less attention to witnesses' and lawyers' facial expressions are neither theoretical nor empirically grounded arguments."
"[It only takes one lawyer] to use the research [study of niqab and honesty] for a legal precedent."
"[Psychology scholars proffering recommendations which] exceed their area of expertise [may] be detrimental to justice itself."
Vincent Denault, lawyer, co-director, Center for Studies in Nonverbal Communication Sciences, Montreal

"People were focusing on what the women are saying, rather than what they look like."
"The function  of witnesses' and lawyers' facial expressions goes well beyond the issue of lie detection."
"[The study  was judged on an] unrealistic criterion [replicating courtroom conditions]. It would be highly unlikely that a laboratory story could replicate every aspect of a trial."
Amy May Leach, lead researcher, University of Ontario Institute of Technology study
Two women clad in the niqab, a Muslim garment that covers all but the wearer's eyes
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images   Two women clad in the niqab, a Muslim garment that covers all but the wearer's eyes

The study now being questioned reached conclusions that might have the effect of leading the Canadian justice system to issue a directive that women appearing before the courts could wear a Muslim niqab, a veil covering the lower half of the face, while keeping the eyes visible, while testifying in a Canadian courtroom. That conclusion has now been  challenged by a team of research academics whose specialty is deception.

They are alarmed at the conclusion of the study, published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association that held the wearing of niqabs improves courtroom veracity. The report of the alarmed skeptics on that finding was itself published in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, written by Vincent Denault, who found fault with both the study's protocol and its conclusions, fearing that the false assurance might sway Canadian law in favour of allowing niqabs in Canadian courtrooms.

Canada has studied this issue before, in a less legal, more relaxed setting of custom and respect for Canadian values, when a woman of Pakistani origin insisted on her right to wear a niqab while writing a citizenship test and swearing allegiance to Canada in a citizenship ceremony. Initially, she was turned away after refusing to remove her niqab which she insisted was a necessary accoutrement to her religious beliefs.

Eventually, after calling on her rights under the constitution, she was permitted to receive her citizenship, wearing a niqab, when three justices of the Federal Appeal Court gave her leave to wear the niqab on the basis that refusing to allow her to, would violate the Citizenship Act, which holds that citizenship judges must permit the greatest possible religious freedom when administering the oath.

The study's conclusion, that the wearing of niqabs improves truth-telling in a courtroom had the effect of directly challenging the Supreme Court of Canada's ban on the wearing of a niqab in a courtroom on the basis that hiding facial expressions are not conducive to reaching conclusions based on reading an individual's face for clues respecting the veracity of their statements.

The new critique by the team at the Centre for Studies in Non-verbal Communication Sciences, was highly critical of the study itself as much as its conclusion.  Deception psychologists from France and the U.K. co-wrote Mr. Desault's critique, stressing that Ms. Leach's study failed to replicate courtroom conditions. The study's liars were given two minutes in which to think up false testimony; under Canadian law a witness is able to forge their testimony for a period of months pretrial.

"Open-ended questions" were given to the liars instead of their having to respond to leading questions a real cross-examination would pose. Most courtroom lying emanates from plaintiffs or defendants, whereas the women in the study were portrayed as impartial witnesses to a criminal act. The study was poised to test only the manner in which a visible face affected the telling of factual truth.

The paper faulting the study criticized psychology scholars for intervening outside their sphere of expertise and experience. Which would certainly impact on Canadian law and the way it is practised if it were to be compromised by permitting women to wear a niqab in a Canadian courtroom, functionally screening facial expression so critical in so many instances in reaching observable conclusions.

The irony is that in Western societies where we tread with pussy-feet lest we be accused of Islamophobia, preferring to offer the benefit of the doubt where no such benefit is offered to others, in Muslim countries themselves there are now ample instances where niqabs and burqas have been disallowed and even outright banned, both for fears of stealth and crime and the encouragement of Islamist fundamentalism growing into violent jihadist outrages.

