Tag Archives: Thomas Mulcair

Dershowitz, Cotler and ‘progressive’ anti-Palestinian enablers

Why are Cindy Blackstock, Charles Taylor, Pearl Eliadis, Murray Sinclair and Thomas Mulcair publicly associating themselves with alleged pedophile Alan Dershowitz?

Why are the indigenous advocate, philosopher, human rights lawyer, former senator and former NDP leader supporting the anti-Palestinian lobby’s bid to crush a small left-wing Toronto restaurant?

Why have they offered their names to a ‘human rights’ organization run by a vicious anti-Palestinian who aggressively criticizes ‘enemy’ states while largely ignoring rights violations committed by Canada and the US?

Dershowitz, Blackstock, Eliadis, etc. are all “senior fellows” of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. When appointing Dershowitz, Blackstock, Eliadis, Taylor, Sinclair and others as senior fellows in 2017 Irwin Cotler told the press they were “chosen for their singular contributions to the struggle for peace and justice in our time.”

Recently, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre partnered with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre in requesting to intervene in a case before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against Foodbenders. Since the left-wing Toronto restaurant painted “I love Gaza” in its window on Bloor street in late 2019 the Israel lobby has targeted the small restaurant. Last summer they saw a chance to deliver a blow to a precarious cafe that strongly advocated for Black Lives Matter and Indigenous rights, when owner Kimberly Hawkins posted to Instagram: “Open Now – 8 PM for non-racist shoppers #Bloordale #Bloorstreet, #Toronto, #Open, #ftp [fuck the police] #FreePalestine and #ZionistsNotWelcome”. In response the anti-Palestinian lobby claimed the #ZionistsNotWelcome hashtag discriminated against Jews and now the Raoul Wallenberg Centre is joining in the multifaceted effort to punish Hawkins.

Irwin Cotler founded and chairs the Raoul Wallenberg Centre. His daughter Gila is its CEO.

Regularly lauded in the dominant media, Cotler is highly selective about his human rights outlook. The former Liberal justice minister promotes an organization that engages in a form of legalistic racism outlawed in this country 70 years ago. As he’s done on numerous occasions, Cotler attended the May 2019 Jewish National Fund (JNF) fundraising Gala in Montréal. The explicitly racist JNF excludes the 20% of non-Jewish Israelis from its vast landholdings mostly stolen from Palestinians in 1948. The US State Department, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Israeli Supreme Court have all described the discriminatory policies of the JNF.

Last year Cotler delivered a letter to the International Criminal Court calling on the court to ignore Israeli war crimes. Cotler supports following Donald Trump’s move in relocating Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem. He also defended Israel’s shooting of ‘march of return’ protesters in Gaza as well as the 2014 and 2009 attacks on Gaza that left nearly 4000 dead. Just after Israel killed 1,200 Lebanese in the summer of 2006 Cotler spoke to a conference of top Israeli military officials on the importance of managing the message in modern war.

Along with close friend Dershowitz, Cotler has enabled the violent, cult like, Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). In 2012 the Jewish Telegraphic Agency cited Cotler, Dershowitz and other prominent pro-Israel activists who worked with Iranians dissidents to convince the State Department to remove the MEK from the US terrorism list, which paved the way for Ottawa to follow suit. In 2014 Cotler invited MEK leader, Maryam Rajavi, to speak at Iran Accountability Week on Parliament Hill. In “We asked Canadian politicians why they engaged with a ‘cult’-like group from Iran”, Shenaz Kermalli points out that Cotler regularly attends events organized by the MEK-aligned Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran and National Council of Resistance of Iran. The MEK backed Iraq in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and, according to US government sources, teamed up with Israel to assassinate Iranian scientists more recently. It is thought to be funded by Saudi Arabia.

Cotler has aligned himself with Africa’s most bloodstained leader Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. He has also promotedWilliam Browder. A US capitalist who got rich in Russia during the privatization frenzy of the 1990s, Browder repackaged himself as a human rights activist to avoid being extradited to Russia on tax fraud charges.

