Tomgram: Waltz with Bashir, Part 1

January 26, 2009

January 24, 2009

As a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Ari Folman took part in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and was on duty in Beirut during the notorious massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Just a week ago, Waltz with Bashir, the animated documentary film Folman directed in which he explores his own nightmarish, half-suppressed memories of that period, was given its first underground screening in Lebanon — not far, in fact, from Hezbollah headquarters in southern Beirut — though the film is officially banned in that country. It has also been screened in Palestinian Ramallah and is reportedly soon to be shown in the Arab Gulf states. It has already won six Israeli Academy Awards, best foreign film at the Golden Globes, and is now nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film.

Waltz With Bashir

At this moment, when the Israeli assault on Gaza has ended in catastrophic destruction and death, director Folman’s remarkable voyage — he calls it a “bad acid trip” — into the oblivion of war trauma and the horrific recent history of the Middle East is as stunning, moving, and unnerving an experience as anything you’ll see this year, or perhaps any year. A no less remarkable graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, was developed in tandem with the film. It will be in your bookstores in a couple of weeks, but can be ordered in advance by clicking here. Not surprisingly, the book and film have some of the impact that the first “graphic novel,” Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, had when it came out in 1986, and that assessment comes from the fellow — me, to be exact — who published MAUS back then.

The single best piece on Waltz with Bashir and its relevance to the recent invasion of Gaza was written by Gary Kamiya of Salon.com. He concludes: “Of course, Israel’s moral culpability for the 1982 massacre [in Sabra and Shatila] is not the same as its moral responsibility for the civilians killed in the current war. But there are painful similarities. Sooner or later the patriotic war fervor will fade, and Israelis will realize that their leaders sent them to kill hundreds of innocent people for nothing. And perhaps in 2036, some haunted filmmaker will release ‘Waltz With Hamas.'”

Given the power and timeliness of this thoughtful, dreamlike memoir from a living hell, it’s a particular honor for TomDispatch to be releasing two long excerpts, exclusively, over the next two Saturdays. Thanks go to Metropolitan Books, the book’s publisher, for allowing it to happen. I hope what follows stuns and intrigues you. Keep an eye out for part 2 next Saturday. Tom

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Let’s have democracy

December 11, 2008

The following letter to the Editor was written by an acquaintance, Fred Schneider. It was published in The Mississauga News on December 9th, where some of it was cut  in their editing.  Fred’s excellent letter is posted here in its entirety, unedited, with  his kind permission:

Let’s have democracy

Re: Crisis/opportunity on Parliament Hill

Unhappy again not to be able to rule Canada on behalf of his friends (who, by the way, were instrumental in the worldwide “economic crisis” in the first place) – instead of governing for the people of Canada – he started the same tactic of blackmailing the opposition into either “causing” another election – which Mr. Harper hopes would give him a majority – or to accept his conservative rule by minority.

However, this time Mr. Harper bet on the wrong stock, so to speak. The opposition had enough of his games with Canadian voters and they united to use their legal avenues to call his bluff.

I hope that Canadians will finally see behind Mr. Harper’s manipulations of parliament. After all, more than 60% of voters do not support Mr. Harper or the Conservatives.

Let’s finally have a government by the people for the people! It’s called Democracy.
This crisis was deliberately caused by Mr. Harper and/or his advisors.

Ever since the 2006 election Mr. Harper was unhappy with his minority government, and time and time again he deliberately(!) provoked the opposition into “causing” another election with confidence issues he knew could or would not be supported by the opposition.

Mr. Harper also knew, as probably most Canadians did, that the Liberals were in no position to take the blame for another election and had to either support conservative policies or abstain from voting on those issues.

When that tactic did not work Mr. Harper called another unnecessary(!) election for October 2008 in which he achieved another similar minority government

Fred Schneider
(Address)
Mississauga, Ontario

Visit Fred Schneider’s homepage: http://home.ica.net/~fresch/index.htm


VIDEO: ‘WHO k i l l e d CANADA?’

