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, March 31, 2009

Demonize Whom?

Anatoliy Serdyukov, Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation has noticed Canada. That appears to be so because Canada has noticed Russia's brash and aggressive stance on territories that Canada has embraced as its own historically. Canada has expressed its concern more than a few times over its disagreement with the United States over Canada's sovereignty of the Northwest Passage, with the U.S. claiming it to be international waters, and Canada firmly demurring.

Canada and Denmark scuffle verbally, diplomatically, from time to time over ownership of Hans Island. Canada, the United States and Denmark share scientific enquiry in the Arctic and remain on a sound relational footing; we are one another's sound allies. Denmark is actively assisting Canada in its bid to present scientifically accurate data before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to confirm its territorial claims.

The territory that Canada claims as its own is challenged vociferously and aggressively by Russia, which claims the Lermontov Ridge extends below the sea bed where Canada's territorial waters have traditionally extended. The suddenly renewed interest in Arctic territory spurred by the realization of its undersea riches in minerals and gas and oil. Everyone wants a substantial piece of that pie.

Canada, the United States, Denmark and Norway were astonished when Russia boldly sent an undersea submersible to the sea floor to plant a titanium Russian flag, claiming the territory for its own. Sans United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea approval. Since that time Russia's suddenly-aggressive aerial displays of overflights have produced some puzzlement from North America. There's a message there, and it's fairly clear.

Yet Russia's Minister of Defence is aggrieved that Prime Minister Harper and his Minister of Defence appear to be speaking unkindly in international fora about the behaviour of Russia. Canada, he claims is "practicing the ages-old political tactic of misdirection". According to him, the real challengers of Canada's Arctic sovereignty are the U.S. and Denmark, certainly not Russia. Well, and well.

He's right and he's most certainly wrong as well. It's a matter of degrees, of politesse. And Russia abundantly lacks diplomatic acumen. Russia is being "singled out for harsh treatment", claims Mr. Serdyukov. Wonder why. It's just being a good sort, teasing a bit, not meaning any harm by pretending to challenge Canadian air space and Canadian territory. Can't we take a joke?

Well, no, actually. Neither can Ukraine, or Poland, or Georgia, or Chechnya, or the European Union, come to think of it. Mr. Serdyukov reminds Canadian readers in his article published in the National Post, that "We are partners in the war on terror. We are partners in efforts to stem nuclear proliferation. We are partners in efforts to bring stability to unstable regions of the world." Wot? Say that again?

With all due respect, Minister Serdyukov, any country concerned with battling terror, stemming nuclear proliferation, encouraging stability, would hesitate before sending state-of-the-art munitions to a pariah Islamist theocracy like Iran, and would most certainly refrain from assisting its nuclear ambitions. Back in your court.

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Comes a Time to Demand Loyalty

Past time, isn't it? for the government of Canada to make it abundantly clear that citizenship in the country is a two-way street. The comforts and freedoms and protections that Canada affords its citizens require that all of its citizens understand that they are obligated to conform obligingly and willingly to the values and priorities that constitute our social contract. Before anticipating that one will receive respect and egalitarian treatment, one must be prepared to extend it to others.

This is a fundamental that Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney understands very well, and also insists upon. Like Australia, a sister Commonwealth country with its own problems of immigrant integration into its larger society, Canada should take the step the Australian government did, to rename that portfolio the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. On the basis that they were shifting the emphasis from 'altruism to pragmatism'.

It is nothing but pragmatic to anticipate that immigrants seeking a better life, choosing to emigrate from their home countries to Canada, be prepared to insert themselves in the larger social atmosphere that prevails here. To learn the language, adapt to the customs, become familiar with the laws and practise good citizenship. The foremost of which is to understand that in a society comprised of people of various ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, parochialism takes a back seat.

Above all, it is not permissible that social attitudes inimical to various ethnic or religious groups respecting each other, and traditional enmities not be imported to the new country that has accepted them. The psychological unwillingness to surrender long-held beliefs that are obviously not in keeping with the transition to a pluralist society where all are held in mutual respect despite ethnic and religious diversity, is unacceptable within Canada.

Mr. Kenney has experienced his share of familiarity with building support networks between Sikh, Hindu, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish and Arab communities, during his time as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian identity. It is the 'Canadian identity' portion of his portfolio that should be stressed equally with that of multiculturalism. He was committed to assisting immigrants solve issues important to them.

Helping him were his staff which included an individual of Tibetan origin, a Muslim and an Armenian. He was involved in the government's initiatives to recognize the Ukrainian Holdomore, its apology for the Komagata Maru incident to the East Indian community; the defence of Chinese Uyghur Muslims and he acted for the government in paying respects for the terrorist attack on the Mumbai Jewish Centre. He is colour-blind and ethnicity-insightful in the clarity of his vision.

He needs no lessons from groups such as the Canadian Arab Federation, whose president feels free in this society to spout gratuitous insults and racist slurs. And free also to express his unequivocal support of overseas terrorist groups whose support is seen as a criminal offence by the Government of Canada. It is no credit to Canada that one group of its citizens continually attempts to smear the good character and citizenship of another group whom they despise.

Mr. Kenney feels that immigrants to Canada have an obligation both to themselves and to the country to ensure that one of their first orders of business is language proficiency. Without it, social communication and a full awareness of the society at large is unachievable. Without the ability to function in one or both of the country's two official languages immigrants' opportunities for employment are constrained.

Mr. Kenney's message is clear: immigrants to the country must be aware that it is past time that Canada support its core liberal values of tolerance, democracy and secularism. "We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we've been pretty successful at that, but I think it's going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have an approach to pluralism and immigration that leads to social cohesion rather than fracturing."

Canada welcomes almost a quarter-million new residents annually from every corner of the world. That the federal government, through various incentives to ethnic groups, materially supports the integration of immigrants, language training and employment opportunities is most generous. There was a time in past history when new immigrants were on their own, themselves responsible for the struggle to earn a living, learn the language, support their families, and integrate into the economy and society. And they did all of that, and did it splendidly.

Now, with all the tax dollars spent in various ways to assist new immigrants to settle in to a new country and a new society, the outcomes are more problematical. The more assistance newcomers are given, it seems, the less willing they would appear to make a more personal effort to ensure they fit the expectations of the country, even while their expectations of the country are being fully experienced.

Mr. Kenney is cosmopolitan in outlook, Canadian to the core, and wise beyond his years. That he remains unperturbed by the malicious complaints lodged against him by groups taking umbrage at his decision-making is part of his job. And he does it exceedingly well. The mosaic of the Canadian population largely sorts itself out logically, but there are elements of distrust, unrest and downright racist ideology hindering the potential of universal accord.

Those are the areas of discontent and dissonance that require a firm reminder that specific groups are overstepping the boundaries of government patience and society's acceptance. Canada has an obligation to itself, to all of its people to ensure that its traditional standards of social conduct are observed and respected. It's past time.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Check, Mates

Low level simmer, high-level stakes. North Korea just doesn't like to be told it must do what it does not wish to do. And it does not wish to do anything that it is informed it must do. Conversely it hastens to do that which it is forbidden to do. Pyongyang's intransigent boorishness, an inherited familial trait that its dictator infests the country with is legendary. This ongoing game of testing the nerves and patience of its neighbour, South Korea, and its farther neighbour Japan, is some board game, enervatingly tedious and fraught with explosive tension.

As in, think: nuclear. Kim Jong-il is adamant, his illustrious country will launch its Taepondong-2 missile. Its parabola to sail a mission over Japan and thence into the Pacific? Testing, just testing. And should a nervous Japan, alerted and abetted and itself missiled by its great good friend and protector, the United States, take self-protective steps to intercept the Taepondong-2 missile, war, glowers Kim Jong-il, is inevitable. North Korea will wipe out South Korea, Japan, and in good time the United States as well.

China is fascinated, keen and eager to witness the outcome. The Patriot batteries representing the anti-missile technology that Japan is using are as imperfect in their technical proficiency and reliability as is the North Korean Taepondong-2 missile. Meanwhile, Japan and the United States have their warships patrolling the Sea of Japan. China-based political prognosticators advise that the U.S. and Japan stand to lose considerable 'face' should the missile violate Japanese sovereignty without a correspondingly accurate targeting of the missile by the Pac-3 Patriot missile batteries.

Within Japan there is much nervous tension, with the population being advised to remain calm. In the face of a prospective assault (accidental to be certain) on Tokyo's various districts, political and financial. South Korea is reeling on its own slender tenterhooks of apprehension of a violently irate North Korea striking it as pay-back for any triumvirate interruption in North Korea's bid for a successful missile mission - preparatory to additional exploits.

This globe is such an intriguing, exciting, unpredictable orb.

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Who Else But They?

If it's still in the realm of assumption rather than fact, it's a more than reasonable assumption. That it is from within China that cyberspies have been busily engaged in computer espionage, infecting and affecting computer systems around the world. Researchers from the Munk Centre for International Studies, located in Toronto, have been busy investigating claims of electronic spying; a covert infiltration of computers to discern data, to corrupt information for obviously nefarious purposes.

No fewer than one hundred and three countries' information systems have been breached by the spy system that the Munk Centre investigators have named GhostNet. Embassies, foreign ministries, government offices - and, significantly, the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centres in India, Brussels, London and New York count among the 1,295 computers identified as having been infiltrated through computer espionage.

