On Democracy North, I Discuss the Struggle for Palestinian Freedom in Canada

On this evening’s Democracy North program which airs on Vancouver Co-op Radio 100.5 fm, I discussed with Irwin Oostindie the struggle for Palestinian freedom.

Our conversation touched on Roger Waters’ recent tour in Canada, the attempts by pro-Israel groups to silence Roger, the NDP leadership’s growing willingness to demand justice for the Palestinian people, and the rising danger that the discredited governments of Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman will ignite a devastating war in the Middle East.

The Democracy North program begins at about 2 minutes into this podcast:

Trudeau Government Allows Wines Produced in Israel’s Illegal West Bank Settlements to be Fraudulently Labelled

On CKUT radio’s program, Under the Olive Tree, I discuss the labelling of wines produced in Israel’s West Bank settlements.

As I explain in the interview, those settlements constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, yet the Trudeau government allows wines made in those settlements to be sold in Canada with fraudulent ‘Product of Israel’ labels.

My interview can be heard here:

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Toronto’s City Council Takes Advice About Stopping Hate Speech from a Hate-Monger – Part 1

If the residents of Toronto believe that City Hall’s chicanery ended with the departure of Rob Ford, they are sadly mistaken. This past Tuesday, a spectacle unfolded at City Hall that was as surreal and as morally bankrupt as anything we witnessed during the Ford administration.

The occasion for Mayor John Tory’s ethical nose-dive was an administrative inquiry submitted by right-wing Councillor James Pasternak. Pasternak’s dubious distinctions include his crusade against Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, a Toronto-based grassroots LGBT group. In his latest attempt to stifle critics of an apartheid regime, Pasternak took aim at Al Quds Day rallies held on city property. Specifically, Pasternak alleges that:

There has been a growing trend of hate-infested rallies being held in public spaces such as the anti-Semitic Al Quds Day rally in Toronto and there have been threats to host white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies in Toronto similar to those in the United States.

For the past several years there has been an Al Quds Day rally held in Toronto outside Queen’s Park featuring speakers making anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks, spreading hatred, inciting violence and supporting of terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Al Quds Day was originally created to call for the destruction of the state of Israel. The rally in 2017 did not receive a permit to hold the event at Queen’s Park or from the City of Toronto, however the event proceeded.

Based on his unsubstantiated allegations, Pasternak requested that Council be provided information in response to the question “do the Toronto Police Service or City of Toronto have ability and what resources could they utilize to prohibit a rally that is inciting hatred and violence, such as Al Quds Day, white supremacist or neo-Nazi rallies, from taking place on city or provincial property in Toronto?”

Upon learning of Pasternak’s attack, the Al Quds Committee wrote to Mayor Tory, stating:

These are extraordinarily serious allegations for which Councillor Pasternak fails to cite an iota of evidence. We reject and object to these allegations in the strongest possible terms. In fact, the Al-Quds committee unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism, white supremacy and Nazism in all of their insidious forms. The mandate of our committee is profoundly anti-racist and is diametrically opposed to the goals of white supremacists, Nazis and other anti-Semites.

It is quite true that we are highly critical of the inhumane policies of the state of Israel, but so too is virtually the entire international community. The Canadian government itself recognizes on its Global Affairs website that Israel’s settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and are a “serious obstacle” to peace… In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously, and with the concurrence of the United States judge, that Israel’s settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. Even worse, Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, among other human rights groups, have documented Israeli forces’ torture of Palestinian adults and even Palestinian children, and Israel’s use of collective punishment and extra-judicial assassination in violation of international law.

There is nothing remotely anti-Semitic about condemning these appalling human rights abuses and calling for sanctions to be imposed upon the state of Israel to bring these abuses to an end. On the contrary, based upon our extensive interactions with our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community, we believe that Israel’s conduct is an affront to Jewish values and in no way represents the Jewish people, despite the Netanyahu government’s claims to the contrary.

