The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Warmongering
I have spent a few days reading Yves Engler’s book, The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy (2012) about the inhumane, cold-hearted and ruthless actions of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This has left me feeling nauseated and ill. Today, sitting in a coffee shop in Vancouver, I looked across the sunny street at Indigo Books and they had a huge banner inscribed with “The world needs more Canada” in their front window. If it’s Harper’s Canada we are talking about, the world certainly does not need more Canada.
Early on before Harper was PM, people warned that if Canadians elected this guy there would be big trouble ahead. He was to be feared. But not enough people really believed that he would unleash the most right-wing agenda ever seen in good old progressive Canada, the big geographical country with lots of resources and billed as a fine place to live. We hike in the mountains and toast our peacekeepers in faraway stormy lands. “It’s all good” as my son might say.
Engler is in his mid-thirties and has established himself as a Chomsky-styled iconoclast. He has punctured holes in Canada’s beloved myths. Canada’s esteemed diplomat and former PM, Lester B. Pearson, doesn’t look too good after Engler takes the myth apart, brick by brick. In Engler’s portrait, Pearson was an ardent cold warrior, supported colonialism and apartheid in South Africa, Zionism and coups in Guatemala, Iran and Brazil. He also supported the US war in Viet Nam and pushed to send Canadian troops to Korea. Engler certainly poked a stick in a hornet’s nest. Really? Couldn’t be so. Not sweet Lester.
Canadians who keep a critical eye on Ottawa at least sense that Harper has unleashed a frontal attack on our democracy. The books pile up if one deems to search them out and learn about Harper’s egregious deeds (Here are a few titles: M. Harris, Party of One ; D. Gutstein, Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues Transformed Canada ; and M. Hurtig, The Arrogant Autocrat: Stephen Harper’s Takeover of Canada ).
But Engler’s (The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy ) opens up the lesser known world of Canada’s foreign policy. Canadians rest too complacently inside the mythic Pearson bubble of Canada as perpetual do-gooder.
Like Chomsky, Engler marches out case after case, fact after fact to document Canada’s aggressive militaristic and corporate-oriented foreign policy. Canada lost a seat on the UN Security Council in 201o for good reason. OK: here’s a list to get us started: sabotaging of climate change legislation and action, bedding down with tar sands producers and the mining industry, opposing the democratic movement in the Arab Spring, military intervention in the attack and destruction of Libya, support for the right-wing Israeli government and backing US aggression against Iran, Lebanon and Somalia.
To read the complete story click here.
Activist slams ‘destructive’ foreign policy
Kristen Shane/Embassy Magazine/ November 21, 2012
Yves Engler calls Canada’s foreign policy under the Harper government “destructive” in his book, The Ugly Canadian.
His goal is to tell Canadians about it, spur them to change what he sees as “fundamentally immoral,” and build a network of likeminded activists spanning the environmental and antiwar movements to challenge government policy.
Published in September, it’s his seventh book. And he’s been promoting it in some unconventional ways: printing 300,000 Stop Harper’s Crimes stickers seen slapped onto bus shelters and light-posts, travelling hours by bus to small centres like Williams Lake, BC to speak, and starting the website Harper’sCrimes.ca.
In the book, Mr. Engler criticizes Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government on a number of issues from its promotion of the Alberta oil sands abroad to its response to the Arab Spring, support for Israel, and militarism.
A former vice president of Concordia University’s student union, The Ottawa Citizen once described Mr. Engler as a “leftist gadfly.”
As an activist with strong views against the majority government, his views are no doubt controversial.
The following interview has been edited for style and length.
You say the book is meant to shed light on the Harper government’s international policies, and not enough Canadians know about what the government’s doing. Why don’t they? And why is it important to know more?
“The dominant media does a terrible job of reporting the human consequences of Canadian foreign policy, of the imperialistic tendencies of Canadian foreign policy.
“Obviously it’s distant from lots of people’s lives. So there’s a general human tendency to be less interested, because it seems distant.
“I think that one of the things that can overcome that sense of distance is understanding the importance of it, and that this really matters to millions of people’s lives around the world.