"We're a bit more careful about it, knowing the nuance of what happens in the subterranean realms", countered a member of the Munk group, in concluding that their research points unerringly to computers based within China as being responsible for the intrusions - without naming the Chinese government itself. "This could well be the CIA or the Russians. It's a murky realm that we're lifting the lid on." Yes, isn't it?

Without a doubt the espionage emanates from either Russia or the United States. China is categorical about the impossibility of any involvement: "The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cybercrime." Which certainly represents a huge relief, and a bloody good thing to know. So we can scratch China, and look toward Russia and the U.S. and wonder why they're so interested in the Dalai Lama, right?

Since it was a request that came directly from the office of the Dalai Lama that set the University of Toronto-based Munk Centre to work on detecting from whence the malicious software infecting the Dalai Lama's computer system emanated. And since they managed to discover "Big Brother-style" capabilities, permitting the system to turn on cameras and audio-recording functions of infected computers for in-room monitoring, that's quite the conundrum.

Oh yes, computers at the Indian Embassy in Washington too were infiltrated, and guess what? a NATO computer monitored as well. Must be Russia. No. Could be the Americans. Oh, dammit, all right; the Chinese for sure. Just don't suggest it to them. The resulting volcanic eruption of indignation would blow the lid off further informed suggestion.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Storm of Unstoppable Proportions

However determined the Western allies may be to pacify the growing reality of Islamist offences against moderate Islamic regimes and their populations, for the very compelling reason that this is the way, ultimately, that they will defend the populations within their own borders, it seems a task of monumental proportions, resembling the labours of Sisyphus. As soon as one area is thought to have been rid of vicious Islamist jihadists, another opens up.

The amazing thing, to the western mind, about the passions latterly unleashed by Islamist Terror Incorporated, is that these Muslims, dedicated to inflicting unreasoning fear and horror through their gruesome acts of mass murder, claim to be acting in the name of Islam, directed by interpretations of the Koran, the hadith, through sharia law. Theirs, they insist, is the true face of Islam, while moderate Muslims shudder, and deny that their Islam is one of murder and mayhem.

That the vast aggregate of moderates within the Muslim world are themselves labelled apostates by fanatical Islamists ensures that their time on this earth is limited. For the Islam that the fanatics serve does not recognize the humanity of those who defy medieval fundamentalist Islam, instead inspiring jihadists to greater atrocities for the greater glory of Islam. And just incidentally to achieve the highest order of praise, becoming martyrs to Islam.

It seems unfeasible, compellingly lunatic, frantically puzzling to those in the West, that Islamists' first order of business is to destroy those among the Ummah who don't share their deep dedication to the destruction of all vestiges of Western influences by murdering those who live between both worlds. But the point is to radicalize all of Islam, to ensure that all Islamic countries obey sharia law, nurture suspicion, fear and hatred of all that is not fundamental to 'pure' Islam.

And from there march on to righteous jihad that demands utter submission to the exhortations of the war-hungry mullahs, to attain the fulfillment of a global Islamist imperialism. Resentment of non-Muslim successes in modern achievements leading to political and social domination through excellence in scientific enquiry, education, justice, finances and social structures fuel the determination of Islamists to bring a brutal end to Western influence and its universal success.

To the Islamists there is nothing sacred about a mosque, about one's co-religionists, about the health and welfare of children, of women, of entire communities. They can all be destroyed with impunity, sacrificed to the larger achievement of global domination of a fundamentalist, Islamist order. To the lover of Islam, the student of Islam, all of this is counter to Islam's original purpose and the message of Muhammad.

Claiming to embrace death rather than fearing and attempting to avoid it, as most intellectually sound and rational humans do, dedicated jihadists have managed to stifle the human being residing within all of humanity, to emerge as killing machines fearing nothing and hating everything that doesn't represent the achievement of their goal. Their mullahs and imams and ayatollahs celebrate their bloody exploits and suicide missions as martyrs to the cause.

Their pride in themselves, their insistence that honour is to be found in spreading fear and violating all human norms of civilization and human rights speaks volumes of their lack of the fundamentals of humanity, their total abnegation of charity and responsibility toward even those of their own faith. If there will ever be a working protocol to apprehend this pathology of hate-lust and death-deliverance it can only be from within.

All the weapons and armed forces that the combined determination of Western countries muster to defend themselves by defeating and obliterating Islamist jihadism will fail, without at least a corresponding dedication to that same end evinced and acted upon by the countries of the Islamic world. It is their plague that has spread its deadly tentacles toward the entire world.

It is from them that the final, deliberate and decisive actions must come to contain and combat Islamist terror. Self-preservation alone should dictate that they would recognize this as inevitable, before they fall to the inevitable onslaught that is raging toward them.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

What, Russia Frustrated?

Isn't the Kremlin always frustrated whenever it steps outside its borders? Other countries simply don't take it sufficiently seriously. Russia says what it means and it means what it says. And when, for example, it says that Ukraine is guilty of siphoning off gas to benefit itself and short-change Europe, that's the unvarnished truth. As Vladimir Putin (et al) sees it.

That nasty little winter-time spat did not win Russia any closer ties with the European Union. Just Russia being Russia. And best to circumvent it whenever possible. Another reason for Russian rage, that a colossal investment is being made to build an improved and modernized pipeline through Ukraine, bypassing Russia's approval. Just what is the world's problem, anyway?

Now another insult flapped in the face of the Kremlin, with Britain's two-list Group of 20 members. And Russia doesn't appear on the "A" list. Whereas the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil are right up there, numero uno. Russia, by contrast, is listed with countries like Mexico, and that just isn't right, is it; downright insulting, in fact.

"There is frustration over these lists", according to an official in Russia's finance ministry, in a classic understatement. The new eruptions at Alaska's Mount Redoubt are likely tame in comparison to the fireworks that must have illuminated the atmosphere in the Kremlin, sending bitter ashes of Russian recrimination into the stratosphere, along with the stink of sulphuric aggrievement.

"There is a belief that Britain is trying to trivialize Russia's contribution at the G20 for political reasons at a time when the two countries have found much common ground on economic issues" grumbled the Russian official. Good thing for Britain it isn't dependent on Russian oil or gas to heat those draughty halls of Parliament, wot?

Russia's determination to isolate the United States, with its call for increased and ongoing stimulus packages, when Europe wants no more of them, and would prefer to focus on strengthening existing faulty financial regulations is falling on dastardly unco-operative ears, and that makes the Kremlin mighty mad.

After all, if the U.S. gets the heave-ho as the world's financial leader, why not think of enshrining Russia as the new, and ever-so trustworthy international financial leader. It's the United States that is guilty of "economic egotism", according to the Kremlin, and Russia is simply trying to do the world a favour.

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Russia's Charm Offensive

Russia has made it abundantly clear that it will not be taken advantage of just because it's such a laid-back and easy-going country with a government eager to please its allies, and pleased to reassure its former satellites that it quite enjoys a good laugh.

The message is in and abundantly clear, given the huge economic stakes in the Arctic, enticingly opening up for new shipping routes and oil and gas drilling. Russia will have Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States know it is completely serious.

Well, the hint was dropped when Russia planted that undersea flag, and boasted that the Siberian continental shelf extended far into the Arctic seabed. "Based on scientific observations, we will prove our connection to that shelf (and) we will prove it in the framework of international norms and laws."

Funny thing that, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States feel likewise. So they will agree to agree to something like a five-way split, but Russia begs...begs...to differ.

"We are not squeezing anyone out" Artur Chilingarov, Russia's special envoy for international co-operation in the Arctic and Antarctic, bristled. While it drafts legislation to consolidate control over the Northern Sea Route, to ensure it has control over its use.

To block foreign military ships, bar entry to commercial ships it takes exception to, levy fees, and require foreign vessels to make use of Russian pilots and ice-breakers. "We are taking on ourselves the responsibility for safe navigation." There, they've everyone else's best interests at heart.

Just being a good and thoughtful citizen-country of the world. But, said the special envoy, Russia is prepared to respect international treaties and stands ready to co-operate with the other four countries with claims to the Arctic. Just so long as they quite understand the fact that Russia claims sovereignty over parts of the Arctic that Canada is quite convinced she has sovereignty over.

"All that is in our northern, Arctic regions. It is our Russia." And while international law recognizes that the countries having an Arctic coastline have a 320-kilometre economic zone north of their borders, Russia is adamant; hers is a larger slice, thanks to the Lomonosov Ridge. "Look at the map. Who is there nearby? All our northern regions are in or come out into the Arctic."

Not so, says Canada, and Denmark is helping to prove it.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Pain Of It All

There goes that Liberal government that Ontario voted into power, proving once again that the word of our Premier is not to be taken lightly. Premier McGuinty has yet another treat in store for taxpayers. Oh, this is not another tax grab posing as something else, it's a tax relief for business, and will, in the process, surprise a whole lot of consumers in its implementation. We'll end up feeling stung yet again.

But rest assured, it's for our own good. Tax experts and business leaders have been shouting for a long, long time that Ontario's business tax isn't conducive to luring investment to this province. And this province is suffering mightily as a result of manufacturing slipping away at an alarming rate, raising our unemployment rate to uncomfortable levels.