December 10, 2008

Canadians who prefer truth over propaganda — and would like to have an idea why we are in this current crisis — should view this short, compelling, very informative video.  This is info that you won’t see anywhere in our mainstream media.   It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to be fully informed and inform your friends, family, neighbours, community. Ignorance is not an excuse!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8632069635967998175


Bringing down the Harper government…

December 6, 2008

This poignant piece written by Political Science professor James Laxer is in Straight Goods, Saturday, Dec. 6th.  Laxer’s sage advice is intended for Liberals and the NDP. But all Canadians, especially those who are brainwashed by the Harper government into believing that the coalition is bad for our country — and that Harper’s is the only ‘legitimate’ government — should also pay attention.


Bringing down the Harper government

Liberals, NDP, embarked on venture that is not for the faint of heart.

Dateline: Monday, December 01, 2008

by James Laxer

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries/
such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.

The Liberals ought to heed these words as they move forward to topple the Harper government. If, instead, they hesitate and give in to their fears, they will hand Stephen Harper an enormous political victory.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one.

Having committed a grave political blunder last week with its Economic Statement, the Harper government is desperately regrouping to try to regain control of the situation. Apparently they are in full retreat, but no one should be fooled.

The concessions being offered — backing away from slashing campaign funding for political parties, dropping the assault on the right of civil servants to strike, and moving forward the date of the budget — are all designed to convince faint hearted Liberals that they should abandon the idea of defeating the government and installing a new ministry in which they will hold the key positions.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one. Stephen Harper does not deal well with what he interprets as public humiliation. Here’s a guy who can’t even attend the annual Press Gallery dinner in Ottawa because he’d have to lampoon himself and people might laugh at him. Lacking a sense of humour, which means a sense of proportion, he is not well-suited to political life in a democracy where give and take is of the essence.

The only thing this man understands is conquest, which is why even the members of his own party don’t really like him. If the Liberals decide to let Harper wriggle out of this one, they will have exchanged the substance of victory for a Pyrrhic victory.

Making a coalition work will not be easy for either the Liberals or the NDP. What will unite them though is that they are on the same side of the fence when it comes to the need for a serious stimulus package to cope with the economic crisis.

Oddly enough, keeping the Bloc onboard may prove to be not so challenging. The Bloc will claim credit for the portion of the stimulus package that goes to Quebec, and they will be rid of Harper’s noxious agenda on culture, crime and gun control, an agenda that Quebeckers hate with a passion.

The Liberals, NDP and the Bloc can either hang together or they will hang separately.

They cannot play this game again. If they were to unite to topple the Conservatives further into the mandate of this parliament, Harper would have a much better chance of talking the Governor General into granting him a dissolution and a new election.

This is it guys.

If the opposition fails to defeat the government and install a new one, Harper will exercise complete control for the next couple of years. The opposition parties will be stuck with Flaherty’s budget at the end of January, which is virtually certain to fall short of what the country needs in terms of economic stimulus. Do they really want to place the fate of Canadians in the hands of a man whose first plan for coping with the economic crisis included selling the CN Tower?

This may not have been the way the Liberals wanted to return to government. But it’s a good way. If they perform effectively in office for the next two years, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc will be well positioned for the next election. And, it will be the Conservatives who will fall prey to infighting. If the Conservative government falls, the campaigns to replace Harper as leader will be well underway by Christmas.

The united power of the opposition parties has been demonstrated to great effect over the past few days. They occupy the high ground and the only thing that stands in their way is their own self-doubt.

PS I know the speech at the top of this post was delivered by Brutus, who came to a bad end. Shakespeare had a way of having even his doomed characters give voice to enduring truths.

James Laxer is a Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto. His published books include Decline of the Superpowers; False God: How the Globalization Myth Has Impoverished Canada; The Undeclared War: Class Conflict in the Age of Cyber Capitalism; the national bestseller, Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America; and the award-winning Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism.

Harper is a neo-conservative ideologue, obsessed with power and his own sense of self importance. He is contemptuous of Canada and a stalwart member of neo-con right-wing groups, closely linked to their U.S. counterparts. This group’s insidious agenda is not what most Canadians envision for our country. Conservative Canadians who believe that Harper’s party represents them and the country have been duped by his relentless divisive propaganda aided and abetted by the cowed media and pundits. If these Canadians remove their blinders, they will see the ‘real’ Stephen Harper and get a glimpse of what he has in store for us in the coming year. They will see that Harper’s plans for the direction of our country are far different from that of mainstream Canadians, regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum.. It is imperative that Canadians of all political persuasion unite for the good of our country.

