The True ‘Troika of Tyranny’ In Today’s World Is The United States, Saudi Arabia And Israel

Yesterday, in an interview on RT America, I argued that the U.S. government’s sanctions on Iran have nothing to do with the human rights of the Iranian people, and that, to borrow John Bolton’s phrase, the true ‘troika of tyranny’ in today’s world is the United States, Said Arabia and Israel.

My interview on RT America can be seen and heard here:

Legal Battle over Falsely Labelled Wines From Israel’s Illegal Settlements Heats Up

In January 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about two wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Those wines are sold in Canada bearing labels which falsely proclaim them to be “Product of Israel”. As such, they plainly violate Canadian law, including section 5 of the Food and Drugs Act and section 7 of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

Dr. Kattenburg, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, reminded the CFIA that the Canadian government itself declares Israel’s settlements to be on occupied Palestinian territory and therefore a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is beyond reasonable dispute that those settlements form no part of Israel. As stated on the website of Global Affairs Canada:

Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…

Canada recognizes Israel’s right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including through the restriction of access to its territory, and by building a barrier on its own territory for security purposes. However, Canada opposes Israel’s construction of the barrier inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are occupied territories. This construction is contrary to international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Canada not only opposes Israel’s construction of a barrier extending into the occupied territories, but also expropriations and the demolition of houses and economic infrastructure carried out for this purpose.

After months of careful consideration by at least seven CFIA analysts, including five specialists and a senior compliance officer, CFIA staff properly concluded that the wines violated Canadian law and that Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint was well-founded.

The CFIA then instructed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to remove the wines from the shelves of LCBO vendors until a proper action plan for rectifying the false labels had been formulated and implemented.

On July 12, 2017 – before Dr. Kattenburg himself was apprised of the CFIA’s decision – the main pro-Israel lobby groups in Canada somehow learned of the CFIA’s ‘disturbing’ decision and intensely lobbied the Canadian government to reverse it. They relied on article 1.4.1b of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), an obscure provision that has nothing to do with product labelling. Nonetheless, the Canadian government quickly capitulated to the lobby’s demands and pressured the CFIA’s president into reversing his staff’s carefully considered decision.

Less than 24 hours after the lobby attacked the CFIA’s decision, the CFIA announced that it had reversed itself on the basis of “further clarification” of article 1.4.1(b), which CFIA staff had already considered before rendering its initial decision that the labels on these settlement wines violated Canadian law.

Canada’s pro-Israel lobby was aided in its efforts to circumvent Canadian law by Liberal MP Michael Levitt, the Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. On the day of the CFIA’s self-reversal, Levitt issued a statement in which he boasted about his advocacy for Israel and professed to have been “shocked and deeply concerned” by the CFIA’s enforcement of Canadian law.

Shortly after the CFIA’s lightening-speed self-reversal, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Michael Levitt celebrated their victory for injustice by travelling to the illegal Psagot settlement in the West Bank and visiting one of the wineries that is the subject of Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint.

In October 2017, I commenced a judicial review application in the Federal Court of Canada on Dr. Kattenburg’s behalf. Dr. Kattenburg is asking the court to declare unlawful the CFIA’s decision to allow these wines to be sold in Canada bearing false “Product of Israel” labels. Dr. Kattenburg’s application is scheduled to be heard in the Toronto courthouse of the Federal Court on May 21 and 22, 2019.

On November 2, 2018, I filed with the Federal Court a copy of Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law in support of his application. A complete copy of the Memorandum can be viewed at the end of this post.

Dr. Kattenburg stands to gain nothing from his extraordinary efforts to ensure that the Canadian government enforces Canadian law. As stated in his Memorandum of Fact and Law, he has commenced this legal proceeding “to help ensure respect for Canada’s consumer protection and product labelling laws, to help ensure that he and other Canadian wine consumers be provided truthful and accurate information about the wine products that they purchase and consume, and to ensure both Canada’s and Israel’s respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.” Although I am acting for Dr. Kattenburg on a pro bono basis, this legal proceeding requires him to incur significant expenses. We encourage you to help Dr. Kattemnburg to shoulder these expenses by contributing to his gofundme campaign here.

Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law, filed with the Federal Court of Canada on November 2, 2018:

Applicant’s Memorandum of Law – FINAL

 

 

 

Canada’s Eldorado Gold Demands 850 Million Euros From The Greek State

On my recent trip to Greece, I travelled to the Halkidiki region of northern Greece to see the Skouries open pit gold mine of Canadian miner Eldorado Gold. Standing at the edge of the mine, I spoke to Maria Kadoglou of Mining Watch Greece about fierce, local opposition to the mine and attempts by Eldorado to extract 850 million euros from the Greek State after the company was forced to suspend mining operations.

My report from the Skouries mine can be seen and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/canadian-miner-eldorado-gold-demands-850-million-euros-from-greek-state.

The is the second of two field reports that I have done on the Skouries mine. In the first report, I covered the commencement of a trial in Thessaloniki, Greece against 21 local environmental defenders who are accused of committing criminal offences at the Skouries mine. That report can be seen here: https://therealnews.com/stories/greek-state-prosecutes-21-environmental-defenders-for-opposition-to-eldorado-gold-mine.

Resistance to the Skouries mine was featured in the Avi Lewis / Naomi Klein documentary, This Changes Everything.

 

 

Greek State Prosecutes 21 Environmental Defenders For Their Opposition To Eldorado Gold’s Skouries Mine

Eldorado Gold’s Skouries mine, situated in a pristine forest in the Halkidiki region of Greece, is, in many ways, a case study in how Canadian extractive corporations enrich their executives and shareholders by ruthlessly externalizing and imposing the costs of their profit-taking activities on local populations.

