CUPE 3907 General Membership Meeting

By admin, February 28, 2010 7:15 pm
CUPE 3907 General Membership Meeting
OISE Room 8-104
Tuesday March 2nd from noon till 2 p.m.


Important agenda items include this year’s contract renewal/ negotiations, election of delegates to  the May 2010 convention of CUPE Ontario, and elections for members of this year’s bargaining committee.
Lunch will be provided.
We hope to see you then!

Rwanda and the D R Congo resource: Following the mineral trail

By admin, February 23, 2010 12:26 am
AfricaFiles

Title: Rwanda and the D R Congo resource: Following the mineral trail
Author: John Lasker : Ohio
Category: Resource Extraction
Date: 2/18/2010
Source: Towardfreedom
Source Website: http://towardfreedom.com

African Charter Article# 21: All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources for their exclusive interest, eliminating all forms of foreign economic exploitation.
Summary & Comment: This article highlights Rwanda’s role in Congo’s resource wars through the support it gives to militia groups and as the trade route for the illegally exploited minerals. It also implicates the USA as a major backer and beneficiary of the exploited minerals. A US proposed bill, the ‘conflict mineral act of 2009’ that outlines measures to solve the conflict, falls short of mentioning Rwanda, a key ally in the conflict. What are the implications for peace in the region? MUB


Following the mineral trail: Congo resource wars and Rwanda

http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1864/1/

The Rwandan government and its military have largely been suspected by a UN Panel of Experts, human rights organizations and independent journalists, of financially supporting a number of violent militias that have destabilized the eastern Congo region to illegally traffic millions-of-dollars worth of minerals such as coltan, gold, and cassiterite. These minerals are then brought from neighboring Congo into Rwanda for eventual sale on the international market.

In 2000, Rwanda, an African ally of Washington, produced 83 tons of coltan from its own mines but found a way to export a total of 603 tons that year, as discovered by Danish journalist Bjorn Willum, after he requested the figures from the National Bank of Rwanda. Willum also found the Rwandan army, which at the time was receiving funding and training from the US military, made $250 million that year by selling stolen Congolese minerals, most likely purchased from their shadow militias.

Roughly ten years later, a UN Panel of Expert’s report titled The 2009 Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo states that the illegal traffic of Congolese minerals still flows into Rwanda mostly from these violent militias that continue to profit greatly, presumably passing earnings onto their Rwandan backers. The report also implicated a number of Western-based mining companies and metal brokers of indirectly financing the resource war as their buyers simply waited in Rwanda for the minerals to make their way across the border.

What’s more, this is not the first UN Panel of Expert’s report on the exploitation of Congolese resources; similar findings were also publicized in 2001 and 2003. While a consensus can not be reached among government agencies and human rights groups, the International Rescue Committee believes the resource war which started in the mid-1990s has taken the lives of 4 to 5 million people, most of whom are Congolese.

Given the implication of such violence and illegal trade, one would expect US embassy officials in Rwanda to have an opinion on the subject. Sasha Lezhnev is the director of the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, a nonprofit that aids former child soldiers. Of late, he’s spent time in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2008 Lezhner spoke to the outgoing US ambassador to Rwanda about the resource conflicts in the region.

“I asked the ambassador,” says Lezhnev, “‘What are your feelings about Rwanda’s influence in the eastern Congo?’” The ambassador immediately responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Lezhnev was shocked at what he believes is simply the former ambassador’s ignorance of Rwanda’s influence. “We have to open our eyes to what’s going on,” he says. Yet after years of apparent indifference to the eastern Congo resource wars, it appears the US is finally starting to take measures to help end the conflict; the U.S. Senate is pushing forward the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009. The bill calls for, among other things, a system of oversight to keep watch on all US-based industries that utilize Congolese coltan, cassiterite, wolframite and gold, and make sure the minerals were not extracted from conflict mines controlled by illegal armed groups.

However, the bill makes no mention of the Paul Kagame regime, which has led Rwanda since the genocide of 1994, or his administration’s influence in eastern Congo. Kagame has said any strategic maneuvers on Rwanda’s part in the eastern Congo, which also includes the deployment of regular Rwandan troops, is so to keep the pressure on those groups that took part in the 1994 massacre.

But according to Professor Yaa-Lengi, who runs the New York-based Coalition for Peace, Justice and Democracy in the Congo, millions of Congolese – a number corroborated by several American-based human-rights organizations interviewed for this article – believe Kagame’s claims are a ruse, a smoke-screen to loot Congolese minerals. He says it is part of an elaborate plan that many Congolese believe was initiated by the US; and thus Rwanda is an American proxy with a mission to keep Congolese minerals moving cheaply to Western-based mining companies. Yaa-Lengi says these theories, deemed far-fetched by many experts, don’t end there. “Bill Clinton was behind the (1994) genocide,” he stated. “Millions of Congolese believe this.”

Lezhnev and representatives of other human rights groups working in the eastern Congo scoff at Yaa-Lengi and the charges he levels against the Clinton administration. But they agree the Congolese have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the US and their regional interests. For instance, David Sullivan of the Enough Project says during the Bush administration, the White House had a public relations official working in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. When Bush’s term ended in 2008, he says the official quickly took a job with the mining company Freeport-McMoRan and its operations in the country, which mainly extracts copper and cobalt. “There are some really dangerous arguments about this [US interests in the Congo],” says Sullivan. “There are a lot of conspiracy theories. And many people overstate the influence of the US in Rwanda and the region.”

Fueling those conspiracy theories in part is President Kagame, who gained power immediately following the 1994 genocide. Kagame went through a U.S. military training program on American soil during the years leading up to the massacre. There’s also historical evidence that points to how important Congolese minerals are to the US; the US military acquired uranium from a mine in the DRC town of Skinkolobwe to build the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The U.S. continues to maintain strong ties with Rwanda: US assistance to the country “has increased four-fold over the past four years,” according to the US State Department.

Lezhnev says, “We have a lot of leverage with Kagame and we have to use that.” Meaning that the US needs to pressure the Rwandan government into ending its destabilizing role in the eastern Congo. Yet what specific influences the US ultimately has over Rwanda remains a mystery. One element that contradicts the conspiracy theories offered by Yaa-Lengi, however, is the new Senate bill. Sullivan says it could end the resource war in eastern Congo. But he acknowledges the bill is no panacea.

“We would like to see a provision in the bill that makes [all metal brokers who sell minerals acquired from the eastern Congo] disclose the minerals exact origin, the exact mine it came from,” he says. “If they say they are getting the minerals from Malawi, then they have to have an independent verification saying so.” When selling their minerals onto the international market, metal traders have faked records saying the minerals were actually from countries other than the Congo.

Essentially, what Sullivan and the Enough Project are calling for is an independent auditing effort based in the eastern Congo. This could be expensive, but if established, could lead to new successes in the fight against the looting. For example, say a metal broker is caught selling minerals from a mine that is a source of conflict and controlled by a violent militia – a reality for many eastern Congolese mines. In this case “[the metal broker] will lose access to international markets,” says Sullivan. Some experts on the eastern Congo say the bill is flawed and if passed, won’t have the muscle to end the resource war.

“Given the many links in the supply chain [of eastern Congo minerals], any of them can simply claim they don’t know where the minerals are coming from and it is currently difficult to prove them wrong,” says David Barouski, a student from the University of Wisconsin, who has documented first-hand the resource war in the eastern Congo. “The U.S. claims it wants to help implement ways to certify this chain, but how are they going to do it for every mine in a conflict zone? Certification at the mines would require agents to go on site, but with such poor infrastructure it would be years before this is feasible and there would need to be peace to rebuild the infrastructure.”

Besides the U.S., the Congolese people don’t trust the UN either, says Yaa-Lengi. Throwing fuel on their UN speculation, he says, is the 2009 UN Panel of Experts’ report on the eastern Congo, The Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At first the report was leaked, angering members of the Security Council. Then its official release was delayed.

“The UN delayed publishing it because it points a finger back to the UN and the Security Council,” says Yaa-Lengi. “This is because they are allowing the Congolese to die and be raped. The UN knows it, but they are allowing it. All members of the Security Council are benefiting from the resources of the Congo. The UN does only what the Security Council wants and by that we mean what the super powers want.” The U.N. Security Council is comprised of the U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia and China as permanent members and two other rotating member nations. Companies in every one of these nations, claims Yaa-Lengi, have benefitted in some way from the cheap minerals taken from eastern Congo, one of poorest nations on the planet. But according to the African Business Magazine, the DRC currently has an estimated total mineral wealth of $24 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Europe and the US combined.

Sullivan of the Enough Project agrees the Congolese are suspect of the UN, as they are of the US. Yet, he says to “keep in mind the [UN] Panel of Experts is independent of the Security Council.” For the most part, this UN Panel of Experts is made up of regional experts of the eastern Congo, its culture, government and society, he says, adding “The new report has pretty much been ignored by the Security Council.” Indeed, past UN Panel of Experts’ reports on the eastern Congo, published in 2001 and 2003, were also mostly ignored by members of the Security Council. Even though the UN Panel of Experts had evidence piled high implicating scores of Western-based mining companies and metal brokers of buying looted minerals from conflict mines of the eastern Congo.

Take, for example, the story of Robert Raun, a former metal broker who worked just across the eastern Congolese border in Rwanda. He was the beneficiary of a strange response on the part of the UN in 2004, a response that sends mixed messages about the West and their intentions for the eastern Congo resource war. Raun and his mining company, Trinitech of Cleveland, Ohio, which processed and traded coltan, had been implicated in the UN’s 2001 report, The Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This report essentially accused Trinitech and over 100 other Western-based mining companies of looting minerals from the eastern Congo. The minerals included coltan, a black metal ore that is needed to meet the West’s insatiable thirst for personal technology. It is a key ingredient in the manufacture of cell phones, lap tops and video-game consoles. (Also see Inside Africa’s PlayStation War in Toward Freedom.) When Raun stepped onto the 20th floor of the Secretariat Tower of the United Nations in 2004 to respond to their charges, the “power of accusation” from the UN, he says, had already ruined Trinitech. The UN also accused Raun of aligning with “elite networks” of Rwandan government officials and high-ranking military officers. The elite networks were apparently forcing Congolese children and captives to mine for coltan. “The allegations we were using child labor was a fabrication,” insists Raun, a devout Christian. “[But] accusation is a powerful thing. It ruined us. Nobody wants to buy from the company that’s wearing the Scarlet Letter. We’re just a shell of what we used to be. But we’re standing, by the power of God, we’re standing.”

