Posts Tagged ‘Israeli attacks on Gaz’

Kenney can’t censor this interview: George Galloway speaks

March 31, 2009
One way or another, George Galloway will be heard in Canada — he is scheduled to speak in Toronto on Monday, Mar. 30 — despite the ban on him entering the country. On Sunday, a diverse range of groups supporting free speech will challenge his ban in a court hearing.

Even if this fails, Galloway’s speech will be broadcast live to audiences across the country; by his own estimation, the British Member of Parliament will be heard by “audiences probably a hundred times greater” than if Minister Jason Kenney had not upheld the decision to keep him out of Canada on “security grounds.” Am Johal caught up with Galloway, who is currently on a speaking tour in the United States.

Am Johal: The Harper government in Canada seems to have politicized the bureaucracy in making this highly irrational decision to ban you from Canada. It’s an unprecedented attack on free speech in Canada given you are an elected MP from Britain. What do you make of the Harper government’s motivation for doing this?

George Galloway: You know you can be more Catholic than the Pope, more discredited than George Bush but you can’t be more anti-terrorist than the U.S.A. Yet the Canadian government has managed it. I’m allowed into the United States to move freely and talk to massive audiences — swelled I’m sure by the Canadian ban — but I can’t get into your country. At least that’s the state of play now. Our court case challenging this ban is due to be heard on Sunday.

I’m a Scotsman and Canada and my country have such historical links that it’s a bit like being turned away from your own home. This is obviously a political move by an ultra-right wing government at the fag end of its term and I can only think that this is some attempt by Jason Kenney to stake out the far-right territory — so far-right they’re just a tiny angry blip in the distance for himself. What he has done is to boost the audiences for my speeches and I will be heard, either in person or by interactive video link. At the last count 20 cities wanted the feed.

The irony in this whole affair is that I have never been a supporter of Hamas. But they are the elected government of Palestine and no country can attempt to impose the kind of government they favour on another people in the way that my country, yours and the United States want to.

AJ: It is strange that you are allowed in to the U.S., but not in to Canada. This really undermines Canada’s reputation in the world as an enlightened nation. The Conservatives have proven that they are troglodytes. What message would you like to send to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney?

GG: There’s nothing I could say to either of them that wouldn’t be coruscating and deeply insulting. But I’d only do that face-to-face, so that must remain private. I rather suspect, though, that when I do meet up with them they will be much diminished politicians — is that possible? — and in opposition.

AJ: You have remarked in your recent speeches about the right-wing turn in Israeli politics, particularly the rise of Avigdor Lieberman who openly supports the ethnic transfer of Israel’s Palestinian citizens. What are the implications of this in the region and what role can the EU play in brokering a peace process, if any?

GG: I think that if Barack Obama cannot broker a deal between Palestine and Israel there’s no point in closing Guantanamo. Indeed he’ll have to open a hundred Guantanamos because the region will erupt.

The previous Israeli government launched the 22-day offensive on Gaza to win the election and still the Israeli people reject them for others who want even bloodier torment visited on the people. I’m deeply pessimistic. Only Obama can reign-in these blood-crazed politicians. The EU has not and never will have influence. America keeps Israel afloat financially and militarily. Winning the war for the mind of Obama is the principal task.

AJ: What do you make of Tony Blair in his role as a Mideast envoy for the Quartet?

GG: Not since Caligula made his horse pro-consul of Rome has there been such a ridiculous choice as Tony Blair, the war criminal, as Quartet envoy.

AJ: There are legal challenges moving forward and numerous campaigns to support your upcoming visit to Canada. If you are not allowed in, how do you intend to keep fighting the Harper government?

GG: I will be allowed in. If not now in the near future because I’ve visited Canada many times and I have faith in the eminent good sense of Canadian citizens. If not this time then I will broadcast by satellite link to audiences probably a hundred times greater than I would have down there. So I suppose I should be grateful to Kenney.

AJ: What do you think of Canada’s role in Afghanistan?

GG: The Canadian people with their magnificent shows of strength prevented Canada becoming embroiled in the Iraq catastrophe. I’m afraid that there is no winning in Afghanistan, not militarily certainly, many have tried and none succeeded. I’m afraid many wives, mothers and children will be grieving in the months to come. We have no right intervening in another country’s affairs and that will be my message in my speeches.

Am Johal is a Vancouver-based independent writer.

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Judith Laitman and Tsela Barr: We must demand a just peace for Palestinians

January 20, 2009

Judith Laitman and Tsela Barr | The Capital Times, Jan 19, 2009

As American Jews, we grew up learning to revere Israel, the “Jewish state” — the refuge of the persecuted. We had come to expect that Israel would have a highly developed moral consciousness and a collective awareness of what it means to have another group want to annihilate you. So it is shocking for those of us who grew up with these romantic myths to witness the state of Israel assuming the role of oppressor, of murderer of innocents, of desensitized military annihilator.

And it is even more grotesque for Israel and its defenders to continue to pretend that it is the Israelis who are the victims and that its recent savage assault on Gaza was just a defensive act. Worse yet, if people of conscience even express sympathy for the Palestinian victims, they are accused of anti-Semitism. These tactics purposely obscure the real obstacle to peace in the Middle East — Israel’s rapacious 40-year military occupation of Palestinian lands, and its brutal blockade of Gaza and its 1.5 million inhabitants.

So let us look at the record:

It was Israel that broke the six-month cease-fire with an incursion into Gaza on Nov. 4 in which they killed six Palestinians.

Israel dismantled its settlements in Gaza in 2005. But it retained complete control of Gaza’s land borders, airspace, and maritime access, maintaining a blockade that by itself is an act of war. This blockade resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis, even before the recent assault.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza were a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, which require an occupying power to protect an occupied population.

In the West Bank, which has committed no aggression toward Israel, Israel continues to expand its settlements, continues to build an illegal wall that divides Palestinian land, continues to destroy the homes of innocent Palestinians on their own land, builds roads that are Jews-only, and subjects Palestinians to daily humiliations and disruptions at hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints.

The Palestinians and the Arab League have made offers of peace that would ensure Israel’s security if it returned to the 1967 borders. This represents major concessions on the part of Palestinians, who in 1948 were mandated 45 percent of Palestine. The 1967 borders give the Palestinians less than half of that. Israel has rejected these offers.

Israel receives $3 billion a year from U.S. taxpayers. Gazans were assaulted by U.S. F-16s and Apache attack helicopters.

One-third of the more than 1,100 people killed in the recent assault on Gaza were children.

Now Israel has called a cease-fire and claimed its “objectives” have been met. Some scholars say these “objectives” relate to an Israeli policy known as “the Iron Wall.” This is a strategy of inflicting such massive pain on the Palestinians that they will either leave or accept their subjugation so that Israel can achieve its goals of a “Greater Israel.” According to Israeli historian Avi Shlaim: “Israel is practicing state terror using violence on a massive scale against Palestinian civilians for political purposes.”

The bombs may be quiet for now, but this is no time for us to be silent. Let us speak out at every opportunity against the oppression — and the terrorism — that continues to go on against the Palestinian people. Life will not return to normal for the victims in Gaza, and it shouldn’t for us either. We must demand a just peace for the Palestinians and an end to the colonial project that is destroying Israel’s soul.

Judith Laitman and Tsela Barr are members of the Madison chapter of American Jews for a Just Peace, ajjpmadison.org.


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