“A Canadian mining company backed by the government that displaces an indigenous community in Ecuador, [where] there’s thousands of people that are directly affected—it matters.
“…It’s important for activist groups and conscious writers to do what they can to break through that and get average Canadians understanding the importance of it, and [its] consequences.”
To read the complete story click here. (paid content)
‘Canada’s motivations abroad no secret’, says critic about leaked foreign policy document
Radio Canada International/Nov. 20, 2012
Canada’s new foreign policy will be shaped by economic interests and not by the country’s traditional roles as peacekeeper and foreign aid provider, according to a document obtained by CBC News.
The draft of the highly classified document titled “Canadian foreign policy plan” states that Canada has to establish closer economic ties with the emerging markets of Asia, South America and Africa. Canada’s “influence and credibility with some of these new and emerging powers is not as strong as it needs to be and could be.”
According to activist Yves Engler, author of the book “The Ugly Canadian – Stephen Harper’s foreign policy”, Canada’s focus on trade deals and business opportunities is not a surprise.
Canada’s “immoral” foreign policy
His speech in Fredericton on Nov 18 was the last in Engler’s 40-day national tour about his latest book The Ugly Canadian, a work that criticizes Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s shaping of foreign policy.
Before he went back to his home in Montreal, Engler urged the Fredericton community to engage in his national campaign to “stop Harper’s crimes against humanity.”
To read the complete story, click here.
A Force for Good or Evil
Chris Aikman, Green Party/November 15, 2012
We all like to cling to that warm fuzzy feeling we’ve held onto for a lifetime, that Canadians are a force for good in the world. And that the world loves us for it. Of course, the truth might not be so simple. Or times might have changed.
Times have changed. I’ve just finished reading “The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy”, by Yves Engler, just now being released by Fernwood Publishing. It’s the most disturbing thing I’ve read in a very long time. Disturbing not because it’s overstated; many of the revelations presented there turn out to be even darker when researched on the internet. Disturbing because it reveals the same recurring pattern of corporatism, militarism and corruption wherever Harper has extended his influence to other countries. Disturbing because, for the most part, our mainstream media have glossed over the real facts behind the look-good feel-good headlines.
To read the complete story click here.
Yves Engler on The Ugly Canadian, foreign policy, and climate change
Yves Engler, author of several books on climate change and foreign policy, is on a cross country tour to launch his latest bookThe Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy. He argues that while concern about domestic politics is strong, Canada’s foreign policy gets less attention, although the two are rarely unrelated.
In Vancouver, the government’s plans that have been most in the headlines are the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. This, according to Engler, is in keeping with Harper’s agenda internationally, which has reversed Canada’s leadership on environmental responsibility measures like the Kyoto Protocol. According to Engler, the environmental policies Canada has adopted under the Conservative government are not only irresponsible domestically, but gravely culpable internationally.
“I think at the human level, the policy that will have the worst toll on poor people around the world is on the climate front — Harper’s ferocious lobbying for the tar sands in the US and across Europe.
This, in the context of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor reporting in 2012 that 400,000 people annually are already dying due to climate related issues, with 100 million additional deaths due to climate change projected between now and 2030. Already vulnerable people in Bangladesh and Ethiopia who emit less than most countries are on the front line of climate change. This raises the issue of climate justice.”
Canadian NGOs like ForestEthics, Tides Canada, and the Sierra Club which have spoken out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway have found themselves labeled “radicals” and “eco-terrorists”. It should be no surprise that, as Engler points out, our foreign policy includes overwhelming support for Canadian mining companies, which are implicated in environmental destruction, intimidation, and the murder of anti-mining activists in South America.
The foreign policy issue that has attracted the most headlines recently is Canada’s position on Iran. From all the sound and fury coming out of Ottawa about Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, one might assume that nuclear proliferation is a genuine concern.
Not so, says Engler. To read complete story click here.
Yves Engler: “The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy.”
Jo Kim/ Journalists for Human Rights/ Oct. 21, 2012
Yves Engler was certainly a popular guest among the big crowd gathered in the School of Community and Public Policy lounge, on Oct.9, as he came to present his latest book, “The Ugly Canadian”. This was a part of a national tour sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. The Canadian he refers to is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whom he argues is leading the country towards a dangerously belligerent and immoral foreign policy avenue.
