Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Jason Cherniak's anti-Semitism

In the comments section of my previous post cuddly ex-blogger Jason Cherniak wrongly claims that the political cartoon I posted is anti-Semitic. His argument is premised on the blood libel, an ancient anti-Semitic canard in which local Jews would be falsely accused of the ritual murder of Christians (usually children) in order to use human blood for the baking of matzos or as part of a religious ceremony. The blood libel was patently absurd since there is an abhorrence of blood in the Jewish religion - the reason for instance why in order to make meat kosher a butcher has to use salt to purge every last drop of blood from it. Thus the suggestion that Jews would actually use blood as part of a recipe for unleavened bread and consume it is literally anathema to actual Jewish dietary laws. Worse, these false claims were often pretexts to pogroms or other violent and often murderous attacks on Jews.

Ok, so now you know what blood libel is. Below is the cartoon in question:



Jason Cherniak responds to this cartoon by saying "What a picture. Glad to know that the blood libel still lives strong in your warped mind."

The cartoon is an artist's comment on Israeli military aggression against the people of Gaza. I posted it in response to the current air bombardment which has claimed over 370 lives. This brutality is being inflicted after a year and a half long blockade of the Gaza Strip. There are no religious connotations, whatsoever, in the cartoon, not even a Star of David. The soldiers are not depicted as having any of the stereotypically Jewish features one would see in anti-Semitic cartoons. If it weren't for the words "Israeli occupiers" and "Gaza" the soldiers could be Russian, British, French, American or any other attacking army in the world. There is no suggestion of religious ritual, no Jewish religious garments be they kippot or prayer shawls or tzitzi'ot. No matzot, no menorahs, nothing, in other words, to suggest that what is being depicted is a ritualized religious murder or anything that would be the basis of a blood libel.

Depicting an army or military leader as butchers or dripping with blood is a standard image in any political cartoonists library. Change the labels and this could be a cartoon criticizing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or Czechoslovakia, the American invasion of Iraq or Cambodia, the Chinese attack on Tiananmen Square or, indeed, it could be a critical depiction of Hamas:



Cherniak and I had the following exchange by email:

Firebrand: You're kidding me. The editorial cartoon isn't even remotely anti-Semitic.

But yes, as a Jew the memory of the blood libel does live strongly in my mind - my family fled Russian pogroms and ended up in Romania which was one of the most anti-Semitic nations in Europe between the wars (before the rise of Nazi Germany) so yes Jason, I know what the blood libel is and this isn't it.

Please don't debase the concept of anti-Semitism by applying it so casually to legitimate criticism of Israel.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Jason Cherniak:
Being Jewish doesn’t allow you to ignore basic facts. You posted a picture of Jewish butchers with Palestinian blood on their knives. Do you really not see how that is similar to suggesting that Jews drink the blood of children?

FB: The soldiers are not identifiably Jewish - there are no stereotypical signifiers nor any use of Jewish symbolism such as the magen david.

Implying that soldiers engaging in a massacre (such as the killing of over 370 people) are butchers is a standard device when criticising any military operation. The soldiers in the cartoon could be Russians, Americans, French.

You are suggesting that a massacre carried out by Israelis should be treated differently than one carried out by any other military. I, for one, do not think Israel should be treated differently.

By casually throwing out accusations of antisemitism you are denuding the concept and making it easier for actual anti-semites to get away with it.

I can see why the Liberals don't want you to blog on their behalf and why partisans of other parties were sorry to see you go. You're an embarrassment to whatever side you argue for and as a Jew I find you as embarrassing as Liberals must have.

Please resume your policy of being 'off politics'.

JC:
It was my choice to stop blogging. Nobody asked me to, smartass.

As for the picture, did you miss the word "Israeli" on their clothing? What are you smoking?


FB: the point is there is no stereotypical or symbolic invocation of Judaism.

as you should know the blood libel was the false accusation that Jews kidnapped and killed non-Jewish children and killed them for ritualistic reasons to use their blood to make matzah or for some religious ritual.

There is no such connotation in the cartoon.

You are distorting and reducing the blood libel to argue that any reference to blood is antisemitic and completely disregarding the fact that references to blood and butchery are de riguer in artistic criticisms of military conflict. How do you suggest that an artist criticise the Gaza invasion without reference to blood, murder and death.