NP Graphics

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Friday, January 13, 2017

French Hubris and Palestinian Perfidy

"I can see that this has been weakened on the ground and in the minds. If we let it wither away then it would be a risk for Israel's security to which we are resolutely attached."
"However, I am realistic on what this conference can achieve. Peace will only be done by the Israelis and Palestinians and by nobody else. Only bilateral negotiations can succeed."
French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande delivers his New Year wishes to members of the foreign diplomatic corps, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool

"It's a rigged conference, rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances."
"This pushes peace backwards. It's not going to obligate us. It's a relic of the past."
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu


If Francois Hollande believes what he expressed in his statement above, then what is the purpose of his having taken centre stage in once again manoeuvring Israel into a corner? France ignominiously voted at the United Nations along with all other members of the Security Council to deprive Israel of any support whatever in this ongoing conspiracy of isolation and blame of it and it alone for failure to arrive at an accommodation with the Palestinians. The sanctimonious tone of that statement is in direct contrast to France's actions.

Scheduled to take place in Paris on January 15, 72 nations will send representatives to the conference that President Hollande has called, for the purpose of endorsing an international framework for peace between the conflicting principals, Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is not at war with the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has, and continues to, incite its population to violence against the Jewish State. And while the State of Israel recognizes that the Palestinians want a state of their own, the Palestinians refuse to recognize the reality of a Jewish state in their midst.

Israel has been prepared, through previous negotiations, to surrender to the Palestinians most of their demands. Israel's sole 'demand' of the Palestinians can be addressed by the fact that it wants to live at peace with its neighbour. But until Israel was forced by incessant lethal attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, to build a separating wall, peace was not to be found. And nor is it yet to be found from an incorrigible dedication to destroying Israel expressed by Palestinians in Gaza under Hamas under whose charter the destruction of Israel is the first order of business.

It is not for lack of attempting to negotiate reasonably and fairly with the Palestinians that all such negotiations have failed. Time and time again Israeli negotiators have been given the authority to submit to Palestinians' demands, and time and time again, though most of those demands have been met, the Palestinian negotiators were instructed to walk away. The signal demands of "right of return" by the original estimated 700,000 Palestinians (and their descendants who now number in the millions) who fled when Israel declared its statehood after accepting the UN's partition plan which the Palestinians summarily rejected, and demands that east Jerusalem be surrendered to the Palestinians cannot be accommodated for obvious reasons.

That President Hollande of France feels himself obligated to bring the world together to sit once again in judgement of Israel -- which is effectively what is occurring -- at the conference two days hence -- is beyond absurd. This is a president of a country that is incapable of defending itself against Islamists with French citizenship. France has absorbed a number of deadly terrorist attacks coordinated both from within France and from jihadis entering France from elsewhere. The millions of Muslims that France has absorbed has created mass dysfunction, and critical threats. French Jews have become increasingly under threat by French Islamists.

And with this record of pathetic coping, President Hollande feels entitled to act as primary negotiator in this matter. Neither Prime Minister Netanyahu nor Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been invited to attend the conference. A conference convened for the express purpose of 'solving' the dilemma of two peoples living side by side in constant enmity and threat. A situation where world opinion through the auspices of the United Nations had made it clear that sympathies are constrained toward Israel, and empathy wholly handed out to the Palestinians. An absurdity of profound proportions when the attacked are blamed and the attackers are seen as the victims.

President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement evades direct peace talks with Israel. Demanding that settlement construction first be stopped. But over the years peace talks ended in no advance toward accommodation of each side by the other in an unbalanced act of evasion and doublespeak where the Palestinians portray themselves to the international community as the oppressed whereas their violence has forced Israel to become an 'occupier' in self-defence. President Netanyahu reiterates to a deaf world that the conflict can be resolved only by direct peace talks, repeatedly inviting his counterpart to resume negotiations.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The United Nations' Pernicious Landscape

"Caught in a dreamscape, President Obama and his secretary of state are still gazing. Devoted both to left-wing politics, where a pro-Palestinian disposition has become almost de rigueur, and Washington's peace-process obsession, they have retreated from the Middle Eastern chaos to the safe zone of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They may well believe they are doing the Jewish state an enormous favor by saving its liberal democracy from, as Obama's former coordinator on the Middle East, Philip Gordon, recently put it in the New York Times, everything from "European boycotts to prosecutions by the International Criminal Court to the loss of support from American Jews uncomfortable with the prospect of perpetual Israeli rule over millions of disenfranchised Arabs." Obama, Kerry, and Gordon, who blessed the American withdrawal from Iraq and watched hell descend on Syria, talk about Israel and the Arab world as if the Arab state system, dominated by secular dictators, wasn't cracking up, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced, great urban centers in ruin or decay, and Sunni and Shiite Islamists as the primary force reimagining the Middle East."                                              Reuel Marc Gerecht, Protecting Palestine
  The Weekly Standard
"We support a peaceful resolution of the disputes between Israel and the Palestinians. We support a two-state solution just as the government of Israel does. [Any deal] can only be negotiated between the parties."
"It is not assisted by one-sided resolutions made at the councils of the United Nations or anywhere else and that is why Australia has not, and does not, support one-sided resolutions."
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