Engler began by reminding the audience of Harper’s recent “Statesman of the Year” award, when in fact his policies prove him to be anything but. Since the Conservatives took office, the military budget has continually increased, despite there being very few combat missions Canada participates in. “We are making budget cuts in environmental and social policy areas, but spending as much as if not more than before on the military”, argues Engler.
In fact, General Natynczyk, the outgoing chief of the defense staff, deplored the lack of action for the men and women in uniform. Engler explains that Canadian mentality had shifted from being peace-loving and war-distanced to being militant and hostile; Harper has worked hard to foster this climate for war. Not only has the army delayed its final departure in Afghanistan and actively took part in NATO missions in the Middle East, but it has took on more warlike attitudes in handling Afghan detainees, in aiding pro-Israeli forces to “imperially” dominate the Gaza strip, and more.
More specifically, Engler emphasized that this aggressiveness in Canadian foreign policy is obvious in the hypocritical attitude and double standards Harper holds vis-à-vis the Middle East, particularly towards Iran v. Israel and Palestine v. Israel.
To read complete story click here.
Author stops off in city
By Dale Clifford, Peterborough Examiner/Monday, October 22, 2012
Montreal author Yves Engler returned to Peterborough Saturday with his latest and seventh book, The Ugly Canadian, a work criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and foreign policy.
A long-time radical historian and political activist, he spoke and answered questions for about 90 minutes on his concerns and passions at Sadleir House.
Roy Brady, chairman of the Peterborough-Kawartha Chapter of the Council of Canadian welcomed Engler, who has been in Peterborough several times.
It is all part of book launch tour by Engler, who took about eight months to write this latest 248-page book. He finished it early last month and it is his fifth on Canadian foreign affairs. To read complete story click here.
Book tour in Guelph proposes a world without cars
Chris Seto/Guelph Mercury/July 11. 2011
GUELPH — Yves Engler wants you to imagine a world without cars.
This was the message heard by 17 people who attended the author’s presentation of his new book called Stop Signs: Cars and capitalism on the road to economic, social and ecological decay at 10 Carden Street on July 9.
The 259-page book was co-authored by Bianca Mugyenyi and published in April this year. Guelph was the final stop on Engler’s two-month book tour that took him to 40 venues from coast to coast in the United States and Canada.
To avoid obvious criticism, Engler bought a greyhound bus pass to get from city to city. Mugyenyi travelled with him for the first two weeks of the tour but then returned to Montreal for work.
He introduced the book as “a critique of a transportation system structured around the private automobile.” It is divided up into three sections: the problems with cars, how and why they have risen to dominance and how the world can move beyond the private automobile.
Taking on the dominance of automoibiles
Samantha Powers/Edmonton Vue/June 29. 2011
Author Yves Engler didn’t get very far when he attempted to travel across the US. The problem: he was travelling without a car. In an attempt to demonstrate how significantly car culture has impacted transit development, Engler and co-author Bianca Mugyenyi set out to traverse the US vehicle-free.
“We were defeated to cross almost immediately,” says Engler, who will be speaking about the experience this Sunday as part of the book launch for Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay. After arriving at the Fort Lauderdale Greyhound station Engler and Mugyenyi had to take a taxi when they quickly discovered public transit was done for the day and that walking to their next destination would take over a day. “The most common theme was that it was very difficult to get around. People looked at us like we were crazy for trying to walk.”
The two Canadians chose to travel to the ancestral homeland of the car, the US, because of the historical significance it has had on the identity of the country. The right of passage of your first car means a highway drive to freedom, independence and eternal coolness. But what Engler and Mugyenyi discovered is actually the opposite. Due to the dependence on the car, freedom of movement is actually restricted if you don’t happen to own one.
To read the complete story click here.
Salutin: Rob Ford versus the anti-carriors
By Rick Salutin/Toronto Star/May 20, 2011
To read the complete article click here.
Fast Cars, Women and Five-Pound Pies
By David Ker Thomson/CounterPunch/May 20, 2011If the automobile industry spends more than twice as much for advertising as the next industry on the list, we might well conclude that the car is at least as much of an ideological menace as it is a physical one.
