Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Please don't read this if you are unwilling to engage in respectful and rational political debate.
Saying anything about Israel is, of course, by the very nature of the situation, controversial. But I for one am very tired of the fact that if one is at all critical of Israeli policy you are slapped with the epithet of anti-Semitism. This is simply not right and not conducive to rational political discourse.
I was thinking about this because of Mr. Netanyahu’s recent proposal to stop issuing new building permits for the occupied territories with the notable exception of East Jerusalem. First of all it must be said that the exception of East Jerusalem is designed to thwart progress from the very beginning. It is like swearing to a judge that if he sets you free you will swear to stop committing crimes with the exception of shoplifting. Then you have to ask the question; why is the Israeli state issuing building permits for the occupied territories in the first place? This like the municipal government in Ottawa issuing building permits for contractors in Toronto. Listening to reports about the issue the other day on the radio I was once again appalled at interviews with Israeli citizens who were criticizing Netanyahu for restricting any building since, in their words, ‘the Torah gives them the divine right to build anything they want anywhere in the occupied territories.’ Frankly, you cannot have a real political discussion with this as the post basic assumption.
And all of this reminds me of one of the most basic principles of politics; use your advisories to your advantage. The fact is that nothing generates as much anti-Semitism as the various expansionist acts of the Israeli government. But in a seemingly paradoxical but classic move of political strategy these attitudes are the very thing that keep the State of Israel firmly on its expansionist path. The very last thing that a man like Benjamin Netanyahu really wants is a real decline in anti-Semitism, let alone a cessation of such sentiments. Without these feelings the Israelis would have no serious excuse for continuing their gradual effort to take the entire occupied territories for themselves. This is the way in which the Palestinians are playing right into the hands of right-wing Israelis. But being on the losing end of the stick, so to speak, it is very difficult to do anything else. If you were, say, a twenty-five year old Palestinian you will have never know anything other than occupation. And you will have grown watching your people live in squalor, poverty, and powerlessness in the face of one of the largest, best equipped military forces in the world. All this would be happening against the backdrop of the foreign occupier gradually taking more and more of your people’s land and you are helpless to stop it. It wouldn’t really matter what your politics are in such a case, in most instances the situation would decide for you. And this is the very thing that keeps politicians like Netanyahu going; as long as there are young Palestinians who are seething with resentment at Israeli expansion, and as long as there are people all over the world who sympathize with this resentment, Netanyahu will have the excuse he needs to keep up the policies of building. Under pressure from the Obama administration Netanyahu has temporarily halted the West Bank building. But he knows with all the building that is already going on as well has his exception of East Jerusalem real peace will be impossible – and that is just the way he wants it.
Now, I understand that there are many Israelis who, also having lived in what they feel is a constant state of siege and that they assume that they cannot achieve peace. I think the better of these folks have simply been duped by men like Netanyahu who are willing to take advantage of anti-Semitism (much of which has been generated by such policies in the first place) to see their political goal move forward.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Today I got my weekly update email from my city councilor, a one Mr. Glen Brooks, a man who instead of engaging in real political discourse once sent me an email telling me that on my next vacation abroad I should only purchase a one-way ticket. This weekly update is voicing his support for a legislated wage freeze for public sector workers. Now, Mr. Brooks isn’t all bad, he does make the concession that he thinks that instead of a total freeze he believes that it should be tied to the rate of inflation. Then he makes that always nauseating claim that he too is willing to take a wage freeze. Isn’t that big of him?
Well I will never support a legislative wage freeze because it goes against the very principle of collective bargaining which is one of the central mechanisms responsible for most of the workers’ rights and decent working conditions that people enjoy today. However, I will tell you what Mr. Brooks, if you vote to cut the City Councilor’s pay to the same rate as, say, the person who mops your office floor, then we will talk.
I am sick and tired of right-wing ideologues, whose very political impetus is the pursuit of personal greed, try to prevent people of earning even decent wages that allow them to raise a family and live in acceptable housing. Today’s right-wingers have really come no further than the ideological drivel expounded by Thomas Malthus two hundred years ago have they?! They continue to be guilty of the worst kind of conceptual idiocy and reification while at the same time parading themselves as intellectuals and genuine leaders. Well, my friends, if Edmund Burke, a man of remarkable eloquence and occasional brilliance, couldn’t make right-wing coherent, then what chance do intellectual midgets such as Glen Brooks have? But put the reification aside people; our society does not consist of relations between things but between people. We build our society and we can take control of it as we wish. If our economy is not providing for people, it is not the people that need to change – it is the economy. And anyone who argues that this cannot happen is either hiding their own ideological greed behind conceptual clap-trap, is half-witted, or is the worst kind of materialist (philosophical and economic) and foolishly believes that as human beings we are simply subject to abstract laws of mechanism and have no control over our destiny. But if we can take hold of our individual destinies, then we can administer a significant influence on our collective destiny too. But you see, ironically right-wingers know this or they wouldn’t take part in government and pass legislation etc. It is only when average working people say we need to pass legislation that ensures that they cannot be exploited that right-wingers suddenly set the limits of our legislative possibilities. But this is just an ideological game played by greedy, self-serving people who set the limits of our collective power at the protection of corporations to enhance their bottom-line.