Bankrupt Greece Becomes a Major Military Spender and “Sales Agent” for NATO

For The Real News Network, I speak with the former Deputy Defence Minister of Greece, Costas Isychos, about Greece’s massive military spending and its government’s remarkable willingness to forge close ties with egregious human rights violators.

Although Greece is effectively bankrupt, it is the second highest spender in NATO (as a percentage of GDP).

Moreover, the ‘radically left’ government of Alexis Tsipras is deepening economic and military ties with extreme right-wing governments in the region, including and particularly the apartheid regime of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

My interview of Mr. Isychos can be seen here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=20624#.WilUgowQQg8.facebook.

 

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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Roger Waters Confronts the Occupation of the Canadian Mind

For The Real News Network, I talk to Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters about his recent concert tour in Canada.

Since performing in Israel in 2006, Roger has become a globally renowned advocate for the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people, but his calls for peaceful economic sanctions on Israel have attracted the ire of Israel’s apologists. Their hostility was on full display during Roger’s recent concert tour in Canada.

In this interview, Roger responds to their attacks:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:20449:Roger-Waters-Confronts-the-Occupation-of-the-Canadian-Mind

 

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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From Argentina to Greece: The Legacy of Che Guevara

Che Guevara once said “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”

Last month, while attending a conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution in Corinthos, Greece, I had the pleasure of meeting one of Che’s comrades, Calica Ferrer. Calica was a childhood friend of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

In 1953, when Calica was 24 – one year younger than Che – both of them traveled through Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, surviving on very little money. These experiences are recounted in Calica’s book “De Ernesto al Che” (From Ernesto to Che).

As Calica explains in this interview for The Real News Network, the dictatorships, poverty and anti-indigenous bigotry that he and Che witnessed during their travels molded Che’s revolutionary character.

Calica and Che separated in Ecuador when Calica was offered a job with a local football team, and Che carried on toward the north, along a path that would finally lead him to Fidel Castro. Fifty years ago, Che was executed in Bolivia by the Bolivian army.

My interview of Calica can be seen here:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:20500:From-Argentina-to-Greece%3A-The-Legacy-of-Che-Guevera

 

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:

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:20452:Canada%27s-Extradition-Law-Condemns-Hassan-Diab-to-a-Kafkaesque-Ordeal

 

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 ›