Nevertheless, on that day in New York City in 2004, the UN would surprisingly drop its charges against Trinitech. Indeed, at that time, the UN was giving a lot of Western-based mining companies and metal brokers working in eastern Congo a pass. Out of the 100 or so mining companies accused of looting minerals, the UN dropped the charges against each one, infuriating mining watchdog efforts such as MiningWatch Canada. Raun only answers to the child labor charges, however. When asked who Trinitech was buying its coltan from, and whether it came from conflict-ridden mines in the eastern Congo, he responds, “No comment”.

What the World Owes Haiti

By admin, February 22, 2010 6:37 am

What the World Owes Haiti

John Maxwell

Sunday, February 21, 2010

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Maxwell-Feb-21

Some of us grow up thinking that being free means that we are at liberty to do whatever we want — as long as we don’t hurt anyone else; that simply by being born, we are entitled to inherit the riches and beauty of nature and to do whatever we think will make us wealthy, healthy and happy.

Most of us grow up in very different circumstances, walking barefoot, wearing cast-off clothing and knowing that we are mostly free to do what we can get away with and knowing that we will probably always have to worry about the next meal.

In places like Jamaica, however, rich and poor tend to believe that there are some basic freedoms we all share: the right to life, to liberty and to say what we want and associate with whomever we choose.

These freedoms are rights for which the human race has been fighting for a long time, and a few hundred years ago certain people believed that because they had acquired the Chinese invention called gunpowder, they owned superior rights to all those who had not got the secret recipe.

Primitive firearms made it possible for long-distance ‘impersonal’ murder. Until then, if you wanted to kill someone you had to stab him, or to throw a spear or an arrow not much further than the length of a cricket pitch. Blunderbusses and muskets meant that you could remain out of the range of your enemy’s arrows and spears and mow him down with invisible darts accompanied by horrendous noises. Primitive firearms meant that men on horses, armed with guns, could round up dozens of fellow humans in a cost-effective time frame and move them like cattle to enormous holding pens where they were selected for desirable qualities and priced accordingly. Upright European merchants would then select those creatures most likely to bring good prices on the other side of the Atlantic, either for breeding purposes or for hard labour growing sugar or cotton.

The slave trade and the plantation system which it supported provided the motive force of the capitalist system and the foundation of Versailles and the Louvre. The extinction of civilisations on both sides of the Atlantic and their replacement by plantation economies provided the capital on which the European empires and social systems of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were erected. The empires of Spain, and later France and Britain, were built on the bones of the original inhabitants of the so-called West Indian islands.

The Spanish historian, Gonzalo Oviedo, estimated that of the one million Indians on Ayiti (Hispaniola) when the Spaniards arrived, less than 500 remained half a century later. Toribio Motolina, another Spanish priest, said in some parts of Mexico “more than one-half the population died; in others the proportion was a little less; they died in heaps, like bedbugs.” A German missionary, writing in 1699, said the so-called Indians “die so easily that the bare look and smell of a Spaniard causes them to give up the ghost.” Then began the wholesale destruction of nations and civilisations in Africa — some disappearing almost without trace, further impoverishing mankind’s cultural diversity and robbing Africa of the populations and skills it needed for its own development.

As Sybille Fischer remarks in her book Modernity Disavowed: “Colonialism in the Caribbean had produced societies where brutality combined with licentiousness in ways unknown in Europe. The sugar plantations in the New World were expanding rapidly and had an apparently limitless hunger for slaves.” (Quoted in Common Sense – “Christmas in Hell, Dec 30, 2007)

The whole mad-vampire enterprise seemed destined to continue as long as greed endured, notwithstanding bloody uprisings in every colony, the most dangerous being in Haiti and Jamaica. In Jamaica the slaves and their escaped brethren, the Maroons, fought the British to a standstill, a truce and a land concession. One escapee from the islandwide Taki rebellion went to Haiti and there helped light the spark of revolution.

It was the Haitian revolution that destroyed slavery and the slave trade forever.

It was the Haitians alone of all of history’s enslaved peoples who defeated the system, destroyed the institutions of slavery and legislated that thenceforth, all men, women and children of whatever colour or station or nationality were, in Ayiti, full and free human beings. It drove the Americans mad.

It was the Haitians alone of all of history’s enslaved peoples who defeated the system, destroyed the institutions of slavery and legislated that thenceforth, all men, women and children of whatever colour or station or nationality were, in Ayiti, full and free human beings. It drove the Americans mad.

That declaration anticipated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by 144 years and should be recognised for what it is: the single most important definition of humanity ever implemented. The world owes Haiti an unpayable debt.

At this moment apparatchiks of various ideologies are busy racing around in Washington and similar places, like scarab beetles marking out territory on a fresh deposit of excrement.

It is clear that the peoples of the world are minded to help Haiti recover from the most punishing natural disaster of modern times. The scarab beetles — with grand names and even grander résumés — intend to be first in line as was Cheney’s Halliburton in Iraq — to milk the system and suck as much Haitian blood as possible.

People have already stopped speaking to me — I’m anti-American or I’m anti-Haitian — because I believe that we need to assemble all those who want to work for Haiti to work for Haiti in exclusion to working for anyone else.

There are two huge problems: On one side are Haitians, jealous of their liberty and suspicious of any and every one who offers to help. They have been had so often that they expect treachery as a given.

People like Clinton and Patterson do not impress them. On the other side, the American/French/Canadian side, while there is knowledge of the grievous harm these countries have wreaked and are wreaking on Haiti, there is no understanding of the need — the absolutely essential requirement — that Haiti belongs to the Haitians and it is they alone who must decide what they want. They may ask for help, but the US, France and Canada must have the grace to apologise and atone for the heinous crimes they have committed in Haiti. If the Haitians want Aristide back, simple human decency should inform the Americans, the French and the Canadians that they have a duty to help the Haitians get back their president and a responsibility to protect him and the constitutional integrity of Haiti. The Haitians have the brains, the genius and the skills to manage their own country, if they are only left alone.

Haiti is a charter member of the United Nations and its various organs. Haiti has, however, been cheated, blackmailed, double-crossed and screwed by big powers in the IDB and IMF, for example. Haiti needs to be able to summon the collective wisdom and skills of the General Assembly, to get rid of the so-called UN peacekeepers — a bunch of bandits and rapists -and to assemble a force to keep the peace and help train a civil guard — as in Costa Rica — or whatever mechanism the Haitians prefer.

The United Nations General Assembly is the proper organ for the people-to-people assistance Haiti may require. The Security Council knows nothing about land reform, cooperatives or community development.

Finally, the General Assembly must find some way to organise an endowment fund for Haiti from the enormous sums she is owed by France and the United States. This fund should be for the development of Haiti, not Halliburton or Bechtel. The $24 billion that Haiti paid to France and the United States in a brute-force extortion scheme was the single resource whose absence made Port-au-Prince so vulnerable to the earthquake. Generations of capital investment were lost because they were never installed. Simple justice and human decency require they be returned.

Copyright©2010 John Maxwell

jankunnu@gmail.com

Africville dispute may be settled

By admin, February 22, 2010 6:34 am

Africville dispute may be settled

Sun Feb 21, 5:11 PM

CALGARY (CBC) – The City of Halifax and the federal government may soon settle a decades-old dispute with the former residents of Africville.

ADVERTISEMENT

Africville was a black community at the northern tip of the Halifax peninsula which was ordered destroyed in the 1960s. Hundreds of families were evicted and relocated.

The area, now Seaview Park, is a national historic site, but former residents and their descendants have been demanding compensation and redevelopment.

“The offer that’s come forward from HRM [Halifax Regional Municipality] is more than what the society put on the table,” said Irvine Carvery, president of the Africville Genealogy Society.

“They have met our request and even exceeded it and we are very, very pleased with the offer coming from HRM and we’re looking forward to moving ahead with the rebuilding of our church and the building of our interpretive centre in Africville,” said Carvery, who was born in Africville and was 13 years old when it was bulldozed.

“It’ll mean that the people of Africville, future generations, and Nova Scotians, Canadians, everyone will be able to go to the actual site of our community to learn about our rich history and culture and traditions on a site right in Africville. It will mean a living legacy for future generations.”

Carvery declined to divulge details about the deal, accepted by the society Saturday during a closed meeting at a Halifax library. But a report Sunday in the Halifax Chronicle Herald says it includes a $3-million payout and about one hectare of municipal land.

Halifax municipal council, which has dealt with the matter behind closed doors, is scheduled to vote on the package in an open session Tuesday.

The federal government will support the tentative deal, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

He announced $250,000 to support the creation of an Africville Heritage Trust during a news conference Sunday in Halifax.

“The government of Canada is committed to investing in projects like this that protect and promote diversity in Nova Scotia,” said MacKay. “The trust will enhance the community’s ability to properly commemorate the spirit of Africville and celebrate its history.”

The funding, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s innovative communities fund, will be used to plan the memorial project. Consultants will be hired prior to the building stage, under the shared direction of the Africville Genealogy Society and the Black Business Initiative, MacKay said. The consultants will help ensure the success of the memorial site and support the development of an African-Nova Scotian tourism sector, he said.

The City of Halifax expropriated Africville between 1964 and 1969 in a series of ambitious renewal projects. The small, close-knit community, which had existed for about 150 years, was levelled to make way for a bridge over the Halifax harbour.