That's quite the combination, a lapsing manufacturing sector and a feebling economy, becoming more feverish as time elapses. So, pushed to do something, even if it is at the wrong time, the government of Ontario is finally assenting to blending the provincial sales tax with the federal tax on sales and services. The harmonizing of both taxes won't change too much, since 5% plus 8% still add up to 13%.

But there's a sneaky element there, that because of harmonization, consumables that were not provincially taxed heretofore, now will be. That's where the consumer pain comes in, even while business stands to gain, and through that gain, so too will the consumer - if business passes on its savings.

And to sweeten consumers' distemper over this alteration in tax-collection the province has decided to 'return' money to the taxpayer to wean them onto this major tax reform. Families earning under $160,000 a year will see 'refunds' up to $1,000 a year, coming to them in three installments over the course of the year. Refunds for earners of $160,000? Bloody hell!

Well, that thousand in refund will go to the $160,000 annually-salaried families, substantially less to individuals earning up to $80,000 - they'll receive something like a total of $300. Doesn't make sense? Should it? Throw a fit, complain. See if that does any good.

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CBC Cuts on the Bias

It's sad for many Canadians that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation finds itself in dire economic straits. Sad for many reasons, not the least of which is that the memory among older Canadians is that the quality programming we relied upon and trusted has become so diluted in more recent years. The CBC has been gradually transformed from a trustworthy source of information and quality entertainment to one whose mandate to achieve greater popularity among the masses has geared it to low-brow entertainment and biased reportage.

Its saving grace is that it still manages to retain some worthwhile programming, and for that we can be grateful. But who knows for how much longer, given the recent news of the implementation of 'massive cutbacks' in personnel and programming the Canadian public has been warned is just around the corner. Due in large part, we're also informed, to the fact that an insensitive Conservative government - which has, given its due, continued to fund the Corporation to the sum of $1-billion a year of tax funds - isn't ponying up more.

If some personnel are to be axed, there are many who would nominate Anna Maria Tremonti, host of The Current. This morning public affairs show is actually quite an excellent one, and truth told, its host is quite excellent, herself. But it would be a far more effective vehicle for transmitting information if it did so in an objectively fair manner. And that the position of host was handed to Ms. Tremonti whose hostility toward Israel is evident at the least of provocations is a pity, indeed.

Any opportunity Ms. Tremonti has to slander by inference is never lost, and listeners are treated to an ongoing barrage of tainted opinion from one who, in an earlier incarnation, reported directly from the Middle East, where her perspective was as skewed then as it is now. This morning Ms. Tremonti delighted in reading a number of listeners' letters responding to the segment of The Current expanding on the late Roy Farran's murder of an Israeli teen.

The readers viewed Mr. Farran as a war hero, capably led by Ms. Tremonti's style of interviewing, and her subjectively biased intonations throughout her nuanced questioning of her various guests involved in the brief study of the Farran affair. The pleasure she took in reading these affirmative responses was only mildly offset by the grudging revelation of today's guest who had written a book about Britain's travail in handling Jewish 'terrorists', that Mr. Farran had admitted his guilt.

A few weeks previous to this, expanding on a series about water management and international water shortage crises, Israel was once again highlighted as a social malefactor in its greedily inappropriate use of water, shortchanging the Palestinians whose plight, unalloyed by any mitigating factors, Ms. Tremonti, like other lib-left intellectuals loves to dwell upon, denouncing Israel in the process. During that show short shrift was given to an Israeli water expert.

Whereas other interviewees who were critical of Israel's over-use of water in a desert climate were held to be far more meaningful. I most certainly do not anticipate that Ms. Tremonti will do a follow-up to explore the fact that Israel is a leader in desalinisation processes, sharing its expertise with its Middle East neighbours, as well as with countries like China, anxious to import such expertise to solve their own water shortage problems.

Nor do I anticipate that she will profess any interest whatever in the little-publicized fact that despite Israel's constant struggle to maintain a sufficient water supply – or perhaps because of it – Israel was named the world's most efficient recycled water user in a United Nations report issued in honor of International Water Day, at the fifth World Water Forum held in Istanbul. Or that the UN report ranked Israel as a world leader in desalinated water use.

There are presently several hundred Israeli companies whose water technology exports have been sent around the world, benefiting over one hundred countries, last year. That represents $1.4-billion in value of water management, recycling and purification, irrigation, desalination, and safety technologies. Not a bad record at all, and encompassing water-usage technologies other than desalination.

The fact that Israel purifies and re-uses close to 70% of its annual waste water for agriculture, is quite the accomplishment. Considering that the second most efficient recycled water user, Spain, recycles a mere 12% of its waste water for agriculture. The host country of the UN water forum, Turkey, recycles 3.6% of sewage water. In a world where some 1.4-million children die on an annual basis as a result of polluted water, this is quite the overall accomplishment.

Can we Canadians anticipate that The Current plans an update? If they do, it will be, doubtless, to linger on Friends of the Earth-Middle East urging Israel to tackle its high - by developed-world standards - domestic water-consumption usage.

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The Authority of Perspective

Worse than Gaza

By Ben Harris · March 25, 2009

That's the impression of veteran Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, who recently wrapped up a speaking tour of American college campuses. Toameh says that the non-Arab, non-Muslim pro-Palestinian students are more strident, less tolerant of opposing viewpoints, and more fixated on their hatred of Israel than Arab Muslims on campus. The situation, he writes, is more hostile and uncivil than what he has encountered on Palestinian campuses.

Toameh writes:

If these folks really cared about the Palestinians, they would be campaigning for good government and for the promotion of values of democracy and freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Their hatred for Israel and what it stands for has blinded them to a point where they no longer care about the real interests of the Palestinians, namely the need to end the anarchy and lawlessness, and to dismantle the armed gangs that are responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians over the past few years.

The majority of these activists openly admit that they have never visited Israel or the Palestinian territories. They don't know -- and don't want to know -- that Jews and Arabs here are still doing business together and studying together and meeting with each other on a daily basis because they are destined to live together in this part of the world. They don't want to hear that despite all the problems life continues and that ordinary Arab and Jewish parents who wake up in the morning just want to send their children to school and go to work before returning home safely and happily.

What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the "occupation" as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And The Point Was....?

One just puzzles over the need to confront Israeli Palestinians living in Umm el-Fahm. What, precisely, was the point, other than to aggravate relations?

Yes, the point is taken that Israeli Jews are outraged that many Israeli Arabs are not utterly committed to the State of Israel, considering themselves to be Palestinians who just happen to live within the confines of Israel's borders. They wanted to march to flaunt the Israeli flag through the town as a prod, a taunt, an aggravation. And they most certainly succeeded.

The point that this is a democratic and free country and the citizens of the country who receive all the benefits of citizenship, yet disdain the country and find fault with its existence are seen as a living insult to both the country and its government needn't be made an issue to bring hostilities into the open. But in democratic style Israeli High Court gave permission for the march to proceed.

That this was meant as a provocation by a radical hard-right group of Jewish Israelis is evident enough in the fact that one of their leaders is a former colleague of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a noted rabble-rouser and sometimes embarrassment to the state. The Jewish National Front's activists led a march of 500-meters on the outskirts of the town.

And the residents of the town were there to greet them.

Protesting against this undesired presence in their town, and well armed with rocks which they pelted at both the police and the marchers, injuring fifteen police, along with their deputy chief. In a free and open society it's a given that a peaceful march be undertaken, but this march, by right-wing Jews intruding on the home-space of hostile Israeli Arabs, ensured a volatile reception.

The permit to march gave approval to one hundred marchers. And to ensure the safety of the marchers, the police were forced to employ a 25-to-1 ratio of police to marchers. There were an unbelievable 2,500 police present to protect and safeguard one hundred marchers. Adding insult to injury half of the marchers were West Bank settlers, certain not to endear the initiative to the residents of the town.

The Arab protesters, led by the town's mayor, held high Palestinian flags and chanted: "With our blood and our spirit we will defend Umm el-Fahm ... We won't let the racists come in." The protesters were assailed with tear gas during the stone-throwing, as the police did their utmost to keep a barrier between the demonstrators and the protesters.

"We have an issue only with extremists, not the Jews as a nation", the former deputy mayor of Umm el-Fahm declared. And the far-right Jewish marchers claimed they were merely exercising their right of freedom of assembly, sending the message to Israeli Arabs whose lack of loyalty to the state they deplore, that they're held in very low esteem. Contempt, actually.

And this obviously took place in a good-hearted bid to promote enduringly sound relations between the solitudes.

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Commitments Intact

The now agreed-upon coalition government with Likud joined by Labour ensures, according to the coalition deal signed between Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, that all of Israel's previously accepted international agreements would be respected. The formula for acceptance of a coalition to more fully represent all of Israel's voting public is inclusive of accords toward eventual statehood for Palestinians.

Both Likud and Labour have committed themselves to uniting for the good of the country. Ehud Barak assured his supporters that he has no intention of acting as a 'cover' enabling Likud to impose a unilaterally right-wing endorsement of hard-fisted Israeli politics, but rather the two plan to work together, along with Yisrael Beitenu's Avigdor Lieberman to present a reasonable alternative to previous governments' unworkable solutions toward peace.