Cotler aggressively criticizes “enemy” states while largely ignoring rights violations committed by Canada and the US. Looking through months of Cotler’s Twitter he writes overwhelmingly about Iran, Russia, Venezuela and China, but says little about Canadian mining companies’ international abuses, repression by the Canadian-backed President of Haiti, violence in Colombia, etc.

One has to be extremely naïve to think that Cotler’s interest in Muslim Uighur rights in China is disconnected from Washington’s campaign against China. Similarly, Cotler’s support for far right-wing Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopez is tied to Washington and Ottawa’s hostility to the government there.

But if Blackstock, Taylor, Eliadis, Mulcair, Sinclair etc. aren’t made uncomfortable by human rights activism at the service of Western power, they may want to consider the Raoul Wallenberg Centre’s association with Dershowitz. An important figure in the Jeffrey Epstein pedophilia/rape scandal, Dershowitz negotiated (partly through intimidation) the scandalous “non-prosecution agreement” under which Epstein served 13 months in a Florida jail, which was largely spent on “work release”. Court documents released in the case of alleged Epstein madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, claim “Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement with a provision that provided protection for himself against criminal prosecution in Florida for sexually abusing [Virginia Roberts Giuffre].”

A close friend of Epstein, Dershowitz is accused of raping two of Epstein’s sex slaves. In a court filing Roberts said, “Dershowitz was so comfortable with the sex that was going on that he would even come and chat with Epstein while I was giving oral sex to Epstein.” Roberts added that she had sex with Dershowitz “at least six times”. According to a British Daily Mail story based on released court documents, ‘Jane Doe 3’ says Epstein required her “to have sex with Dershowitz on numerous occasions when she was a minor, not only in Florida but on private planes, in New York, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” In the 2015 article “Israel defender Alan Dershowitz has long history of attacking sex abuse victims” Rania Khalek details his aggressive anti-woman positions. In 1997 Dershowitz argued that “puberty is arriving earlier, particularly among some ethnic groups.” As such, the eminent lawyer called for — a position repeated more recently — the age of consent to be lowered (if a child reaches puberty at ten should they be legitimate targets for sexual predators?).

Perhaps Cindy Blackstock, Charles Taylor, Pearl Eliadis, Murray Sinclair and Thomas Mulcair should reconsider if they want to be associated with Dershowitz, Cotler and an institute that’s part of the anti-Palestinian lobby’s witch hunt against a small restaurant.

On Friday, May 21 at 7pm Yves Engler will be speaking at a Canadian Foreign Policy Institute event on “The Innumerable Ways Canada Supports Israeli Apartheid”

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Filed under Israel Lobby

Good riddance to NDP MP who is pro-Israel, pro-US empire

Israeli Ambassador Barkan with MPs Levitt, Sweet and Rankin as well as former MP Irwin Cotler.

Victoria MP Murray Rankin’s recent announcement that he won’t seek re-election is a victory for NDP members who stand for Palestinian rights and oppose regime change efforts in Iran and Venezuela.

Since taking his place in Parliament seven years ago Rankin has been a leading anti-Palestinian activist in the NDP. Here is a brief summary of his blindly pro-Israel, pro-US Empire activities as MP:

