Jerusalem and Palestine, Israel and Trump

On the evening of December 7, 2017, I had the honour of interviewing Mr. Nabil Marouf, the official representative of the Palestinian Delegation in Canada. Now, had the League of Nations and the United Nations followed through on their promises to the people of Palestine following World Wars One and Two, it would have been a different interview. I would have been speaking to the Ambassador from Palestine in his office at the Palestinian Embassy in Ottawa. But as our Canadian First Peoples know all too well, the promises of colonial powers are often ephemeral.

When I spoke with Mr. Marouf in Ottawa, he was absolutely clear in Palestinian condemnation of the unilateral decision by the Trump administration to declare Jerusalem the Capital of Israel, and to announce that the American embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“This is a clear violation of International Law,” Mr. Marouf stated, referring to the United Nations Declaration 181 that has proclaimed Jerusalem an Internationalized City.

He was absolutely correct. In fact, at the end of World War One, the League of Nations, the precursor to the modern UN, had passed Article 22, that declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine. However, global colonial guilt over the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people, and the refusal of good Christian nations to take shiploads of Jewish refugees into their ports, resulted in a different outcome.

When ethnic cleansing by Jewish terrorist organizations in 1948 drove 10,000 Palestinians out of their homelands, the new UN declared them to be “refugees” and not a “people” This is why the word “complicit” is the word of the year.

My first question to Mr. Marouf was on his reaction to the Pronouncement of the Canadian government, from Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland: ‘‘Canada is a steadfast ally and friend of Israel and friend to the Palestinian people. Canada’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.

‘‘We are strongly committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel. We call for calm and continue to support the building of conditions necessary for the parties to find a solution.’’

Mr. Marouf’s response was unequivocal, “We deeply appreciate the support of Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada as expressed in the statement by Minister Freeland.” He felt that Canada had a clearer understanding of the historic roots of the conflict, with East Jerusalem being the Holy City of Palestine and many of the world’s religions, and West Jerusalem being under Israeli control.

The annexation and illegal occupation since 1967 of East Jerusalem by Israeli forces has been condemned by the United Nations and the international community. Despite UN Resolution 242 calling for the withdrawal of occupying forces, Israel seems committed to defying International Law and the pursuit of a just peace, and to the slow extermination of the Palestinian people.

When I asked how the Trump decision was going affect an already volatile situation in the Middle East, Mr. Marouf was passionately clear: “This decision has created a unified rage in the Arab world. East Jerusalem contains the Old City with the Temple Mount (the Haram esh-Sharif), the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. These are some of the holiest sites of Judaism and Christianity and Islam.”

He hesitated a moment, and then concluded quietly. “This decision goes to the heart of my people.”

To the heart and through the heart. After our interview, we agreed to meet again in Toronto to review what the coming weeks would bring.

I write this with the distinct feeling that President Trump has no idea what he has unleashed, but peace in the Middle East will not be one of the outcomes. I tried to place myself on the prayer mat of a devout Muslim, in the shoes of a father living in the Gaza strip. How would I view this arrogant, unilateral decision by the enabling power of my occupiers?

“Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!” or “Give Peace a Chance.”

  William Shakespeare                                      John Lennon

But above all:

“When you speak, speak with justice.” (Quran 6:152)

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

Democracy and Western Values, Part 2

Democracy and Western Values

Posted on July 29, 2014 by Skid

Reposted on December 7 in the wake of the Trump administration’s unilateral announcement that Jerusalem will be considered the capital of Israel for the U.S.A.

***

The current tragic conflict between Palestine and Israel has its historic roots in western values. The values of colonialism and capitalism. Basically, we support democracy in North Africa and the Middle East as long as the democratically elected government is one of which we approve. For example, we were in full support of the Arab Spring until they democratically elected the Muslim Brotherhood. So, we quietly stood by while a military coup replaced those Islamic fundamentalists. Or, we loudly supported democratic elections in Palestine until the people in Gaza elected Hamas. Then we loudly turned all of our support to our friend, Israel, so they could defeat those Islamic terrorists.

My son, fourteen, wanted to know more about the current conflict in Gaza and did some historical research. He discovered that the western values of Britain during World War I gave them the chutzpah to offer the Arabs their independent land in Palestine while at the same time promising diasporic Jews a “National Homeland.”