What's truly interesting in this respect is that the coalition of Likud-Labour has pledged to 'enforce the law' regarding Jewish settlement outposts currently present in the West Bank that have established themselves without the official approval of the government. A number of settlement coups to which the previous centrist government had no response.

Kadima, in fact, found itself agreeable to the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, despite its avowals, in respect of the Annapolis 2007 'road map' toward establishing two states living side by side. The continued expansion of the illegal settlements, in vivid violation of the road map gave Israel a public bruising, and the Palestinian Authority apoplexy.

Ehud Barak assures doubters, at home and abroad, that "We will be a counterweight that will ensure we do not have a narrow right-wing government." And while Benjamin Netanyahu has hesitated to declare support for the two-state solution, it is unavoidable. All the more so with the inclusion of Labour.

Likud has stated unequivocally that it is prepared to pursue "a regional agreement for peace and co-operation in the Middle East", and this is clearly a proposition that cannot be completed without dedicating itself to the acceptance of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Needless to say the fundamental flaw in the ongoing debates continues to be that viciously-buzzing fly in the ointment of peace and goodwill between Jew and Arab, the Hamas leadership in Gaza. How that plays out in the future will truly tell what is possible and whether the two-state solution can be viable.

It's long past time for the on-again, off-again initiatives to come to a meaningful conclusion. The people of Israel and their Palestinian counterparts living in the West Bank and Gaza could use some good news and a final settlement of the ongoing aggravations and insecurities.

Finally, though, and for the moment, it is satisfyingly hopeful that the coalition accord reads: "Israel is committed to all the diplomatic and international agreements that Israeli governments have signed throughout the years."

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moral Code Intact

Israel has faced the failure of its intentions to teach Hamas civil manners. Hamas, it appears, will not be amenable to patterning itself after the IDF's attempts to pre-alert Palestinians to vacate areas that have been targeted for assault because they house Hamas installations or weapons caches or assault infrastructures.

Hamas appears to have solidly rejected a protocol they could adopt such as sounding a warning, or dropping explanatory leaflets on Israel's border communities before lobbing Kassam rockets. It just isn't their thing.

After all, if civilians are killed, this is a triumph. One that merits much jubilation. Celebrations that include entertaining Palestinian children by shooting off rounds of ammunition in joyful exuberation of success. Not to mention the hero status accorded those successful in picking off innocent women and children through the brave and courageous actions of Islamist jihadists.

This is a relativist thing; one culture and one tradition and one heritage is quite simply different from another. Values and imperatives don't necessarily meet in a concord of mutual recognition. The Bedouin past of raids and bloody aggression against competing clans and tribes has not yet dissolved from the mindsets of current Arab populations, the original patterning is simply too valued.

And then there is the State of Israel, another belligerent in the geography of the militant and aggrieved Middle East. The drummer Israel marches to has some relation to that of the others; territorial integrity infused with a motivation to endure the ongoing traumas of assault. That nation is little different from most others, but it does adhere to a humane moral code.

One that, unfortunately, does become slightly frayed at signal times of existential angst. And, like other human societies, it happens to value its own in excess of the value extended toward others. Although it likes to think it agonizes somewhat more than do others over the sometimes-necessity to sacrifice the lives of others to save the lives of their own. That too is human nature.

And, like all other human societies, it has its share of sociopaths and psychopaths. Although those of the faith do tend to think of themselves as being more worthy than the 'others'. Israeli media have published the revelations of soldiers involved in the recent Gaza onslaught admitting having knowledge of the occurrence of disregard for the safety of Palestinian civilians.

Incidents of outright brutality, of inhumane contempt for the rights and the protection of Palestinians have been bruited about in the media. The general atmosphere of righteousness has been tarnished by the unwholesome fact that some members of the IDF failed to use their intelligence in interpreting official orders and in the process innocent people were killed.

This is not a matter of self-congratulation, but a recognized tragedy, a human failure that no decent country takes gladly unto itself. The IDF chief of staff has announced that soldiers whose actions can be proven to have been grossly inappropriate will be held to account. The country has a moral obligation to see that this is indeed done.

Conscripts to the military who violate the country's and the IDF's moral code of conduct must understand that such actions will not be tolerated. All the more so when they are faced with an intractable enemy complacent with its own inhumane agenda of forcing the status of human shield on civilians. They must understand that they hold themselves to a higher standard.

They expect no less of themselves, nor does the world, eager to leap upon the country at any perceived lapse, holding it to a standard of judgement not expected of any other country.

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Duly Forewarned

How soon we forget whom we have irremediably wronged, insulted, humiliated to the extent that the assault against their sensibilities will never be forgiven, forgotten or viewed as the absurdity that it represented. But then, this is Islamic sensibilities we're talking about here. Where the very nuanced hint of criticism of Muhammad or Islam is viewed as a violent affront that can only be assuaged by hordes of rioting Muslims wreaking havoc and crying 'death to the infidels!'.

It is perfectly all right when mosques are assaulted by other Muslims, when Shia Muslims murder Sunni Muslims and vice versa. At those times all is still, not a word of condemnation, for this is Islam at its traditional best; rampaging, marauding, causing havoc and strife between their various tribes and sects. And should those outside the world of Islam point out the hideous human rights abuses that Muslims visit upon one another, this too is a vicious assault against Islam.

That being the case, it should not have been at all surprising that the choice of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark to assume the rank of political head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, would be seen as yet another assault upon Islam. The one Muslim member of NATO, heretofore secular Turkey has objected to the candidacy of Mr. Rasmussen, noting the crisis that beset the world on the memorable publication of Danish cartoons deemed to be insulting to Islam.

And as far as Turkey is concerned, Denmark's acceptance of the right of radio stations producing content sympathetic to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party is additional fodder for rejection. Rasmussen additionally, it was pointed out, "showed blatant neglect of the sensitivities involved during the cartoon crisis". Which is a shame, since the U.S., the U.K. France and Germany consider Mr. Rasmussen best choice for the position.

Islam does not forget. Oh, it does forget and handily overlook assaults against its own. That, after all, is an internal matter for Muslims themselves to ponder, and certainly not to be held to account for, even when it concerns gross bloody massacres against their own co-religionists, massive human displacement, rape and other human-rights abuses.

But insults from infidels? Islamist terrorists are still inveighing against Denmark, still calling for revenge, still agitating for attacks on Danish targets. The last one of which blasted Denmark's embassy in Islamabad, killing six, injuring dozens of people. Non-Islamic countries have a long learning curve ahead.

Primarily to politely enquire of Muslim countries whether they will agree to any and all enterprises that the West sets about, lest the fragile sensibilities of the Islamic world is once again set aflame.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Threat to World Peace

The Dalai Lama was invited to participate in a peace conference scheduled to take place in South Africa on March 27. The invitation to the world-renowned spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, a man of peace, kindness and goodwill toward all, was extended by Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Desmond Tutu, Martti Ahtisaari and F.W. deKlerk, along with Norway's Nobel Peace Committee.

All of whom sterling personalities know a thing or two about peace, recognizing in the Dalai Lama the quintessential champion of peace and brotherhood. Ah, but South Africa's foreign affairs spokesman speaking on behalf of his government has revoked that invitation.

At the behest of their great good friend, China. "The South African government has not extended any invitation to the Dalai Lama to come to South Africa" solemnly intoned Ronnie Mamoepa. Without a hint of embarrassment. To spare China more than a hint of embarrassment, although in fact, this situation will or should bring embarrassment to China.

Since at the very moment it is exercising its authoritarian autonomy itself, bringing peace to the ethnic Tibetan portion of Qinghai province, where Chinese police have 'detained' close to a hundred monks in the wake of rioting Tibetans attacking a police station over the disappearance of one of their own. Detained, as it happened by police for engaging in independence activities; a despised splittist.

And then there's the issue of thousands of people rioting in the wake of a suicide. A 25-year-old monk at the Ragya monastery where police locked down the monastery because Tashi Sangpo removed the Chinese flag and replaced it with the Tibetan national flag over the monastery's main prayer hall. The monk preferred to take his own life rather than be detained by Chinese police, wonder why...?

Friends of Tibet issued a statement giving their view of the usefulness of the proposed peace conference under these circumstances: "We believe that the barring of his holiness to attend the peace conference makes a mockery of the intentions of this conference".


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McCarthyist Nightmare?

Not really, just observing a set of political and social and civilizational standards when determining who may enter Canada and who may not. Those with criminal records, those who have been charged with violent political acts, those whom it is known to have been involved in human rights abuses, and those who support outlawed terrorist groups are not welcome in Canada.

It's a tough call to make, sometimes, for a country that represents as one where freedom of speech, of association, of religion, of ideology is recognized as a right.

Of course, those are freedoms guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the Canadian Constitution, for citizens of Canada. There are no such guarantees for those who attempt to enter the country who are not protected under the Charter, as foreigners, although the country sees itself as open and welcoming to law-abiding people wherever they come from.

And while freedom of speech is a cherished ideal here as it is in most liberal democracies there are also societal obligations to ensure that one man's freedom does not disrupt another man's comfort. Extreme opinions and exhortations to defy authority of any respected free democracy, along with denunciations that can be construed as hateful in nature aimed at minority groups are not welcome in Canada.