Earlier this month, I visited the courthouse in Thessaloniki, Greece to attend the first day of a trial in which 21 local activists who oppose this mine are being charged with a range of serious offences, including operating a criminal organization.

While at the Thessaloniki courthouse, I interviewed defence lawyer Vasilis Tzimourtos, who is acting for 9 of the 21 accused activists.

Mr. Tzimourtos argued that, not only is the state’s case against his clients devoid of evidence, but his clients are ordinary citizens who are being persecuted by the Greek authorities for having protected their families and their fellow citizens from the environmental depredations of this mine.

My report on the Skouries criminal trial and my interview of Mr. Tzimourtos can be seen and listened to here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/greek-state-prosecutes-21-environmental-defenders-for-opposition-to-eldorado-gold-mine

Prime minister owes human rights activist an apology

[This open letter, signed by Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, Chris Hedges, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and hundreds of other human rights activists, lawyers, academics and journalists, was first published by Ricochet Media on October 11, 2018.]

We, the undersigned community leaders, academics, writers, lawyers, unionists, anti-racist and human rights activists are greatly disturbed that Prime Minister Trudeau and prominent members of opposition parties, including Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, and NDP Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière, have smeared prominent lawyer, human rights activist and journalist Dimitri Lascaris as an anti-Semite. Mr. Lascaris has a long and admirable record of defending human rights, including the rights of Palestinians. We stand shoulder to shoulder with him against these malicious and baseless attacks.

On Thursday September 6, 2018, Mr. Lascaris called Liberal MPs to denounce death threats made by B’nai Brith supporters against the prime minister and several other MPs seemingly targeted purely because of their Muslim and/or racialized identities. A video posted online by Mr. Lascaris shows the B’nai Brith supporters saying:

I just think we should bring in the death penalty. And that would resolve a lot of problems.… Justin Trudeau be the first one to go. I’d love to see him. And [MP Maryam] Monsef . And Iqra Khalid. And Ahmed Hussen. And Omar Alghabra… And Singh, Singh, let’s make him sing, you know, as he walks toward the guillotine!

Instead of condemning those who called for the prime minister and other politicians to face the “guillotine,” B’nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and our Canadian political leaders smeared the individual who was attempting to draw attention to the death threats. They have accused Mr. Lascaris of anti-Semitism for sending a tweet questioning the failure of two prominent Liberal MP supporters of B’nai Brith to denounce the video. In that tweet, Lascaris said, “Apparently, Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own prime minister and colleagues in the Liberal caucus.” He was clearly criticizing the MPs for their political records of unequivocal support for Israel, not their religious identities.

We unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. But the use of the charge of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israel’s policies endangers vitally important freedom of expression. As a joint statement released in July 2018 by 40 Jewish organizations from 15 countries states, “it is more important than ever to distinguish between the hostility to or prejudice against Jews on the one hand and legitimate critiques of Israeli policies and system of injustice on the other.”

Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of the Palestinian people are flagrant and severe. They are well documented by international institutions and organizations, including the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. It is bad enough that these violations have been permitted to continue with barely any condemnation from the Canadian government; it is even worse that government officials have now chosen to actively participate in the denigration of the defenders of Palestinian rights and international law.

We call on Prime Minister Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh to retract their slanderous statements and to commit themselves to investigating the circumstances bearing on Mr. Lascaris’s important tweet of September 6, 2018.

We also call on the Canadian government to immediately impose both an arms embargo and economic sanctions on the State of Israel until such time as it brings itself into compliance with international legal norms bearing on human rights.

Signed,

Noam Chomsky, University of Arizona, MIT Emeritus

Roger Waters, songwriter, singer and Pink Floyd co-founder

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Northern Ireland

Leo Panitch, Professor Emeritus, York University

Christopher Lynn Hedges, journalist and visiting Princeton University lecturer

Yonatan Shapira, former Israeli Airforce rescue pilot

Canadian Union of Postal Workers – Syndicate des travailleurs et travailleuses

Colonel Ann Wright, Gaza Freedom Flotilla and Veterans for Peace

David Heap, People for Peace, London, Ontario

Yves Engler, writer and political activist

Yudit Ilany, Parliamentary Consultant and Photographer, Israel

Bruce Katz, Palestinian and Jewish Unity

Bernie Hammond, Professor Emeritus, King’s University College, Western University

Sid Shniad, Member, National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Rev. Steve Berube, Chair, United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Isreal

Scott Weinstein, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Canadian Peace Congress

Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union, Aucklund, New Zealand

John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty Continue Reading ›

In the Great March of Return, Israel Commits Severe Violations of International Humanitarian Law

At a recent symposium in Winnipeg on Israel/Palestine, I and Michael Lynk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian Territories, made presentations on the legality of Israel’s settlements and Israel’s obligations in respect of protesters in Gaza’s Great March of Return.

In my presentation, I argued that there is overwhelming evidence that Israel’s is committing severe violations of international humanitarian law by killing and maiming thousands of unarmed protesters, including children, medics and journalists.

Professor Lynk explained that there is an overwhelming legal consensus internationally that Israel’s settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that apologists for Israel who claim otherwise are making the legal equivalent of the claim that the earth is flat.

My and Professor Lynk’s presentations can be seen here:

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Is Violating its Obligations Under the Fourth Geneva Convention

At a recent symposium in Winnipeg on Israel/Palestine, I made a presentation on Canada’s obligations under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

I argued that, by engaging in arms and other forms of trade with Israel, by allowing products from Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements to be falsely labelled as “product of Israel”, and by opposing U.N. measures that are designed to constrain Israel’s violations of international law, Canada is flagrantly violating Article 1 of the Convention.

A video of my presentation can be seen here:

https://www.israelpalestinelawsymposium.ca/wp/2018/09/30/canadas-obligations-under-international-law/