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

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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

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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.

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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Caledon Budget 2018 … for Dummies

a version of this report first appeared in Patti Foley’s Just Sayin’

***

The Town of Caledon held a very well-attended Open House on Tuesday night. Besides our Town CFO, Fuwing Wong, almost the entire talented staff of our Budget Department, including Treasurer Heather Haire, were in attendance. The other members of our Town admin team with whom I spoke were CAO Mike Galloway and Clerk Carey deGorter.

As well, Mayor Thompson was there along with Area Councillors Doug Beffort, Nick DeBoer, Gord McClure and Rob Mezzapelli to assist our engaged citizens in understanding our 2018 budget. Public School Board trustee Stan Cameron was also in attendance, listening attentively to citizen’s questions. Some Regional Councillors also attended.

So, if we wanted to have an intelligent face-to-face chance to talk with the people in the know, we had plentiful opportunity. I had an acquaintance complaining to me about the budget and suggested to him that he attend the open house. He declined, preferring instead to armchair complain using various online conspiracy theories as the basis of his angst. Ah well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

But for those of us who turned out, we had well- detailed posters to outline the budget and well-informed staff to explain it further if needed. Really, it is quite simple for most of us. It’s like the old joke about your dog when you are talking away to him and all he hears is “Blah, blah, blah, blah, REX, blah, blah, blah, SIT, blah, blah, blah, blah, GOOD DOG.” If you skipped those classes on financial literacy like I did, a deep explanation of budget and finances sounds similar.

Given the general public’s financial literacy quotient, it boils down to this for most of us. How much are our property taxes going to rise in 2018? Three sources impact that number – increases at the Town, the Region and the School Boards – and the bottom line, that Blended Rate, as currently proposed, is an increase of approximately 3.3%

That means on my humble sunny south hill home currently taxed at a rounded off $4000, I will see an increase of $132.00. On the 10 payment installment plan, that’s $13.20 a month. And that means my increase is less than one hour of work per month at the new minimum wage.

What do I get for that exorbitant amount? Gee, let me see: infrastructure repair, infrastructure replacement, eco high tech replacement of obsolete technologies, improved IT communications, talented new staff to deal with emerging issues of an aging population, demands of an increasing population for recreation, wellness and medical facilities, affordable and accessible housing for our youth, our citizens with disabilities, and our seniors, and the cost of creating a fully implemented safe pedestrian and cycling community. Add on top of that the continuing quest to bring viable public transportation to Caledon.

Specifically included in the Town’s budget for public consideration are: accessibility improvements to Town facilities, a strategic partnership with Humberview School for a new Artificial Turf Field/Track, minimum wage increases and design of an expansion to the Bolton senior’s centre. Not bad for less than $15 a month.

On the other hand, as I told my disgruntled budget-phobic acquaintance, you could choose to live in a Syrian refugee camp. They don’t pay any taxes.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon (accredited member of the Canadian Association of Journalists)

 

 

 

 

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Caledon: Creating a Climate of Truthiness

On the evening of Monday, October 23, 2017, at the Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness, Regional Councillor Annette Groves held a public information meeting, attended by Regional Councillor Barb Shaughnessy.

At that meeting Regional Councillor Groves informed a small group of attendees that the taxpayers of Caledon were on the hook to the tune of $70,000+ dollars to provide a private transportation service to bring workers from Brampton to the new Canadian Tire Facility in Bolton. In response to a question from the audience about warehousing rumours, she further informed the group that a local farmer’s gift of land to build a medical facility was being jeopardized because the Town was negotiating multiple use options. Not only are both of these pieces of information false, one of them is prohibited from public disclosure because it is reportedly the subject of ongoing private in-camera negotiations by Council and is therefore prohibited from public discussion by the Town’s Code of Conduct.

Unfortunately, this transportation misinformation and disclosure of private Council matters were seized upon by certain supporters of Regional Councillor Groves and circulated on social media in a series of rants against the Town that bordered on a “burn the witch” mob mentality. More unfortunately, neither Groves nor Shaughnessy made any attempt to correct this misinformation, nor did Groves make any apology or retraction. Instead she went into print on November 9, courtesy of an inaccurate news report by Matthew Strader for Metroland’s Caledon Enterprise, Strader’s second such inaccurate report on the October 23, 2017 public meeting. In the first he got his information off social media sites, a very reliable source for “fake news.”