"The settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long." 
"We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally. We do not … believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex."
"[We] believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties supported by the international community."
British Prime Minister Theresa May spokesperson
Theresa May
British PM Theresa May (AP/Alastair Grant)  

British Leader Slams Kerry’s Unbalanced Approach to Israeli ‘Settlements’

The infamous United Nations Resolution 2334, brokered in secret by the Obama administration, supported unanimously by the UN Security Council's permanent members as well as by its revolving roster of elected temporary members, despite the abstention by the United States, plainly exhibited ill will toward the State of Israel. Using the issue of 'illegal settlements' as the excuse for this display of spiteful ire, Israel suffered the ignominy of being singled out yet again, to be informed by the world body's representatives that though itself a legal entity, its settlement policy flies in the face of international expectations.

Palestinian late-comers to the region have been given the stamp of approval withheld from Israel. And despite Israel's presence in Judea from its ancient heritage predating Islam and the Arab presence in Judea by thousands of years, for good measure, the resolution, while insisting that Israel be prepared to surrender its heritage land won back from Arab usurpers who attacked it repeatedly in efforts to destroy the Jewish State, upholding the Palestinian insistence that it has priority rights in the geography. This, despite repeated dismissals of offers to partition the land in question.

Moreover, the Security Council saw fit to delegitimize history and Judaism, along with the nation's sacred sites to the Palestinians' claims of authentic and prior claims on those very sites. The Islamic Waqf, the religious authority appointed by Jordan, and tolerated by Israel, acts as though the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are interloper sites of artificial presence, and there never existed upon the former, two iterations of the Temple of Solomon, the latter being the sole remnant of that ancient place of Judaic worship in east Jerusalem.

The disingenuous statements by Britain, following the vote which they supported is clearly difficult to take seriously. Wishing to appear principled, Great Britain has lost the capacity to claim that status for themselves on this unfortunate occasion. High-minded after the fact, but inconvenient during the vote. Australia's declaration, on the other hand, can be appreciated coming from a country that took no part in the vote and in all likelihood would have voted against it, unlike its neighbour, New Zealand, which is on the temporary, revolving UN Security Council membership.

The Waqf, and Palestinians, along with the extended Arab/Muslim unity, refuse to acknowledge Judaism's two most sacred historical sites of ancient heritage, claiming no such site ever existed, and that Jewish presence there defiles the third most sacred site in Islam, where the Prophet Mohammad was said to have ascended to Paradise on a flying horse. To avoid violence and rioting, Israeli authorities have agreed with Muslim demands that Jews not be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount. Jews and tourists appearing there are vocally derided and sometimes stoned by Palestinian thugs.

The Temple Mount, representing the Second Temple of Solomon when the first was destroyed in 587 BCE, rebuilt when Herod was King of Judea in 39 BCE, was not incidentally dismissed by UNESCO of having any historical connection to Jewish history. These resolutions by UN bodies bring shame to them, but do not deter them from their course of infamy, led by the influential and malevolently benighted Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the United Nations and their minion nations among the Non-Aligned group.