He discovered that it was a Canaanite group, the Semitic Jebusites, who founded Urusalim and settled there in 4000 BCE. Around 2000 BCE, Abraham passed through briefly when he wandered south from Ur. Moses, years later, wandered north from Egypt, but still couldn’t displace the Jebusites. Four centuries later, King David finally defeated the original inhabitants of the area and briefly united the Jewish people there. After his son Solomon’s death, they split into two states, Israel and Judah, and the area was subsequently conquered by the Assyrians, the Chaldeans (when Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews to slavery in Babylon), Alexander the Great, and the Romans, who gave Palestine its present name.

The Arabs and the evolution of Islam arrived in 634 CE. Several conquering and occupying dynasties later, Britain, at the end of World War II, handed the “Palestinian Problem” to the newly formed United Nations. The UN created two territories, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. There were 750,000 Arabs and only 9000 Jews in the Arab territory, whereas the Jewish territory had a 50/50 split of about 500,000 each.

The Jewish terrorist organization, the Irgun, didn’t like this ratio, slaughtered over 250 civilians in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 and, without any standing under international law, Israel declared itself to be an independent country as 10,000 terrified Palestinians fled the territory.

The United Nations assisted in this process by considering the displaced Palestinians to be not a “people” but only “refugees” and things have been going downhill for the Palestinians ever since. Egypt, my son discovered, bears equal responsibility with Israel and western democracy for the crippling blockades against the Palestinian people. Held hostage by holocaust guilt and election cycles, western democracy has permitted the steady erosion of Palestinian lands and human rights for the last 70 years under the banner, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Ah, democracy and western values. He discovered they are like the quest for world peace. Ideals at the end of the rainbow. And just as elusive.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

***

The Status of the City of Jerusalem

PRESS RELEASE from:Palestinian General Delegation in Ottawa

December 06, 2017

The Palestinian General Delegation in Canada affirms that international legitimacy and law define clearly the status of the city of Jerusalem and that East Jerusalem is: a Palestinian land, occupied by Israeli forces in 1967 and is subject to the fourth Geneva Convention. As such, any attempts to change the geographical or demographical status of East Jerusalem is illegal, null and is in clear contradiction and violation of the international law.

The Palestinian General Delegation in Canada condemns any unilateral attempt to change the status of the city of Jerusalem. This attempt constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and a blatant contempt of international legitimacy, United Nations and Security Council resolutions. The international community must take action to end the exploitation of power which tries to enforce an illegal status on the city if Jerusalem.

Any attempt to change the status of the city of Jerusalem suffocates hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and sabotages efforts to revive already stalled peace talks and negotiations.

The International legitimacy has supported and adopted a peaceful resolution of this conflict based on a two-state solution on the borders of 1967, through enabling the Palestinian people to establish their independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel.

The Palestinian General Delegation in Canada welcomes the announcement of the Government of Canada that it will not move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Canada’s balanced position was very clear as stated by Global Affairs’ press secretary Adam Austen: “Canada’s long-standing position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian- Israeli dispute….We are strongly committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.”

Canada remains an important and strategic country for the Palestinians. The Palestinian General Delegation in Canada reiterates its commitment to work on developing bilateral relations that would ensure the prosperity of all Palestinians and Canadians. It further ensures readiness to remain a reliable partner when needed.

 

 

Caledon’s Hens Come Home to Roost

This afternoon, November 28, 2017, at the Town of Caledon General Committee Meeting, the rooster crowed. Well, figuratively speaking. Our Backyard Hens by-law came closer to being a reality today when the vote was carried by a majority of our elected representatives. The rooster, however, was not invited into any of our backyards – this is a quiet clucking Hens Only club.

Thanks to the excellent report done by our Town Staff, headed by Patrick Trafford, we came up with a by-law tailored specifically to the Caledon context. Drawing on the best information available from other municipalities who have similar by-laws, Patrick and his team put together an intelligent and thoroughly researched report.

Input came from local citizens, experts in other municipalities, and discussions with the Region of Peel Public Health Unit, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. All of this was hard-boiled down into 32 Regulations for Residential Backyard Hens. This alone should curb the compulsive immediate gratification enthusiasm of the “They’re so cute! Let’s get a bunny for Easter!” crowd.

These agricultural “pets with benefits”, as one long term backyard hen aficionado has described them, have better care guidelines than most of the dogs and cats living here. Their housing, health care and safety were paramount in the design of the regulations, as well as the health of their human caregivers and neighbours. As to the fears of salmonella poisoning and the spread of avian flu, those concerns were dealt with by the Centre for Disease Control with three words: Wash Your Hands.