The havoc the automobile wreaks as a more or less controlled killing machine is so theatrically excessive that its putative mandate, moving folks from A to B, takes a back seat to its ghost task of culling. Few people get up in the morning thinking they’d like to go cancer up some cyclists, splatter some neighbors’ children, or dronefuck the weddings of people in distant lands who wear funny headgear. They have to be enticed into it. Enter ideology and its various manservants: advertising, lobbying, education—a list rather more extensive than we could exhaust here.
Cars. Aren’t they something? Sexy contours of plastiform into which we shoehorn our woe and manflesh. Aren’t they always swinging towards us in some advertisement, women’s legs springing out of their doors like kickstands supporting some impossibly perilous venture? And isn’t the crash our most vibrant ritual as a culture, bringing us together, really together, extruding our flesh through our carapaces and mingling us joint and sinew and blood?
As you might imagine, we here at the always ungoogleable City Without Cars and its related disorganizations were in fine fettle the other evening for going off to the campus to hear Montrealers Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler tell us about their Stop Signs (Cars and Capitalism) book and its accompanying psychogeographical quest: to get around the continent on a road trip without an automobile. Get in on the action while you can with their promo tour this month. For my part, I hardly heckled anyone during the whole evening. I was diverted by the blond in back who said she needed a car to get between university teaching gigs, and who said she’d also been known to live in her van, though she was beautiful enough to call the claim into question. I went back to investigate. She told me stories about portapotties flying at her windshield and, more in tune with my wild mood, about her man’s ex who’s worth a million dollars but still sucks bloodcash out of the man (in capitalist terms, out of the shared man). She talked, and poems of shares and stocks and stockings seethed in my brainpan. Funny how I started out thinking about cars and I ended up in capital, like the thing the punishment’s named after. All I wanted was beauty and truth. And now look.
To read the complete article click here.
Robert Fowler hasn’t been reading Yves Engler’s books
By Charlie Smith/Georgia Straight/March 28, 2010
Is it a good or bad sign that organized pro-Israel apologists are attacking my book? Should I be pleased or frightened by the attention? Here’s a commentary by the executive director of the curiously named HonestReporting Canada published in the London Free Press:
Backgrounds, biases need to be declared
By Mike Fegelman/London Free Press/March 27 2010
Media should always be wary about the motivations of freelancers whose partisan backgrounds and biases tend to influence their journalistic efforts.
Case in point, a book review entitled “Canada faulted for pro-Israel bias,” that David Heap, a professor at University of Western Ontario, pitched to the London Free Press and had published on March 6 about Yves Engler’s book Canada and Israel Building Apartheid. Setting aside problematic content issues about this review and the book itself for the moment, it’s quite disconcerting and professionally unethical for Heap to not disclose his highly partisan stance on the Mideast file. Heap is a self-described pro-Palestinian political “anti-war” and “social justice activist,” a strident supporter of “Israel Apartheid Week” and a participant of the so-called “Gaza freedom march.” He’s also a signatory to the “Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid” and to a letter sent to PM Harper alleging that Israel was “targeting civilians” and conducting “collective punishment.” The fact that none of these affiliations was acknowledged by Heap is disturbing and the fact that an anti-Israel adherent was given the opportunity to review an anti-Israel book has only resulted in a sycophantic and uncritical review that has greatly mislead Free Press readers.
To read the complete article click here.
Yves Engler rips Canadian myths in Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid
By Charlie Smith/Georgia Straight/March 25, 2010
Montreal writer Yves Engler is on a mission to explode some enduring myths about Canadian foreign policy. In his view, one of them is that former Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson represented what’s best about Canada’s international conduct. Another myth, he says, is that Canada has had a positive influence on Haiti. A third is that Canada was not complicit in the Vietnam War. A fourth is that Canada opposed the United States–sponsored coup against the democratically elected Chilean government in 1973; a fifth, that Canada was at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle.
“The myths serve power well,” Engler says during an interview at the Georgia Straight office.
He has written four books in his campaign to shatter these perceptions. Over the past year, the former junior hockey player has crisscrossed the country in a Greyhound bus, appearing at more than 70 public events. Engler, who was raised in East Vancouver, says that audiences often pass around a hat to help cover his travel expenses.