All you've shown is that you are unable to refute Barghouti's essay and prefer instead to avoid the subject by engaging in slander.

As for your blog - it may have been for a decision but I know for a fact that senior Liberals have thought it an embarrassment for years.

The 911 blowback that ended up in Dion being embarrassed and having to axe his own candidate was just the last straw. That "own goal" of yours will be with you for a long time

JC: Butcher's knives are used in kitchens where people make food for humans, goddmanit. Use your head.

Again, lol on the blog thing. You're a fool.


FB: again - it's standard to use that analogy when criticising military action. As for the blog - fine if I'm wrong restart it and see what... sorry phone trouble. if i'm wrong restart it and see what happens to
your 'career' in the Liberal party.

and if i'm wrong about your motives for ignoring the article to attack the cartoon then go ahead and refute Barghouti

JC: It's pretty clear I'm not going to convince you, so I'm not going to bother

FB: Considering that you have been unable to refute one argument I've made regarding what blood libel is or what war criticism is I'm not surprised. i have a cartoon somewhere of Brezhnev as butcher in regards to the soviet invasion of afghanistan. doubtless that's antisemitic too?

btw, do you mind if I publish this correspondence?

JC: Only if it is unedited.


Unfortunately, it's become more common for pro-Israel polemicists to deliberately conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in an attempt to delegitimize said criticism and defame the critics. This tactic can only give comfort to actual anti-Semites as by overextending the concept of anti-Semitism these polemicists are effectively making the concept of anti-Semtism meaningless and making it easier for actual bigots and racists to practice their craft.

As British philosopher Brian Klug, a founding member of the group Independent Jewish Voices, wrote in his seminal essay, The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism "when anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing--the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance."

In response to an essay by the American Jewish Committee accusing Jewish critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic, the New York Times interviewed British historian Tony Judt, one of the essay's targets. According to the Times: "The link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created,' [Tony Judt] said, adding that he fears 'the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world' that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as 'just a political defense of Israeli policy.'"

It is important to be clear about what anti-Semtism is and what it is not. When the Jason Cherniaks of the world refuse to make the distinction because it is convenient to use anti-Semitism as a pretext to dismiss all and any criticism of the Israeli government then they demean the memory of those who have died or suffered under the heel of anti-Semitism over the centuries and give comfort to Jew-haters everywhere. To the extent that Israeli politicians encourage this deliberate conflation of anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, they put themselves in opposition to the interests of the Jewish people throughout the world by sacrificing their safety and security in the interests of short term polemical gain.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza has risen to 360 and Cherniak would have you believe that this can't be referred to as butchery or bloodletting.
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Horror in Gaza


The Israeli government's brutal air bombardment of Gaza has claimed over 300 lives at last count and caused thousands of injuries. This is the worst carnage in Gaza or the West Bank since the 1967 war and it is a completely disproportionate response to the homemade Qassam rockets fired from Gaza which have claimed 20 lives in 8 years.

Of course, even one life on either side is too many but the Israeli response is literally overkill and ignores the fact that the resent Qassam rocket attacks are themselves a response to Israel's year and a half long blockade on Gaza which was largely maintained throughout the recent 6 month ceasefire in violation of an agreement.

Israel's attack will not remove Hamas from power and is unlikely to halt the Qassam rockets; it will only strengthen Hamas' hold on Gaza- indeed Robert Fisk argues that Hamas wanted Israel to attack just for that purpose. Livni and Barak must know this. Rather, this military campaign occuring as it does in the midsts of an Israeli election campaign is a calculated attempt by the lagging Kadima-Labour coalition to boost it's standing in public opinion. The most recent polls show that if the election had been held on December 25th, Kadima and Labour would have lost 11 seats between them while Likud would have more than doubled its seat total to become the largest party in the Knesset and the best placed to form a government. While Livni and Barak are suspending their electoral campaigns due to the war they are in fact continuing to fight the election with F-16s as a game changer with the expectation that every hundred or so Palestinian lives lost will gain them a few seats in a horrific game of blood for votes.

Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative and a leading activist based in the West Bank has written an incisive analysis of the current conflict:



Palestine's Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood

The Israeli campaign of 'death from above' began around 11 am, on Saturday morning, the 27th of December, and stretched straight through the night into this morning. The massacre continues Sunday as I write these words.