PACBI: Intellectual responsibility and the voice of the colonized

By admin, February 21, 2010 12:58 pm

PACBI: Intellectual responsibility and the voice of the colonized
Statement, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, 17 February 2010

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has recently encountered a number of projects that while intending to empower the colonized Palestinians, in essence end up undermining their will and choice of method of struggle for freedom, justice and self-determination. The publication of a new book entitled The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories belongs to this category. The book project represents a classic example of how the collective voice of the colonized is ignored in the production of a scholarly work supposed to empower them.

While it is crucial for scholars in relevant fields to expose and analyze the colonial situation in Palestine, this academic imperative should not imply that one overlooks how scholarship engages this colonialism. That is, this book, as a collaboration of various scholars — Israeli and non-Israeli contributors — was completed with support from the Van Leer Institute. In other words, through working under the aegis of the Van Leer Institute, this project has cooperated with one of the very institutions that PACBI and an overwhelming majority of Palestinian academics and intellectuals have called for boycotting. As such, the research project which led to the production of the volume violates the criteria of the academic and cultural boycott as set by PACBI and widely endorsed in Palestinian civil society, including by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) and University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTA).

Contrary to the claims of some left-wing Israeli academics that the Van Leer institute is an incubator for cutting-edge critical thinking and oppositional politics, the institute is firmly planted in the prevailing Zionist consensus and is part and parcel of the structures of oppression and domination. It subscribes to the “vision of Israel as both a homeland for the Jewish people and a democratic society, predicated on justice, fairness and equality for all its residents,” ignoring the oxymoron presented by this inherently exclusionary vision — a “Jewish State” of necessity discriminates against its “non-Jewish” citizens. The Van Leer Institute receives financial support from other Israeli universities and state institutions that are subject to boycott. Among its financial contributors and institutional “friends” are the Cohn Institute at Tel Aviv University; the Edelstein Center at the Hebrew University; the Israel Ministry of Science; the National Insurance Institute, Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Furthermore, Van Leer, like all other Israeli academic institutions, has never taken a stance against Israel’s policies of occupation and racial discrimination, nor against the recent war of aggression on Gaza or the ongoing illegal siege of 1.5 million Palestinians there. The Van Leer is, therefore, an institution with strong links to establishment institutions in Israel. As such, it is complicit in maintaining and entrenching Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Though intellectual projects may aim to rigorously articulate the complex matrix of control that exists in Palestine, the intellectual process has a fundamental ethical and political component. As such, it is incumbent upon all scholars to realize that any collaboration which brings together Israeli and international academics (Arabs or otherwise) under the auspices of Israeli institutions is counterproductive to fighting Israeli colonial oppression, and is therefore subject to boycott.

A project involving only Israeli academics, on the other hand, receiving support from an Israeli academic institution, may be seen as a justifiable exercise of a right or an entitlement by Israeli scholars as tax payers and, as a result, may not per se be boycottable.

As the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement gains momentum globally, an increasing number of voices are emerging in support of this strategy as the most effective, nonviolent route to bring about change towards justice and durable peace based on international law and universal principles of human rights. The endorsement by various artists and academics of specific boycott actions in the past few years is welcome and well-known. It is the responsibility of the boycott supporters to understand the broadly-accepted boycott criteria and guidelines upon which this boycott is based and adhere to it, rather than attempting to invent or suggest idiosyncratic criteria of their own, as the latter would undermine the Palestinian guiding reference for the global boycott campaign against Israel.

It is crucial to emphasize that the BDS movement derives its principles from both the demands of the Palestinian BDS Call, signed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in July 2005, and, in the academic and cultural fields, from the Palestinian Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, issued a year earlier in July 2004. Together, the BDS and PACBI Calls represent the most authoritative and widely-supported strategic statements to have emerged from Palestine in decades; all major political parties, labor, student and women groups, and organizations representing Palestinian refugees all over the world have endorsed and supported these calls. Both calls underline the prevailing Palestinian belief that the most effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian people is direct action aimed at bringing an end to Israel’s colonial and apartheid regime, just as the apartheid regime in South Africa was abolished, by isolating Israel internationally through boycotts and sanctions, forcing it to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights.

Since the formulation of these calls, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on defining the principles of the boycott movement. Rooted in universal values and principles, the BDS Call categorically rejects all forms of racism, racial discrimination and colonial oppression. PACBI has also translated the principles enshrined in its Call into practical guidelines for implementing the international academic and cultural boycott of Israel. However intellectually challenging and avant-garde some projects may be, by being oblivious to the Palestinian-articulated boycott criteria they in effect work against the internationally-embraced Palestinian struggle for justice.

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11083.shtml

On 19 February the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued a clarification on the above statement:
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11087.shtml


PACBI issues clarification concerning intellectual responsibility statement

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, The Electronic Intifada, 19 February 2010

PACBI’s recent statement entitled “Intellectual Responsibility and the Voice of the Colonized,” which criticizes the research project that led to the publication of the book, The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has stirred a healthy debate and mostly constructive discussion among various scholars. Some, however, have misinterpreted this statement and reached certain conclusions that are neither based on the text of the statement nor representative of PACBI’s consistent positions. It is important, therefore, to further clarify our position in this regard.

Among the various misinterpretations of this statement, we find the following questions the most reasonable to engage:

Is PACBI calling for a boycott of the book itself or of its editors despite the critical, anti-colonial positions they both promote?

Absolutely not! The key part of the PACBI statement says:

“[T]hrough working under the aegis of the Van Leer Institute, this project has cooperated with one of the very institutions that PACBI and an overwhelming majority of Palestinian academics and intellectuals have called for boycotting. As such, the research project which led to the production of the volume violates the criteria of the academic and cultural boycott as set by PACBI and widely endorsed in Palestinian civil society, including by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) and University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTA)” (emphasis added).

Neither is this a call to boycott the book or its editors and contributors, many of whom we know to be principled supporters of Palestinian rights. It is very clear that the merit of the book itself is not the issue. The main and only issue is the violation of the PACBI Guidelines for the International Academic Boycott of Israel inherent in the research project that led to the production of the volume. The project under which the research group worked was supported and funded, at least in its founding stage, by the Van Leer Institute, as stated in the first pages of the book itself. That is the only relevant and public statement available. The Van Leer Institute, despite claims made for it, is not exempt from the academic boycott, as the PACBI statement explains. Thus, any project under its aegis and funded by it must be brought under scrutiny from the perspective of the academic boycott.

What purpose does this PACBI statement really serve, then?

PACBI reiterates its long-standing position that any link that an international — as opposed to Israeli-only — research project may have to Israeli academic institutions violates the boycott criteria and must be subject to criticism. The overriding consideration here is not the creation of a positive atmosphere conducive to scholarly cooperation between Palestinian and anti-colonial Israeli academics, as one critique of our position has it; rather, it is how to isolate Israeli academic institutions due to their entrenched complicity in the state’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Anti-colonial projects should not, under any circumstances, undermine the logic and the principles of the academic boycott endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian academics and intellectuals.

Crucially, PACBI is calling attention to the responsibility involved in the process of producing knowledge and the institutional conditions of that production, as articulately put by a prominent supporter of the boycott. Although attention to the complexities of Zionist colonial practices in Palestine is a necessary part of scholarly production, this production never occurs in a vacuum. The Van Leer’s support for this project is the crux of the issue. For an international boycott to be successful, it must be acknowledged that such institutions, however they choose to present themselves, are part and parcel of a state apparatus that has — through brutal methods — sought to destroy Palestine as an idea, a place and a people.

Shouldn’t Van Leer’s support for this strongly anti-colonial project be lauded, not condemned?

Like all the rest of Israeli academic institutions, as stated in the PACBI statement, the Van Leer Institute is complicit in perpetuating a system of colonial oppression and apartheid. Aside from the fact that the Institute has never taken a public position against the occupation, the denial of the UN-sanctioned rights of Palestinian refugees, or, crucially, against the system of racial discrimination within Israel, its acceptance of financial support from other, Israeli universities and state institutions is further evidence that it sees nothing wrong with allying itself with complicit institutions. Its very promotion of Israel as a “Jewish state” and claim that it is, also, a democracy betrays a vision of exclusion that can never be simultaneously inclusive.

The Letters to EI section functions in the same way as a newspaper’s letter column. Submissions should not exceed 700 words, must state that they are FOR PUBLICATION, include a brief 2-3 line bio, your e-mail and phone number (for verification purposes only), and will be published at the sole discretion of The Electronic Intifada. EI may shorten and edit letters for grammar, with consideration for retaining the integrity of the points made by writers. Send letters to EI here.

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11087.shtml

Israeli Apartheid Week: Solidarity in action: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

By admin, February 20, 2010 12:53 pm

********************Please Forward Widely********************

Students Against Israeli Apartheid presents:
Israeli Apartheid Week: Solidarity in action: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions
March 1 – 7, 2010
www.apartheidweek.org

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We are very proud to announce our preliminary list of confirmed speakers
along with the specific themes of each evening for IAW 2010. Mark yourcalendars with the different topics for each evening and speakers:

To check out video footage from previous events held in Toronto and the official trailer of IAW 2010 see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7Af7WwDi0w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2vBvjcovd0&feature=player_embedded
A complete list of speakers and events is available at www.apartheidweek.org

Monday, March 1 Five Years Since the BDS Call – Celebrating Our Success
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location:  Ted Rogers School of Management, Auditorium, 7th Floor, Room TRS-1-067, 55 Dundas Street West, Ryerson University
Hosted by the CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy
Na’eem Jeena: is an academic, author, journalist, community leader and post-graduate student. He is currently the Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre, a research institute dealing with the Middle East, and a PhD candidate in Political Studies. Na’eem has a history of activism in the anti-apartheid struggle, and is a well-known activist in South Africa. He has been a leading figure in the Palestine solidarity and anti-war movements in South Africa. Na’eem also served for many years on the Board of the Freedom of Expression Institute, including as its Deputy Chairperson. He also worked for the FXI as Head of the Anti-Censorship Programme, Head of its Access to Information Programme, and as Director of Operations.