Even though his fact-heavy books have attracted praise from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Vancouver physician and author Gabor Maté, Engler has often been ignored by the mainstream Canadian media. He laughs as he tells the story of how his best-known work, The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (Fernwood Publishing, 2009), got some coverage in the corporate press. “The Montreal Gazette shortlisted it for the Quebec Writers’ Federation nonfiction prize,” he says. “After that was shortlisted, they reviewed it. It was totally right-wing—[the writer] called it a Marxist-Leninist review [of history].”
In his latest book, Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid (Fernwood Publishing, 2010), Engler challenges the conventional wisdom that this country was an evenhanded player in the Middle East until the Harper government abruptly changed course and adopted a radically pro-Israel stance.
“With the media in this country…there is no space for discussing the Israel-Palestine issue in anything approaching a sensible kind of way,” Engler maintains. He adds that this is especially true when it comes to addressing Canada’s 100-year record of supporting “dispossession of the Palestinians”.
To read the complete story click here.
Yves Engler explores how Canada helped build apartheid in Israel
Samantha Power/Edmonton Vue/March 25, 2010
For years the mythical advice to travellers has been to sew a Canadian flag patch to your back pack. The world loves Canadians. We created peacekeeping, we rushed in to save hundreds of thousands in the Second World War, we … haven’t done a lot in the 50 years since any of our grand, celebrated international actions. Lately Canada has not fared so well. Stalling tactics at December’s Copenhagen Climate Summit, growing international opposition to Canada’s tar sands and, recently, a confused position on women’s health, to the point that Britain has wondered whether Canada understood British intent to create women’s health as a G8 priority. But this should not come as a surprise to Canadians.
Canadian author Yves Engler’s last book opened up the case for Canada’s failing status as a world leader as well as complicity with some of the most egregious international crimes, including forced relocation of Colombia’s population for Canadian mining projects and support for coups of democratically elected leaders. Canada is not the star many Canadians believe we are on the international stage.
With the debate over Israel and Palestine becoming a growing topic on Canadian campuses and amongst Canadian youth, Engler has returned to shed light on Canada’s historical relationship with Israel and how that has led to Israel’s ability to continue to suppress Palestinians. His new book, Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid, deconstructs the historical and unilateral support Canada has given Israel over Palestine for decades.
To read the complete story click here.
Bruce Wark/The Coast/March 24, 2010
About 200 people gathered in Halifax last week to hear activist and journalist Yves Engler speak about his new book Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid. Engler’s talk coincided with Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,600 new housing units for Jews in occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli announcement embarrassed US vice-president Joe Biden, who happened to be visiting Israel. Poor Joe. The longstanding Israeli policy of establishing Jewish settlements in occupied Arab territories is a flagrant violation of international law and Biden knows it. Yet only a few hours before the announcement, he had reaffirmed the Obama administration’s “absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.”
Now, the red-faced American VP was forced to criticize Israel. Canada’s Foreign Affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, soon followed suit. It was strangely out of character because the Harper government is normally one of Israel’s most fervent backers. “Canada stands side-by-side with the State of Israel, our friend and ally in the democratic family of nations,” Harper declared on Israel’s 60th anniversary in 2008. “We have stood with Israel even when it has not been popular to do so, and we will continue to stand with Israel, just as I have always said we would.”
Harper is not the first Canadian PM to express such support. As Yves Engler’s book makes clear, Canada has consistently ignored or glossed over Israel’s occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands and its imposition of an apartheid system in which Palestinians are routinely denied their human rights. In the occupied West Bank, for example, Palestinians have been pushed into enclaves “encircled by a massive wall, had their water and land appropriated and are subjected to daily humiliation at military checkpoints.”
To read the complete story click here.
Conspiracy to silence or juvenile prank?
Two weeks ago I spoke at the University of Western Ontario in London about my new book Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid, but the meeting was almost cancelled by the University after it was told that I was wanted on charges of assault —a complete and utter lie. Not until the organizers of the meeting agreed to pay $450 for six security guards was the talk allowed to proceed.
