Saturday, December 30, 2017

Venom in a Vacuum?

"I was pleased that she did not respond [to the provocations and jeers as she showed up for work wearing her police uniform]. She has thick skin, just like an elephant, and that's important in our society. Silence is the best response."
"We are part of this society [as Israeli citizens], so we should serve it. The people attacking her are a gang of wild kids with nothing better to do with their lives. They should go find themselves and think about what, if anything, they have actually done on behalf of their community [in a predominately Arab town in Israel]."
Ali Saadi, Arab Israeli, Bedouin village of Basmat Tabun

"The new generation that has grown up sees the truth and feels a sense of belonging and identification. It understands the mood in the community much better than you and realizes that many of the problems facing Arab society are the result of those slogans, lies, and conspiracy theories that you have been peddling to us to benefit yourselves."
Mohammad Kabiya, Israel Defense Forces air force member, from the Bedouin northern Israeli village of Kaabiyye
Sabrin Saadi, Facebook
The Injaz Center for Professional Arab Local Governance in Israel conducted a comprehensive study published in 2015 on the scope of crime and violence in Israel's Arab sector. It found that a dramatic rise in that sector in crime occurred since 2007, in parallel with an associated rise in incarcerated Arabs. Arabs made up 42% of all prisoners in Israeli jails in 2010. That figure rose by 2014 to 49% and statistics further showed an over-representation of youthful Arabs between the ages of twelve and eighteen, when Arabs represent 20% of the total population of Israel.

In response to that very real problem, new police stations were positioned in two Arab villages in the north of Israel; Jisr az-Zarqa, and Kafr Kanna. In an effort to assure the population of a shoring up of the presence of police to address the situation, the two stations were properly staffed and prepared to act as required to protect the towns' populations. A swift response erupted mere days later when a short video showed up on Facebook.

In the video a young policewoman from a nearby Bedouin village was shown in uniform wearing a hijab on her way to the Kafr Kanna station. Assembled around her was a group of young demonstrators, loudly cursing her and spitting their contempt toward her. Policewoman Sabrin Saadi appeared to take no notice, continued on her way, and entered the police station to begin her day's work.

She may not have visibly reacted to the virulently hateful provocation, calling her a traitor to the Palestinian 'cause', aiding the 'occupation' in the vilest of taunting terms, but when she returned home after her shift, she spoke with her father, telling him how she had been affected by the demonstration. He encouraged her to continue on just as she was doing, that her aspiration to become a police officer spoke to her dedication to her country, and her wish to represent it in the critical maintenance of law and order.

Ms. Saadi and other Bedouin, Arab and Druze citizens of Israel who choose to serve their country's military and police services are in the minority, but they represent Israelis who value their citizenship and the nation that promotes their place in society as equals even while the majority choose to oppose the very notion of a Jewish state. The irony here is that most Arab Israelis prefer to live within Israel rather than under the Palestinian Authority, and they oppose any notion of transferring their villages to Palestinian rule under a nascent Arab state.

A Palestinian protestor lights a tire on fire during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 29, 2017, following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers (AFP / Musa al Shaer)
With the American declaration of the recognition of east Jerusalem as Israel's capital meriting the official move of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem where all Israel government offices are located, the Palestinian 'resistance' and anti-'normalization' went into overdrive. Outrage and resistance to the U.S. administration's controversial move was instant and virulent, with promises of violent reaction materializing in a new intifada, incited by fiery defiance speeches by President Mahmoud Abbas, and echoed by Hamas.

Palestinian youth nursed and nourished from the cradle through their formative and educational years on hatred and opposition to Israel and the presence of a Jewish State took to the new intifada with enthusiasm as more reason to riot, storm the streets and enact their opposition in time-honoured Palestinian flourishes of burning tires, rocket barrages and rock-throwing along with Molotov cocktails at Israeli security.