  • During Israel’s Summer 2014 destruction of Gaza, which left 2,200 Palestinians dead, he offered remarks supporting Israel (along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper) read at a Victoria Jewish Federation event to raise money for an emergency Israel Relief Fund. In 2016 Rankin went to Israel in a Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs organized trip and was one of the MPs who blocked the “Palestine Resolution” from being discussed at the NDP convention in February. In December Rankin joined Ambassador Nimrod Barkan and other prominent anti-Palestinian politicians (Michael Levitt, David Sweet, Irwin Cotler) for an event at the Israeli Embassy.
  • An early endorser of Thomas Mulcair’s bid for the NDP leadership, Rankin is on the executive of the Canada Israel Interparliamentary Group, which promotes “greater friendship” and “cooperation” between the two countries’ parliaments. In refusing to heed a call from 200 well-known musicians, academics, trade unionists and NDP members to withdraw from CIIG, Rankin told Huffington Post, “as a New Democrat, I am committed to advancing peace and justice, and a two-state solution, which can only be achieved through open dialogue with Israelis and Palestinians.” But, the claim of “dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians conjures up famed South African activist Desmond Tutu’s insight that “if you neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Ironically, Rankin made the same point— though not about Palestinians – at a 2017 Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies event. At the Israel lobby group’s event he quoted Elie Wiesel saying, “neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”
  • While he justifies participating in CIIG by citing “dialogue”, Rankin doesn’t specify whom he’s talking to. A quick Google search of CIIG’s Israeli partner — the Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group — shows that all 13 of its members have expressed problematic views or proposed racist laws. Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group co-chair Anat Berko is openly anti-African  and recently pushed for expanding the Israeli forces powers to punish Palestinians. Berko told the Knesset: “When we  speak of revoking resident status or demolishing homes, it should happen immediately. The punishment cannot be [held up] in the High Court of Justice for 11 years.”
  • Since announcing his retirement the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, as well as CIIG colleagues Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather, have tweeted their praise for Rankin. Extremist former Canadian Ambassador to Israel Vivian Bercovici‏, a former colleague of Rankin’s at the law firm of Heenan Blaikie, also praised him recently, which he retweeted.
  • Through his participation in CIIG Rankin has repeatedly attacked Tel Aviv’s regional bogeyman, Iran. Rankin participated in a recent press conference with CIIG chair Michael Levitt, vice-chair David Sweet and executive member Anthony Housefather calling for a new round of Canadian sanctions on Iran. Led by former CIIG executive Irwin Cotler, this effort flouts the NDP’s position on Iran. Rankin’s disagreement with NDP policy took place amidst the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and bid to force others to adhere to its illegal sanctions, by threatening to sanction any country that buys Iranian oil.
  • With Cotler and Levitt, Rankin has participated in a number of events put on by the Canadian Section of Scholars at Risk, which is unduly focused on Iranian rights violations. In August Rankin attended the launch of a new advocacy group for political prisoners set up by Cotler who has devoted much of his career to defending Israeli human rights violations. (His wife, Ariela Zeevi, was a “close  confidant” of Likud founder Menachem Begin when the arch anti-Palestinian party was established to counter Labour’s dominance of Israeli politics. His daughters were part  of the Israeli military.)
  • Rankin is a regular at events led by Cotler, who has been attacking Iran and Venezuela incessantly for at least a decade. At one event Rankin said, “I feel a real honour to be on this stage with such giants of human rights as professor Cotler and Bill Browder.” A story on Rankin’s website about a joint event claims, “Irwin Cotler, who acted as counsel to Mandela.” But, when numerous media outlets repeated this claim after Cotler became a lawyer for right wing Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopezin 2015, South Africa’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Pandit Thaninga Shope-Linney, said, “Irwin Cotler was not Nelson Mandela’s lawyer.” For his part, Nelson Mandela mentions a number of lawyers (he was one) in his biography but Cotler’s name seems absent.
  • In 2015 Rankin participated in a press conference led by Cotler calling on the government to adopt the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Magnitsky Law). The legislation empowered Ottawa to sanction individuals outside the framework of international law. Thirty Russians, 19 Venezuelans and three South Sudanese officials were the initial targets of Canada’s Magnitsky Act.
  • In 2016 Rankin joined Cotler and the Executive Director of UNWATCH, Hillel Neuer, to urge Justin Trudeau’s government to oppose the election of Cuba and other countries to the UN Human Rights Council. A staunch anti-Palestinian, Neuer recently appeared  on Rebel Media’s The Ezra Levant Show to complain about Canadian funding to UNRWA, the UN body that supports Palestinian Refugees.
  • In 2016 Rankin joined Cotler and others “to mark the second anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s passing — and International Human Rights Day — by calling for the release of four political prisoners inspired by Mandela’s courage and commitment.” One was Iranian, Ayatollah Hossein Kazamani Boroujerdi, and another was Lopez who Rankin claimed, “was recently sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his role in pro-democracy protests in a trial devoid of any semblance of due process or legality.” In fact, the Harvard-educated Lopez endorsed  the military 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez and the leader of the hardline Voluntad Popular party was convicted of inciting violence during the 2014 “guarimbas” protests that sought to oust President Nicolas Maduro. According to a series of reports, Lopez was the key Venezuelan organizer of the plan to anoint Juan Guaidó interim president of Venezuela.