Tuesday, March 2 Fighting Racism, Fighting Apartheid
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location: OISE Auditorium, 252 Bloor St. West, University  of Toronto
Hosted by Students Against Israeli Apartheid – a working group of OPIRG-Toronto

Nadia Elia is a faculty member at Antioch University, Seattle, where she teaches Gender and Global Studies. She is co-founder of RAWAN (the Radical Arab Women’s Activist Network), chairs the Anti-Militarism and Occupation taskforce of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, and serves on the Organizing Committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. A scholar-activist, Elia is the author of Trances, Dances, and Vociferations: Agency and Resistance in Africana Women’s Narratives, co-editor of The Color of Violence: the INCITE anthology, and has published numerous articles on the sociopolitical factors impacting gender and national identity n societies at war and/or under occupation.

Gabriel Ash is an activist and writer. Since 2000, Gabriel has been engaged in work in support of Palestinian liberation, including with Stop U.S. Tax-funded Aid to Israel Now!, Palestine Activist Forum New York, and the International Solidarity Movement. Gabriel wrote numerous articles about related topics, in particular Israeli politics, in many movement publications, including Left Turn, Electronic Intifada, Numb Magazine, Dissident Voice and others. He was born in Romania and grew up in Israel, where he translated Michel Foucault and J.-F. Lyotard into Hebrew. He contributes regularly to the blog, “Jews Sans Frontieres” and is active in the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and in lachaine.ch, a web TV collective.

7th Generation Indigenous Visionaries (7thGIV) founding members met while attending Haskell Indian Nations University, our purpose is to build solidarity and bridge the gaps with tribes/nations in the U.S. and other Indigenous people around the world. 7thGIV is dedicated to the preservation of our culture by promoting educational experiences to increase awareness through reflexive interaction with other Indigenous peoples. Members of 7thGIV took part in a delegation to Palestine this past summer.

Wednesday, March 3 ‘Planning’ Apartheid: Environment, Architecture, and Colonialism
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location: Medical Sciences Building, Auditorium, 1 King’s College Circle, University of Toronto
Hosted by Students Against Israeli Apartheid – a working group of OPIRG-Toronto

Ilaria Giglioli has recently completed a Masters degree in Geography from the University of Toronto, where her research focused on water politics and territory in Palestine. She has worked on water vulnerability mapping for the Palestinian research institute ARIJ, and is a long-time Palestine solidarity activist in Canada and abroad.

Atif Kubursi is emeritus professor of economics and also teaches in the Arts and Science Programme at McMaster University. Dr. Kubursi also taught economics at Purdue University in Indiana, USA, was senior academic visitor at Cambridge University, UK in 1974/75, and lectured and consulted at Harvard between1989- 1998. Dr. Kubursi also served as the Acting Executive Secretary, at the Undersecretary General level, of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He is the recipient of the Canadian Centennial Medal.

Thursday, March 4: Coming Out Against Apartheid: Queer Solidarity Activism
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location: OISE Auditorium, 252 Bloor St. West, University  of Toronto
Hosted by Students Against Israeli Apartheid – a working group of OPIRG-Toronto

Trish Salah is a Montreal-based writer, activist and teacher at Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute. She has been politically active organizing around a wide range of issues, including Palestinian solidarity, sex workers’ rights, anti-racism and anti-capitalism, employment security and healthcare for transsexual and transgender people. Her first book of poetry, Wanting in Arabic, was published by TSAR Books and her recent writing appears in the journals Open Letter, No More Potlucks, and Aufgabe. Her new manuscript is titled “Lyric Sexology.”

John Greyson is a Toronto video artist/filmmaker whose features, shorts and installations include Fig Trees (Best Documentary Teddy, Berlin Film Festival, 2009), Proteus (Diversity Award, Barcelona Gay Lesbian Film Festival, 2004), and Lilies (Best Film ‘Genie’, 1996). An associate professor in Film at York University, he was awarded the 2007 Bell Canada Award in Video Art.

Jenny Peto is an activist with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid and a student in Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE. Her research on Israeli Apartheid has focused on the co-optation of human rights, including queer and feminist issues, by the Israeli State and its supporters.

Friday, March 5 National Liberation: From Turtle Island to Palestine
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Rabab Abdulhadi
Location TBA – please consult www.apartheidweek. org

Saturday, March 6: ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK (Toronto) PRESENTS HIP HOP FOR PALESTINE WONT STOP ‘TIL DA WALL DROPS FEATURING SABREENA DA WITCH, THE NARCICYST AND LOCAL DJS
@ The Blue Moon Pub
725 Queen St. E. (at Broadview)
Doors Open: 9 pm
Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door (tickets will be availabe during IAW events)
* This event is a fundraiser for Israeli Apartheid Week 2010

Israeli Apartheid Week is proud to present Palestinian hip hop artist, Abeer Alzinaty’s (aka Sabreena Da Witch) debut performance in Canada. The event will also feature Montreal based Iraqi MC Narcycist as well as local DJs. All are invited to this night of music and dance that will conclude the 6th annual Israeli Apartheid Week.

Abeer Alzinaty (aka Sabreena Da Witch) is a Palestinian hip hop artist. Born in 1984 in Lydd, she started performing R&B in Arabic and English in her teens and released her first original Mix-tape. Witch’s intifada, in 2008. Abeer has been featured in a number of documentaries about Palestinian music including Jackie Salloum’s award winning documentry Slingshot Hip-Hop. Abeer’s music speaks to her experiences as a Palestinian woman living in Israel. Critiquing multiple injustices resulting from or supported by the occupation, while celebrating freedom, equality and enlightement.

The Narcicyst is an Iraqi MC/Media Master. His musical career was spawned through the collaborative work of the Euphrates family; A growing collective of Muslim visual artists, musicians, painters, filmographers and photographers. Releasing two albums with Euphrates, the crew garnered worldwide attention from Time Magazine to publications out of the Middle East and Europe. With a book being released under the title “Fear of An Arab Planet”, and a brand new self-titled album and acting in feature length film “City of Life”, The Narcicyst is sure to make you see yourself through the proverbial mirror that is the current state of the world.
____________ _________ ___

About IAW 2010

First launched in Toronto in 2005, IAW has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar. Last year, more than 35 cities around the world participated in the week’s activities, which took place in the wake of Israel’s brutal assault against the people of Gaza. In Toronto, IAW 2009 featured a full week of events kicked off by Palestinian activist and writer Omar Barghouti.

IAW 2010 takes place following a year of incredible successes for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on the global level. Lectures, films, and actions will highlight some of these successes along with the many injustices that continue to make BDS so crucial in the battle to end Israeli Apartheid.

Endorsers of Israeli Apartheid Week 2010 so far:
Canadian Arab Federation * Palestine Community Centre * Not In Our Name: Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism * Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) * Educators for Peace and Justice * Socialist Action * Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid * Queers Against Israeli Apartheid * Labour For Palestine * Faculty For Palestine * No One Is Illegal * International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network – Toronto * CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice * Salaam, Queer Muslim Communities * CUPE Local 3907 * Ryerson Students’ Union * Equity Studies Students’ Union * Caribbean Studies Students’ Union * Health Studies Students’ Union * Agitate! Queer People of Color * The Centre for Women and Trans People at UofT * Barrio Nuevo * Young Communist League * Resistance Art * Ontario Public Interest Research Group – UofT * Ontario Public Interest Research Group – York * Fair Trade Coalition * York University Free Press * Upping The Anti * Toronto Coalition to Stop the War * Science for Peace * Venezuela We Are With You Coalition (CVEC) * Communist Party of Canada * Socialist Project * Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation (NECEF) * Centre for Middle Eastern Studies * Toronto New Socialists * Canadian Muslim Union * Canada Palestine Association * International Socialists * Holy Land Awareness and Action – United Church of Canada * Toronto Coalition to Stop the War * No More Silence * Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance * Socialist Voice * Toronto Haiti Action Committee * BASICS Free Community Newsletter * Tyendinaga Support Committee * Student Christian Movement – UofT

Haiti Is Open for Business – by Stephen Lendman

By admin, February 17, 2010 8:55 pm

Monday, February 15, 2010

Haiti Is Open for Business

http://www.blogger.com/profile/15760852410047128197

Haiti Is Open for Business – by Stephen Lendman

In December 1984, Canada’s conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney, told the New York Economic Club that “Canada is open for business,” meaning US companies were welcome, the two countries would work for greater economic integration, America’s sovereignty took precedence of his own, and corporate interests from both countries could operate freely at the expense of most Canadians.

That’s always been Haiti’s curse, now more than ever. Under American militarized control, Haiti is occupied for profit, its pseudo government largely invisible, and predators aim to cash in to the fullest. On January 21, in his article titled, “Securing disaster in Haiti,” Peter Hallward explained, saying:

“….the US-led relief operation has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island’s recent history. It has adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti’s own leaders and government, and ignored the needs of the majority of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the already harrowing gap between rich and poor. All three tendencies aren’t just connected, they are mutually reinforcing. (They’ll also) govern the imminent reconstruction effort as well, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them.”

Post-quake, conditions on the ground are horrific. Three million or more Haitians are affected. Most are displaced and struggling. Essential aid is obstructed and limited. Hundreds of thousands are being removed from the capital, not to help them, to “cleanse” the area for development. The official estimated death toll tops 230,000, over 300,000 are injured, and AP reported (on February 9) that the “Health crisis in Haiti enter(ed) a deadly new phase,” the result of “a half-million (or more) people jammed into germ-breeding makeshift camps” where a health emergency is already apparent in the form of malnutrition, diarrheal illnesses, acute respiratory (and other) infections, at least one reported typhoid case, and fears of possible outbreaks of tetanus, measles, TB, malaria, dengue fever, diphtheria, acute flaccid paralysis, meningococcal meningitis, rabies, and other infectious diseases, including water-borne ones, particularly threatening children.