This followed a series of strange events, which included a radio host in Windsor calling for my book launch in that city to be cancelled and “editing” of a Wikipedia page about me.
Were these events a conspiracy or simply the work of juvenile vandals and willing fools? You decide.
Here’s what happened:
Just after the first event (in Montreal) of the promotional tour for my new book was announced, someone altered the Wikipedia entry for Yves Engler. Between 12:23 a.m. and 2:45 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2010, a person or persons using a computer with IP address 220.127.116.11 (traced back to a Montreal location) made a series of additions or changes.
The most important change to the Wikipedia entry was the following addition (original grammar and spelling): “Additionally, Yves Engler was found guilty of ‘assult and vandalism in the aftermath of a riot on Sept. 9, 2002, when Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech was aborted by demonstrators.’ In a display of force, Engler threw a bench through the University window. He later blamed it on Jews. Engler later tried to overturn his suspension; however, he was denied by a student hearing panael and Board of Governors. Justice Sylviane Borenstein ‘pointed out that Engler could register at another university to finish his degree if he didn’t want to wait until his suspension was up’ in a judgment from February of 2005.”
Except for the quote by the judge, taken out of context, none of this is true.
Other elements of this “cyber-vandalism” included adding the words “This is further evidence of Engler’s childishness” and “However, the book is not peer reviewed and the claims therein are highly suspect,” and “which might as well be a Batman comic for all its ‘accuracies’” inserted at the appropriate (?) spots.
In addition, the person or persons added the following “publications” to the list of my works:
“Mein Kempf: A Canadian Critique Publication Pending
How to Ruin a Degree via Activism Forthcoming
Cthulu’s Guide to Social Justice
A Toilet-Book Guide to Concordia University
Racism and Sexism: A How-to Manual
My Love Affair with Cthulu and Xenu: A Celestial Threeway
Self-Felating to the Left: An Activist’s Guide
Fear and Self Loathing: Student Politics at Concordia; Anarchist Edition”
In a display of Wikipedia efficiency, the most obvious vandalism was removed within hours. However, part of the most grievous libel was left in the Wikipedia entry. For days the entry had me convicted of “assault and vandalism” which is completely untrue. Then the entry was changed to a “student tribunal” found me guilty of “assault and vandalism” which is still untrue, but at least nearer the truth. The truth is that a student tribunal found me guilty of “vexatious conduct” and putting up stickers but two of the three members of the tribunal later told the Montreal Gazette and other media that the university administration had pressured them into suspending me for a semester. All these events were linked to my role as media spokesperson for the Concordia Student Union, described by some as the “most leftwing” in North America in the early part of the last decade. Since that time I have worked as a writer and researcher on Canadian foreign policy and the automotive industry. I have four published books and another one to come out early next year.
The amazing thing is that I likely would not even have noticed this cyber-vandalism, except that someone took the bogus information on the Wikipedia site to the UWO student administration in an attempt to have the meeting shut down. UWO security guards delayed the start of the meeting and an atmosphere of tension was created.
So, I repeat, was this an organized attempt to defame me and shut down my book tour?
Or an example of juvenile vandalism and university officials playing willing fools?
My money is on the latter, but I suppose anything is possible
FOOTNOTE: The morning of the UWO meeting the Wikipedia entry was finally changed to reflect what actually happened. Within three hours someone using the same IP address (18.104.22.168) had once again vandalized the entry.
Unique week gets mixed reviews
UWO: Several events were held to mark Israeli Apartheid Week
By Michael Kenned/London Free Press/Match 6, 2010
Spread lies and hatred or inform and educate. The function of Israeli Apartheid Week all depends on whom you talk to. And there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.
The week made its inaugural debut in London with events over four days ending Thursday at the University of Western Ontario. Israeli Apartheid Week started six years ago at the University of Toronto and has spread to 47 cities around the world.
The aim of the week, according to its organizing body, is to educate people about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and how that treatment is similar to the former system of apartheid in South Africa.
But many students on Western’s campus don’t see the event as educational or constructive.
UWO student Michael Rosenbaum, 18, created a Facebook group entitled “UWO Students Against ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ ” in response to the event.
