According to Norman Finklestein, not only Israel and the Arab world but all of us may be on the edge of the pit. Speaking at the University of Ottawa on May 2 at a meeting sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, he said that Hizbullah could undertake an attack on Israel at a time that it decided on.
Hizbullah’s potential is more deadly this time than it was in the 2006 war with Israel, in which it demonstrated its ability to hold its own. This time, he said, it will have missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Dimona, the Israeli nuclear center. He did not need to spell out the implications of that scenario, but Hillary Clinton has threatened Iran with U.S. intervention if Israel were attacked. So suppose Hizbullah attacks?
The danger to the world of a new Israeli-Hizbullah dust-up gives, he said, further urgency to the need for a settlement of the Israel-Palestine standoff. The outlines of a settlement are already agreed upon by the world, as expressed at the U.N., with the only dissenters being the United States, Israel, and a handful of mini-states in the Pacific such as Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. That solution involves a return to the 1967 boundaries, the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, the elimination of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and a two-state solution.
People who advocate a one-state solution are, he said, unwittingly giving Israel an excuse for its continuing obstructionism. If we want an end to the occupation, he said, go with the flow—support the solution that has such general international agreement. Don’t give Israel an excuse for delay by raising the one-state, two-state argument.
Finklestein sees American Zionism in decline. The reasons are of three sorts. In the first place, since the end of World War II, anti-Semitic discrimination in the United States has plummeted. As an example, he pointed to Ivy League discrimination against Jewish academics as a thing of the past.
Secondly, he notes that studies of Jewish attitudes toward Israel have indicated only a minimal impact on their self-identity. Charity has been perhaps the main connection between American Jews and Israel. He quoted the American Jewish sociologist Nathan Glazer, who even back as far as 1957, said, “Israel had remarkably slight effects on the inner life of American Jewry.”
The third element in the weakening of American Zionism is the growing awareness of serious warts in Israel’s behavior. At Israel’s founding, the pioneers were highly idealistic and squeaky-clean. Now, corruption and sexual misbehavior of leaders are rampant. Brutality against Palestinians, which has always existed, is now more openly reported and acknowledged, by human rights organizations in Israel and internationally. As American Jews tend largely to be liberal and to favor human rights, these facts diminish pro-Israel tendencies.
Historically, Zionists used to say that in the 1948 war, the Arabs abandoned their homes at the behest of Arab armies, so that their armies would have a clear field for attacking the Jews. However, no serious historian any longer believes that. Israeli historian Benny Morris currently identifies the expulsion as ethnic cleansing.
The Zionists have used two arguments to silence opponents, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. These arguments are losing the power that they had. When Jimmy Carter came out with his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” Zionists tried to use these same arguments against him, but they did not stick. As an example, Finklestein related Carter’s experience at Brandeis University, a Jewish university whose student body is heavily Jewish. A massive audience received Carter’s message with applause, and when Alan Dershowitz rose to the podium to rebut Carter, two-thirds of the audience got up and left. As for the parallel to apartheid, to which the Zionists have objected, there is any number of prominent Israelis who are also using the “A” word.
The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom announced its Tenth Annual Press Freedom Awards on May 2. The award went to La Presse journalists Joel-Denis Bellavance and Gilles Toupin, for protecting a source. Someone in the government leaked a document about terrorist suspect Adil Charkaoui, purporting that Charkaoui acknowledged knowing about al-Qaeda recruitment methods.
Runner-up was Mark Steyn, who was nominated by Maclean’s for his article in their magazine, “The Future Belongs to Islam.” The Canadian Islamic Congress brought charges against Maclean’s in various human rights commissions across Canada, claiming that the article constitutes a hate crime. The second place acknowledgement by the Committee serves to illustrate the self-defeating nature of the complaint, which has given Maclean’s, the article, and Steyn publicity which they ill deserve.
Dallaire speaks out on Khadr
Senator Roméo Dallaire, the general who tried to act to stop the genocide in Rwanda, is now going to bat for Omar Khadr. He has announced that he plans to harass Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative MPs to take action in this case. According to Dallaire, the case risks tarnishing Canada’s reputation as a defender of human rights.
Khadr case stirs controversy on Parliament Hill
Lieutenant-Commander William Kuebler, Omar Khadr’s military lawyer, appeared before a House of Commons committee on April 29. Kuebler told the committee members that Khadr will be found guilty and sentenced to life, even though he was a child soldier and even though there is significant evidence that someone else may have thrown the grenade that killed an American soldier.
Kuebler suggested that Canada has failed to intervene in the case because of he unsavo’ry reputation of the Khadr family, which openly acknowledges its connection to al-Qaeda. He also noted that Khadr is the only juvenile to have been sent to the adult facility at Guantanamo and the only Western prisoner still being held there. All other Western prisoners have been repatriated at the request of their governments.
The members of the three opposition parties on the committee called on the government to seek Khadr’s return to Canada, but those from the Conservative Party, which forms the minority government, disagreed, saying that it would not interfere with the trial.
Secretary of State Jason Kenney commented that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child contains an optional protocol that would permit the trial of a 15-year-old. In fact, Kenney misled the committee with regard to the protocol. The protocol is designed to protect children. It speaks of “the involvement of children in armed conflict” and states that “Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.” Khadr was recruited by his father, in violation of the protocol, which is protective of children, not permissive of finding them guilty of participation in military actions.
Kenney also said that the Canadian government had “pressed the American authorities to ensure proper care,” but Khadr has reported brutal treatment, a fact confirmed by a British detainee whose country gained his return home. As well, it has been claimed by his defense that he is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Authorities at Guantanamo refuse to allow outside professionals to treat him.
Meanwhile, the judge at his trial in Guantanamo has ruled against a defense motion to withdraw the charges because of his age at the time of the incident for which he is charged.
Muslim female garb shown in art
Shahla Bahrami is an Ottawa artist from Iran whose work is currently on display at L’Imagier gallery in Aylmer, Quebec. She came to Canada with her husband, a physician, in 1983. In Iran, she was a nurse and an amateur artist, but in Canada she studied art at university, earning a B.A. in art from the Université du Québec en Outaouais.
The works on display at L’Imagier are largely depictions of female forms draped in traditional fashion, the chador, hijab, and burkha, for Iranians, Arabs, and Afghans. “Iranians,” she said, “do not ask about the chador when they see my work. They ask about the technique. Canadians ask about the chador.” Bahrani said that there is no ideological message that she is trying to convey. She is simply demonstrating an artistic technique using traditional female figures.
Her work utilizes black, white, and greys to great effect. In the piece showing Iranian women in chadors, the way she uses these tints gives a three-dimensional effect.
Her works have been displayed in various Canadian galleries and in Korea. Perhaps some American gallery would find room in its schedule to feature her art. She has a website with examples of her work at www.ShahlaBahrami.com.
By the way, she dresses in Western fashion.