What, however, explains members of the permanent Security Council, Britain, France and Germany, supporting these pernicious moves to delegitimize Israel in the world body? Plain and simple anti-Semitism? Intellectual, philosophical and historical laziness? It is demanded of Israel that it make peace with Palestinians whose violent attacks against the Jewish State have become viciously congenital, abetted by the Palestinian Authority's continual grooming of that violence in the name of "resisting the occupation".
French CRS anti-riot police officers patrol as the Israeli flag is projected onto the facade of the Hotel de Ville in Paris on the night of January 10, 2017, in tribute to the victims of an attack in Jerusalem on January 8.(AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)
French CRS anti-riot police officers patrol as the Israeli flag is projected onto the facade of the Hotel de Ville in Paris on the night of January 10, 2017, in tribute to the victims of an attack in Jerusalem on January 8.     (AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

It is an 'occupation' of survival-necessity, a military presence deployed for the simple assurance that the peace can only be kept between Palestinians and Israelis, if the opportunity to attack on the part of the Palestinians is kept to a minimum. No Western-oriented, democratic nation has to suffer the consequences of an unprotected Israel, and nor do any suffer the implacability of a neighbour intent on continuing the violence. Where is the principled ideology of Britain, France and Germany when they sanctimoniously condemn Israel, when such action encourages the Palestinians to ever greater heights of violence against Israel?

Where, in the sanctified chambers of the United Nations they lend themselves to condemnation of Israel, yet have the unmitigated gall, having placed that tiny nation in ever greater danger by a UN-entitled Palestinian Authority urging incitement on a population whose needs they have repeatedly failed, in the process promoting violence against Israel, and when the latest of the lethal attacks take place, they piously flash the Israeli flag on their seats of government?

The Brandenburg Gate was lit up with the Israeli flag following a terrorist attack, Jan. 8, in Israel that killed four. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty)
The Brandenburg Gate was lit up with the Israeli flag following a terrorist attack, Jan. 8, in Israel that killed four. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Canadian-Supplied Arms to Peshmerga: At A Snail's Pace

"Supplier states must ensure that stockpiles are secure and well managed and not at risk of diversion or theft."
"[The agreements] will help ensure adequate controls are in place to govern the use of the equipment."
"This should involve strengthening controls over each stage of the arms transfer process, including transportation, delivery mechanisms, stockpiling, end use and eventual decommissioning."
Canadian legal agreement to be co-signed by Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier guards an outpost on Zardek Mountain, northwest of Erbil, in northern Iraq. (Murray Brewster/CBC)

Lessons learned always create problems. When the United States, France, Britain and Canada along with other NATO members created a safe air corridor in Libya they did not foresee the eventuality that weapons stockpiles belonging to the government of Moammar Ghadaffi, abandoned by the Libyan military in their battle against tribal dissidents supported by the West, would result in terrorists looting those stockpiles, the weapons ending up in places like Mali, to fuel a jihadist insurgency there.

Much less that many of those advanced weapons eventually fell into the hands of Islamic State along with other terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa. And nor did the United States imagine that weapons and military rolling stock supplied to the Iraqi military which had undergone extensive, rigorous training by American military trainers, would be abandoned by hastily retreating Iraqi military troops, frightened witless by the advance of Islamic State on the city of Mosul and surrounding areas, leaving it all for the terrorists to take advantage of.

Now, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, receiving training from Canadian trainers in their battle against ISIL, have long been promised arms to replace their stockpile of old rifles and other outdated arms, but while the promises are repeated, none of the promised small arms, ammunition and optical sights have yet materialized. Not only are authorities in Canada concerned that they could end up in the hands of terrorists, but there is also the concern that the Iraqi Kurds plan in time to confront the government of Iraq with demands of a sovereign state of their own.

Since it is the Kurds in Iraq and Syria that have proven to be superior fighting forces pushing back against the ruthless inhumanity of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, NATO nations have focused on supporting them in light of the observed fact that the Iraqi and Syrian militaries have failed to demonstrate their defensive, let alone offensive capabilities convincingly.

Baghdad has given the permission that Canadian authorities sought, to supply the Peshmerga with the promised weapons to include rifles, machine guns and light mortars. The lingering concern of the Kurds eventually using those weapons to help achieve their goal of independence remains. But the far more urgent task of countering and finally defeating the aspirations of the Islamic State caliphate takes precedence.

Little wonder that the Kurds must be impatient at the continued delays, despite aging promises. Last week an Amnesty International report claimed weapons originating from the U.S., Russia and Iran were in use in the commission of war crimes in Iraq. Some of the weapons, it was pointed out, which were initially provided for Kurdish use, since ending up with paramilitary groups and used in abductions and murders.

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) provides Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) with military training such as shooting, movement, communications, and mission planning, as well as employment of various weapons systems against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Photo: CANSOFCOM.

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