Independent reports cite outbreaks of tetanus, TB, diarrhea, scabies, ringworm and growing depravation, misery and anger, mostly unreported in the mainstream that instead focuses on disease containment and improving conditions. Daily, conditions are worse, not better, threatening a far greater disaster ahead.

Given the widespread depravation, the obstruction of food, clean water, and temporary shelter, and lack of proper sanitation, infectious disease outbreaks may cause biblical levels of more deaths ahead, perhaps raising the toll to from 500,000 – one million Haitians, a scale definable as genocide.

The Genocide Convention defines it as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group (including) causing serious bodily or mental harm (and) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part….”

US forces control everything – Haiti’s airport, port facilities, the Presidential Palace, and other strategic locations. They patrol Port-au-Prince streets menacingly with heavy weapons. In late January, police beat people, and UN Blue Helmets fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray at hungry Haitians wanting food, a likely precursor to graver confrontations ahead as desperate people seek it to survive. One Haitian told a reporter: “They treat us like animals, they beat us, but we are hungry people.”

On February 7, the 19th anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide first inauguration, his supporters commemorated the event as they do every year, calling for his return, denouncing the occupation, condemning the lack of food and other aid, and the corruption exacerbating the problem along with America’s obstruction to let desperate people suffer and expire.

A month after the quake, inadequate amounts of everything are being distributed. Residents in poor areas like Cite Soleil have gotten virtually nothing and were in desperate straits pre-disaster. On February 8, thousands marched through Petionville, a Port-au-Prince suburb, denouncing what’s occurring throughout stricken areas – mayors and other officials hoarding food and selling it at inflated black market prices, not distributing it to starving Haitians.

One protestor said: “I am hungry, I am dying of hunger. (Mayor) Lydie Parent keeps the rice and doesn’t give us anything.”

Haitian-truth.org said Haitian customs agents are charging people arriving with aid fees to deliver it. Otherwise, their supplies will be held indefinitely.

AlJazeera and other sources reported fake coupons being used for free food, to be sold on the black market at inflated prices.

On February 10, AP reported that public and private hospitals are charging patients, UN officials warning free medications won’t be sent to ones that do. Christophe Rerat of the UN’s Pan American Health Organization said they got about $1 million worth of free drugs, supplied by donations, and all medical care is to be provided without charge. Donated funds are also paying staff.

On February 11, rain and growing frustration sparked spontaneous street protests denouncing President Rene Preval’s inaction, calling for Aristide’s return, and demanding food, clean water and tents for shelter. Club wielding police met marchers. Scuffles followed. Minor injuries were reported. A sign read: “The rain has soaked us. The MINUSTAH must go. We need help. We need aid.”

Shelter from the elements is needed as the rainy season approaches, and with it the greater threat of disease. Reportedly 10,000 tents have arrived, not the 200,000 the government requested and hundreds of thousands more needed.

OCHA reports that 90% of affected Haitians need emergency shelter, over 1.2 million are in “spontaneous settlements,” and nearly half a million “have left Port-au-Prince for outlying” areas. Most of them, in fact, have been forced into permanent displacement, the same fate planned for hundreds of thousands more.

Sanitation is a major concern. At most, 5% of needed latrines are available, and the lack of dumping sites for waste is also a huge problem. With the arrival of thousands of people along the Dominican Republic border, “the food security situation, which was already precarious prior to the earthquake, is getting worse….”

The Nutrition Cluster expects the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate to soar given conditions on the ground throughout the country. In addition, months of rain “will increase morbidity rates for childhood diseases while hunger is expected to be especially severe….Delays in incoming stock pipelines must be addressed to ensure a steady influx of needed items.”

The problem is relief supplies are warehoused at Haiti’s airport, ports and other facilities, not adequately distributed, so willful obstruction is exacerbating the crisis. People are starving. Diseases are becoming epidemics. Everything is in short supply, and OCHA reports only 10% of trauma injuries have been treated.

Yet the web site reliefweb.int shows $569.8 million in relief already donated (as of February 14), or 99% of the appeal’s goal and certain to way exceed it. Where has the money gone? Who’s getting it, and why hasn’t an amount this great delivered significant aid? Disturbing questions demand answers. Why aren’t they forthcoming? It’s because Haiti is being prepared for plunder, and NGOs, including charities, will get their fair share.

NGOs Defined

The web site ngo.org defines them as follows:

“A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian policies and encourage political participation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health. They provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and help monitor and implement international agreements. Their relationship with offices and agencies of the United Nations system differs depending on their goals, their venue and the mandate of a particular institution.”

A paper prepared by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s L. David Brown and Mark H. Moore titled, “Accountability, Strategy, and International Non-Governmental Organizations” quotes Anna Vakil’s five NGO “functional categories: welfare, develop (in the sense of capacity-building), advocacy, development education, and networking or research.”

Various other definitions include the following characteristics:

– local, national or international in scope;

– non-governmental;

– non-profit;

– staffed by unpaid volunteers;

– non-political; and

– advancing social, humanitarian objectives.

Some NGOs do. Most don’t as James Petras explained on The Lendman News Hour saying most skim 90% of donations for themselves. Some genuinely enhance welfare, support human and civil rights, and mitigate the ravages of disease and repression. The large majority, however, are ideologically biased think tanks or lobby groups, serving a political agenda for profit. They’re predators, not humanitarians.

In his December 1997 Monthly Review article titled, “Imperialism and NGOs in Latin America,” Petras discussed their early 1970s history under military dictatorships when they actively supported their victims and denounced human rights abuses. Even then, however, their limitations were evident as “they rarely denounced the US and European patrons who financed” them. Nor did they “link the neoliberal economic policies and human rights violations to the new turn in the imperialist system. Obviously” their funding limits their ability to criticize.

Yet as neoliberal regimes “devastat(ed) communities (through) cheap imports, extracting external debt payments, abolishing labor legislation, and creating a” reserve army of cheap labor, NGOs were well funded “to be their ‘community face’….intimately related to those at the top and complementing their destructive work with local projects.” In other words, NGOs are profiteers with a friendly face acting as predatory capitalism’s agents. When they take over, social movements decline, and that’s the whole idea for their presence.

Nearly all have entrenched bureaucracies, highly paid officials, secret operational rules, and undisclosed financing sources and amounts, mostly from domestic or foreign nations whose interests they serve, including for PR, intelligence, or population control, not providing humanitarian services.

They all claim non-profit status, yet operate unethically, collude with governments or business interests, profit handsomely, own unrelated businesses, and exploit people they claim to serve. In many countries, they’re the preferred choice for Western aid and emergency relief, providing cover for an imperial agenda and cashing in handsomely, especially after disasters like wars and their aftermath, floods, famines and earthquakes.

Haiti is called “the Republic of NGOs,” with over 10,000 operating (according to World Bank estimates) for its nine million people, the highest per capita presence worldwide in all sectors of activity and society, many with sizable budgets. Yet their numbers beg the question. With that abundant firepower, why is Haiti the poorest country in the hemisphere, one of the poorest in the world, and one of the most oppressed? Why were so many Haitians starving pre-quake? Why now are conditions catastrophic and worsening?

NGO proliferation mirrored the atrophy of Haiti’s government, providing cover for imperial interests with UN paramilitary and now US combat troop occupiers for enforcement, Haitians, of course, suffering as they have for over 500 years.

Profiteering from Misery

In his book titled, “Travesty in Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud, food aid and drug trafficking,” Timothy Schwartz recounts an “anthropologist’s personal story of working with foreign aid agencies (the NGO network) and discovering that fraud, greed, corruption, apathy, and political agendas permeate the industry,” part of the reason behind Haiti’s institutionalized oppression, poverty and misery.

According to Haitian lawyer/activist Marguerite Laurent:

“It’s laughably idealistic to wish for accountability, honesty, grace and dignity from the folks at USAID, World Bank, the Christian missions and those ‘doing good’ in Haiti for more than a-half century now,” when, in fact, most come to exploit, seeking profits, not a desire to provide humanitarian services.

“Schwartz’s book unveils paradoxes and lots of critical data on foreign aid, mission schools, orphanages, and the world’s major multinational charities working in Haiti.” He reveals a nation “you’ll not read about in current mainstream books and papers on Haiti.” Nor through the major media that ignore over 500 years of enslavement, colonization, serfdom, severe exploitation and oppression, and brutalizing misery, the last two centuries under US domination.

The book is an “inside story,” said Schwartz, about “fraud, greed, corruption, and apathy, and political agendas (as well as a) story of failed agriculture, health and credit projects; violent struggles for control over aid money; corrupt orphanage owners, pastors, and missionaries; the nepotistic manipulation of research funds; economically counterproductive food relief programs that undermine the Haitian agricultural economy; and the disastrous effects of economic engineering by foreign governments and international aid organizations (like USAID, World Bank and others), and the multinational corporate charities….in their service (like CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, and many others) that have programs spread across the globe, moving in response not only to disasters and need, but political agendas and economic opportunity.”

He saw it for over 10 years, researching and living in Haiti. He stresses not wanting to damage charity providers, just those in it for personal gain, not people they profess to help.

“At the level of individuals and NGOS, the lack of fiscal accountability is manifest in the enrichment of the custodians of the money – pastors and directors of NGOs, schools and orphanages – and the redirection of charity toward middle and upper class Haitians,” the very ones who don’t need it. At governmental levels, “Charity is manipulated to serve political ends.”

Without accountability, corruption gets embedded, aid is distorted, and ends up doing more harm than good, precisely according to plan. For example, Haiti’s School for Jesus Christ of America “was a nest of elites (disdaining) and spurn(ing) the impoverished peasants, fishermen, and slum dwellers, (calling) them ignorant and uncivilized, as subhuman, who called them dan wouj (red teeth) and pye pete (cracked fee)….”