It seems that in the three months since we first raised this simple health solution, along with not rolling in chicken feces or deep kissing your hen, some Councillors were still having trouble processing how truly safe it is to keep backyard hens.  And the new Town guidelines have set down best practices to help us do it even better. On the other hand, after your cat buries its poop in scratched up kitty litter and then walks all over your face while you’re filming its cute antics on your cell phone for an Instagram posting, do you ever worry about cat-scratch fever, Salmonellosis, roundworms or tapeworms from your cat’s stool? Or, how about man’s best friend?

Sure, after your dog has just cleaned the private parts, that same tongue gives you a big wet slobbering kiss that just might contain Leptospirosis, Canine Brucellosis, Campylobacteriosis, Capnocytophaga Canimorsus, and our old friend Salmonellosis. Yes, a dog’s tongue does have antibacterial properties – for cleaning up its own physiology!

Cats have staff, dogs have packs, and hens have eggs – organic (depending on the feed), free run (not free-range) home grown eggs. Keep in mind that if you are ordering your chickens it is best to go with a reputable hatchery like Freys in St. Jacobs, or Cirrus Farms in Meaford. They won’t usually be selling them now, but you can call in your order in February and pick up those ready-to-lay (RTL) pullets in March as we will be doing for the Albion Hills Community Farm pilot project.  We’ll be there to help educate the public on how to do it just right.

Congratulations, Caledon! Our dreams of having the opportunity to expand our local food production just got a little more sustainable.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

What the heck is a SNAP Project?

Note: This SNAP West Bolton Project article was first written by Skid Crease on 17/10/25 for Patti Foley’s Just Sayin’ Caledon’s online community news!

***

ON Thursday, November 23, 2017, at the Glen Eagles Golf Club. a group of “Thought Leaders” were called together by the TRCA, the Town of Caledon, and The Region of Peel for a day of inspired community planning.

The Project is called the Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan, or SNAP. Our thoughts this day were focused this day on our own community in West Bolton. SNAP has a very simple goal: to focus on working with the community to achieve measurable environmental and neighbourhood improvement. This project is one of six SNAPs happening across the GTA examining municipal priorities, neighbourhood-specific issues and a variety of watershed and regional objectives across a range of theme areas that include:

  • Long-standing drainage and erosion issues in Jaffary’s Creek and the surrounding catchment.  Historical note: this Creek used to run past a slaughterhouse, carrying the effluent downstream – the smell used to be so bad that homeowners would have to close their windows and doors!
  • Improved water balance and Low Impact Development (LID).
  • Watershed regeneration (or, How to Mitigate flooding 101).
  • Regional urban forest and public health priorities.
  • Energy consumption hot spots.
  • Increased active transportation (walk, bike, board, zipline).

The Day opened with a captivating with a musical Red Heart beat accompanying inspiring visuals of the human community enjoined sustainably with the natural environment.  From there, facilitators Hilary, sister Lesley, and _ took us on a journey through our past, present and preferred futures of Caledon and specifically the West Bolton area.

The “Past” room was set up with an informative timeline, data charts and photographs that took us from our paleo past in 7000 BCE (Before Common Era) to the present. The “Future” room had us stretch our thinking to create a wish list of projects – economic development, healthy living, re-creational playspace, and resource efficiency – that would help us develop a healthy, sustainable, environmentally responsible community into the twenty-first century.

Of course, sandwiched in between was the “Present”, and rather than enter into the usual suspects discussion, Hilary took us on a right brain storytelling curve, left brain organized by the traditional plot development sequence for a good short story. We divided into groups of five and were given character cards that outlined each of the “characters” that we were to bring into our story, including one character designed to twist the plot.

I had no idea how this related to the present day West Bolton, but I trusted Hilary’s ability to choreograph a creative design approach. It was not until after lunch that we saw how it all came together – the stories turned out to be a metaphor for the current state of our West Bolton community. I was so taken with the brilliance of the approach that I expanded my group’s story and it is now on my blog at skidcrease.com, endorsed by Hilary, titled The Gardens of a Beautiful Mind. It will appear under “Stories” to make way for this report.

The Glen Eagles provided a nourishing lunch to the participants and demonstrated their environmental responsibility by keeping the thermostat turned down to what felt like 15ºC – the chilly rooms brought everyone closer together after lunch. That was when we found out the metaphorical nature of the characters in our stories.

For example, poor down and out Raju in my story, a character who had given up hope and was about to turn in the towel, turned out to be … no, you’ll have to read the story to get it. But what a mind-shifting exercise to get the participants looking at their community in a totally new way! Suddenly, giving the real “Raju” hope and a new lease on life took on the human dimensions of community care.

