Tag Archives: Noam Chomsky

Trudeau lobbies Biden to maintain climate-destroying Trump policy

US President Donald Trump’s climate criminality has been shocking. His administration’s contribution to worsening this existential threat to humanity will be remembered as his most damaging policy.

Largely in response to the president’s ‘spew more fossil fuels’ outlook Noam Chomsky described Trump as “the worst criminal in human history.” Pressed on the matter, Chomsky recently told the New Yorker that Adolf Hitler “was an utter monster but [he was] not dedicating his efforts perfectly consciously to destroying the prospect for human life on earth.”

So why is Ottawa trying to maintain one of the Republican’s worst environmental policies?

Incredibly, the Trudeau government’s immediate reaction to US voters rejecting Trump was to press the president-elect to break a direct promise and maintain the worst of the Donald. Soon after Biden was declared winner Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told CBC that persuading the incoming president to build the Keystone XL Pipeline was at the “top of the agenda” for Canada.

As the first global leader to talk to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised a pipeline that would ship more than 800,000 barrels of heavy carbon emitting crude a day from Alberta to the US. In response to the Trudeau government’s bid to maintain the worst of Trump, Bill McKibben wrote to 350 Canada’s list, “It’s truly unacceptable that the Trudeau cabinet’s top agenda item is to weaken Biden’s position on climate.”

Under intense pressure from indigenous and environmentalist groups President Barack Obama denied TransCanada the permit for Keystone XL. But, immediately upon taking office Trump signed an executive order allowing the pipeline. In 2018 a federal court judge in Montana halted the project after concluding the US State Department hadn’t properly considered the pipeline’s environmental impact. In response, Trump signed a new order last year that bypasses the judge’s ruling and granted permission for construction.

During the election Biden promised to cancel Keystone XL within his first 100 days in office. But now the Trudeau government, Alberta and other oil interests are pressuring Biden to break his promise. This is not an idle threat. In response to a question on the matter Alberta’s lead representative at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, James Rajotte, told the CBC on Monday that he’s already lobbying aggressively on the matter. The Stephen Harper government established an oil sands advocacy strategy that, noted Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson, “put Canada’s entire diplomatic apparatus in the US behind the Keystone campaign.” In a 2011 series dubbed the “The War for the Oil Sands in Washington” The Tyee described the intensity of Canadian lobbying efforts on behalf of Keystone XL. One congressional aide compared Canadian officials to “aggressive” car salesmen. It “was the most direct encounter I’ve had with a lobbyist representing a foreign nation,” a congressional staffer told the Tyee. Canada’s 22 consular offices in the US were ordered to take up the Keystone cause.

The Keystone XL decision is in keeping with Trudeau’s support or indifference towards Trump’s climate policy. While Trump was “dedicating his efforts perfectly consciously to destroying the prospect for human life on earth”, Trudeau sought to avoid conflict with the president over his administration’s climate criminality. Spiegel Online reported that the Canadian prime minister rejected a proposal by Chancellor Angela Merkel to support a German initiative at the 2017 G20 summit to pressure Trump on climate change. The Liberals also refused to commit Canada to improved automobile fuel mileage standards the Obama administration negotiated with the auto industry. Against the wishes of even some carmakers, Trump announced the US would freeze planned fuel-economy targets at 2020 levels, which prompted a bitter battle with California and a number of other US states. With Canada, the collection of dissident states represented 40 per cent of the North American auto market, enough to push the (divided) auto industry to follow the previously agreed fuel mileage standards. But the Liberals failed to publicly commit to push forward with steadily improved fuel mileage standards.

Despite claiming to take the climate crisis seriously, the Trudeau government has failed to put the country on track to meet even dangerously insufficient targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Expansion of the tar sands guarantees that Canada will flout its international commitments to reduce GHG emissions.

As the climate crisis worsens, it’s outrageous that Trudeau would press the president-elect to break his promise to voters and maintain the worst of Trump. Makes one wonder what level of climate criminality posterity will assign to the current Canadian prime minister.

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Filed under Climate, Justin Trudeau

Challenging illegal Israeli military recruitment

Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv hosted party with Canadian “lone soldiers” in IDF on Jan 16 2020

There’s a Canadian law that makes it illegal to recruit soldiers for a foreign state, but you’d never know it the way Israel and its supporters operate in this country.

The Foreign Enlistment Act states: “Any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.”

But for three quarters of a century Canadians have been recruited inside this country to fight in Israel’s military. Finally, however, there is an organized effort to stop this practice.