The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel's promised that this is 'only the beginning' of their campaign of state terror. At least 290 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.

Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank. In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked attack throughout the period of the cease-fire.

Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in - with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time. Throughout the supposed 'cease-fire' Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.

Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change - whatever the cost.

3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with 'peaceful Palestinians'.

Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested - mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.

Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.

Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Nihlin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with 'good Palestinians', who are they talking about?

4. Israel is acting in self-defense.

It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated. Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic. They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.

It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power. Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world. Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States. In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.

5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.

Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.

In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely 'collateral damage' or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.

6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.

First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying public ally, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas - whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel's mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.


Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine's national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.

With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

The leaders Israel are holding press conferences, dressed in black, with sleeves rolled up.

'It's time to fight', they say, 'but it won't be easy.'

To prove just how hard it is, Livni, Olmert and Barak did not even wear make-up to the press conference, and Barak has ended his [election] campaign to focus on the Gaza campaign. What heroes...what leaders...

We all know the truth: the suspension of the electioneering is exactly that - electioneering.

Like John McCain's suspension of his presidential campaign to return to Washington to 'deal with' the financial crisis, this act is little more than a publicity stunt.

The candidates have to appear 'tough enough to lead', and there is seemingly no better way of doing that than bathing in Palestinian blood.

'Look at me,' Livni says in her black suit and unkempt hair, 'I am a warrior. I am strong enough to pull the trigger. Don't you feel more confident about voting for me, now that you know I am as ruthless as Bibi Netanyahu?'

I do not know which is more disturbing, her and Barak, or the constituency they are trying to please.

In the end, this will in no way improve the security of the average Israeli; in fact it can be expected to get much worse in the coming days as the massacre could presumably provoke a new generation of suicide bombers.

It will not undermine Hamas either, and it will not result in the three fools, Barak, Livni and Olmert, looking 'tough'. Their misguided political venture will likely blow up in their faces as did the brutally similar 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

In closing, there is another reason - beyond the internal politics of Israel - why this attack has been allowed to occur: the complicity and silence of the international community.

Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its economic allies in Europe or its military allies in the US. Israel may be pulling the trigger ending hundreds, perhaps even thousands of lives this week, but it is the apathy of the world and the inhumane tolerance of Palestinian suffering which allows this to occur.

'The evil only exists because the good remain silent'

From Occupied Palestine. . .

-- Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi




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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Mike Duffy gets his reward


CTV's coverage of the recent parliamentary crisis was unbelievably one-sided and egregiously partisan. Mike Duffy was particularly subjective - one broadcast of Mike Duffy Live I watched on December 3rd consisted of interviews with Tories who opposed the coalition and the two Grits interviewed, Stephen LeDrew and a former Toronto MP were also opposed to the coalition while Duffy himself couldn't contain his own opposition using questionable and loaded words like "coup" to describe the arrangement, referring to it as the "separatist coalition" and repeating as fact the Tory talking point that the BQ was a coalition partner. An objective broadcast would have included an equal number of pro and anti-coalition talking heads but evidently Mike couldn't find a single coalition supporter to talk to. And what sort of interviews did he conduct? Watch this chat with Premier Brad Wall in which Duffy rolls his eyes when he first refers to the "event" of the coalition. Rather than challenging Wall (which is what one would expect in an interview, even if you're just playing Devil's Advocate) Duffy agrees with him throughout and adds to his objections calling the coalition at 3:38 claiming that the NDP is agreeing to be in bed with separatists.


Personally, I'm glad Duffy was appointed not because he will add anything to Parliament but because it will get him off the air.
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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Questions for 9/11 Truthers

One of the byproducts of the internet is the increased proliferation of conspiracy theories. If antisemitism is the socialism of fools, as Bebel said, then conspiracy theories are the dialectics of morons. Conspiricism diverts people from serious critical analysis of the structure and practice of society and away from conclusions that can lead to useful action for social change and substitutes it for a belief in mysterious figures shrouded in shadows and fog. At best, it is disempowering - at worst it re-enforces the ruling class by setting up scapegoats that can be sacrificed in their stead - Jews, for instance.

While conspiricism is a symptom of a society that distrusts its leaders and disbelieves what it is being told from on high it is a skepticism that is devoid of the rigours of logic, fact-finding and evidence testing using instead magic thinking, supposition and wild logical leaps.