In conclusion, the group discussed the need to ensure that the community of West Bolton all knew that they were part of this opportunity, and to use their expertise in establishing a baseline of existing community benefits and needs. We were reminded of the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid. Like when all that the children really wanted in their playground was a swinging rope with a tire on a tree, but what the “experts” designed was a cantilevered mechanical monstrosity on which no children ever played.

These thought leaders were humble enough to know that their ideas were part of a process, evolving through 7000 years of history to the Bolton of the future. Rejuvenated parks for play and just plain relaxing in nature, safe walking/cycling paths, networking of home businesses and the “love economy” provided by volunteers, retrofitting for energy and budget efficiency, education for wiser resource use, and working with the topography of the land to connect neighbourhoods – these ideas and more were left with our facilitators and the SNAP team. Stay tuned, West Bolton, it’s only going to get better!

 

 

The Gardens of a Beautiful Mind

by Skid Crease

Note, this story was inspired by a collaborative story writing exercise at a recent  SNAP West Bolton “Thought Leaders” workshop.

This is dedicated to the inspiration of facilitator Hilary Van  Welter, CEO of Ascentia, choreographers guiding context to create content

***

The dark grey of the morning mist had begun to lift when Raju finally got out of bed. As usual, it was almost 11:00 am before his feet touched the bare floor and he would have stayed under the covers longer except for the hunger in his belly.

He had run out of Ramen noodles two days ago, but the thought of going out shopping in public – that staring, judging, superior public – had driven him further under the covers. Now he had no choice. Reluctantly, he pulled on some jeans and a fleece hoodie from the pile of clothes on the floor. Then he went to the bathroom sink, splashed some cold water on his face, and did a quick finger comb through hair that badly needed a shampoo. He slipped into his sandals, pulled on a baseball cap, and opened the door.

The hallway was empty as he quietly slipped down the staircase of the old rooming house and into the side alley. He knew how to avoid most of the madding crowds and this route would bring him past the old park. He liked this park because no one played there anymore. It seemed the town had grown up around it and people had forgotten the park was there.

Raju did not like people, or the conversations of people, or the constant scrutiny of people. He had found himself in this small town when he moved out of his home. Moved out? That was overly polite! Driven out would be more like it. Driven out by a domineering father who kept pushing him to higher grades, better jobs, greater success – nothing he did was ever good enough. Driven out by an obsessive mother who questioned every choice he made, every place he went, everything he said and did.

Then one day he snapped. He screamed at his mother, “If I wanted to be questioned every day by the Gestapo, I’d go back in time to Nazi Germany! Tell Father I quit. He can get another lump of clay to mold into his own image!”

And with those words, Raju left, only a backpack hastily stuffed with a few clothes and his favourite childhood story, Hope for the Flowers, he left. He rode his bike to the regional bus commuter lot, ended up on a bus heading north, and got off when his fare was up. A stranger in a strange new land where no one knew him, and he wanted it that way. Raju had started on a deep spiral down, and he was nearing the bottom of the pit.

***

Rachel was on her way to save the world. Well, not all at once, but one person at a time would suit her just fine. Rachel had a gift. She was a fairy godmother. Not in a cartoon “pumpkins to carriages” kind of sense, but in a “humbug to holiday spirit” kind of sense.

Rachel was simply the kind of person who could see the best in everyone. If she had been in a Star Wars movie, she definitely would have been on the Light side of the Force, drawing on all of the creative and positive energy around her to brighten the world.

Rachel had been born this way. Nothing in her growing up should have nurtured such an optimistic force of nature. Her father, a wonderful storyteller, had died when she was quite young, and Rachel had grown up with a mother who drowned her sorrow in a variety of drugs from alcohol to heroine, finally succumbing to opiod addiction a few years ago. Throughout it all, Rachel had found the higher ground, always remembering her father’s last words to her, “Remember Rachel, on the darkest day, the sun is always shining somewhere in our universe.”

Today she was going to bring that sunshine to someone.

***

The sun finally broke out through the clearing mists and shone down on the little town. It was particularly bright on an old neglected property. Where there should have been a vacant park, there were crowds of smiling people of all ages. Where there should have been barren ground, there were rows upon rows of plants growing – sunflowers and kale and tomatoes and cucumbers- almost every garden variety you could imagine! Where there should have been no place to rest, there were benches under beautiful shade trees.

Chloe had made all of this possible. Her family had fallen upon hard times in the recent past. The trickle-down economy hadn’t trickled down to them. Between the high energy costs, and the high transportation costs, and the low minimum wage, times were tough and food was often scarce, so Chloe had promised herself that one day she would build a garden, a wonderful garden where people would come to grow food and laugh and play and never be hungry or sad again.