“The impoverished children in the Hamlet could not get medical care,” and what they got was poor quality for exorbitant fees. At the same time, elite children were treated free and their education paid for, using funds meant for the poor. Visiting missionaries called the school administrators “dedicated spreaders of biblical truth, somehow holier than ordinary Christians, closer to God, better than the rest of us.” In fact, they’re predators, profiteering from Haiti’s poor and living lavishly at their expense. Their mission, in fact, is bogus. “Helping the poor? The hell they were!”

CARE is no different, “a perversion of American charitable ideals with its false claims to be aiding the ‘poorest of the poor’ when what it was really doing was throwing exquisite banquets at plush hotels while carrying out US political policy in the interest of international venture capitalists and industrialists.”

Child Trafficking in Haiti

This section deals with abducted children for profit, not Haiti’s century-long Restavek system covered in an earlier article titled, “Child Slavery in Haiti.” Under it, impoverished families send one or more of their children to live with wealthier or less poor ones in return for food, shelter, education, and a better life in return for performing tasks as servants. They, in fact, become de facto slaves subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

Trafficking children for profit is another matter, another scam. Operatives representing orphanages or adoption agencies approach poor families, offer money, promise their children will be well cared for and educated, then disappear them. None are ever heard from again.

According to Schwartz:

“Not one of the families ever received a single letter from the agency or from any of the adoptive parents. An SOS (Enfants Without Frontiers) employee obtained the address of (one) parent organization in Paris but, when they called, the person who answered the phone said that the agency had moved and left no forwarding address.”

Schwartz visited “every single orphanage in the Province as well as Gonaives. They all look like scams to (him. He didn’t want to) write a report saying the orphanages are all scams,” but, in fact, they are, preying on impoverished families.

The problem, however, is far greater. World Vision and Compassion International sponsor 58,500 Haitian children. Christian Aid Missions (CAM) 10,000, the Haiti Baptist Mission 57,800, and many other NGOs run similar operations, trafficking children for profit or diverting funds for the poor to elite ones or their pockets. “….think about all the money that must be collected and never even gets there….So many people at these orphanages are outright lying. Most of the children are not orphans.”

Schwartz’s “dismay with charity and development was growing. (His) job wasn’t over.” He investigated further and found other alarming surprises, “shatter(ing) any remaining faith (he) had in foreign aid to Haiti.” Under militarized control, perhaps much worse is underway, with hundreds of millions of donor aid likely stolen and thousands of predatory NGOs and other profiteers grabbing it.

The recent report about 10 Americans detained (likely to be released pending further investigation and perhaps absolved altogether) for illegally trying to spirit 33 children from Haiti is just the tip of a global problem, one very much affecting Haiti. This longstanding practice is now way accelerated with thousands of children separated from parents, enabling abductors to pass them off as orphans and sell them for profit.

Overall, UNICEF calls human trafficking “one of the most lucrative and fastest growing transnational crimes, generat(ing) approximately up to $10 billion per year,” affecting many millions of victims, mostly women and children. In 2005, the International Labour Organization estimated from 980,000 – 1.25 million children trafficked annually, mostly for:

“domestic labour, commercial sexual exploitation, agricultural work, drug couriering, organized begging, child soldiering and exploitative or slavery-like practices in the informal economy.”

The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (called the Palermo Protocol or Trafficking Protocol) defines the practice as follows in Article 3:

“Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs….”

Under this definition, abductions for sale or transfer to prospective parents are criminal acts – “illicit adoptions” according to UNICEF stating:

“An increase in demand for adoption has helped to propel the unlawful trafficking of babies and young children. Sometimes (parents) from developing countries sell their baby or young child, at other times” infants are stolen.

UNICEF conservatively estimates at least 2,000 Haitian children are trafficked annually to the Dominican Republic alone, and, post-quake, confirmed that 15 or more disappeared from area hospitals, likely victims of abductors. In addition, adoption applications soared, from 10 a month earlier to dozens daily, one agency saying it’s gotten over 1,000 requests to adopt Haitian children.

With many thousands alone and vulnerable, they’re easy pickings for traffickers – for non-Haitian prospective parents, forced labor, commercial sex, or other illicit purposes.

On January 27, Time.com writers Tim Padgett and Bobby Ghosh highlighted the problem in their article titled, “Human Predators Stalk Haiit’s Vulnerable Kids.”

They cited one instance of a “Toyota pickup truck cruising the debris-cluttered streets of Leogane,” offering children food, getting them in the pickup and disappearing, all of them abduction victims. According to UNICEF, “Traffickers fish in pools of vulnerability, and we’ve rarely if ever seen one like this.”

Haiti is now occupied. Under Fourth Geneva, its children, including orphans, are protected persons and can’t be moved for any reason. According to international law expert Francis Boyle, doing so “is a serious war crime,” yet America may be aiding and abetting the guilty, even though it’s (nominally) committed to combatting the practice, and the US 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act calls “trafficking in persons….a transnational crime with national implications.”

The law enhanced earlier penalties, added new protections, and provided victims various benefits and services. It also established a cabinet-level federal interagency task force and federal program to provide them. Under US and international law, Washington recognizes the grievousness of this crime. In practice perhaps it’s another matter given America’s global lawlessness, including illegally occupying Haiti and stealing its sovereignty.

Private Military Contractors (PMCs) See a Bonanza in Haiti

They’re mercenaries, paramilitaries, hired guns, unprincipled, in it for the money, and go anywhere to find it. They’re unregulated, unchecked, free from criminal or civil accountability, and are licensed to kill and get away with it. Wherever they’re deployed, they’re feared for good reason, and they’re heading to Haiti. Xe Services (formerly Blackwater USA) is already there. Jeremy Scahil, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army calls them a:

“shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world (accustomed) to operating with worry or legal consequences (with) remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus….”

Many PMCs belong to the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA). Immediately after the quake, its web site (ipoaworld.org) announced:

“In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA’s member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake’s victims. If you would like more information about IPOA and its member companies, you can read more here.”

A list of services and member companies followed. Unexplained was their dark side.

In his January 19 Nation magazine article titled, “US Mercenaries Set Sights on Haiti,” Scahill said to expect “a lot of (disaster profiteering) in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. (It’s) kicking into full gear in Haiti,” and arrivals signal the kinds of terrorizing common wherever these professional killers are deployed.

Exploiting Haiti’s Resources

In October 2009, Marguerite Laurent, exposed the key reason for exploiting Haiti, easier under occupation and hundreds of thousands of Haitians removed from where huge oil deposits likely exist and other development is planned. In 2008, an estimated 20 billion barrels were found in deep water off Cuba. Haitian resources are believed to be far greater, and they’ve been known about for decades.

In a 2004 article titled, “Oil in Haiti,” George Michel explained that:

“Since time immemorial, it has been no secret that deep in the earthy bowels of the two states that share the island of (Hispaniola – Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and the surrounding waters that there are significant, still untapped deposits of oil. No one knows why they are still untapped.” Why is with abundant Middle East and other resources, they weren’t needed. Ahead they will be, so maybe now’s the time to exploit them.

“Since the early twentieth century, the physical and political map of the island of Haiti, erected in 1908 by Messrs. Alexander Poujol and Henry Thomasset, reported a major oil reservoir….near the source of the Rio Todo El Mondo, Tributary Right Artibonite River, better known today as the River Thomonde.”

Oil also exists “in the Dominican plain of Azua, a short distance north of the Dominican Republic in the town of Azua.” The field was operating earlier in the last century, producing up to 60,000 barrels daily. In 1982, more significantly, “a huge oil field offshore at the coast of (the Dominican Republic’s) Barahona” province was discovered, but left untapped.

In Haiti and offshore, geological evidence shows oil reserves at “the Bay of Cayes, Les Cayes and between Ile a Vache.” The Dunn Plantation papers as well as George Michel confirm that Haiti is oil rich.

Laurent says:

“big US oil companies and their inter-related monopolies of engineering and defense contractors made plans, decades ago, to (exploit Haiti’s resources and use its) deep water ports either for oil refineries or to develop oil tank farm sites or depots where crude oil could be stored and later transferred to small tankers to serve US and Caribbean ports.”

No wonder Washington has its fifth largest embassy in Port-au-Prince after Iraq (the largest anywhere on 104 acres, costing at least $592 million to build), China, Afghanistan and Germany.

Haiti is a strategic resource for its cheap labor, but mostly its exploitable resources, including, oil and gas, gold, copper, diamonds, iridium, and zirconium as well as deep water ports at Fort Liberte and elsewhere.

In February 2004, removing Jean-Bertrand Aristide and exiling him was step one, followed by a coup d’etat government, UN paramilitary “peacekeepers,” and an elected one, subservient to Washington, opening Haiti to greater plunder, including privatizing state-owned companies, exploiting its cheap labor even more, letting unwanted portions perish, and developing its resources.

Now the occupation and, according to Laurent, US-France-Canada balkanization for resource exploitation, Washington wanting the South, including Port-au-Prince, La Gonaive island, offshore to the West, Les Cayes, the southern peninsula and offshore waters. Around 20,000 US Marines and paratroupers arrived for the duration, to ensure Haiti is open for business for the usual corporate interests, and to ensure none of its wealth is shared with the poor – how Haitians have always been treated for over 500 years, except for the brief interregnum under Artistide and short period after becoming the first free and independent Black republic.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday – Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Steve Lendman

I was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. Raised in a modest middle class family, attended public schools, received a BA from Harvard University in 1956 and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of PA in 1960 following 2 years of obligatory military service in the US Army. Spent the next 6 years as a marketing research analyst for several large US corporations before becoming part of a new small family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at the end of 1999. Have since devoted my time and efforts to the progressive causes and organizations I support, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. My efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. Also co-hosting The Global Research News Hour, occasional public talks, and frequent appearances on radio and at times television.
http://republicbroadcasting.org/Lendman

posted by Steve Lendman @ 3:00 AM

Seven myths about public service pensions

By admin, February 14, 2010 8:34 am

Pensions

Seven myths about public service pensions

Hands off our pensions

Take action to protect your pension:

Downloadable documents

There have been many attacks on our pension plan in the media recently. This document debunks those myths and provides some facts about the federal public service pension plan (superannuation).