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Young Activists Crash Press Conference to Confront Justin Trudeau on Climate Policy

On November 15, 2017, Hayley Zacks and Jake Hubley, two young climate campaigners from Vancouver, peacefully approached Justin Trudeau at a press conference and were promptly arrested. Their offence was daring to tell the Prime Minister that, after voting for him in 2015, they felt betrayed by his pro-tar sands policies. As the two campaigners were removed from the press conference, Trudeau complimented them for their climate activism.

For The Real News, I talk to Hayley and Jake about their arrest and their reasons for deciding to oppose Justin Trudeau’s climate policies. The interview can be seen here:


Canada’s Extradition Law Exposes Professor Hassan Diab to a Kafkaesque Ordeal

Hassan Diab is a former sociology professor at the University of Ottawa. In 2008, France requested from Canada Dr. Diab’s extradition for his alleged involvement in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing.

In June 2011, after a lengthy extradition hearing, the judge presiding over Dr. Diab’s extradition hearing described the evidence as “illogical”, “very problematic” and “convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect.” The judge nevertheless held that his interpretation of Canada’s extradition law left him no choice but to extradite Dr. Diab to France.

Three years ago, Dr. Diab was extradited to France by the Harper government. He continues to languish in a French prison. Since then, four French anti-terrorism judges have gathered testimony from several witnesses that Dr. Diab was in Lebanon at the time of the bombing. They have also obtained university records which show that Dr. Diab wrote and passed exams in Beirut then and that he couldn’t have been in Paris at the time of the crime.

French anti-terrorism judges have ordered Dr. Diab’s conditional release under electronic surveillance eight times, only to have their orders challenged by the prosecutor and overturned by an appeal court on every occasion.

On the 3-year anniversary of Dr. Diab’s extradition to France, I spoke with Dr. Diab’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, about his client’s Kafkaesque ordeal. My interview of Mr. Bayne can be seen here:



Is Canada a Rogue Nation on Climate Change?

For the Real News, I speak with Dave Bleakney, 2nd National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who is attending the COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany.

As Dave explains, not only is the Trudeau government’s conduct at COP23 fundamentally inconsistent with its rhetoric on climate change, but the entire climate conference is failing to address the core problem that has generated the climate crisis. The core problem is an economic system that is founded upon endless consumption and greed.

My interview of David can be seen here:



Canada’s Pro-Israel Lobby Uses Fake News and Specious Assumptions to ‘Demonize and Delegitimize’ the BDS Movement

On November 8, 2017, the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reported that Dr. David Kattenburg had commenced an application for judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada.

In his application, Dr. Kattenburg impugns a decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to allow the importation and sale of wines produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements.

In his original complaint to the CFIA, Dr. Kattenburg correctly noted that wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements are labelled as “Product of Israel” even though they are produced in Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that no state – not even the state of Israel – claims that the West Bank forms part of Israel’s sovereign territory.

CJN’s article also reported that Avi Benlolo of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) purports to be “confident” that the Federal Court of Canada will dismiss Dr. Kattenburg’s application for judicial review. In explaining his confidence, Benlolo offered to the CJN no analysis whatsoever of the Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) even though the CFIA explicitly based its decision on CIFTA.

Rather, according to Benlolo, Dr. Kattenburg’s application is “one more attempt to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, which has been recognized by provincial and federal governments as anti-Semitic.”

Whatever Dr. Kattenburg’s view of the BDS movement may be, Dr. Kattenburg has never argued that the CFIA has the authority to impose a boycott of settlement wines. On the contrary, his position before the CFIA and in his application for judicial review has consistently been that, for these wines to be sold to Canadian consumers, their true country of origin must be disclosed, and that Canadians are entitled to have accurate information when deciding whether to purchase these wines. This is a proposition with which we should all be able to agree – including Avi Benlolo.

Even more misleading is Benlolo’s claim that the BDS movement “has been recognized by provincial and federal governments as anti-Semitic.” Continue Reading ›