There can be exceptions, when decisions by the Canadian Border Services Agency can be over-ridden through the authority of a Minister's Permit, but it isn't too likely that either British MP George Galloway or William Ayers, now a respected academic with left-left-leaning credentials and former co-founder of the radical 60s Weather Underground are likely to fall into the category of this kind of exception.

Both have been refused entry to Canada, and for fairly explicable reasons. Mr. Ayers, although never convicted as a felon, has the distinction of having been a war protester, who chose as his method of civil disobedience the practise of street fighting, confrontational militancy and bomb-making.

He and his group of revolutionaries repeatedly bombed a statue dedicated to riot police casualties, and participated in bombings of New York City Police Headquarters and the United States Capital building in 1971. The deaths that did occur through their activities happened to be those of their own; three who were blown up by a bomb they were making.

Mr. Galloway, another peace protester who, confoundingly, fully supports the radical Islamist group Hamas in their jihad against the State of Israel, has been banned from entry to Canada simply because he gives both loud moral support to Hamas, and financial support as well. To a group which Canada, the United States, Japan, Australia and the European Union recognize as a terrorist group, thus eliminating Mr. Galloway as a casual moralist spreading the good word of peace within Canada.

Neither Mr. Ayers' now-sterling reputation as a reputable and highly respected academic who has received civic rewards for outstanding community work and received high recognition for his prodigious publication output, nor Mr. Galloway, an elected member of the British parliament, espouse views that find full support universally.

Their message of peace is muted and complicated by their past history on the one hand, and choice of heroic mentors on the other. No McCarthyist nightmare, merely a government exercising its full sovereignty.

Wonder if these peace-respecting members of society will exercise themselves in support of the Dalai Lama whom South Africa has seen fit to bar from taking part in a peace conference in that country...?

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Refused Entry: Get Lost

British Member of Parliament George Galloway is furious with Canada. Canadian Border Services took it upon themselves to contact the Canadian High Commission in London to inform Mr. Galloway that he is persona non grata in Canada. That would put anyone in high dudgeon, anticipating unrestrained entry once again to honour agreed-upon speaking engagements anywhere. After all, Canada is one of many democracies that guarantees freedom of expression.

He is determined to speak in Canada to those freedom-loving entities eager to hear his message of peace. His personal admiration for and support of Hamas is the issue, not in that he speaks in support of their agenda, but in that he famously led a delegation to give financial support to a terrorist organization, thus ensuring his inadmissibility to Canada, which lists Hamas as a terrorist organization. Simple as that.

So Mr. Galloway is free to fulminate away at his leisure. And the Ottawa Peace Assembly (there goes George Orwell's double-speak again) who organized the event featuring this great man of peace is free to have him speak via video-conference from the United States. Mr. Galloway saw fit to personally launch a giveaway in Gaza just recently in support of Hamas of three vehicles and $44,715.

That goes down in Britain, where the man was democratically elected, even though his own Labour Party expelled him from their caucus, but not in Canada where he isn't elected to represent anyone. This is the man who famously visited Iraq in 1994 and expressed his support for Saddam Hussein: "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability".

Mr. Galloway is himself indefatigable, and he plans to challenge his disallowed entry to Canada, for he deems it shameful that Canada would deny an elected politician from another democracy the right to express his views. Last I heard, France too is a democracy, and Mr. Galloway did his best to persuade Britain's government to disallow a visit by French politician Jean-Marie LePen.

And try as I might, I couldn't recall hearing or reading that Mr. Galloway protested Britain's decision to block Dutch politician Geert Wilders from entering the country although he was invited to do so just last month, to show his film 'Fitna' to the House of Lords. Now let's see, Holland is a democratic country, and Mr. Wilders an elected politician.

And Mr. Wilders too plans to appeal his blocked entry to England. Unlike the situation with Mr. Galloway, however, the government of Holland has taken umbrage at one of their politicians' exclusion from another democracy. Mind, his short and instructive film on Islamism hasn't been reviewed favourably by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, either.

The message to Mr. Galloway is clear; this government considers him unwelcome and it has a perfect right to block entry to anyone whom it considers undeserving of entry to the country. Case closed.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Independence Dilemmas

The ethnic minority Tamils in Sri Lanka are a people besieged. Like other minorities within greater majority ruling populations such as the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, the Tamils anguish over that elusive all-consuming desire, to have a homeland of their very own. Like minorities existing in closed societies such as Russia and China and Burma - jealous of their territorial integrity, not anytime soon willing to give up one iota of what they claim to be theirs - the Tamils wage a losing struggle.

Their militant wing, recognized, because of their terror-inspiring tactics, as a terrorist organization by liberal democracies like Canada and the United States, has been recognized as having originated the formidably effective and bloody tactic of suicide bombing in their attempts at swaying the government of Sri Lanka in giving up a portion of their territory to their Tamil minority. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)'s guerrilla tactics inspired terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Tamils have long suffered dreadful institutional discrimination in Sri Lanka. Although they have lived in Sri Lanka since the 2nd century BCE, it is the Sri Lankan Sinhalese who form the majority. When the country gained its independence from Britain in 1948, relations between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil deteriorated into ethnic and political tensions, resulting in riots and pogroms which led to a civil war in 1983, causing over 70,000 deaths.

Tamils originated in south India, and there remains a large presence of Tamils in India, particularly in Kerala province. As a trans-national minority, Tamils have traditionally sought work outside their country, and have migrated throughout Europe and North America. Countless others have sought refuge by emigrating to other countries to escape persecution. The largest expatriate population of Tamils resides in Canada, with a population of about two hundred thousand.

Canada has been used as a recruiting base for the Tamil Tigers, but also as a fund-raising base. Rallies and marches are organized to attempt to persuade the Government of Canada to condemn the Government of Sri Lanka for its persecution of its Tamil population. It presents as a truly awkward political situation; on the one hand, Sri Lanka is a legitimately constituted government, but it is also a repressively brutal one.

The humanitarian crisis visited upon the Tamil population that precipitated the rise of a violent militant group to fight on behalf of a Tamil homeland gave rise to governments isolating the Tamils entrenched within the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam within the international community. The conundrum is that there's a toss-up between the violence and brutality brought to bear on ordinary Tamils, and that which the LTTE wreaks within the country through fear and terrorism to reach its goal.

The United Nations views with growing alarm the dire situation of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians trapped between the brutalities meted out to them by the country's military machine, and the determined resources of the Tamil Tigers not to submit their movement to the government's promises of peace. Likely in the full knowledge that the sacrifice of their violent movement to the promised peace will simply result in a return to the former conditions, with no hope of liberation from their misery.

Given the bloody conflict running rampant in the country it's a moot point whether the vicious blood-lettings on the part of the Tamil Tigers have managed to accomplish anything remotely useful for the Tamil population, or whether indeed, they have simply managed to increase the danger to ordinary Tamils living with the white-hot anger of the majority Sinhalese and the grim determination of the country's government.

India is currently attempting to broker a peace deal between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers, claiming it can rescue the situation if the Tigers agree to laying down their arms. India, working in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross claims responsibility for the security and rehabilitation of the endangered Tamil civilians trapped in the Mullaitivu district under siege from government forces, can be assured.

In the Sri Lankan military's zeal to combat and finish off the Tamil Tigers, they've ringed the area where the guerrillas are holding out, in the process trapping innocent civilians. Because little differentiation appears to be made between the Tamil civilians and the Tamil Tigers as far as the military is concerned, international human rights groups have accused the military of indiscriminate shelling and the LTTE of deliberately preventing the civilians from fleeing the area.

In the heat of war it's clear that little thought on either side, is given to the safety and security of the Tamil civilians. They're being targeted by the Sri Lankan military, and at the same time the helpless civilians are being used as a human shield by the LTTE. A terror-group modelling that has become familiar to the watching world as one now also practised in the Middle East.

It becomes extremely difficult, however, to define with any clarity where justice lies in all of this. The Tamils are a persecuted minority, who wish to have a country of their own where they will be secure. The government of Sri Lanka, while obviously seeing no value in their Tamil minorities, does see great value in holding on to its territory, keeping it intact. This too is a much-repeated theme in unappreciated minorities struggling to attain a nation of their own.

The actions of both the government, brutally unconcerned for the well-being of a signal part of its population, and the Tamil guerrillas determined to achieve 'freedom' and a separate geography for those whom they represent are both reprehensible, and each cause great suffering in that country. There are times when solutions never present themselves, proving that old adage that nothing is ever simple.

Nothing of a human construct, where one group rails and expressed gross violence against the other, neither willing to relent and reach a reasonable accord. It's as simple as no one group willing to give one iota of entitlement to the other.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Maligned, The Misunderstood, The Champion

Life offers many choices, and of free will and an occasional distorted sense of reality, we make our choices. And then we reconsider them or learn to live with them, determining that they were, after all, the best of all possible choices. Expressing in the deepest imaginable way, our natural inclinations to go with our hearts, not our heads.

Or perhaps on occasion, the reverse. In the case of Khadija Abdul Qahaar, her heartfelt kinship with Islam, and her recognition that those whom the West characterizes as violent jihadists are, in reality, freedom fighters. And since, as Beverly Giesbrecht, a devout Muslim, believes in freedom and those who fight for their freedom, however that is interpreted, support for the noble aim of jihadists was a natural.