Myth #1:
Defined benefit pension plans such as the ones enjoyed by many public sector employees are overly generous.
Reality:
Defined benefit plans offer good, stable and predictable retirement income. Because we pay for them.

In 2010 federal public sector workers will contribute 10.45% of every dollar they make under $47,200 and 8.4% of every dollar above $47,200 towards their pension, which is a combination of CPP and the federal public service pension plan.

The 10.45% will rise to 11.35% by 2013.

Defined contribution plans such as RRSPs have failed to provide stable, predictable retirement income. Politicians should be looking at ways to emulate rather than destroy the plans that are working.

Myth #2:
Public sector pension costs are spiraling out of control.
Reality:
The latest actuarial report tabled in Parliament in November 2009 shows the federal public service plan is adequately funded and has a surplus.

The CD Howe Institute, a right-wing think tank, claimed recently that the federal government is understating the actual cost of the pension plan for public service workers by costing it at a “going-concern” rate rather than using “solvency funding”.

Private pension plans and municipal pension plans are required to value their pension plans using both methods. The federal government, by law, is only required to use going-concern funding.

Private sector pension plans need to be valued using solvency funding because there is no guarantee that the employer will be around when their staff retire.

Solvency funding ensures that there’s enough money to pay for pensions if the employer goes bankrupt.

The federal government, on the other hand, does not fund its pension for solvency since it’s unlikely to go bankrupt.

Other attacks on public sector pensions give a huge number for the cost of future liabilities. But they rarely explain what this means.

Public sector pension liabilities go a long way into the future. Young people at work today building up a pension could well live for another eighty years. If you estimate the costs of all public sector pensions for decades into the future and then present it as a bill that has to be paid immediately, then you end up with a frighteningly big number.

But these figures do not mean very much. Because pensions are not paid out all at once – they’re paid out over decades as more money comes into the plan.

Another way of looking at the cost of pensions is the “net public service pensions” cost. It is the difference between benefits paid out to today’s pensioners and current contributions paid by current staff. In the most recent actuarial valuation for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008, this difference was estimated to be $634 million. benefits are higher than contribuitions.

This is eminently affordable, but the figure can change a lot from year to year. This is because it is the difference between two very big numbers:

  1. The costs of pensions paid out each year – and pension levels are linked to the cost of living; and
  2. The total contributions paid by staff and employers in the public sector, which is linked to the number of staff and yearly pay increases.

Over time earnings tend to go up more than prices so this will tend to reduce the net cost of pensions. But there can be sharp variations from year to year. For example, variations can occur when pay in the public sector has been capped or frozen by politicians and then catches up later to respond to recruitment and retention problems caused by the freeze.

In 2008, for example, the increase in the cost of benefits was determined largely by the 2.3% increase in the cost of living (CPI), as of September 2007. But the increase in contribution income was largely determined by the size of pay increases in the public sector during 2008, which were capped at 1.5%. So when politicians freeze public sector pay below inflation it has the odd effect of appearing to make pensions more expensive, even though those extra costs are more than met by reduced expenditure on the wider wage bill.

Pension costs are also affected by other factors including:

  • how many people retire each year,
  • how long pensioners live
  • the number of current staff
  • what current staff are paid

But these change relatively slowly over time and don’t produce the big changes between years that critics seize on.

Myth #3:
Defined benefit pension plans have been unfairly sheltered from the recession.
Reality:
Defined benefit plans are designed to withstand economic downturns.

Defined benefit plans pool everyone’s risk. They accumulate surpluses in boom cycles and spend them in recessions. Defined benefit plans have not been allowed, by law, to accrue sufficient surpluses to allow them to offset major recessions and declining returns on investment.

The recession has had negative consequences for defined benefit plans, but these plans are still more able to provide stable income to participants during a down cycle than other retirement income vehicles. In RRSPs and DC schemes, individual take on investment risk on their own. When the market drops, many savers in DC schemes see the value of their pension accounts drop too.

Myth #4:
The federal public service pension plan is rich relative to provincial public pension plans.
Reality:
The plan is very similar to what most provinces offer.

Provincial plans vary widely.

For example, public sector workers in Nova Scotia can retire without penalty based on a rule of 80 (years of service plus age), and PEI has a pension formula that is based on a best three-year earnings average.

Contribution rates also don’t say much about the quality of the plan. Contribution rates reflect a number of factors:

  • demography (ages, marital status, etc. of plan members),
  • previous decisions related to funding (e.g. the federal government took $30 billion from the federal pension plans),
  • performance of investments,
  • administrative costs (e.g. it probably costs PEI more per participant to run its plan because it has fewer members).
Myth # 5:
Most public sector workers retire at 55 on a full pension.
Reality:
The majority of workers joining public sector pension schemes will retire near age 60 and they are paid nowhere near the “full pension” of 70% of their salary.

To retire from the federal public service at 55 with full pension, you need to have been working in the public service for 35 years or more. Very few people started in the public service as teenagers, even 35 years ago.

Public sector workers have always been eligible for an unreduced pension only at age 60.

In 2008 retired public service workers received on average $23,422. Those retiring in 2008 receive on average $33,519.

Myth #6:
The discrepancy between private and public sector pensions needs to be addressed by punishing the public sector.
Reality:
We should level up pensions – not level them down.

Around 82% of public sector employees are members of an employer-sponsored pension plan, most of which are defined benefit plans. In the private sector 24% of employees are members of an employer-sponsored pension plan but only 17% have a defined benefit plan.

Private sector employees have been hit hard by employers’ retreat from good pensions. But this does not justify punishing public sector workers. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Public sector pensions provide distinct advantages to lower-paid and average-paid members of the workforce. Well-paid private sector employees are likely to get a decent pension on top of their pay, like their public sector counterparts.

The attack on public sector pensions may be wrapped in rhetoric about fat-cat public servants, but it is really an attack on the lower-paid workers in the public sector.

Myth #7:
The private sector props up the public sector.
Reality:
Canada depends on a strong public sector as well as a strong private sector.

Without an effective public sector, the private sector would be far less productive. It benefits from the public sector through transportation and information infrastructure and an educated workforce, whose social and health and welfare needs are attended to by the public sector.

And all workers pay for everyone’s retirement income in one way or another. Private sector pensions are paid for through the price we all pay for goods and services. Public sector pensions are partly funded by the taxes that pay for public sector salaries (which allow employees to make contributions) and fund government contributions.

The public sector contributes significantly to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is entirely unfair to suggest that the public sector is any way a drain on the private sector.

Public pension funds also invest billions in the Canadian economy.

Date Modified: 2/10/2010 4:07:06 PM

THE CANADIAN PARLIAMENTARY COALITION TO COMBAT ANTISEMITISM: WHAT IT MEANS FOR CANADIANS

By admin, February 12, 2010 9:37 am

THE CANADIAN PARLIAMENTARY COALITION TO COMBAT ANTISEMITISM: WHAT IT MEANS FOR CANADIANS

“One Year Later…Gaza Remembered”, Talk given on January 30, 2010, at Vancouver Public Library

by Joanne Naiman

We are here tonight primarily to hear about the effects of an illegal occupation and war on the people of Gaza, and to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people. In the anti-apartheid movement, a popular slogan was the old Wobbly saying “An injury to one is an injury to all.” What I hope to show you tonight is that, indeed, the “injuries” affecting people half way around the world are about to have serious consequences for us all.

Specifically, I’m going to talk about the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism1 (CPCCA), which has been meeting in Ottawa since last fall, and is now meeting through February. “What Coalition?” you may be asking yourselves. Exactly—this entity has been almost totally out of the public eye since its inception. While many Canadians have expressed dismay about the recent prorogation of Parliament, few are aware of a committee whose main aim is, to quote one critic, “an attempt to curtail freedom of speech and academic freedom across Canada, and to possibly criminalize certain kinds of human rights discourse.”2

What, exactly, is the CPCCA?  The Canadian House of Commons regularly sets up parliamentary committees to study particular subjects and make recommendations back to parliament. In the case of the CPCCA, however, this procedure was totally circumvented, and despite its name, this entity has no authority from parliament as a whole, despite being made up of 22 MPs from all four parties currently sitting in the House of Commons.  The two key players in setting up the CPCCA (and who are ex-officio members of its Steering Committee) are Irwin Cotler—a lawyer, past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and former Liberal Justice Minister—and Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism.

In March of 2009, Kenney—who has been described by Murray Dobbin as “point man for Stephen Harper on issues involving Israel”— banned British MP George Galloway from entering Canada, almost certainly because he’d just led a humanitarian relief convoy to Gaza. He also recently reallocated funding away from the United Nations Relief Agency (UNWRA) because of its assistance to Palestinian refugees. At a recent conference in Jerusalem, Kenny boasted of his government’s “zero tolerance approach to antisemitism.” As examples of this he noted the following actions taken by his government: 1) the elimination of funding to the Canadian Arab Federation (whose leadership he described as anti-Semitic and apologists for terrorism); 2) ending contact with “like minded organizations”[to the Canadian Arab Federation] such as the Canadian Islamic Congress; and 3) the de-funding of KAIROS, a church-led NGO agency, which Kenney (incorrectly) described as “taking a leadership role in the [Israeli] boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.” To further quote Kenny, “The existential threat faced by Israel on a daily basis is ultimately a threat to the broader Western civilization.” In other words, Kenney endorses an “us” vs “them” view of the world, a “clash of civilizations” that pits the Christian “west” against the Moslem “east.”