Recently a formal legal complaint was delivered to Justice Minister David Lametti detailing recruitment for the Israeli military in Canada and calling on the federal government to apply charges under the Foreign Enlistment Act where appropriate. Additionally, an open letter was released last week demanding the Trudeau government take action on recruitment for the Israeli military. Signed by Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, filmmaker Ken Loach, author Yann Martel, former MP Jim Manly, poet El Jones and more than 150 others, the open letter points out that “the Israeli consulate in Toronto has advertised on several occasions that they have an IDF representative available for personal appointments for those wishing to join the IDF.”

Last November the Israeli consulate in Toronto openly announced a military recruitment effort. According to their notice, “an IDF representative will conduct personal interviews at the Consulate on November 11-14. Young people who wish to enlist in the IDF or anyone who has not fulfilled their obligations according to the Israeli Defense Service Law are invited to meet with him.”

A number of groups help bring and support Canadians in the Israeli military. Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman’s Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers supports non-Israelis in the IDF and at its Toronto office the Friends of Israeli Scouts’ Garin Tzabar program has provided Hebrew lessons and support services, as well as help with transport and accommodation in Israel, for Canadian “lone soldiers”. Nefesh B’Nefesh’s also helps non-Israelis join the IDF.

When I was Vice President of the Concordia Student Union in 2002 Hillel, a Jewish student group, provocatively handed out flyers entitled “Volunteer for the Israeli Defense Forces!” In the aftermath of then former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being blocked from speaking on campus, Hillel advertised a recruitment program for the Israeli army!

While the number of Canadians in the IDF is always in flux, a January estimate put it at 78. In 2017 it was 230 and during Israel’s 2014 destruction of Gaza, which killed 2,200 Palestinians, 145 Canadians were thought to be fighting in the Israeli military. At least 25 individuals from the Greater Toronto Area fought in Gaza during Israel’s 22-day 2008/2009 assault, which left 1,400 dead. During Israel’s 2006 assault on Lebanon the Canadian Jewish News reported, “Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army.”

Israeli military recruitment in Canada is long-standing. The most important and well-documented recruitment took place during the war unleashed by the 1947 UN Partition Plan and Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Representatives from Haganah, the primary pre-state Zionist military force, recruited 300 experienced Canadian soldiers to serve in Israel’s ranks a decade after Canada adopted the Foreign Enlistment Act to stop Canadians from fighting against Franco’s fascist forces in Spain. Haganah’s main recruiter in Canada, the heir to Tiptop Tailors, Ben Dunkelman, claimed “about one thousand” Canadians “fought to establish Israel.” Dunkelman wrote, “the Haganahcommand had decided to recruit experienced combat soldiers to serve in the Jewish forces. They wanted me to get to work on recruiting an infantry brigade of English-speaking volunteers, which I would lead in action.” More than half a million dollars ($5.5 million in today’s money) was raised to pay for the travel and living costs of the Canadian troops.

During the 1948 war Israel’s small air force was almost entirely foreign, with at least 53 Canadians, including 15 non-Jews, enlisted. Montreal’s Sydney Shulemson is considered the “father of the Israeli Air Force” and, in a highly mediatized move, Canada’s top World War II fighter ace, Buzz Beurling, went to fight for Israel.

Ottawa did little to stop Canadians from joining Israel’s fight despite outlawing recruitment for a foreign army during the Spanish Civil War. Far from stopping it, Canadian diplomacy helped gain the release of Canadians detained in Lebanon en route to fight in Palestine.

Canadians engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. “By the summer of 1948,” reports researcher Dan Freeman-Maloy, “he [Dunkelman] was in command of a Brigade actively depopulating Palestinian villages by force — a unit so heavily comprised of recruits from Canada, the United States and South Africa that it came to be known as the ‘Anglo-Saxon Brigade.’”

The Israeli military’s belligerent, violent character has not abated since then. In his 2008 book Defending The Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Security & Foreign Policy Zeev Maoz notes, “there was only one year out of 56 years of history in which Israel did not engage in acts involving the threat, display, or limited use of force with its neighbors.” Over the years Israel has bombed Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia and Iraq. In recent years the Israeli military has bombed Syria on a weekly basis and has multiple boots on Palestinian necks. The Israeli military administers a brutal occupation in the West Bank and regularly kills Palestinians in Gaza.

The Liberal government needs to apply Canadian law regarding recruitment for the Israeli military. It’s long past time to disrupt the flow of Canadians killing Palestinians.

 

 

Please take a minute to email Justice Minister David Lametti to ask him to investigate recruitment in Canada for the Israeli military 

 

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Filed under Canada and Israel, Israel