“If you look at it this event it isn’t a pro-Palestinian event, it’s an anti-Israel event,” Rosenbaum says. “Instead of saying we need to support Palestinians to become autonomous to help their state flourish, this week is about condemning Jews and Israelis.”
Leore Zimner, 21, president of Western’s Israel on Campus group, is so opposed to Israeli Apartheid Week that in a recent interview she refused to even pronounce its name.
“I just refer to it as anti-Israel week. I don’t even like making the word-association because I think it’s just that bad.”
Iman Ghazal, president of Western’s Palestinian Student Association, says the name of the week is unimportant.
“Really, it’s the content of our message that some people have a problem with — that unjust policies are being imposed upon the Palestinian and Arab people in both Israeli and Palestinian occupied territories.”
Ghazal, 21, says there will always be opposition to her group’s actions. She says her group was accused of being anti-Semitic when they organized a campaign to send paper cut-out flowers to children in Gaza last year following an Israeli offensive.
UWO student Feras Obeid, 21, went to various Israeli Apartheid Week events and says the experience was positive and informative.
Obeid attended a speech delivered Thursday by Yves Engler, a controversial writer and political-activist from Montreal who discussed Canada’s political relationship with Israel. Obeid hopes to see the event repeated next year.
Zimner couldn’t disagree more. She wants to see the week banned from the UWO campus.
“It’s a week that does nothing to promote civil discourse and it also doesn’t promote true learning and education about the Middle East and Israel right now.”
Dima Alsakka, vice-president of the Palestinian Student Association, said the group’s information booth received a record volume of traffic.
Canada most pro-Israel in world: author
By Kathy Rumleski/London Free Press/March 3, 2010
Political activist and author Yves Engler is in London Thursday presenting information on his new book, Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid.
Engler will speak at the University of Western Ontario as part of Israel Apartheid Week, held on campus for the first time this year. Engler states that Canada’s foreign policy is the most pro-Israel in the world.
“When I saw the book, I said, ‘We need to hear about this.’ It covers some of the important history that people know too little about,” said David Heap, a French and linguistics faculty member at Western, who is helping to organize Israel Apartheid Week activities, along with The Palestinian Students Association, People for Peace London and Friends of Sabeel.
For complete story, click here.
Apartheid week one-sided but not anti-Semitic
By Thomas Walkom/Toronto Star/March 3, 2010
I went to an Israeli Apartheid Week event Monday evening to see what all the fuss was about.
Israeli Apartheid Week is an international, pro-Palestinian teach-in that, for the last six years, has taken place annually at about 40 campuses worldwide. Detractors call it poisonous and anti-Semitic. Last week, the Ontario Legislature got into the act by unanimously passing a resolution that condemned it for inciting “hatred against Israel” and diminishing “the suffering of those who were victims of the true apartheid regime in South Africa.”
Thornhill Conservative MPP Peter Shurman called it “about as close to hate speech as one get without being arrested.” Toronto Liberal MPP Mike Colle said it was organized by “hate-mongers” and was based on the systemic hatred of “Israel and anything Jewish.”
I didn’t notice any hate-mongers at the Ryerson University lecture Monday night.
For complete story click here.
Let Haitians take charge of their destinies
By Mara Kardas-Nelson/Rabble.ca/Feb. 17, 2010
For decades, centuries even, powerful international actors such as the U.S., Canada, France, and the U.N., as well as thousands of non-governmental organizations and individual benefactors, have determined the fate of Haiti. Since Canada’s involvement with the 2004 coup against former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a small national movement has led the call, “Canada out of Haiti!”
Despite the earthquake and the international community’s relief effort, this movement is growing. At its the heart lies the notion that foreign actors must no longer claim to know “what is best” for the country, and allow citizens, under a democratically elected leader, to decide and forge their own direction. They claim that subtle but crippling interventionist policies are taking place today in the form of government-to-government boycotts and the resulting reliance on foreign NGOs. …
Yves Engler, author of Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority, says that 80 per cent of the country’s social services are run by NGOs, with estimates of over 10,000 operating throughout the country. “There is no other place in the world where NGOs have more power than in Haiti,” he says.
To read complete story click here.