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

Please follow and like us:

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.

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Fishing For Friends

No matter how deplorable in life one has been, there is something sad about watching the death throes of another living thing.

In the case of the fish that continuously nips and harasses the rest of the school in the aquarium, that moment comes when one evening, it slowly starts swimming on its side. By morning, it has been transformed into a tiny floating skeleton, as the rest of the school swims around innocently.

For Uncle Scar in The Lion King, the turning point came when the bullied hyenas who had seemed such spineless followers, realized the power had shifted and there was a new King on the veldt. Scar, like the little fish, was also devoured – when the bullied mob turns, there is no mercy.

When a nasty alpha female wild dog shows the first signs of losing status, the bad bitch is quickly torn to shreds by her pack. I witnessed this once on a remote BC beach hiking the Wild Side Trail. The dogs were part of a wild pack that roamed between the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Maaqtusiis and Mount Flores. Our Ahousaht First Nations guide had told us they were the most dangerous animals on Flores Island.

Humans are no different. The bully is easily recognized by aggressive behaviour, threats, and intimidation. Donald Trump would be a classic case, following the mantra of lie, threaten, and sue until you win. It is also easy to recognize when he is floundering at the bottom of the aquarium – his Twitterstorms increase, he holds a rally of the deplorable base, and he gives himself Fake News Awards for his terrific accomplishments.

Trump tends to Twitter because of the alliteration, but others prefer Facebook for their social media rants because it is one of the easiest ways to let the dogs out and spread chaos with misinformation. It is why I generally avoid Facebook – the postings require no safeguards. Any fanatic with an axe to grind and an unshuffled deck with a few ethical cards missing can post absolute El-Toro-Pooh-Pooh online and have their adoring acolytes sharing it around the world in a matter of minutes. And as several victims of this kind of *maliteracy have discovered, the effect can be devastating, even fatal.

When I post a news article, it goes through three fact-checks and two editors before it goes to print. If we have made an error, an immediate apology and retraction are issued. I began editing and writing for professional publications in 1986. I remember it well, because as the editor of Anee,  then the official journal of the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario, I was accredited as a journalist to attend and report on an historic event. UN delegates had just completed a three-year journey around Earth to ask its inhabitants one simple question: “What is the preferred future you want for yourself, your family, and your community?”

The answers to that question were synthesized into Our Common Future, the groundbreaking United Nations publication that received its Canadian launch at Ontario Place in Toronto. This seminal work, authored by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and her team, first introduced the term “sustainable development” to the world. I was in awe, ushered in through high security and surrounded by international dignitaries. It was my privilege that day to interview Ms. Brundtland, who I later dubbed “the most powerful woman in the world.”

I had no idea how profoundly that experience would change my life. Since that day I hold every politician to the standards she set for ethics and intelligence in governance. And Our Common Future set a blueprint for human survival into the twenty-first century and became my moral compass. Some older works might be fine for ancient goat herding Semitic nomads from the Middle East, but as an evolving human I’ll stick with Brundtland and Dawkins. I choose to write and speak truth to power, to bring light into the darkness, to .. but I digress.

Where was I? Ah, bullies who lie and intimidate  Now, every once in a while on social media, a bully starts to lose status. People stop reading the rants, begin to realize the information has been negatively skewed, and begin to delete posts and unfriend. There is nothing more terrifying to a bully on social media than to be unfriended and deleted.

In response, like the thrashing fish, or the cowering lion, or the submissive dog, the bully begins posturing for acceptance. In social media terms this is referred to as going on a “fishing for friends” expedition. It is usually signaled by a frenzy of “friend” requests to everyone under the sun in the hopes of maintaining status.

For all out there who don’t want to get hooked, line and sinker hooked, recognize the frantic last gasps of a deeply troubled being who deserves our forgiveness and empathy. Be kind but be careful when you get one of those random “friend” requests from out of the blue. It could be genuine, or it could just be a bully going through the death throes, desperately seeking solace.

* maliteracy = malicious literacy

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

Please follow and like us:

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

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

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!

 

 

Please follow and like us: