Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The once and future war

 This is one of those posts which is more, for my reference, rather than any reader.  I suspect, when the next Lebanon-Israeli  war happens, these reported circumstances will play a much larger role in shaping the nature of the conflict as well as the acceptance of any resolution after hostilities has ceased.  

 In the aftermath of the Lebanon-Israel war of 2006, I started to refer to Hezbollah as the Iranian Foreign Legion.  At the time, I did not fully realize that Hezbollah’s new position would not be confined strictly within the borders of Lebanon.  NY Times
TEL AVIV — Viewed from the air, Muhaybib looks like a typical southern Lebanese village — a cluster of about 90 houses and buildings punctuated by the minaret of a mosque and surrounded by fields. But when the Israeli military trains its lens on that hilltop Shiite village close to the border, it sees nine arms depots, five rocket-launching sites, four infantry positions, signs of three underground tunnels, three antitank positions and, in the very center of the village, a Hezbollah command post. 

As Israel prepares for what it sees as an almost inevitable next battle withHezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese organization that fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006, Israeli military officials and experts are warning that the group has done more than significantly build up its firepower since then. Without knowing when the next war will break out, or what might precipitate it, the Israelis are blunt about the implications: They will not hesitate to strike at those targets, so southern Lebanon will most likely be the scene of widespread destruction. 

Effectively, the Israelis are warning that in the event of another conflict with Hezbollah, many Lebanese civilians will probably be killed, and that it should not be considered Israel’s fault.“The civilians are living in a military compound,” a senior Israeli military official said at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing delicate intelligence matters.“We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can,” the official said, but “we do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.”

The Israeli military says that a few miles northwest of Muhaybib, in the larger village of Shaqra, with a population of about 4,000, it has identified about 400 military sites and facilities belonging to Hezbollah, which Israel says has been armed by Iran and Syria. Zooming out over a wider section of southern Lebanon, the Israeli military says the number of potential targets for Israel in and around villages runs into the thousands.

Israeli military officials said they were publicizing the Hezbollah buildup to put the problem on the international agenda in case there is another conflict — and to possibly decrease the chances of one breaking out. 

The Israeli claims could not be independently verified. 

 Unlike the NY Times, I do not doubt the Israeli military claims. It should be a relatively easy thing to verify the Israeli military claims.  What I find hard to believe is that the NY Times could not come up with Lebanese stringer on the ground that could collaborate or deny the Israeli military claims…. Or how about contacting the UNIFIL Command, passing along the information and asking for them to confirm, deny or just comment? 

After all, since an integral part of UNIFIL’s mandate of UN Resolution 1701 is to ensure that Hezbollah does not continue to militarize any area south of the Litany River…it looks like job one is an utter and complete failure, and if so, the UN and the world needs to know that.But then again, I am not a journalist for the NY Times. 

In other news, the Jerusalem Post reports; Lebanon turns to UNIFIL to end air, sea and land border violations…gee, I wonder why?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dear MP for York Centre

My federal Member of Parliament, Mark Adler for York Centre, sent me a letter asking my opinion on the job the current government has been doing for Canada, and wanting to know what is important to me as a Canadian. So here goes....

I don’t want to eat Raisin Bran or Corn Flakes made and packaged in Thailand

I want to know when I buy pickles that I am buying are pickles from Canadian farmers and/or Canadian food processors.  I want to see all food sold in Canada labeled clearly so I easily understand the origin of all ingredients used to produce or make any given food product.   

I want to be able to buy an electric kettle, coffee pot or a television made in Canada, so if it falls apart in than a year, I can hold a local manufacturer responsible for the lack of quality control. I want to drive a car that is entirely made in Canada and was produced by my fellow Canadians rather than Mexico or Brazil.  I want clothes made in Canada and sewn to Canadian sizing standards. I want a t-shirt that will not fall apart  or lose its' colour in a few washings.  

When I call my bank, insurance company, telephone, or cable/internet provider, I want to speak to a fellow Canadian; someone who understands Canadian law, accounting practices and language. I want to be able to buy winter boots that are made for our winters and won’t fall apart half-way through the winter season. Don’t even mention shoes.

 I don’t want to buy pet food made in China – enough said. I can live without the dollar stores and cheap products that fall apart shortly after purchasing. I can live quite nicely knowing that no manufacturer or producer selling products in Canada is beyond the jurisdiction of the Canadian legal system. 
I can live without the Government of Canada giving Volkswagen a loan to produce cars manufactured outside of Canada. I can live without ‘Canadian in name only’ companies whose production facilities are located outside the country being promoted by the Canadian government.

I can live without free trade agreements quite nicely, in fact, before NAFTA and hundreds of other Free Trade Agreements; the quality of goods and services produced was far superior to what is routinely offered for sale today in Canada. The pricing deferential, when compared to the quality and health risk, just isn’t worth it.  

I want to live in a country which is economically self-reliant and who has a Prime Minister who has the interests of all Canadian citizens at heart rather than the shareholder stock price of  a select few corporations. I want to have a Prime Minister who safeguards Canadian sovereignty, rather than giving it away, just so he can sign another free trade pact for his corporate cronies.

I can live easily with the idea that one needs citizenship to buy property in this country.  I can live with the idea that Canadian companies have to look after their own labour supply, as opposed to the current practice of lobbying the government to import a constant stream of cheap labour to meet their business labour needs. I can live with a Canadian high school student serving me coffee or asking me - 'if I want fries with that?'  And if you cannot afford to pay a Canadian caregiver/nanny minimum wage; either raise your own children or don’t have any.  

I can live with potentially lower tax rates caused by a surplus of full-time jobs available for the working poor that pay a living wage rather than minimum one. And, I can live with a Prime Minister who cuddles dogs rather than kittens. Ironically, I was a 'Conservative' longer than Stephen Harper has been leader of the Conservative Party, but don't think for a second you can count on me during the next election.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Israelis guilty and breathing.

Human Rights Watch alleges that Israeli agricultural settlements are exploiting Palestinian ‘child labourers’ – some as young as  11 years of age.

Human Rights Watch does not name one Israeli agricultural settlement guilty of such conduct but instead, seeks to brand the  entire Israeli agricultural settlement enterprise for the alleged wrongdoings of ...well, I am not sure who but I guess the generic 'Israelis' sounds about right according to Human Rights Watch.  

I watched the video produced by Human Rights Watch. Two sixteen year old boys, who chose to drop out of school and work as farm labourers as it is the only available job with their skill set. They think it sucks. I get it.

 I listened to a father justify removing his two sons from school at 14 years of age to take them with him to work on an Israeli agricultural settlement farm. Presumably, the father needed the money the boys could earn to support their family so having a family you cannot support without ruining your children's education sucks. I get that.
I read the report, and no where can I find a single settlement named as a guilty party to the alleged nefarious child labor practices.  Instead, what I did find was this quote:

 All of the children and adults working for the settlement farms whom Human Rights Watch interviewed said they were hired by Palestinian middlemen working for Israeli settlers, were paid in cash, and did not receive pay-slips or have work contracts.

Perhaps in the name of human rights, Human Rights Watch should turn over the names of these Palestinian middlemen who are exploiting children to the Palestinian Authority to deal with.  Or at the very least, name the guilty Israeli parties to face consequences under Israeli law.

But what you do not do, is exactly what Human Rights did; issue a 74 page report based on innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations and not name a single guilty party. All of which leads me to believe Human Rights Watch’s motivation in releasing this report was not justice for exploited Palestinian children but a malicious attempt to destroy the international market for Israeli produce, and that is potentially actionable.

From where I sit, someone needs to hold these NGOs accountable for their actions.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When the chickens come home to roost

For years, I have defended the Americans next door. I have lived among them, went to school among them,  and worked among them.  There is an essential ‘goodness’ about most Americans that I encountered, and it was to honour that belief in their essential goodness and generosity that I defended them as a nation, but now….,In the last few years, I have seen America turn and twist in ways I would have never believed possible. Who they are, I know longer no. I watch their television and listen to their news, and I cannot help but wonder; do they even know themselves?

 The White House has used this current graphic on twitter,yes, twitter, to sell their negotiated Iran deal with the world. It’s another uncalled for malicious dig at Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has metamorphosed into Obama Administration’s personal Nemesis. More importantly, the demeaning and petulant behavior exhibited by POTUS towards a key regional ally, well, one can be excused for drawing the conclusion that it is better to be an enemy of America rather than a friend.   

Despite, all sound and the fury, issued via the White House concerning the alleged ‘Iranian deal’; it is the Iranians who are pointing thefinger and shouting ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’ at the White House.

When you have the Iranians discussing the 'press release' and the Americans waving the 'intent to finalize a deal'; who do you believe?

While U.S. President Barack Obama is engaged in a "world war" with Congress over the framework nuclear deal with Iran and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a clear stand on the matter, one of the foremost experts on Iran, Col. (ret.) Yigal Carmon, provides a fresh perspective and some new facts, which may send this hot potato rolling in new directions.

"The U.S. and Iran have, in fact, not reached any nuclear agreement," said Carmon, the founder and president of the prestigious Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). "The joint statement in Lausanne, which the Iranians defined as a press release, was nothing but a smokescreen meant to disguise difficult, ongoing disagreements between the parties," Carmon, who served as counterterrorism adviser to prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, and who has been following Arab politics and Middle East media closely for years, asserted. 

Carmon, who along with MEMRI's experts on Iran is currently in the institute's offices in Washington, believes the "fact sheet" released by the White House and the U.S. State Department, detailing the alleged deal with Iran, was "a ploy of incredible deception, meant to prevent Congress from imposing immediate, crippling sanctions on the Iranians."

Go read the rest, it just gets worse. If Israel Hayom is correct in their analysis; what on earth was the White House thinking? And was destroying the last shred of American creditability in the world less important than elevating the status of an empty suit president?