She came to this realization, it would appear, post 9-11. For who would create such a monumental event other than those truly committed to freedom? Those who rail against the indignity of living under the heavy heel of American might and fury?
And, naturally, seeing the mighty brought low, their monumental fixtures, their symbols of superiority, world domination, and financial prowess placed into the prism of perspective, she found her metier.

The Islamists of the world's honourable travail against injustice would henceforth become hers. Hence the name change, the shuffle in religious adherence, the commitment to espousing their cause. And in the process gaining affirmation that her own life had a purpose beyond the obvious.

Perhaps she wasn't aware that the Taliban generally held women in contempt? Perhaps it was beyond her ken that she was travelling in an area that represents as a dire threat to her countrymen, four more of whom met their deaths this very day, bringing the total to a miserable 116 Canadian soldiers dead, battling a curse that she sought to defend?

On her way to making a film about the noble cause of the Islamists, to bring greater understanding of their purpose to the world at large. Augmenting and clarifying even further information available on her pro-Islamic Web magazine, Jihad Unspun.

From her home in Vancouver she travelled to Afghanistan to aid and assist the much-maligned, dreadfully misunderstood Taliban. She would champion them, assist their cause. Nuisance that the Simon Wiesenthal Center labelled it "a Canadian pro-terrorist website", but what do they know anyway, those kuffirs?

What a horrible misunderstanding, being held hostage in northern Pakistan. At her age of 52 having to suffer the indignity of being held for ransom. And the unreasonable fear that somehow manages to stifle her admiration for the righteous Taliban in the face of a new reality, a decapitating knife hung over her head.

This is most definitely not as she had envisioned her reception by those whom she has so generously championed. Another, grim reality, has impinged on her consciousness. Her Web site, Jihad Unspun, has posted encouragement:
"With almost no resources, this tiny but remarkable woman raised the bar for courageous reporting. She knew that her integrity would be attacked by both sides. Her primary goal is independent journalism that provides an alternate voice to Western media. She was aware of the risks involved in her latest journey, but had faith in those who were supposed to protect her."

Not my fault, she can sing into her future.

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Oops, How About That?

Some situations have their own clarity of vision and wisdom. Or, on occasion, an unfortunate lack of both. Something along the lines of chickens coming home to roost, or the road to hell being paved with bad intentions, or actions and consequences...?

Khaled Mouammar, national president of the Canadian Arab Federation in Toronto, having written an indignant, self-exculpatory letter to the editor of the National Post, takes issue with questions arising about his impartiality in accepting future citizens of Canada while he was with the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Never, he asserted, did he even give a passing thought to undermining the safety and security of his adopted country by admitting refugee claimants who might present with a lack of suitability to adapt to Canadian values.

What an amazing assertion, from someone who came to Canada in the very same way, was accepted as a landed immigrant, and now presents as a prime example of an individual who has proven himself to be personally unsuitable by virtue of his importation of hatred and his socially divisionary tactics.

He describes the protocol involved in judging cases that come before the IRB, the gruntwork done by public service employees of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration researching the claim, the potential for intervention by a Refugee Protection Officer, the potential presence of a member of the Law Society, and lastly the obligation of the signal figure whose final decision whether or not to admit a refugee to ensure there is no history of criminality, etc.

The refugee applicants appearing before Mr. Mouammar during his ten-year stint with the IRB had the great good fortune to be approved by him at an astounding one hundred-percent approval rate. He satisfied himself that these applicants, from the Middle East and elsewhere, had no history of belonging to terror groups, never committed crimes. And little wonder, since he considers Hezbollah and Hamas to be perfectly legitimate and honourable political entities.

Mr. Mouammar righteously rails against the slurs implied against his integrity during his stint at the IRB. Writing as the national president currently of the Canadian Arab Federation he minces no words in describing his support of the "struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination" and his opposition to "Israel's violations of international and humanitarian law"; political positions that should have disqualified him from serving with the IRB.

In the melee of vetting and accepting hundreds of thousands of refugee claimants and immigrants from various countries around the world, background checks are not always as meticulously carried out as they might be. The result being that from time to time people with criminal records, people guilty of human rights abuses, people belonging to outlawed organizations characterized as terrorist in nature, have been admitted to this country.

When their presence is discovered it is often very difficult to extradite them, to remove them from the safe haven of this country, although Canada has, on occasion, taken measures to free herself from their presence before they go underground and out of sight to meld into the greater community. Canada's trial of a former Rwandan accused of mass murder a case in point. Another the requested extradition to France of Palestinian Hassan Diab accused of the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue.

Mr. Mouammar passionately upbraids Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for a "distasteful attack on my character" representing it as "regretful and disturbing, attributing it to Jason Kenney's attempt to smear "the refugee determination process to score partisan points". It is "irresponsible" of the minister, he huffs, to accuse the former Liberal government by association, of a biased and faulty system.

Finally, he accuses the current Conservative government of choreographing an opportunity to pit Canadian citizens against refugees, tut-tutting it as "unacceptable and not befitting of an Immigration Minister". And, that by implication, the minister has smeared public service employees, along with the innocent refugees now citizens of Canada, who deserve better from the minister. When cornered, attack. And he's done that, in spades.

Mind, a spokesperson for the CAF characterized it as "unfortunate" when Mr. Mouammar did a little incendiary slandering of his own in calling Jason Kenney a "professional whore" for stating his and his government's position in support of the legitimacy of the State of Israel, and the country's inherent right to defend itself against ongoing attacks by the very 'respectable political entities' Canada lists as terrorist groups.

Why would any government in its right mind wish to fund, through taxpayer dollars, any ethnic- or religious-based group that has demonstrated a distinct unwillingness to recognize the social imperative within this country of respecting the civil rights of others? Which, furthermore, mounts public exercises for the very purpose of defaming other groups of Canadians? And finally, which holds ministers of the Crown in such disdain that it sees nothing amiss in gross slander?

Above all, which group, such as the Canadian Arab Federation, permitted its standards to fall so low as to elect to its national presidency a volubly vocal and obviously racist individual who cries foul when legitimate criticism of his anti-social and socially subversive activities are brought into question and seeks to form a multitudinous cabal with like groups to condemn the country's administration?

Canadian citizens, taxpayers all, would like to be assured that their tax dollars go to settlement groups legitimately concerned both for the welfare of new immigrants and for society as a whole. New immigrants who learn re-settlement social politics from hate-mongers such as Mr. Mouammar are certainly not guaranteed to learn from example Canada's social contract in extending the quality of freedoms and equal respect to all.

Which goes a long way to explaining precisely why it is that the Canadian government is reacting to the Canadian Arab Federation based on unpleasant interactions with its governing body. And for that reason and perhaps others, considers it an unlikely recipient of tax funding for the resettlement of immigrants. The funding will go to other such groups representing the interests of the same immigrants who devote themselves to the task at hand.

"As you are ... aware, serious concerns have arisen with respect to certain public statements that have been made by yourself" reads a letter addressed to Khaled Mouammar, signed by the associate assistant deputy minister operations, Department of Immigration, "or other officials of the CAF. These statements have included the promotion of hatred, anti-Semitism and support for the banned terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah.

"The objectionable nature of these public statements in that they appear to reflect the CAF's evident support for terrorist organizations and positions on its part which are arguably anti-Semitic raises serious questions about the integrity of your organization and has undermined the government's confidence in the CAF as an appropriate partner for the delivery of settlement services to newcomers."

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whose Failure?

Now how about that? Hamas - proudly unabashed Islamist jihadists sees nothing absurd in the situation that Israel is willing to unleash to their care hundreds of Hamas terrorists languishing in Israeli incarceration, charged and sentenced for terror crimes in exchange for a sole Israeli soldier - is now placing full blame for the collapse of a feverishly-bargained swap, on intransigent Israel.

For its part, Israel expressed its willingness to release over three hundred Hamas terrorists, inclusive of some who carried out bloodily successful attacks against Israeli citizens, and it was Hamas's further demands before they would agree to the release of the kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, whose freedom Israel is so anxious to conclude, that ultimately blocked the exchange.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, willing to sacrifice much to attain the release of Gilad Shalit before leaving office finally admitted that, despite his eagerness to conclude an exchange with Hamas, he is not prepared to submit to their escalating demands. Demands which, in fact, appear to have no end-point. Whatever and whenever a demand is met, the game plan then becomes to add on further inclusive demands.

For his part, Mr. Olmert places the blame for the collapse of the exchange talks by the Hamas rejection of Israel's offer to free the 300 Hamas members. Israel's difficult-to-swallow concession to include convicted murderers speaks volumes about the country's desire to have one of their own returned to them, in exchange for hundreds of convicted felons. Felons being a mild descriptive of those responsible for scores of deaths.

What other country in the world would be prepared to submit to that type of negotiation, singularly unprofitable in gain terms, but not in humane terms of bidding to free a single individual of one's own. Emotional blackmail. But he was finally adamant that there could be no further progress: "We will not agree to release more prisoners from the Hamas list beyond the hundreds of names that we agreed to and announced to them."