The exception was those among the Arab population who have recognized and sought out their futures with Israel. For Sabrin Saadi it meant she is not on her own, there are friends who will support her and defend her, among them Mohammad Kabiya who had enlisted in the IDF and who takes pains to speak with her almost daily with the promise that he and his friends are determined to do all they are able to reassuring her she has chosen to do the right thing. Those led by the Islamic Movement will be restrained from harming her or other young Arabs following her example.

According to IDF airman Kabiya, activists from the Arab Balad party joined their opposition with the Islamist demonstrators who speak of the new police stations as an Israeli plot to gain control over Arab villages. A member of the Israeli Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, who is the Balad party chairman, took part in one of those demonstrations reviling Sabrin. Arab Israelis are able to elect their own representatives to reflect their interests in Israel's Parliament, and as parliamentary members go out of their way to suborn the state, serving the anti-'normalization' interests of Islamists.
"This is no friendly hello. The Israel Police are spreading lies. We have seen that there has been no drop in crime rates in those settlements in which a police station has already been established", claimed Zahalka, that the stations have been placed in Arab villages for one purpose; to track young Arabs for security purposes, and not the stated reason linked to community safety. His purpose, to condemn the initiative of Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

In point of fact, when public safety and security violations take place with impunity in villages and towns it is the residents who suffer from crime and violence. And since most of the violence is done at the hands of those youth, it makes eminent good sense to 'track' them for 'security purposes', since tracking them is completely linked to the goal of achieving community safety. But this MK's purpose in condemning the initiative and slandering its purpose spurns logic and courts a backlash of the very type of violence he claims to be non-existent.
Palestinian protesters run for cover as tear gas is fired towards them by Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 29, 2017, following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers. (AFP / Musa al Shaer)
In the village of Salem, in northern Israel, children there are bedded down in bathroom bathtubs at night so they won't be hit by random gunfire. Violence in the Arab sector continues. A report published in Haaretz described the gun battles that take place each night in the village of Salem. Policewoman Saadi's father feels that the verbal assaults his daughter copes will won't evolve into physical violence, since there are many from his village and from Kafr Kanna who have offered support and encouragement to his daughter.

Several lawyers from the Arab sector have offered to represent her pro bono, to help her and any other young people, should she decide to bring charges of defamation against those who attack her.
In the greater scheme of things, there are so many loud voices calling for 'resistance' against the 'oppressor', in the process of winning influence and control over the young and the malleable who want to believe that a great wrong has been done their community, the uphill battle of Mr. Saada and his daughter seems impossible.
A young boy insults US President Donald Trump and threatens Israel during a Hamas rally in Gaza, December 2017. (Screen capture: MEMRI video)
A young boy insults US President Donald Trump and threatens Israel during a Hamas rally in Gaza, December 2017. (Screen capture: MEMRI video)
In a shocking display of just how influential Palestinian groups like Fatah (the PLO group of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority) and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip are in their mind-control over vulnerable young Palestinians, a boy of no more than eight years of age, fully dressed in Hamas military gear complete with face mask, screamed a diatribe at a December 15 Hamas rally in Gaza threatening "Trump the idiot", and "Netanyahu, son of Jewish woman". The video clip has been shared widely on Palestinian social media.
"This is a message to Trump the idiot. You idiot, your promise to Israel will not be successful. You idiot, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine for all eternity."
“I say to that idiot Benjamin Netanyahu, you son of a Jewish woman, you don’t know your own origins. Here in Gaza, we will trample the heads of your soldiers underfoot, like we did in Nahal Oz [A Hamas gunmen attack from a tunnel, infiltrating an Israeli army base, killing five soldiers in 2014]."
"Here in Gaza there are men who do not fear death. Get it, you son of a Jewish woman? You have no source in history. Get it, you son of a Jewish woman? Jerusalem is ours, it is our capital. We will not relinquish a single inch of the land of Palestine. Get it, you son of a Jewish woman? Get it, you son of a Jewish woman?"
"You have never existed in history. Get it, you idiot? If you don’t get it, we, the children of Gaza, will trample you underfoot until you get it. Get it, you son of a Jewish woman? Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you."
Ahmad Idriss, Gaza
Palestinian Muslim worshipers take part in a demonstration against the US president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, outside the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on December 29, 2017. (AFP / Musa al Shaer)AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)