The other half of this duo, Irwin Cotler, is considered an expert on international law and human rights law. He has served on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and its sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development, as well as on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In 2000, he was appointed special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court. However, despite this background, he has a long record of supporting Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and breaches of international law. Cotler strongly opposed the Goldstone report, and concluded, “if there had been no Hamas war crimes, there would have been no need for an Israeli response.”3 Cotler’s wife, Ariela, is a native of Jerusalem and has a longstanding connection to the right-wing Likud party in Israel, and two daughters have been in the Israeli military. Cotler’s views on antisemitism are clear: “Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks, this [new antisemitism] …attacks primarily the collective Jews, the State of Israel. …In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, ‘free of Jews’. Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, ‘free of a Jewish state’..”4

The CPCCA emerged from the experience of a delegation of eleven MPs, led by Kenny and Cotler, at the London Conference to Combat Antisemitism in Feb 2009.  The London Conference was itself an off-shoot of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA).  Working backward, the ICCA was originally co-founded in 2002 by none other than Irwin Cotler, with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior and former Deputy prime Minister of Sweden Per Ahlmark. However, this committee apparently was thought to be too closely tied to the State of Israel to be effective, and didn’t move forward. Its second incarnation—now distanced from direct Israeli involvement—met in London in February 2009, with funding from the UK government and a British charitable organization.5 The underlying assumption and key premise of the CPCCA, even prior to hearing any witnesses (in line with both the ICCA & the London Conference), is clear from its website: that we are witnessing an expansion of antisemitism both in Canada and internationally, and its form is being referred to as the “new antisemitism.”6 All three of these groups express an urgent need to combat this new antisemitism, especially in the media and in academia.

Is antisemitism in fact growing in Canada? I am a sociologist, and in the submission I made to the CPCCA in the summer of 2009, I made clear that all the traditional data used to assess the level of prejudice and discrimination towards groups—such as income, discrimination in hiring & housing, educational level, hate crimes etc.—do not indicate that this is the case. Does antisemitism in all its odious forms exist in Canada? Certainly. Is it expanding and intensifying? No. Nonetheless, and without any supportive evidence, the CPCCA website states that “the extent & severity of antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the second World War” and “recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise both locally and globally.”

The CPCCA claims independence from the government of Canada, NGOs, and Jewish community organizations, and that it “will voluntarily disclose all sources of funding.”7 However, no one to date has been able to get any information on their funding sources. And this is no small organization: listed on the website are seventy individuals who have been or will be brought to Ottawa to appear as “witnesses” at their inquiry. The CPCCA received around 150 written submissions last summer. The hearings have largely been attempts to confirm the positions the CPCCA had from the outset.. Many submissions disputed the CPCCA’s premises of a “new antisemitism,” and pointed out both the deficiencies and the dangers of such an argument.

This hasn’t stopped Panel Chair Mario Silva from saying “The breadth and depth of experience these witnesses have will do a lot to augment our understanding of the present situation and will thoroughly inform our coming recommendations.”8 To give you a true sense of the Kafka-esque nature of this committee, one of the first speakers to be called was Irwin Cotler, while Jason Kenney is one of the last. Clearly, this Coalition knew where it was headed from the day it sent out its first call for submissions. The rest has been pure window dressing.

It’s not hard to see that if one accepts Cotler’s premise that Israel is what he calls “the collective Jew,” then any criticism of the State of Israel is, de facto, anti-Semitic.  There can be little doubt, therefore, that this Coalition will soon be putting forward recommendations to the government that certain criticisms of the State of Israel within Canadian universities and in the media should be defined as a form of antisemitism, and therefore an incitement to hatred. Thus, in the strange Alice-in-Wonderland world we’re now in, those who stand up and charge Israel (correctly) with gross violations of both the Geneva Conventions and of international humanitarian law may soon find themselves charged under section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code and section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, or else silenced by judicial warrants of seizure issued under section 320 of the Criminal Code.9 We can assume that this would include calls for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, as well as using the term “apartheid” to describe the actions of the Israeli state.

Given Jason Kenney’s recent comments in Israel, it is clear that the CPCCA anticipates a very attentive and rapid response from the Canadian government. In his Dec 16 speech in Jerusalem mentioned earlier, he noted the presence in the audience of Irwin Cotler, as well as Scott Reid and Mario Silva, the Co-Chairs of the CPCCA, and concluded by saying “that we can offer some useful reference points and best practices to share with the rest of the world and parliamentarians who share our concern about the new antisemitism.”10 Put plainly, the CPCCA is a front for what is effectively a done deal, with four federal parties as willingly participants. It is also clear that Canada is to be a testing ground for what is being planned for other international jurisdictions.

Without a doubt, the main purpose of this redefinition of antisemitism is to create a serious chill on university campuses and in the media. Teachers will be afraid to discuss Israeli policies in their classrooms, while Israeli Apartheid Weeks will be prohibited by administrations on campuses across the country for fear of being charged with inciting hate crimes. Likewise, articles critical of Israeli government policies or actions (as rare as they are) will likely disappear from the print and electronic media. It is possible that websites could be shut down. Organizations critical of Israel will be unable to rent public venues for meetings. Already, I’ve heard that some Palestinian support groups fear they may be charged under hate laws. In other words, what we will be seeing—in fact are already seeing—is a new form of McCarthyism.  For me, as a Jew, one of the worst ironies here is that – should such legislation actually come to pass, as seems likely – antisemitism will actually increase. As Bahija Reghai has noted, by equating Jews with Israel and Zionism, the CPCCA reinforces “the reductionist and false notion that all Jews are responsible for the acts of the state of Israel.”11 It is worth noting that this past Wednesday (January 27), speaking at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to himself as “leader of the Jewish people.”12

I don’t think it’s too extreme to say that if the proposals likely to come out of the CPCCA become law, meetings such as this one will be very risky undertakings in future. I should also point out that, if this legislation comes into being, we will be in the bizarre situation of being able, in Canada, to stand up and roundly criticize our own government (for, say, something like prorogation of parliament or poor treatment of Afghani prisoners) in a way that we won’t be able to criticize a foreign government. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

So, here’s what can you do: first, start by taking a look at the CPCCA website, so you can see for yourself where this Coalition is headed. We are also asking all of you here tonight to write letters to your MPs and party leaders, which you can easily do via e-mail, expressing opposition to the participation of their party in the CPCCA – two Vancouver MPs, Joyce Murray & Hedy Fry actually sit on this committee, so if you’re in their riding it’s particularly important that you write them. However, since all four parties in the House of Commons currently sit on this body, none of them should be immune from our criticism. In your letter, be sure to ask for information regarding CPCCA funding. (Surely MPs should know who’s funding a committee they’re sitting on!) If you are connected to one of the federal parties as a volunteer or donor, or if you can speak on behalf of an organization, your letter would be particularly important. Also, check out the website of the Seriously Free Speech Committee and keep up to date on this issue. And help us spread the word about the secretive and dangerous CPCCA by inviting someone to speak to your group.

As I noted at the outset, the term “solidarity” is not just about pity and charitable handouts. What is happening to the Palestinian people today will likely have serious consequences for us here in Canada tomorrow. However, history has shown that the degree to which governments—all governments—take away peoples’ democratic rights and freedoms to serve their own ends always depends on the degree to which we allow them to get away with it. Together, let’s insure that the current government doesn’t take away our right to free speech.

NOTES

[1] This paper will employ the spelling of the term “antisemitism” that is used by the CPCCA.
[2] Keefer, Michael. Antisemitism Real and Imagined:  Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism. Waterloo, ON: The Canadian Charger, forthcoming in February 2010. Much of the general information on the CPCCA, and its legal implications, are taken from the introductory chapter.
[3] Irwin Cotler, “The Goldstone Mission—Tainted to the Core (II),” Jerusalem Post (18 August 2009), available online at Understanding the Goldstone Report
[4] Irwin Cotler, “The global reawakening of antisemitism.” (Keynote address at the founding conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism). National Post on-line, February 21, 2009.

[5] Information regarding Cotler’s role in the ICCA and the London conference is from Keefer, op cit.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Keefer, op. cit.
[10] Ibid.
[11] “Confusing politics and prejudice in the fight against antisemitism,” January 6, 2010, http://www.rabble.ca/news/2010/01

[12] Globe and Mail, Jan 28, 2010, p. A13.

Western NGOs not serving Haiti’s needs

By admin, February 10, 2010 12:07 pm

Western NGOs not serving Haiti’s needs

Re: Ottawa’s vow to match aid for Haitians ends Friday, Feb. 8

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/762940–western-ngos-not-serving-haiti-s-needs

If the Haitian state managers and functionaries siphoned off between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of aid dollars that would be corruption. Yet when aid organizations pocket that amount or more for “administrative and fundraising costs,” we call it the cost of doing business.

It is high time for Canadians to seriously question the usefulness of Western-based NGOs as instruments for economic and social development in Haiti and elsewhere. They have been used as tools by Western governments to undermine and destroy the capacity of successive Haitian governments, particularly that of exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Fanmi Lavalas movement.

When healthcare, social services and education are largely delivered through overseas-based NGOs and missionary societies with little to no input from the government, is it a surprise that the incapacity of the latter is a glaringly, self-evident reality during this disaster?

There is an enormous amount of expectation that President Rene Preval’s government should rise to the challenge of responding to the needs of Haitians. But it does not have the capacity to do so due to the policies of the West to starve the public sector of resources and to channel aid dollars to NGOs that are not accountable to Haitians.

According to a May 2009 article by a research associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs there is a “widespread notion” that more than 50 per cent of aid dollars go to overhead expenses of international NGOs. The seemingly altruistic helpers of the wretched of the earth may actually be aiding themselves and their country of origin (repatriated wages, sourcing of aid materials and employment for overseas contractors and consultants).

Ajamu Nangwaya, Toronto

Ottawa’s vow to match aid for Haitians ends Friday

As Canadians keep donating tens of millions of dollars to relief for Haiti, non-government aid organizations are scrambling to ensure as much money as possible goes to the quake-struck nation.

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