The latest example of this malady is the 9/11 Truth Movement. Now, I've been a critic of the War on Terror since it began and there are a number of cogent criticisms that can be made of it - that the US and other Western governments have exploited 9/11 and Al-Qaeda in order to justify not only a war against Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 or 7/7 attacks; and that western countries, the US, UK and Canada in particular, have used the War on Terror as a pretext to vastly expand the national security state and curtail the rights of citizens and, in particular, non-citizen residents. However, that is quite different from arguing that 9/11 was an "inside job" planned by either the US or Israel (as the more antisemitic of the 9/11 troothers imply).

counterknowledge.com is a new website devoted to challenging and debunking conspiracy theorists and quackery of various stripes. Here are their 15 questions for the 9/11 truth movement:

Let’s take your thesis (that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the Bush administration, and covered up by a coalition of US government agencies, allied powers, big business and the media) as read. The following questions point to logical and factual gaps within that thesis. It is now up to you to answer these questions and explain why your theories are still valid. For your answers to be credible, they need to be detailed and based on verifiable evidence. No suppositions, no speculation, no unsupported assertions, just the facts. Stop “asking questions”, and provide answers. These fifteen initial questions will do for starters.

(1) On 9th September 2001 Ahmed Shah Massoud, the most effective military commander of the anti-Taliban coalition (the Northern Alliance, or NA) was killed by two Arab suicide bombers posing as journalists. The assassination of Massoud had taken months to plan, and the latter had received the bogus request for an ‘interview’ in May 2001 (See Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, pp.574-576; Jason Burke, Al Qaeda, p.197; Daniel Byman, Deadly Connections, p.210. Two days before 9/11, Al Qaeda killed the Taliban’s main enemy, who had also played a pivotal role in keeping the NA factions together, and who would have been the obvious figure to liase with if the Americans had decided to effect regime change in Afghanistan. If Al Qaeda were not responsible for 9/11, then why was Ahmed Shah Massoud’s assassination so well co-ordinated with the attacks on New York and Washington?

(2) Conversely, prior to 9/11, the US government had minimal contacts with Massoud and other Northern Alliance figures, much to the latter’s frustration (See Coll, passim). If 9/11 was a “false flag” operation intended to justify a pre-determined plan to invade Afghanistan, then why didn’t the CIA and other US government agencies do more to facilitate ties with the NA?

(3) Just before 9/11, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other key Al Qaeda personnel left their quarters in Kandahar to hide in Tora Bora (Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, pp.356-358). Why did bin Laden and al-Zawahiri suddenly leave their known locations and go to ground, if they were not anticipating imminent military action by the USA?

(4) In the days following 9/11, the Bush administration asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a plan to invade Afghanistan. The JCS had to admit that they had no contingency plan for such an invasion, and in the weeks preceding Operation Enduring Freedom the CIA and the Department of Defense were obliged to improvise a plan of attack against the Taliban and its Al Qaeda allies (Benjamin Lambeth, Air Power Against Terror; Bob Woodward, Bush At War). If 9/11 had been an inside job, and if there was a long-standing intention by Bush and his advisors to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban, then why did they have to scrabble around for a workable plan? Why was one not prepared beforehand?

(5) We are being asked by the truthers to believe that the 19 hijackers were “patsies”, or non-existent. If that was the case, and if the intention of the real plotters in the US government was to justify military interventions to overthrow hostile regimes in the Middle East, why were 15 out of the 19 ‘bogus’ Al Qaeda terrorists given Saudi nationality? The other four hijackers consisted of an Egyptian, a Lebanese and two citizens of the UAE. We are being asked to believe that the conspirators behind 9/11 decided that they would make the hijackers citizens of allies of the USA, not enemies. Why were they not given Iraqi, Iranian or Syrian identity? Why were they not given forged links with terrorist groups (such as the Abu Nidal Organisation, the PLFP-GC or Hizbollah) with closer links to Tehran, Damascus and above all Baghdad? If we are supposed to believe that the Israelis had a hand in 9/11, then why were none of the patsies Palestinians linked to Fatah or Hamas? What kind of conspirator sets up a plot to frame an innocent party without forging the evidence to implicate the latter?