From Gaza, groups like Islamic Jihad fire missiles over the border into Israel in an expression of their cordial respects for the Jewish State. Hamas repeatedly emphasizes a new intifada, inciting all Palestinians to violently confront soldiers and settlers. At the Gaza border fence where Gazan Palestinians cross into Israel -- including family members of the leaders of Hamas -- for expert medical care at Israeli hospitals, Ismail Haniyeh the Hamas leader, gives high praise to the "blessed intifada", urging that Jerusalem be liberated.

One young mother dressed in a black burqa, her face mask etched with the Hamas emblem, brought her baby to the rally, so he would come "to love Hamas and the Al-Qassam Brigades" (the terrorist armed wing of Hamas). "We bring our small children to teach them to love Hamas. No matter what the Jews or the Arab world do to Hamas, we will support it", she said to an interviewer, above the screams of her baby.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fighting Back Against Russia

"It doesn't look like this war will end, because no one wants it to end, not [president Petro] Poroshenko."
"Our guys [ethnic Russian Ukrainian insurgents] shoot, they respond. They're shooting on both sides."
"We don't need riches from the sky, just peace. It's been four years of war, but we have nowhere else to go."
Svetlana Karpenko, Novoluhanske, eastern Ukraine

"American weapons in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers are not for offensive [use], but for stronger rebuff of the aggressor [and] protection of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians."
"It is also a trans-Atlantic vaccination against the Russian virus of aggression."
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko
Prisoners of war from separatist self-proclaimed republics before boarding a bus during an exchange of captives near the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Wednesday. Credit Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

"[Russia’s tactics, online and off, have one single aim]: to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, to make its government look incompetent and vulnerable."
"Russia will never accept Ukraine being a sovereign and independent country."
"Twenty-­five years since the Soviet collapse, Russia is still sick with this imperialistic syndrome."
Viktor Yushchenko, pro-Western former Ukraine President
Over twenty thousand people in Ukraine have been killed since ethnic Russian Ukrainian separatists collided with the government of Ukraine's determination not to lose any of its geographic territory to the ambitions of a group of diehard militias wanting to break away from Ukrainian authority and link eastern Ukraine with Mother Russia. During the era of the Soviet Union, Russians were encouraged to migrate to all the satellite countries of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Once that union dissolved and the former satellites exercised their full right of sovereignty the ethnic Russians found themselves high and dry.

In Ukraine, that demographic, once the pro-Russian Ukrainian government in Kyiv was kicked out in a popular rebellion, decided they no longer wished to be part of Ukraine. Rather than decamping and heading back for Russia where many generations earlier they had hailed from, they decided to pack up their territory and gift it to Russia. Ukraine, understandably, would have no part of it. And this is when Moscow decided that it would, and when Vladimir V. Putin exercised his authority to send in Russian troops disguised but recognizable, to fight alongside their Ukrainian-Russian comrades.

It is also when Putin decided that the Crimea should be returned to Russia, that Russian roots and history in Ukraine was too valuable, too ingrained in Russian culture and heritage to allow it to remain with Ukraine, and so that territory too was forcibly claimed by a Russian military invasion. Since 2014, and the many battles fought between the Ukrainian military and the separatists supported by Russian military and advanced Russian weaponry which included a missile that shot down an overflight passenger jet from Malaysia killing hundreds aboard, the conflict has raged.

It is raging on low but steady ramp since the signing of an accord in Minsk in 2015, an armistice supposedly leading to a peace process which has become an inevitable war of attrition, each side claiming the other has broken the accord, leading to a like response. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe one thousand ceasefire violations occurred each day in the month of December alone. The breakaway states of Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics agree to refresh the agreement, and then relent.

Both sides, according to the deputy head of the OSCE mission, "blatantly disregard" the Minsk agreement. Ongoing antagonism between Moscow and Washington over the conflict has failed to move the peace process forward. A "massive escalation" in violence on the part of the insurgents represented a response to Kyiv's initiative to take foreigners' fingerprints at the border; a situation that caused Russian officers to leave a joint ceasefire control centre with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has decided to level the weapons' playing field, releasing to Ukraine the export of multiple millions' worth of .50 calibre Barrett M107A1 sniper rifles. Denounced by the Russian Foreign Ministry claiming it would encourage "major bloodshed", but evidently not Moscow's arming of the rebels with advanced weaponry. Kyiv is still awaiting the promised Javelin anti-tank missiles from Washington to address their lack of advanced equipment.
The Trump administration approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.  Getty Images

"They shell themselves, and then supposedly it was the Ukrainian side that fired", said Vasil Labay, a spokesman for Ukraine's "anti-terrorist operation" against the separatists, who signalled that Ukraine's military was in the process of "improving our positions", yet following the ceasefire, and holding back heavy weapons. Disputed by the OSCE which holds that both sides were meant to withdraw tanks, artillery pieces and mortars from within 15 kilometres of the contact line.

On the other hand, what's a country under fire from a neighbour supposed to do, while that neighbour feints it has no involvement whatever; simply the other nation's own citizens expressing their dissatisfaction with the government...? Britain and other European nations are getting a taste of what Putin's larger agenda might resemble with an "upsurge" of Russian naval vessels passing by British waters even as the British Navy and NATO leader warn of just such Russian naval activity at levels not seen since the Cold War.

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Peaceful Buddhists and Threatening Muslims

"Then they shot the men and boys. I saw them kill my husband and son. I was screaming."
"They took my baby and cut his throat."
"One soldier held me down, and another raped me."
Dilbar Begum, Tula Toli, Myanmar

"I saw everything."
"My father was the best man in the world. We were a good team."
Noor Kalima, ten, Southeast Bangladesh

"I was trying to hide my baby under my scarf, but they saw her leg. They grabbed my baby by the leg and threw her onto the fire."
"When I fall asleep, I look for my baby. I wake up screaming."
"They killed my family members, and they killed my world. When I tell my story, I feel terrible, and afterward I go cry to myself. But we need justice, and maybe this will help."
Hasina Begum, 21, Southeast Bangladesh

"I was unconscious, so I don't know what they did to me."
"I want to tell the whole world my story. I want to tell what happens in Myanmar."
Shafika Begum, 15, Southeast Bangladesh
Rahima, 15, fled Myanmar in September. She was gang-raped by soldiers, one of whom bit her cheek, leaving a scar. “I don’t know why he bit me,” she said. “There are many things I don’t understand.” Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

All of the women who recounted the horrors they had survived came from one small village in Myanmar called Tula Toli. They are among the survivors of their village; no men, only women and children. They speak of witnessing the most obscene brutalities that human beings could ever visit on one another; soldiers of the Myanmar military brutalizing, raping, slaughtering the Burmese minority Rohingya. They are safe now, living tenuously in refugee camps in Bangladesh, a Muslim country that does not want them.

The denied ethnic cleansing that has taken place, is still taking place, has resulted in countless deaths and dislocations and hundreds of Rohingya villages burned to the ground, but not before individual homes were torchedm often women and children locked inside for good measure, representing, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum along with a human rights group called Fortify Rights, "growing evidence of genocide". Myanmar rejects the presence of Muslims living for generations among its Buddhist population.

