Miles Report No. 22 - Jason Kenney, Hugo Chavez
Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, denounces Israel Apartheid Week.
As Minister of Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney regularly “recognizes - congratulates - celebrates….” a variety of different cultural events in Canada and abroad. But when it comes to the rights of the Palestinian people and their culture, his statement is to “share the concerns of other Canadians about the reckless and overheated rhetoric associated with anti-Israel activities on many Canadian university campuses, and the toxic manner in which these activities are often carried out.”
He gives no examples of the “overheated rhetoric” or the toxic manner in which it occurs.
He indicates that the “organizers and participants have a regrettable history of promoting and holding events in ways that disregard the security and rights of Jewish faculty and students, censor other points of view, and limit academic discourse.”
Again no examples, but to disregard the “security and rights” of Jewish faculty does not mean they are being attacked, but more simply ignored. As for censoring other points of view, and limiting academic discourse, the current Canadian government under Stephen Harper should know about this, as they have in place excellent policies that limit what government scientists can say about anything, including global warming and genetically modified foods and similar policies muzzle the press and their own caucus from speaking freely without vetting questions and answers for public consumption on just about every topic, including Israel and Palestine.
Kenney indicates that in contrast to the “vitriol” directed at Israel there is a “stark and ironic contrast to the silence of IAW organizers on the ongoing atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its own citizens, and on the rampant brutalities and denial of rights in non-democratic countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world.”
Yes, there is silence on those issues, but not necessarily because the IAW organizers are not concerned about other atrocities - other than Palestine that is - but that one can only deal with atrocities one at a time, unless one is talking about global atrocities such as committed by the U.S. and its sycophantic Canadian/Australian/NATO allies and their inculcated fear of terror.
Yet his argument fails anyway. Anyone looking at alternate news sources will recognize that the main atrocities being committed in Syria are those perpetrated by the “rebel” forces led by a variety of foreign elements, including al-Qaeda under the sponsorship of the U.S. and thus Canada (as the strongest military ally of U.S. intentions in the Middle East), as well.
As for the “rampant brutalities and denial of rights” in the Middle East and elsewhere, most of that comes back home to roost. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are the least of democratic countries measured by many indices, yet Canada supports them in their attacks on the citizens of Syria, and the repression of their own peoples goes unremarked. Canada itself has a strong history of racial apartheid when the history of the settlement of this country is considered vis a vis the First Nations of Canada; those attitudes persist today.
Elsewhere in the world, Canada, either directly through government agencies, as in Haiti, or indirectly through its corporations and their aid policies, is complicit in creating serious problems for indigenous people throughout the world, notably in Honduras, Columbia, and the Congo, where mining interests over-ride the interests of the local populations in order to enrich the Canadian elites.
Kenney continues with his protest saying, “Israel supports the right of free expression more than any other country in its part of the world.” Of course, for “that part of the world” he is enlisting a pretty low standard. Sure, Israel citizens can criticize their own government, but again, the mythologies of the State of Israel are maintained by a strong and well prepared community of self-censorship and state censorship that limits what the media can say. (see Fortress Israel, by Patrick Tyler, Farrar Strauss Giroux. 2012)
On the other side, Palestinians cannot criticize the Israeli government without endangering their livelihood or their lives. Strong military rule in the occupied territories and a range of societal and cultural laws within Israel place severe restrictions on the movement, actions, and thoughts of the Palestinians.
Israel is a highly militarized state, the intertwining of politics, military, and corporate adventures creating a monolithic culture of violence over the Palestinian people and neighbouring countries. Israel is not, as Kenney states, the “only true liberal democracy in the Middle East.” It is a militarized economic and political entity. Nobody can claim their country is a liberal democracy when about half its population is kept in a state of apartheid - one needs to note that Kenney did not dispute the use of the word apartheid - under military rule. And a large segment of that population exists in what is inarguably the larges outdoor military prison in the world, known to most as Gaza. Nor does a liberal democracy regularly inflict unilateral pre-emptive attacks on neighbouring countries.
Kenney’s final argument is that the IAW “prevents meaningful dialogue from taking place.” Several points arise from this.
First, the Palestinians have learned through bitter experience that meaningful dialogue as was supposed to take place under the “peace accords” was simply a technique for allowing more and more Israeli settlements to be built on Palestinian land and for more and more land to be expropriated to Israel, never with the intention to achieve peace.
Secondly, Kenney is trying to limit any meaningful dialogue about a serious global issue by condemning Israel Apartheid Week. He should, first of all, attend some of the meetings, read a few books on the subject, and then be prepared to debate rather than pontificate about Israel.
Finally, this is the government that refuses to dialogue with other governments when those ‘others’ have not bowed down to Conservative beliefs.
The “vitriol” (to quote Jason Kenney) directed at Hugo Chavez is quite amazing. Certainly he was outspoken and not very diplomatic at times (referring to Bush as leaving behind a “smell of sulphur” at the UN, and later calling him a donkey - I would have used another animal for comparison) but he did provide progressive governance for the people of Venezuela.
He certainly defied western banksters and diplomatic and military initiatives to increase the prosperity and well-being of the clear majority of Venezuelans who supported him.
Evan Solomon had a short segment on Chavez. One of his comments was about Chavez’s “control of the media.” This is a complete lie as most of the media in Venezuela remains in the hands of members of the right wing parties who have tried their best - short of calling in U.S. intervention - to unseat the democratically elected government of Venezuela.
Which is where his second western media bias came in. He asked the question “But were they fair elections?” with the intonation of his voice and body language indicating that the desired response would be negative, that no, the elections were not fair.
There are many sources on line apart from the mainstream western media that report that the elections of Chavez have all been fair and clear victories for him. Recall if you will that there was a referendum to change the constitution and that was defeated - and Chavez accepted the result. After the defeat, he won another election, not by as large a majority, but considering the slim margin of victory for Obama in the U.S. and the actual minority of votes that put Harper into government, and yes, their system is definitely very democratic and the elections very fair.
Are U.S. elections fair with their corporative electoral college system? Are Canadian elections fair with the ‘first past the post system’ that allows minorities to get majorities? Better we had a fifty per cent plus one rule with second round voting between the top two contenders - but that argument is for another time obviously.
It will be interesting to see what kind of pressure the U.S. tries to impose on Venezuela in order to correct the poor choice those poor propagandized people have made in electing a government that puts people first and corporations and U.S. military power last. Obama wants a “constructive relationship with Venezuela and its people” - probably more rhetoric to salvage the oil and economic interests of the country - and the South - back into U.S. hegemony.
Many non mainstream media on-line media carry significant favourable reports as to the successes of Chavez. Here are a few you can check out:
www.countercurrents.org/grandin060313.htm (Grandin has excellent credentials as an historian on Latin America)
www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/20133663030968692.html (Mark Weisbrot is the co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a regular columnist for The Guardian UK)
www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/06/the-chavez-legacy - a good comprehensive review of the man’s legacy.
Read here about the economic and technical failures of the F-35 in the U.S.: