Greens Finally Agree on Economic Sanctions on Israel

This article was originally published on December 8, 2016 on Rabble.

The Green Party convention this past weekend offered a win for everyone. Sort of. The convention was held to clarify the Greens’ position vis-à-vis economic pressure on Israel for its human rights abuses.  Green leader Elizabeth May was so opposed to an August resolution condemning Israel’s human rights abuses that she had threatened to resign.  Influential party activists sought to preserve their August win while maintaining party unity.

A “compromise” resolution endorsed in advance by both party brass and influential grassroots activists suggested that everyone could have what they wanted. Green leader Elizabeth May got her wish to remove reference to the international “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement, while human rights activists were able to retain strong language censuring Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.

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Postmedia, Paul Godfrey and the demise of journalism

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This article was originally published on December 15, 2016 on Ricochet Media.

As Olive noted, Godfrey took the unprecedented step in Canada’s 2015 federal election of ordering all 16 major Postmedia newspapers across Canada to endorse Harper. Mercifully, voters were so appalled by Harper that they turfed him out of office anyway.

The managerial equivalent of the bubonic plague

Godfrey became CEO of Postmedia in 2009. Since that time, he has laid waste to its business while earning millions in compensation. According to the corporation’s most recent proxy circular, $100 of its shares purchased in June 2011 (when Postmedia became a TSX-listed company) had a market value on Aug. 31, 2016, of less than one dollar. During that same period, Postmedia paid Godfrey over $8 million.

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Green Party members to decide on new Israel-Palestine resolution

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This article was originally published on November 23, 2016 on Ricochet Media.

The reaction of pro-Israel groups and the mainstream media was strident and unabashedly biased. B’Nai Brith Canada’s CEO Michael Mostyn berated Greens for embracing “the policy position of shills for 9/11 conspiracy theories and terror apologists.” The Globe & Mail mischaracterized the BDS policy as an “Israel boycott” even though the policy is explicitly confined to those sectors of Israel’s society and economy that profit from the illegal occupation. The National Post quoted multiple critics of the BDS policy, but not one supporter of BDS. Even the supposedly progressive Toronto Star piled on, and thundered that “rather than fleeing the scene of its political car-crash over policy on Israel, Elizabeth May should stick around and save her party from itself.”

In all of the anti-BDS hysteria that ensued, there was scarcely a mention of Israel’s appalling human rights abuses.

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Dubious Prognosis for Canadian aid to Palestine

This article was originally published on Nov. 16, 2016 on the Huffington Post.

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Until I looked more closely at Governor General David Johnston’s recent trip to the Middle East, I was totally oblivious to the fact that Canada funds programs to help Palestinian women. Long concerned about the plight of women in the Middle East, I was thrilled to learn that Canada funds a CARE International program to increase Palestinian women’s access to the labour force.  

Admittedly, I wasn’t fully aware of the plight Palestinian women workers until recently, as this topic doesn’t get much attention in academia or Western mainstream media.  What I learned was sobering.

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Green Party Finds Compromise Position on Boycott of Israel

This article was originally published on Nov. 16, 2016 on the Huffington Post.

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The naysayers on both sides of the issue have been proven wrong.  When the Green Party passed a motion in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on Israel in August, conservative voices felt Elizabeth May would be justified in stepping down as party leader.  Progressive voices, however, urged her to stay on, and not to disavow the BDS movement.  

May and the federal Greens may do both. 

With the release of a draft “compromise” resolution last week, the Green Party of Canada (GPC) seems poised to advocate economic pressure on Israel – while not endorsing the BDS movement – and May seems comfortable leading the party forward with this position.

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Let’s Enable a Real Canadian Debate on Israel-Palestine

This article was also published on Nov. 24, 2016 on Rabble.

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Last week, the Vancouver Sun printed a remarkable apology to Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada.   The Sun editorial board had published a piece in August claiming that IJV – a Jewish organization – had denied the Holocaust and encouraged terrorism against Israelis.  The only problem was, they were dead wrong.

The Vancouver Sun produced the apology after IJV contacted Postmedia through its lawyer.  In its retraction and statement of apology, the Sun suggested it had been influenced by certain “advocacy groups,” and indeed, their false accusations did resemble allegations made on an undated pro-Israel lobby Website.  The Sun’s remorse seemed short lived, however, as the apology came off their Website after only about a week.

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In Case You Missed it, Canada passed an anti-Islamophobia Motion

This article was originally published on Feb. 22, 2016 on the Huffington Post and on Rabble.

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Canadians can’t be blamed for missing the anti-Islamophobia motion that passed in parliament last week.  If you Google it, you won’t get a single hit in mainstream media: not in CBC, not in Postmedia, not in the Globe and Mail, nowhere.  In fact, when this piece is published, it may be the first media piece talking about Canada’s successful anti-Islamophobia motion.

While you won’t find any coverage of the anti-Islamophobia motion that passed on Oct. 26, you will find articles about a similar motion that was defeated on Oct. 6.  Personally, I find it curious that a motion condemning Islamophobia that fails is news, while an identical motion that passes is not. 

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Wishful Thinking Will Not Solve The Israel-Palestine Conflict

This article was originally published on Oct. 26, 2016 on the Huffington Post.

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The appearance of B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad at the UN last week caused a healthy furor.  While European and other politicians supported his testimony, Israel’s right-wing leaders went so far as to accuse El-Ad of treason.  Yet this tiny Israeli human rights organization did what international diplomacy has failed to do for years: it held Israel to account – just briefly – for important violations of international law. 

El-Ad argued something that most Canadian politicians have thus far been unwilling to accept: that you can like Israel, yet still criticize it.  More importantly, El-Ad clearly implicated the international community in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  “The occupation isn’t an internal Israeli issue, but a major international issue. There’s no such thing as a democratic occupation. This can’t be an [Israeli] internal matter.”

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Muslim Canadians Must Hold Trudeau Government Accountable

This article was originally published on Oct. 25, 2016 on the Huffington Post.

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As the Harper era ended and Trudeau’s term began in late 2015, a collective sigh of relief could be heard from ethnic communities all across Canada, especially from Muslim Canadians. From opposing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies to setting up a hotline for individuals to report the “barbaric cultural practices” of their fellow Canadians - which would have undoubtedly targeted Muslims and those believed to be Muslim - Steven Harper’s Conservative government proved to be highly intolerant of certain minority communities and certainly aided in the heightening of tensions against ethnic and religious groups in the country. 

It is no surprise, then, that Trudeau’s comparatively progressive stances and charismatic personality have been so enthusiastically embraced by Muslim Canadians. As a Muslim Canadian myself, I have witnessed the raw enthusiasm within the community over our new Prime Minister. I can’t tell you the number of times my Muslim friends have posted selfies with our “dreamy” Prime Minister on social media. Many others have either proudly shared posts of the PM doing some pretty quirky things, like practicing yoga moves on a desk or showing off his Bhangra dancing skills.

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What is Trudeau’s Long-Term Plan for Syrian Refugees?

This article was originally published on Oct. 21, 2016 on Rabble.

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My organization has joined in the sponsorship of 9 different Syrian refugee families.  Some of the files were submitted as early as 2015; all have been approved; yet not a single refugee has arrived.  There are thousands of sponsoring groups in Canada in a position identical to ours. 

In case the Trudeau government didn’t notice, the Syrian civil war is far from over; ditto for the Syrian refugee crisis.  Many of these sponsored families struggle in hardship and uncertainty – some still in refugee camps – as they await word on their resettlement.  Canadians are justified in asking: What is Canada’s long-term plan for Syrian refugees?

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