Pertinent Links:

Council of Canadians

http://canadianlabour.ca/en/coalition-government-rallies-across-canada

http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=00174

http://dawn.thot.net/harperstiestousa/american_right_report.pdf

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein’s website and book


IDEA Burlington – local event: human rights day event

November 27, 2008

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

Guest Speaker

Bob LOVELACE

“STEPS TOWARDS FREEDOM IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD”

Bob Lovelace is making Canadian history. Being co-chief of the Ardoch Nation and an Algonquin, he together with other members of his Nation blocked the uranium mining company Frontenac Ventures from prospecting and exploiting his Nation’s land (under dispute by a land claim) without permission. For his actions, he was sent to jail. He will speak about his experience and the struggle facing indigenous land rights in Canada today.


DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR A VERY SPECIAL TALK BY ONE OF CANADA’S LEADING ABORIGINAL ACTIVISTS

Date: Wednesday, December 10th, 2008, 7.30pm – FREE!

Location: McMaster University

Health Sciences Centre, 1A4

(at rear of hospital, near Health Science library)

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, GROUPS 1, 8 and 21

Co-sponsors: CUPE 3906, Indigenous Peace Education, OPIRG, The Centre for Peace Studies and Development & Peace.

For more information, contact amnestygroup1@yahoo.ca.


The Harper Record unmasked

September 23, 2008

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has just released The Harper Record, the most detailed and comprehensive analysis of the record of the Harper government yet released.

It is very impressive, containing detailed analyses of their performance in all policy areas, including the Harper government’s own raison d’etre, crime policy. It also includes an overview of Harper’s background. I strongly recommend checking it out.

“The Harper government’s policies are moving our country backwards towards the vision of society, the role of the government, and the nature of the federation reminiscent of the 1920s.”

“What becomes clear … is that the Conservatives are committed to a market-driven world economy and that Harper is not committed to national democratic or multilateral institutions… For Harper the only international relationship that matters is the one between Canada and the United States.”

To read or purchase the complete publication visit:

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/Reports/2008/09/HarperRecord/index.cfm?pa=BB736455


Sign Up for Fall 2008 Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, Southern Ontario, October 17-22, 2008

September 18, 2008

Join the Fall 2008 Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, Southern Ontario, October 17-22, 2008

Join a nonviolent community on wheels for part or all of our journey as we travel through dozens of communities in a large triangular area — Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo to London (via Punkeydoodle’s Corners), then through Tillsonburg, Simcoe and Welland, up through Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Hamilton and Mississauga — October 17-22.

There will be lots of street theatre, dialogue, public education, and more as we expose and challenge the many ways in which the Canadian government is increasingly involved, both directly and indirectly, in policies and practices that result in the torture of human beings.

Among the many participants will be three Canadians tortured overseas with Canadian government complicity: Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. They will be continuing to press for full disclosure of the role Canadian officials played in their detention, interrogation, and torture. An inquiry tasked with looking into their cases has barred them, their lawyers, the press, and the public from entry, and has been held in complete secrecy.

Unable to attend the Caravan will be Syrian refugee Hassan Almrei, who during the caravan will be marking seven years of detention without charge (almost all of it in solitary confinement) because of secret “allegations” neither he nor his lawyers are allowed to challenge under the so-called security certificate regime. He, like the others held under the certificates — Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat, and Adil Charkaoui — is fighting deportation to torture.

They represent but a handful of the many human rights violations the Canadian government continues to engage in.

To find out more background information, view a three-minute youtube piece from the spring caravan, and learn how to get involved, please go to this site:
http://homesnotbombs.blogspot.com/2008/08/move-against-torture.html

If you plan on taking part in part or all of the caravan, please let us know as soon as possible so we can arrange transportation, billeting, and more: tasc@web.ca, (416) 651-5800

If you cannot take part but would like to contribute to our costs, cheques can be made out to Homes not Bombs and mailed to PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0 (put caravan in memo portion of cheque)

Thanks!

Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
A fully-realized subsidiary of the Homes not Bombs direct action network