That dream didn’t fade when Chloe was taken away to become a ward of the Children’s Aid. And now that dream was alive today. When Chloe was very young she had seen a movie on TV called The Field of Dreams and there was a line from the movie that became her cornerstone in life: “If you build it they will come.” She had built her field of dreams, and they were coming.

***

Raju and Rachel saw the poster at the same time. The words: “Free food at Chloe’s Community Gardens” had caught Raju’s attention. The location indicated it was at the old park that was never crowded. Bonus – avoid people, save money and get fed. It was not the poster, but rather Raju’s slumped posture and shuffling gait had caught Rachel’s attention. She knew immediately which heart and spirit she was going to touch today.

As Raju turned toward the community gardens path, Rachel deliberately stepped in front of him. Taken aback, he moved to one side, but Rachel moved with him. ‘Hello,” was all she said. It wasn’t what she said, but rather the sweetness of her voice that made him look up. He found himself staring into clear blue eyes that held his attention like landing lights.

Without flinching she smiled right back into his deep brown eyes. “I’m all alone,” she said, “May I walk with you to the Gardens?”

Raju, who had not spoken to anyone besides his landlord for months, simply nodded, “Yes.”

They moved along the path in silence for a while, Rachel sensing a troubled spirit beside her. At one point, she stumbled and caught his arm for support. Instinctively, Raju reached out with his other hand to steady her. Their eyes met again. “I have been there too,” was all that Rachel said, not taking her eyes off of Raju.

He stood frozen like a deer in the headlights, and then an amazing thing happened. A single tear appeared in the corner of Raju’s left eye. “The window to the soul,” whispered Rachel. And she took his hand as they continued their walk. Raju walked beside her, as meekly as a lamb, all of his anger suddenly gone.

As they turned the final corner to the old park, they were met by an amazing sight. There were people everywhere, young and old, gardening, playing, dancing, sitting quietly – and there at the entrance stood Chloe, waving them forward.

“Welcome to my Gardens, “ said Chloe, “The Gardens of a Beautiful Mind.”

“But,” stammered Raju, “This is incredible! This place has been abandoned for years!”

“If you build it, they will come,” laughed Chloe.

“Hello,” said Rachel, introducing herself, “This is a beautiful place. I can feel the happiness everywhere.”

“Yes,” said Chloe, “We all need a space where we can be happy. And you are?” she asked turning to the wide-eyed young man beside Rachel.

Raju,” he whispered under his breath, and then more clearly, “Raju.” For the first time in years a genuine smile spread slowly across his face.

“I am so happy you are both here,” smiled Chloe, “Please visit our Community Feast of Fields table – there is always plenty of food for everyone.”

Rachel was still holding his hand. “Come on, Raju, let’s get something to eat. You look like you could use a good meal.” Without any resistance, Raju walked hand in hand with Rachel to the table that looked more like the Cornucopia of Plenty than an old park picnic table. “This is amazing,” exclaimed Raju.

“Yes indeed,” said Rachel wisely, “Isn’t it good to be back?”

Raju looked puzzled, but only for a moment, “Yes,” he smiled, “It is good to be back.”

After their feast, Rachel and Raju walked the gardens, weeding a little here, planting a little there, and sharing stories all the while. Raju was feeling the weight of the world lift from his shoulders, and Rachel was feeling she was fulfilling her life’s purpose. Raju even found himself climbing a tree again to see the whole gardens,

“Rachel,” he shouted down, “I haven’t done this since I was a little kid!” Rachel simply smiled knowingly. They stayed until the light was fading and the gardens began to dim. It was time to go.

“Come back tomorrow,” Chloe called out as all the visitors slowly left the Gardens. She hugged Rachel and Raju as if she never wanted them to leave her.

“Thank you,” spoke Raju from the bottom of his heart. Rachel smiled her sunshine smile at Chloe and took Raju’s hand as they left. “Numquam obliviscar,” whispered Rachel. “What does that mean?” asked Raju. Rachel smiled, “It’s a Latin quote from a story my father used to tell me, “I will never forget.”

***

The Supervisor appeared at the edge of the walkway, “Chloe,” she called. “It’s time to come back!”

Another Supervisor joined her. “Honestly, I don’t know what she sees in that old park! Nothing there but weeds and broken benches.”

“It makes her happy,” said the first Supervisor. “That’s enough.”

Chloe waved goodbye to her friends as her Beautiful Garden faded into mist once again. Happily, she took the Supervisor’s hand and headed back to the Adam Wallace Memorial Care Centre.

***

In a quiet corner of the old park, a butterfly was emerging from its chrysalis.

Numquam obliviscar