Previous exchange numbers sky-rocketed to over a thousand, but they did not represent Hamas terrorists, but rather other Palestinians who were found guilty of planning unsuccessful suicide missions, or who wrought damage and chaos of one kind or another within Israel, against its citizens. Israel has a long-standing position from which it hesitates logically to divert from; not to discharge murderers in such exchanges.

But Hamas is defiant, that its demands must be met before it will agree to the surrender of one individual in exchange for hundreds of theirs. In fact, it's more likely that Hamas is enjoying itself, playing a contorted game of appearing to be obliging when it has no intention of fulfilling the exchange simply because it is aware of just how committed Israel is to securing the release of one of its own.

"If we have to change our position, it will be to increase our demands, and not the other way around" said a Hamas spokesman, warning that because of the collapse of the prisoner swap, Hamas plans to further harden its position. This has been such a protracted run-around for years that it should be clear Hamas considers the capture of a single IDF soldier a coup they have no wish to relinquish.

They enjoy their little games of cat-and-mouse; it affords them a grim pleasure of some arcane accomplishment in their celebrated world of devotion to death, their grisly pathology of dealing it and embracing it.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Intelligence of Delusion

It hardly seems possible that intelligent people can be so incredibly un-insightful that they appear to deliberately ignore the forest for the trees. The trees, in the case of Pakistan, represent the large land-owning class, the wealthy and the educated, the professional class, and above all the lawyers, in this litigious and democracy-loving Islamic society. Process is vital. Reality is an illusion.

So the lawyers who had allied themselves haphazardly with Sharif Nawaz - or, really, he with they - in defending their cause to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry now celebrate their victory. Their loud and insistent demonstrations have resulted in the government of Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari relenting, and welcoming Justice Chaudhry back into office. Where he will undoubtedly preside in the unravelling of the current government.

Bringing into office - surprise, and oh dear - former prime minister and soon-to-be prime minister-presumptive, Nawaz Sharif, an fundamentalist Islamist. The educated professionals, the wealthy landowners, the brilliant lawyers now look to the full implementation of previously agreed-upon elements of the country's Charter of Democracy. Likely now to be implemented, isn't it?

The 'progress' and enlightened democracy that these elements of the complicated Pakistan society may prove extremely elusive. Nawaz Sharif has, in the past, made common cause with fundamentalists; they;re the forest. And isn't it just coincidental that Benazir Bhutto's husband has given free rein in the Swat Valley in negotiating for 'peace' with the Taliban, for Sharia to reign.

The democracy that was in full display in recent elections where no Islamist party gained seats, has nicely been tumbled, the reality now that the Taliban may continue unmolested by government troops, to destroy more schools, prevent girls from educations, decapitate more dissenters, create additional fearful refugees from their fanatical rule.

While the lawyers celebrate their victory, they appear to have forgotten the financial morass that Pakistan finds itself in with its collapsed economy held together by the billions that the United States grants it to ensure its co-operation in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It's slipped their minds that Islamist sharia runs counter to democracy and the Taliban in Pakistan will be their undoing.

While Chief Justice Chaudhry will for the moment preside in the capital of Islamabad the judges in the Swat Valley have been dismissed in favour of Sharia court judges; democracy surrendered to theocracy. Committed Islamists in Pakistan have no intention of remaining neatly within the borders of the North-West Frontier. How long before Sharia embraces Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad?

The Pakistani Intelligence Service and the Pakistani Armed Forces have been well infiltrated by those who support the Islamist cause; their enmity toward India is well enough known. Who will control the country's nuclear program? A prime minister who heads the Pakistan Muslim League. A man who was accused of "maladministration, nepotism and corruption".

Who was sentenced at one time to two life sentences for terrorism and high-jacking an aircraft. Who has spent a decade in exile in Saudi Arabia, settled comfortably within their Wahhabist brand of Islam. The same Saudi Arabia that so generously funds the Pakistani Taliban.

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Aggravating Condoms

Will wonders never cease; Pope Benedict has mouthed the revolting word that describes an issue that interferes with fertility: the immortal condom. Humankind has used condoms of one kind or another - often made of stretched animal skins in the far distant past - to protect against unwanted pregnancies.

This, however, represents a gross defiance of God-granted sexuality that procreation is the purpose of a coupling. All else is sin. Now that he's said it, one can only wonder if he reacted with the kind of revulsion that would have him make haste to penitence, and wash his mouth with a foamy detergent.

This man, who took an oath of abstinence in obedience to his voluntarily relinquishing his place in the world of men to take up his place in the world of the divine, married to God's word alone, speaks as one with full knowledge of carnality and its avoidance.

He seeks to awake in the conscience of humanity a "spiritual and human awakening", along with "friendship for those who suffer". Conscience, he might know, is a cerebral function; sexuality an emotional one, and they are as water is to oil. The compulsion to sex is invested in us as it is in all biological creatures for the purpose of propagation, the perpetuation of the species.

Conscience is the intelligent self informing oneself that one should behave in a certain manner, else one is aggrieved with oneself. Pope Benedict relies on his intelligence to move him in certain ways, to unerringly lead him to determine the manner in which he, as the Shepherd of God, may lead the masses to righteousness. And it isn't through the use of condoms.

Condoms, therefore, are an improper response to HIV- and AIDS-prevention. Let alone any manner of sexually transmitted diseases. Heterosexuality, chastity, devotion to one's spouse, loom large as preventives. And he travels through Africa with this message. This is the continent where women are raped by casual convention, by war-torn convention, by social acceptance.

But the Roman Catholic Church, he claims, is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. Just not by distributing condoms, as one of the most effective methods of prevention.

Condoms, he claims, increase the problem of AIDS-conduction. What the problem requires is a 'responsible and moral attitude' toward sex. And he plans to enthuse his African flock with that 'responsible and moral attitude'. He will convince Africans that the solution to AIDS is not to rape a virginal child, after all.

Tens of millions in Africa are infected with HIV; three-quarters of all AIDS deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The pope's anti-condom campaign doesn't enthuse Rebecca Hodes of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. She feels a 'responsible and moral' pope would promote access to condoms, and help to educate people in their use.

"Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans." Contraception devices are clearly devious instruments of the devil. Fidelity in marriage and strict sexual abstinence, particularly premarital, must be key to battling AIDS.

The Pope was greeted by the President of Cameroon, whose government has been accused by Amnesty International, among others, of human rights abuses and abuses against his political opponents. Yet the pope avoided mention of ill-doing, claiming instead that "a Christian can never remain silent" in the face of violence, poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of power.

So is it those issues that are front and foremost in his addresses within this blighted continent where viciously violent wars, mass rapes, mutilations, group murder, millions of refugees seeking refuge, are the order of the day in so many of its nations? It is none of those things, other than in a veiled way, while blatantly up front is the rejection of one of the signal defenders against the communication of AIDS.

Africa represents the swiftest-growing area in the world for the Roman Catholic Church. "The saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of peoples' lives", he pontificated.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Canada's Immigration Policies

Canada is a country of immigrants, our much-vaunted multiculturalism (a decidedly failed and currently worrisome social construct of silly federal conceit) celebrating our 'differences' and our homogeneity as a society willing to advance good will toward others. We think of ourselves as being socially emancipated, ready and willing and eager to present as an open, relaxed and multifarious society, embracing a common purpose and a social compact offering value to the entire population.

Successive federal governments have embarked on an ongoing receptivity and open welcome to people from around the globe who have chosen Canada as their emigration destination. Canada absorbs more immigrants than any other industrialized country. There's a purpose beyond merely opening the country's doors to one and all in good spirit; our indigenous birth-rate is low (exception is our truly indigenous population) and the country depends on immigration to help grow our GDP.

There is an awareness that the country should seek to admit those who present with some evidence that they will be able to meld into the population. Background checks are carried out, albeit not to the degree they possibly should. Anyone with a criminal history in their country of origin will not be permitted entry to become a landed immigrant. Refugee claimants too, must have a clean record of abiding by the law of their country, of not having been involved in war crimes, as well.

Despite which slip-ups do occur, and Canada receives more than its share of those with a shadowy past. Those who enter the country and who take advantage of the freedoms and the protections the country offers are sometimes known to abuse them. And generally it's at that time that immigration authorities undertake extradition procedures. Alternatively, refugee claimants coming before a Refugee Board representative fail to convince their interlocutor of their status and are refused.

Either way, removal proceedings are undertaken. The trouble is, Canada is such a kind country that it extends the privilege toward those whose appeal for asylum has been refused, to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Board, and matters are extended through the course of years, presenting as a stalemate. Canada has too many would-be immigrants refused status here, who simply fade into the woodwork.

(And the recently-revealed 100% acceptance rate of the current president of the Canadian Arab Federation during his extended ten-year period as a representative of the Canadian Refugee Board has revealed the extent of that gaping lack of due diligence in admissions.)

Some entreat authorities to reconsider the initial rejection, and churches and social-work agencies are swift to work on behalf of rejected appellants, testifying as to their good character. And this, unfortunately, is just what occurred in the case of convicted murderer Allan Tehrankari, with the very woman he brutalized, raped and murdered appealing to the Minister of Immigration on his behalf.