That first news report on November 2, 2017 highlighted the misinformation on the “private transportation” issue in which he failed to contact both the Town and Canadian Tire for clarification. In the second, he failed to contact former Mayor Marolyn Morrison for clarification on the erroneous and misleading statements provided by Mr. Bryon Wilson and current Regional Councillor Annette Groves. Had he done so, as any responsible reporter is required to do by the Canadian Press Code of Ethics, he would have discovered the following.

Transportation Issue: in 2010, the Town entered into an agreement with Brampton Transit to extend Route 30 Airport Road into the Tullamore Industrial Area within the Town of Caledon, with a total of six trips per day. The cost of this venture was $48,000 with monies to be recouped through ridership fares. Nothing at all to do with the Canadian Tire Facility in Bolton, and $20,000+ short of the amount now being erroneously circulated by Regional Councillor Groves’s friends on social media. A quick email to Joscelyn Dosanjh, the public relations and media contact at Canadian Tire received this response in a few hours:

Canadian Tire very recently piloted a shuttle bus service for employees to and from our distribution centre that is fully funded by Canadian Tire Corporation. We successfully began operations at the DC and are planning a more formal grand opening in the spring.

So, not only is the shuttle service to the new facility totally funded by CTC, the Bolton operation is quietly up and running at 100%, with nary a complaint.

Regarding Strader’s second erroneous report on November 9, a quick email to former Mayor Marolyn Morrison, whose contact information is easily available (so clarification by the Editor of the Enterprise could have been quickly achieved) produced this result, for the record.

The actual size of the original land offer was actually 16.35 acres, and it wasn’t an outright gift – it was conditional on a severance deal – a quid pro quo arrangement. Next, the Town has no jurisdiction over the approval of hospital or medical care lands – not expected in Caledon until 2041 if our population growth projections hold true. Also, the minimum size of land to be considered for a hospital is 50 acres.

Now, Bryon Wilson’s claim that Morrison, according to Strader, “was the first to turn down the offer, or want nothing to do with it” is perhaps clouded by time in farmer Wilson’s memory. In a quick fact checking email, I received this comment approved by Marolyn Morrison for publication:

I definitely would say that [the 17/11/09 Strader report quoting Wilson] is totally inaccurate.   Bryon Wilson told me to keep it confidential until he was ready to move forward, which I did. For him to say I turned the offer down is a complete misrepresentation and he didn’t offer 20 acres, he talked about 17. I do not understand why he would fabricate such misinformation.   What is he trying to do?

And more to the point, what would be the purpose of issuing and reporting so much false information?

Further, after contacting the Region of Peel, I received this information from a very helpful Legislative Services. In Bryon Wilson’s original letter to the Region of Peel dated September 26, 2016, he offered 16.35 acres as a “gift” with strings, as well as a request to have 55 acres of his property in the north portion of Option 5 to be included in a ROPA/OPA settlement boundary being negotiated between Peel and Caledon.

In the same Sept. 26 letter, the true purpose of his “gift” in exchange for a severance package was revealed with this request: “Dividing the property will allow me to move on with my succession plans which need to happen soon as I am 66 years old. If they reject this, I will accept this without complaint. I have been trying to do this for four years and would greatly appreciate any help to get a decision one way or another.

In a second series of offer letters on November 13 and 15, 2016. Mr. Wilson removed those requests, but increased the size of his “gift” to 20.05 acres. All on public record at the Region of Peel. That search took three days via the dedicated staff in the Legislative Services Department, who revealed to me that the only time this came up at the Region of Peel was when a letter was mentioned as correspondence in an agenda. They could find no record of it ever being discussed in public sessions, as claimed in Strader’s article.

Well, Bryon Wilson, the reality is that by 2041 you will be either be 91 years old or composting, and the factors determining the location of an urgent care/ambulatory facility in Caledon may favour a different location entirely. The reality of that decision will have nothing to do with a former Mayor or the Town of Caledon. And in this current state of global chaos, who knows what kind of a world our children will inherit in 25 years. How could we have possibly predicted 25 years ago that our children would be taking pictures on a cell phone and instantaneously sending them to us from halfway around the world.

At least we can help to ensure that the world we live in now is governed by principles other than power, profit and corrupted politics. We can ensure that our Press upholds principles of accuracy, integrity and honesty. We can ensure that citizens who spout unsubstantiated gossip are ghosted. Now there is a succession plan worthy of the next generation.

Lest we forget: if there is no truth in words, there can be no understanding among peoples. It’s time to take back the higher ground.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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