The intention was to return them to Bangladesh, the country where they originated generations ago. Burmese leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Laureate, spoke of "a huge iceberg of misinformation" on what has been happening to the Rohingya. Citing the attacks by Rohingya militant groups on Burmese military encampments, the killing of members of the military and of Buddhist Burmese being the cause of the backlash, where the military were simply responding, seeking out the attackers, doing no harm to the ordinary civilian Rohingya who were themselves torching their own homes.
Women and children make up a majority of Rohingya who have settled in camps in Bangladesh. Thousands of Rohingya men were killed in Myanmar, while others may have stayed behind to fight. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times

There is a kind of raw organization among the military of Myanmar in responding to the perceived threat of the existence of the Rohingya in a nation that despises them and wants to rid itself of their presence. Soldiers enter the villages, isolate the men from the women and children, lead the men away to their deaths if they aren't killed on the spot, then order the women into huts to rape and murder them along with their children. Commonly, the women and children are locked into the huts which are then set ablaze.

Some escape and take their still-living children with them. Young girls do not escape rape and attempted murder. An estimated 345 villages have been burned. According to Doctors Without Borders, an estimated 9,000 Rohingya, among them a thousand children, have been killed in devastatingly brutal attacks of gruesome savagery. While it remains guesswork how many women and girls have been raped, refugee camp doctors report an surge in pregnancies.

In the vast refugee camps in Bangladesh at the border with Myanmar, the Rohingya, shaken, traumatized, injured and ill, live in tents and shacks with inadequate food, water, toilets and medical care. Bangladesh will not permit aid organizations to teach Bengali, its national language, to the children, nor provide an education beyond primary school. China has proposed that the refugees be returned to Myanmar, meaning that the nation that has so viciously persecuted them can repeat the performance.

Kutupalong, in Bangladesh, is the world’s largest refugee settlement, part of a network of camps that has taken in more than 655,000 Rohingya from Myanmar since August. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Escaping Retirement in Venezuela

"We want to live in tranquility. The anguish is too strong for us."
"All our life is here, we have our roots, our house, we've lived nicely, we have our family. But a bad government."
Ligia Reyes Castro, 71, Caracas, Venezuela

"I feel like a foreigner in Venezuela now, it's not the Venezuela I know."
"You work toward your golden years, you save, and then everything goes toward survival."
"[There is no alternative, but to leave]. To stay is to die."
Maria Mata, 67, retired government social worker

"Venezuela, for me, is the greatest there is. But at the moment it's impossible."
"There isn't food, there isn't medicine, there isn't anything."
"I don't think [she might one day return]. But I'll keep it [Venezuela] in my heart for the rest of my life."
Maria Abad Cruz, 90, Caracas, Venezuela
People queue outside a supermarket in Caracas to buy basic foodstuffs and household products on November 10, 2017.
In crisis-stricken Venezuela, the cost of the basic basket of goods soared to nearly 2.7 million bolivars in September, the equivalent of six minimum monthly wages.
People queue outside a supermarket in Caracas to buy basic foodstuffs and household products on November 10, 2017. In crisis-stricken Venezuela, the cost of the basic basket of goods soared to nearly 2.7 million bolivars in September, the equivalent of six minimum monthly wages.   CNN

People in their youth, in their middle years, people with  young children, all of whom see no future for themselves in the country of their birth, where their roots are, their heritage, their memories, can decide to migrate elsewhere in search of employment and stability, to escape the uncertainty that faces them in Venezuela with its shortages of food, its mass unemployment, its dreadful poverty and even worse crime rates, for they have time to build a life for themselves and their dependents elsewhere, in countries where despots haven't ruined the economy and the country's future.

Enterprising and hard-working people anxious to account for themselves, desperate to escape poverty and illness to forge a new life elsewhere, dreading leaving their home, but knowing they must to survive, will endure. Endurance is somewhat more difficult for the elderly who envisioned what people in their advanced age everywhere do, that after a lifetime of work and raising families it is their turn to feel secure and comfortable in their country of birth, having honourably discharged their duty to help build its security and economy.

In Venezuela, that time has long passed. It began with Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution, his socialist movement that would lift the nation's indigenous poor from their static state of poverty, offer them a new life of privilege equal to those who have the means to live well. And what began well, ended badly. In boasting of his success for the indigent, Chavez used his nation's vast oil wealth to generously support neighbouring countries, even boasting he would provide heating oil to poor in dastardly America.

He failed spectacularly to reinvest in his own country's infrastructure, in modernizing and upgrading the very industry that made Venezuela wealthy enough to shower Cuba and Bolivia and other countries with courtesy oil from Venezuela. And he left not only a legacy of failure, but anointed a successor as neglectful and autocratic as he was himself who grew into the presidency charting a course of ongoing waste and corruption, sending the country plunging into economic chaos.
A man crosses the Francisco de Paula Santander international bridge, linking Urena, in Venezuela and Cucuta, in Colombia.
A man crosses the Francisco de Paula Santander international bridge, linking Urena, Venezuela, and Cucuta, Colombia. Photograph: George Castellanos/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans in the past several decades -- some claim as many as two million -- have left the country in despair, migrating abroad, a migration that is accelerating in lock step with President Nicolas Maduro's increasingly authoritarian regime's excesses of mismanagement. Older Venezuelans have now been forced to contemplate their own migration led by food and medicine scarcity.

Former small businesspeople, now long retired and in failing health are unable to secure the pharmaceuticals they require to maintain a vestige of health. Mrs. Ligia Reyes Castro, retired from the education ministry, was informed that the cancerous lesion on her forehead likely resulted from the hours she waited in the sun to buy food or withdraw money. Inflation soars, the value of pensions diminish, with the elderly finding that medication, if they can find it, costs half their monthly pension.
Venezuelans lining up for free food at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, south of Caracas. The country’s turmoil has led many longtime residents to migrate abroad. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Elderly people living in comfortable homes in Caracas's suburbs now face selling their homes, ridding themselves of lifelong cherished belongings, in an atmosphere of many places like their own on the market for sale, and few having the wherewithal to purchase them, so they will embark on their new lives elsewhere with little in the way of financial support to see them through the last of their years.

For the younger migrants, as for the older as well, the search for employment is time-consuming and eats into whatever savings they bring with them to stay afloat. "You have to understand that to be an immigrant means starting from zero", said Fernando Galindez, 75, who had sold everything he owned so he and his wife could settle in a Miami suburb where they searched for work to supplement their savings, and though they did find work at their age, it was when their savings had been exhausted.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Short-Term Solution : Long-Term Loss

"One minute you're drinking espressos, the next you're being evicted."
"I'm starting to think whether people like me have a future in Beijing."
"I don't think this will ever work. There are job opportunities in Beijing, and government policies can't stop people moving to get jobs If  you do, the city pays a heavy price."
Si Ruomu, 28, computer programmer, Beijing

"To young tech workers like me, there's really no option -- only the big cities like Beijing have more opportunities."
"Tech workers for the bigger companies can get help from them. But for those working for small companies or start-ups, the evictions can be disastrous."
Hu Xianyu, 22, intern, Baidu employee

Authorities in Beijing, along with others of China's largest, most populous cities are beginning to target the outskirts where migrants who arrive from the countryside to find opportunity and employment to advance their futures live, and are viewed as unwelcome. Government is generous to those holding permanent residence papers, given access to housing, schools and health care. Migrant needs, however, are deliberately overlooked; they pay more for services living on the edges of Beijing where rent is lower.

It is those areas of lower rent, where elderly, dilapidated buildings are seen as an eyesore where migrant workers even though vital to the economy, are being evicted. The then-emptied buildings are torn down, as authorities condemn them, labelling them unsafe or illegal and leaving the migrants nowhere to live. Yet Beijing is dependent on the blue-collar migrants working as cooks, cleaners and vendors.
Migrant workers leave with their belongings after they were evicted during a safety inspection. Photo: Reuters
Now, beyond harming the lives of those migrant workers, others are being caught in the eviction nets that indiscriminately target migrants. While there is a vast army of manual laborers who work for low pay, there is also a burgeoning number of college graduates; according to a 2014 study, close to 30 percent of the migrant community are represented by hi-tech workers. According to yet another study, the software and information tech sectors in Beijing employed about 346,000 migrants.

