By Jim Miles
While on his way to Washington Benjamin Netanyahu stopped in Ottawa to confer with his patriot in arms, Stephen Harper. Following their morning meetings, of which we know little, the two held a very brief ‘press conference’ that simply highlighted the double standards under which the two operate, especially Netanyahu.
Harper began with a brief statement in French and English. The French comments included advice directed towards Assad in Syria, that he should “cesse tue leur proper citoyens” – he should stop killing his own citizens. He ended his French statements hoping for a solution for Israel that would be “juste et durable” – just and durable.
When he switched to English, he repeated the standard pro-Israeli fare. He indicated they had discussed “security issues of global concern” in what “are especially challenging times.” He repeated the mantra to “pressure Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear program,” and his familiar line for Israel and its “right to exist as a Jewish state in peace and security.”
Fairly bland stuff from our Dear Leader, yet the double standards remain. Certainly if Assad is to stop killing his own citizens, then perhaps Israel should stop killing its own citizens. Not an exact analogy as Palestinians are denied citizenship in the occupied territories, and those in Green Line Israel, while citizens, have many laws and actions that deny them equality and democracy. With Harper’s stated concern and fear of “Islamicism”, stemming from his Christian dominionist/fundamentalist perspective, it is only natural for him to think these are “especially challenging times,” with the “need to stop Iran’s nuclear program.” No one ever seems to think to ask Israel to abandon its nuclear program, through which it has developed a clear military dominance in the region, and has done so outside the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that Iran accepts.
Everyone in the west seems to grant Israel a right to exist. Technically, no country has the “right” to exist as all are founded on decades and centuries of conquest, wars, civil violence, and the subsequent negotiations. However, granted that, let us also grant the Palestinians the right to exist in their own sovereign territory, free from Israeli occupation and military rule, and within boundaries that are contiguous and defensible.
Netanyahu made a short comment indicating that Canada and Israel are “cooperating in unprecedented ways,” referring to those unknown discussions that assuredly contained comments about effective internal security measures and how to best control the thoughts and images for the Canadian public and its knowledge of Israel. Speculation, but premised on known qualities of the two.
He also commented on the “slaughter taking place in Syria” an event that “all decent nations should speak out against.” He further discussed the “turbulence” in the region coming from the “relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
More double standards, the slaughter in Syria can fairly obviously be compared to the slaughter in Gaza, in Lebanon, in the occupied territories. The latter of course is a very slow motion slaughter, one house at a time, one child at a time, over the course of decades. Certainly there is turbulence in the region, but once again, the Israeli liaison with the U.S. is the centre of most of that turbulence, their oppression of the indigenous peoples, and their support and sustenance of the repressive non-democratic monarchies and oligarchies that represent the Arab world in general.
Netanyahu then continued into some very interesting and disingenuous speculation of his own. He made the supposition that because “Iran is feeling the pressure” of the economic blockade, they might “evade pressure by entering talks.” He suggested the Iranians would “exploit talks…to deceive and delay” any further Israeli/U.S. action. He said the “international community should not fall into this trap.”
In psychological terms, this is called projection, accrediting to someone else your own motives and actions. In reality, Netanyahu is simply expressing a truth – he knows because of the decades of “peace talks” with the Palestinians, that Israel has evaded pressure on the international scene while at the same time being able to continue with its settlement, expropriation, and occupation of Palestinian lands. He also knows that the international community, especially the western countries of the Washington consensus, acquiesced to his and his predecessors actions, and while they may not have actually fallen into the trap of deception, they certainly ignored the obvious signs and pretended not to see what was happening in Palestine.
Yes, Mr. Netanyahu, talks can be advantageous to one’s political agenda, especially when it comes to deceiving the international community, or at least acquiring their unacknowledged ignorance.
He ended his comments expressing that it was “particularly encouraging to come to Canada,” as we share the “same values, same goals.” Perhaps this commentary will offer some dis-encouragement for future visits. Values? Harper’s values are aligned with Christian dominionism and the neocon advocacy of Ayn Rand‘s cult-like libertarianism. The end goal would be a theocracy run for the betterment of corporations and their profit, with all workers and employees effectively disenfranchised.
The duo entertained only two question, one in Hebrew for Netanyahu, the other in English for Harper. Netanyahu’s’ Canada visit will certainly be overshadowed by his visit to the U.S. where Obama is currently being depicted as hostile to Israel’s desires for war. To the question on establishing “red lines” with Washington, Netanyahu said he would not be tied into “red lines” that would affect Israel’s actions.
Harper’s question was direct, is a unilateral pre-emptive strike against Iran acceptable to Canada? While offering the usual platitudes about wanting a peaceful settlement, our neocon warrior leader also reiterated his usual line, supporting the “right of Israel to defend itself as a sovereign state, as a Jewish state.”
Okay, fine, defending oneself is one thing, but unilateral pre-emptive strikes have nothing to do with defence, and only represent an offensive military action. Essentially, though, the response is a yes without actually having to say it.
Netanyahu offered some closing comments on Iran. He reported that he had warned as much as fifteen years ago that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to peace in the world. He argued that time has proven him right as Iran is “obviously a danger to the whole world.” He then listed off many countries that either support Iran or are supported by Iran, alluding to Iran’s military and theocratic intentions around the world. He concluded saying “all options should be left on the table.”
Certainly Iran is armed and dangerous, but only if attacked. It has no throw weight, and its armaments, and indeed its nuclear program, are all defensive. The real question is who is the main danger to the world today?
The obvious response is the U.S. It has the largest military budget, the largest military in the world, the largest nuclear industry, and has military positions in most countries of the world. It has invaded many countries, has covert operatives in many others, it has denied democratic governments in countries whose ideas do not suit their own imperial imperatives (including the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government of Iran in 1953 in order to control the oil). It uses economic policy and its ability to print money ad infinitum to buy off many governments and their cronies around the world.
The second most dangerous country? Israel would have to take that position. With its continuing threats against Iran – and its abilities to wage war, and its demonstrated willingness to kill and murder civilians to gain its own advantage and territory – Israel could well be the creator of the next world disaster. Israel will survive of course, as it is militarily predominant, but chaos would reign in the region – and not without serious damage to Israel – and around the world.
Canada is essentially a big mouth, a big bully, except that it has no real power except to support the other bullies in the world. It acts like a dictatorship at home (they have a majority in the parliament, gained on only 18 per cent of Canadians voting for it), and its promise of democratic openness and transparency is simply a lie. Its relationship with Israel has always been one of uncritical support (see Yves Engler, “Canada and Israel – Building Apartheid.” RED/Fernwood Publishing, 2010).
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.