(6) Following on from this point, if the identities and the nationalities of the hijackers were faked, then why did the Saudi, Egyptian, Lebanese and UAE governments accept that citizens from their own countries were involved? What incentive did Saudi Arabia have for accepting that 15 of its own people had committed mass murder on US soil? Why would the Saudis co-operate in a plot which would blacken their country’s name, benefit Israeli interests in the Middle East, provide the pretext for the overthrow of one fundamentalist Sunni regime in Afghanistan, and contribute to the destruction of a Sunni Arab dictatorship in Iraq long seen by the Saudi royal family as a bulwark against Iran?

(7) Afghanistan is a landlocked country (truthers may need to be reminded of this fact), and any invasion is logistically impossible without the support of its neighbours. Prior to 9/11, Pakistan was a staunch ally of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan (see Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, passim). The former Soviet Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan backed the NA, but were also wary of antagonising their former imperial master, Russia. Pre-September 2001 these states would not have contemplated admitting any US or Western military presence on their soil. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin backed the USA’s invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, it took the Americans considerable effort to persuade him to permit the US and NATO forces to use bases on Uzbek and Tajik territory as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. It also took time and considerable pressure to force General Pervez Musharraf to abandon the Taliban - despite resistance from the military and ISI. Given the geo-political realities of Central Asia in mid-2001, there were no guarantees of any host nation support for any attack on Afghanistan. Assuming againt that 9/11 was an inside job, how could the US government realistically presume that the Russians and Pakistanis would actually permit the USA to effect regime change against the Taliban?

(8) Assuming that claims of Mossad complicity in 9/11 (”dancing Israelis”, etc.) are correct, can the truthers suggest a feasible motive for the Israeli government conniving in an act of mass murder on US soil? Since 1967, the mainstay of Israel’s security and survival has been its alignment with the USA, and the military assistance it has received as a result. This relationship is based on a bipartisan political consensus (both the Republican and Democratic parties are predominantly pro-Israeli) and considerable public support in the USA. Why engage in a “false flag” attack against the civilian population of an ally, when you have so little to gain and so much to lose if your responsibility is ever disclosed?

(9) Following on from this, assuming that the “five dancing Israelis” story isn’t a complete fabrication, what kind of secret service recruits undercover agents who compromise themselves by acting so ostentatiously in public? And if the five arrested Israelis were part of a conspiracy organised with the US government, then why did the FBI hold them in custody for over two months, instead of releasing them on the quiet a matter of hours and days after their apprehension?

(10) If the WTC towers in New York City were destroyed by controlled demolitions rigged by US government agencies, then why were the fake terrorist attacks used to cover up these controlled demolitions so insanely convoluted? Why concoct a scenario involving the hijacking of planes which are then crashed into tower blocks (involving complicated planning involving remote controlled flights timed with explosives detonated in the towers, which allow plenty of opportunities for gliches and technical errors)? Why not use a more simple means, such as a truck bomb?

(11) Assuming that Niaz Naik’s account of his alleged meeting with retired US officials in July 2001 is true, then where were the 17,000 Russian troops who were supposedly ready to invade Afghanistan when it came to the commencement of military operations in October 2001? And if the main motive behind the invasion was to build a natural gas pipe-line which would be under US control, then why was no attempt ever made to build one once the Taliban were overthrown?

(12) We are being asked by the conspiracy theorists to assume that NORAD was stood down on the morning of 11th September 2001 so as to enable the success of the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. NORAD is a combined command, not a purely American one - it has a binational staff drawn from the US military and the Canadian Forces (CF). We are either supposed to believe that the CF personnel assigned to NORAD were too stupid to notice anything amiss in their headquarters - and query it - or that the Canadian government and the CF were complicit in 9/11. Which of these scenarios is true?

(13) If Al Qaeda were set-up for the 11th September attacks, then why have its leaders and spokesmen repeatedly affirmed their responsibility for - and pride in - these attacks (see here, here, here and here for examples)? Why are we supposed to believe that repeated video pronouncements by bin Laden and Zawahiri are fake, while just one written statement allegedly from bin Laden denying responsibility - which was handed by courier to al-Jazeera without any confirmation of its origins - was genuine?

(14) If the hijacking and crashing of four passenger planes was engineered by the US government, then why did UA93 crash into an empty field in Pennsylvania? Why not crash it into a target which would add to the death toll on 9/11, and further inflame US public attitudes and popular demands for revenge against the supposed perpetrators?

(15) Finally, if the US government is institutionally ruthless enough to organise the massacre of thousands of its own citizens in a series of “false flag” attacks, then why is it too squeamish to arrange for the deaths of the supposed “truth-seekers” (David Griffin, Kevin Barrett, Steven Jones, Richard Gage, the Loose Change team, Alex Jones, etc.) who have exposed their complicity in one of the most heinous crimes a government can commit against its own people? Why are these people still alive and well, and in a position to publicise their “theories” on radio, television, in print and online?

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Monday, 8 December 2008

The Second Death of Stephane Dion and the paradox of Canadian politics today



Almost a week after delivering an address to the nation that looked like something hostage takers release to prove their victim is still alive, Stephane Dion has resigned as leader of the Liberal Party. Dion thus becomes the first party leader in living memory to resign from the same position twice in one year.


The Liberals are current wrangling over how to expedite its leadership election process so that the party will have a new chief in place by the time that Parliament resumes on January 26th. It now appears that with Dion having been unceremoniously pushed under a bus, Michael Ignatieff will be crowned Liberal leader by caucus on Wednesday with the blessing of Liberal Party riding presidents - party members will be allowed to send their post hoc congratulations sometime next year when, in the best traditions of Stalinist Russia, a party convention will be held to "affirm" the Great Man's leadership. This illigitmate process is being undertaken in order to confer onto the Liberal Party a leader who has more legitimacy than the electorally deficient Dion.


But you can't have party unanimity without a few victims - just ask Stalin's victims. In this case, the murder victim will not be Kirov but Bob Rae's political ambitions along with the "Coalition" that would have brought down Stephen Harper had it not been for the last minute deus ex machina intervention of the monarchy in the form of the Governor General who, like the professor presented with a forged sick note by a bad student desperately seeking a postponement of an exam he's otherwise doomed to fail, gave Harper an extra six weeks to cram. It remains to be seen whether in that time Harper will learn the difference between governing with a majority and governing with a minority. Ignatieff has clearly signalled that if the Tories make concessions - and this means adopted the Coalition's program (weak as it is) the Liberals will likely support the budget.


Few people noticed the election night split-screen interview CTV News did with Rae and Ignatieff. In both his victory speech and in the interview Rae anticipated the broad strokes of the current parliamentary crisis and stated that with a minority parliament Stephen Harper is not necessarily going to be able to stay in government as his Throne Speech needs to gain the consent of the Opposition in order to pass. Rae was intimating that if the Tory Throne Speech was defeated the Liberals would have the opportunity to form a government. Ignatieff haughtily dismissed this scenario as "political science fiction" - the look on Rae's face was priceless. A mere six weeks later, what Iggy had dismissed as fantasy threatened to become reality (over a Fiscal Statement rather than the Throne Speech) and Ignatieff reluctantly signed on and then went into hiding. On Sunday, Ignatieff all but declared his opposition to the coalition idea and went on CBC Sunday to paraphrase William Lyon Mackenzie King by saying "a coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition" and explaining that he saw the coalition as a tool to get concessions from the Tories and little else.


Bob Rae, conversely, has been selling the coalition as if it's the Second Coming. After spending an election campaign as the Stephane Dion's designated hitter against the NDP - bashing Layton and his social democratic party at every opportunity - and after years of denigrated his former party as not worthy of support, Rae now posits himself, unconvincingly, as the NDP's best friend in the Liberal Party trumpeting a Liberal-NDP coalition as good for the Liberals and good for the country (good for everyone but the NDP, it seems). How the NDP could be beneath contempt in Rae's eyes on October 13th but potential cabinet colleagues on December 1st remains unexplained. But the ironies don't end there for it is the dire threat posed to the Tories by the coalition that has made it a necessity for the Liberals to expedite their leadership election - an act which will not only sunder aside Bob Rae's leadership ambitions in order to crown Michael Ignatieff as leader. In other words, in order to be prepared for the possibility that the Coalition might bring down Harper and be asked to form a government the Liberals are pushing aside the pro-coalition candidate in favour of the candidate who sees the coalition as expendable.


And people say Canadian politics is boring.
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