Barbara Galway took it upon herself to characterize the "kind and thoughtful individual who is anxious to better himself", attempting to persuade authorities from deporting this illegal refugee back to his home country of Iran. The man had committed a string of armed bank robberies as well as a hostage-taking. He was arrested, stood trial and was convicted, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

On his release from prison he was taken under the protective wing of an evangelical religious family, who introduced him to their brand of Christianity. He married one of the daughters of the family, and the rest became history when he was arrested for the murder of his sister-in-law. Tehrankari had pleaded guilty to criminal offences; aggravated assault and forcible confinement, armed robbery.

Yet this family saw in him a good man, a kind and reliable individual. The federal government had twice declared him a public danger, intending to deport him back to Iran. But in the end acceded to the appeals on his behalf, to permit him to remain in Canada, to seek a new life with the help of his supporters and his newfound faith.

The result was an avoidable murder of a gullible and trusting woman. And the insane spectacle of a man accused of first-degree murder wreaking the lunacy of hysterical havoc in a court of criminal law, screaming tirades of accusations against police, lawyers, witnesses and experts whose testimony helped in convicting him.

Their work in convincing the jury wasn't dreadfully onerous; the mountain of evidence against him would even have persuaded anyone severely biased in his favour. Isn't it past time for the federal government to seriously reconsider the laxity of our follow-through on the intent to deport?

The recent case of Canada's embarrassment and the country's anger over bringing back to this country a Sri Lankan criminal who had been deported in 2005 over his involvement in a violent Toronto street gang, a case in point. The many instances of people like Ottawa's Mohammed Harkat, arrested under anti-terror laws, who insists he cannot be deported back to Algeria, where his life might be in danger.

Get rid of them. We've enough and more than enough of our own home-grown social misfits, miscreants and violent criminals.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Facing The Global Crunch

Governments around the world are scrambling feverishly to find quick-fix solutions to their rapidly melting economies. The World Bank is experiencing difficulties shoring up the fortunes of countries like Iceland and Pakistan, to keep them from total economic collapse. The European Union is suddenly discovering that all is not sweetness and light within the union as countries that were so recently content to bask in the bosom of mutual support, suddenly discover the imperative of self-help.

The Asian Development Bank reports the value of global financial assets fell by over $40-trillion last year. The International Labour Organization estimates 50-million jobs may be lost globally; china has already lost substantially more than 20-million.
The International Monetary Fund requires a doubling of its lending capacity to $500-billion to prevent the collapse of 15 developing countries.

Protectionism is raising its unaccommodating head once again, and little wonder, as jobs evaporate and people become militantly morose, causing their governments sleepless nights. In Canada, the latest figures from Statistics Canada on rising unemployment have brought no relief, with an additional 82,000 lost jobs, the majority of them in the once-engine-of-prosperity province Ontario, with manufacturing jobs passing into the history of non-competitiveness.

Canada's Conservative government has just passed its stimulus budget, with the grudging support of an antagonistic Liberal Party, the official opposition; and they're opposing like there's no tomorrow. Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff is feeling his oats, hitting his stride, obnoxiously targeting the prime minister as though he, in his great good stumbling wisdom could do better in saving jobs and industries.

As a result of the world-wide financial collapse, all countries are feeling their blind way through a period of huge uncertainty and frail expectations. Canada is heavily dependent on exports, both manufacturing and natural resources, to maintain its position as one of the G8's most successful economies. We're still, as attested to by international financial bodies, in far better shape than other industrialized countries.

Our banks are healthy and thriving, although our economy is faltering, and unemployment is growing. But opportunities are there, and they will increase, and the Canadian economy will pick up. We're heavily dependent on the health of the American economy to ensure the Canadian economy stays in good health, but an ailing U.S. economy impacts on the well-being of the global economy, as well.

We're experiencing a rare trade deficit, but that's precisely the position most other countries find themselves in - without the inherent strengths of position in security of resources and banking that Canada has. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been up front and resolute in his determination to ensure that Canadians fully understand our economic position. Our faltering is temporary.

People are worried, those who are able to are unwilling to spend to help the economy recover, and those without employment fear a bleak future. It's a syndrome that assails every country on a fairly regular basis, and one that we've met in varying degrees and overcome handily in the near past. The official opposition in Parliament berates the government for bearing bad tidings, and berates the prime minister when he delivers hopeful news of opportunities toward recovery.

In the United States, the president has gone from speaking of the dire financial situation their economy is in, and blaming the greed of wealthy corporate, industrial and financial interests, to speaking of the great strength of the American economy, more than capable of dusting itself off and recovering to even greater strength in leading the world economy.

He, like Prime Minister Harper, emphasizes that the fundamentals are sound and will remain so, although the U.S. situation is far more dire than Canada's. Both express confidence in the future, as well they should. China's premier, while admitting a colossal loss of jobs in their industrially and manufacturing-robust economy - in the wake of an abrupt loss in export orders from abroad - still boasts that China's finances are healthy and stable.

The G20 heads of state and finance ministers in their recent meeting in England are still unable to agree on their available options to collectively repair the world economy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement, "The issue is not spending even more, but to put in place a regulatory system to prevent the economic catastrophe that the world is experiencing from being repeated" makes eminently good sense.

But the regulatory system is a vital measure that can be implemented, once mutually agreed upon, once the various countries' stimulus packages have been put in place and their success evaluated, along with the International Monetary Fund's allocation of funding in the rescue of those without the ability to raise their own stimulus packages.

We've been forewarned, that however much we've already experienced in worrisome downturns, we haven't yet hit bottom, that "2009 is shaping up to be a very dangerous year". It ill behooves Canada's opposition parties, let alone the official opposition, to criticize the government rather than co-operating with it.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Extremist" Arab Groups - In Canada?

Yes, on the record, it would certainly appear that is the case. Ethnic, social, religious and traditional self-help groups formed for the purpose of providing practical and emotional support to others in our multi-faith, multi-social, multi-heritage society that represents the Canadian reality have long been recognized as a helpful aid in settling newcomers to the country, of providing assistance, and working alongside government for that purpose.

Somehow, on the way to maturation as responsible segments of society, and as meaningful representative-bodies of ethnic, religious and social groups, a malaise has crept into the process. An importation of social, religious and traditional grievances from the countries of origin, those countries so many fled to find peace of mind and freedom from persecution in a new welcoming country where freedoms of religion, association and speech are protected under the law.

There has been a gradual and perceptible shift in alliance and allegiance notably marked among former migrants from countries at war internally or with an external antagonist. Where once it was understood that immigrants seeking refuge had an obligation to leave behind them the tribal and religious animosities that formed a part of their overseas culture, enabling Canadians of whatever derivation to live together in peace, that is now being undermined.

Hostility is being extended within Canada, from Canadians who have emigrated from countries whose unsettled political condition has infected those within Canada supportive of their aims and disagreements, toward other Canadians of ethnic or religious descent different than their own. We've seen it occurring in the East Indian community with horribly disastrous results, and in the Sri Lankan community.

Now it's reared its ugly head from within the Arab and Muslim community, feeling hard put to protect themselves against a perceived atmosphere of suspicion of Muslims and Arabs. Not entirely surprising, given the world-wide phenomenon of growing violence against both Western and moderate Muslim co-religionists, along with 'infidels' and Jews.

Fanatical Islamists dedicated to violent jihad have poisoned the atmosphere for everyone, and that, actually is their purpose.

In instilling terror wherever they've been successful in mounting bloody attacks in demonstration of their dedication to jihad, they've also succeeded in giving Islam a black eye, and Muslims of every stripe but fundamental a huge headache. That's a headache that Muslims of every stripe have an obligation to heal of their own accord. Instead, the analgesic of choice appears to be blame of everyone else, most notably the non-Muslim community.

And when it comes to the incendiary situation of Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians, nothing else comes as close to setting Arab and Muslim opinion on fire. Leading them to mount public relations offensives against Israel within Canada, making common cause with outlawed terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah whom they claim are simply performing as they must, in defence of Palestinian and Arab rights.

They're going even further, in declaring that there are no limitations to Jewish targeting, and unleashing in this pluralist society a horribly blemished line of reasoning, impacting on the greater Jewish community within Canada. Blame of Israel as a 'Zionist entity' with a distorted sense of entitlement in the Middle East, as a 'human-rights blight', a 'corrupter of justice', has extended itself to Jews who support Israel's right to exist.

Now a no-holds-barred smear campaign has blossomed into an indelible form of anti-Semitism. A reality hysterically denied by the very people who hurl racist insults at Jews, while claiming, piteously, that they've been besmirched by those evil blood-sucking Jews. They're only exercising their right to criticize Israel, and that doesn't equate with anti-Semitism.

Heated denunciations of the Government of Canada under this Conservative leadership has treated us to descriptions of members of parliament and government ministers as degraded social objects lacking morality. And when ministers of the government hit back, decrying the blatant anti-Semitic ravings as unacceptable in a civil society, pointing out that tax-payer funds are ill-directed at groups practising a recognized and illegal slur against others, they're speaking for all Canadian taxpayers.

Undemocratic and dangerous for a cabinet minister to announce his disgust at political manipulation by representatives of ethnic groups seeking to marginalize others? "Bullying" tactics for a cabinet minister to avow the real possibility of revoking government funding for groups who invoke racist tirades against others?
Confusing and unfathomable that respectable people react with repugnance at the propagation of "hateful and extremist views"?

Get used to it.

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