Rankin’s departure weakens the anti-Palestinian, pro-imperialist camp in the NDP. It also offers an opportunity for a more internationalist minded politician to take his seat.

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Filed under Left Right, Uncategorized

Got a billion? They will listen

We’ve all heard many times that “money talks” in politics but it was unclear how loudly. Now we know –one billionaire is heard over 50,000 ordinary Canadians.

While about 50,000 people and 175 organizations supported Up for Debate’s call for an election debate focused on women’s issues, it won’t happen because Stephen Harper refused to participate and NDP leader Tom Mulcair is unwilling to appear if the prime minister is not there to bash.

But the same politicians have agreed to a September 28 debate on foreign policy sponsored by an organization named after and financed by one of Canada’s richest and most right-wing capitalists.

Through his Aurea Foundation, Peter Munk, the founder of Barrick Gold, established Munk Debates in 2008. Peter’s son Anthony Munk, a close friends of Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright, is part of the four-person committee overseeing the debate series.

Set up to promote Peter Munk’s vision of the world, the Aurea Foundation has doled out millions of dollars to right-wing think tanks such as the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Canadian Constitution Foundation as well as the Fraser Institute’s Global Centre for Mining Studies.

Peter Munk espouses far-right political views. In 1997 he publicly praised dictator Augusto Pinochet for “transforming Chile from a wealth-destroying socialist state to a capital-friendly model that is being copied around the world” while two years later the Canadian Jewish News reported on a donation Munk made to an Israeli University and speech in which he “suggested that Israel’s survival is dependent on maintaining its technological superiority over the Arabs.” In 2006 he attacked leftist Bolivian president Evo Morales and the next year wrote a letter to the Financial Times comparing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to Hitler. In a March 2011 Globe and Mail interview Munk dismissed criticism of Barrick’s security force in Papua New Guinea by claiming “gang rape is a cultural habit” in that country.

Operating some of the most controversial mining projects in the world, Munk cultivated influence with politicians. He appointed former U.S. President George H. Bush and Tennessee Senator Howard Baker to Barrick Gold’s board, while former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney currently chairs its international advisory board. (When asked why he appointed Mulroney to Barrick’s board, Munk told Peter C. Newman: “He has great contacts. He knows every dictator in the world on a first name basis.”) A month after stepping down as Canada’s foreign minister in February John Baird also joined Barrick’s international advisory board.

While the Munk Debates presents itself as a forum of ideas, Peter Munk has a direct personal stake in Canadian foreign policy. Operating mines on six continents, Barrick Gold has benefited from Canadian aid money and diplomatic support. The company has aggressively opposed moves to withhold diplomatic and financial support to Canadian companies found responsible for significant abuses abroad. In 2008 it opposed the recommendations of a business/civil society mining roundtable launched by the previous Liberal government, and two years later the company successfully lobbied against Liberal MP John McKay’s private members bill C 300 (An Act Respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas Corporations in Developing Countries).

While Canadian foreign policy should be debated during an election it is not more important than issues that effect women.

And while Canada’s status as a global mining superpower ought to be part of a foreign policy debate, don’t expect any discussion of regulating mining activities abroad or the appropriate level of government “aid” to profitable “private” companies on September 28. Nor should we expect discussion about matters likely to embarrass the military or major corporations, such as what role Canada has played in Libya’s descent into chaos or Canada’s refusal to support international agreements to restrict carbon emissions. After all, a billionaire might be offended.

Ordinary Canadians have been put in their place — 50,000 of us can be dismissed. How many will it take before the politicians are forced to listen to us and ignore the billionaires?

 

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Filed under The Ugly Canadian