Hundreds of people in a Beijing neighbourhood in the northeast on December 10 challenged the evictions and demolitions of their neighbourhoods, chanting "violent evictions violate human rights". Hoping, no doubt, that the authorities would notice, let alone care. Perhaps they overlook that Chinese government uses a hammer approach to such perceived problems, as they did with respect to rising population numbers by enacting laws legislating one-child families, penalizing those who dared resist.

In the short term, the government had its way; families found ways to give birth to boys, disposing of girls when they were allotted one child only, and now there is a desperate situation where young men vastly outnumber marriageable young women, creating yet another problem of demographics that the Chinese must grapple with. Complications arising from unmarried men viewed as poor employment prospects also leading to rising crime rates. Sometimes the choice of solutions to large problems only serve to enlarge the problems in other directions.

Police arrive at apartment buildings, ordering hundreds of residents to vacate within a 48-hour period, leaving people little time to make advance plans, to settle their affairs. The idea being to rid the cities of migrants they view as unwanted from the city's outskirt tenements, hitting both the blue-collar workers and the young college graduates seeking an improvement in their prospects for the future.
Many neighbourhoods such as Jiugong in Daxing, have already been reduced to rubble as part of the campaign. Photo EPA
Just as the city is being harmed by losing its functioning low-wage workers doing work no one else wishes to engage in, the fast-growing tech sector whose migrant workers also work for relatively low pay in an effort to establish themselves will be left without sufficient workers to furnish the needs of the e-commerce sector, including legions of couriers delivering packages and meals on electric bikes, impacting deleteriously on deliveries, causing delays, following expulsions.

For its part, government cites the 21.7 million residents, with 8.1 million classed as migrants placing a strain on the city's resources. Xi Jinping, China's president, has urged Beijing to cap its population at 22 million by 2020 by clearing out gritty neighbourhoods. Experts, on the other hand, warn that choking off the flow of migrants risks losing the energy of entrepreneurs.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reality, Responsibility, Recognition, Repentance

"We know that our community is being attacked because of our and Canada's support for Ukraine in the current war that Russia is waging there."
"The Russian government is trying to stir up controversy and sort of obfuscate from the current situation that's taking place in Europe."
"I think that the premise of calling them [nationalist Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazis] Nazi collaborators is slanderous. I think the real story here is about the Russian Embassy and what they're trying to do to our community and how they're trying to create an issue where there isn't one."
Ihor Michalehyshyn executive director, CEO, Ukrainian Canadian Congress
The cenotaph at Oakville's St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery, Wednesday, October 25, 2017. Peter J Thompson/National Post
"It would be refreshing and perhaps a form of self-healing if Ukrainians could offer a conception of their recent past that looked at all aspects of these events, recognizing in passing that heroes could be criminals."
David Marples, professor, University of Alberta, "Heroes and Villains"

"I've known about Roman Shukhevych since I was little, [but not] about him being in any war crimes or anything we should be hiding. I have never heard in my life that Shukhevych may have been involved in war crimes."
"Roman Shukhevych was the leader, very much respected even after the war, to continue this battle against the Soviet regime. He's completely seen as a hero, and respected to this day as a symbol of the fight for freedom."
Paras Podilsky, spokesman, Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex, Edmonton
"[Leaders such as Shukhevych] symbolize this long and historical attempt by Ukrainians to resist, to defend themselves. The Russian perspective is because there is a dark side, and the collaboration with the Germans, you reduce the entire insurgency to atrocities. And therefore the very idea that Ukrainians or any other group can resist Russian or Soviet occupation is delegitimized."
"Unfortunately, the Ukrainians-Canadian organizations have not shown real readiness to discuss these issues. On the whole, there's a great deal of resistance."
Dominique Arel, Chair, Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa

"I think the question that Canadians really need to ask is, does the presence of these monuments in any way contribute to anti-Semitism, or other forms of racism or bigotry in Canada today?"
"[The answer appears] no [since] the intent of these monuments is not to stir up hatred or to glorify crimes against Jews."
"[B'nai Brith doesn't see any requirement for existing monuments to be removed]. I think that the communities that have established these monuments, so namely the Ukrainian-Canadian community, should take a critical look at these facts and should remind themselves that many of these people were engaged in collaboration with the Nazis."
Aidan Fishman, interim director, B'nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights
Russia in CanadaVerified account @RussianEmbassyC
There are monumets to Nazi collaborators in Canada and nobody is doing anything about it. #NeverForget #Holocaust #WorldWar2

The facts as they are alluded to reflect the reality of the times, more nuanced than the Russian Embassy in Canada's public questioning of the loyalties and purported anti-Semitic cooperation between Nazi Germany occupied Ukraine drive toward. It does seem indisputable, in any event, that the Russian effort is meant to exploit potential divisions between Ukraine and the support they have been given by Canada politically and practically in response to Moscow's violent intervention in Ukraine and the unquestioned international criminality of annexing Crimea to Russian possession.

There most certainly were Ukrainian military units in cooperation with fascist Germany in its occupation of Europe and its preoccupation in rounding up European Jews for extermination. The enduring anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe was a virtual guarantee that Ukrainian police and military as well as local militias would be more than eager to help rid Ukraine of its traditional presence of Jews, forever persecuted there as elsewhere. Even in France, where secular civility is a prided attribute, French police were enthusiastic and brutal participants in making the country Judenrein.

As far as Russia is concerned, it is up to its usual mischief in its ongoing efforts to spread distrust in the West. What is at issue here is a number of Ukrainian monuments in honour of figures of national importance to Ukrainian independence and resistance to both Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The Galician military division comprised of Ukrainians focused on rallying against the Soviets placed them in the German sphere where both were on the same side in battles. These are the "Nazi collaborators" that the Russians refer to.

Concurrent with supporting the ethnic Russian Ukrainians, supplying them with arms, training and the presence of Russian troops and its 2014 illegal repossession of the Crimean Peninsula, the Russian Embassy has targeted the 1.3-million Ukrainian-Canadians as fascists-in-waiting for whom their national heroes are icons of salvation and adoration, when in actual fact many among them were actively engaged in aiding the Nazi occupation in rounding up and dispatching Jews to the death camps and their lethal crematoria.

One monument that has received attention stands in Oakville, Ontario at the St. Volodymyr Cemetery commemorating a battle fought by the Ukrainian Galician Division of the German Waffen SS against the Red Army where over three-quarters of the Ukrainian soldiers perished. "Fighting on the German side doesn't mean to be a Nazi right? You have to understand, those were the people who were fighting communism" explained Oleg Bezpitko, manager of the cemetery. The division in question was formed once a majority of Ukrainian Jewish victims had been targeted, though the Waffen-SS represented the military, not those tasked with operating concentration camps.

Another monument under question represents a bust of Roman Shukhevych standing at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton. The Organization for Ukrainian Nationalists linked themselves with the Germans for help in battling the Soviets occupying Ukraine. Shukhevych commanded one of two Ukrainian divisions attached to the German army, called the "Naghtigall". Shortly after the battalion arrived in Lviv a pogrom occurred, killing thousands of Jews. Shukhevych set up another local militia which played a central role in killing Jews.
A veteran of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) marches with people dressed as UPA soldiers on October 11, 2009 in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to mark the 67th anniversary of the founding of UPA in 1943. YURIY DYACHYSHYN/AFP/Getty Images

Individual members of the Ukrainian insurgency army which Shukhevych later also established were known to be involved in killing Jews and ethnic cleansing campaigns against Poles in Ukraine. But it is of course the broader conflict for Ukrainian independence that Ukrainians cherish their memories of this man for. The Soviets were already tainted with the death and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians around the end of the war. Adding the memory of the Holodomor, the deadly famine that killed millions in the 1930s, there is no love lost among Ukrainians for Russia.

An organization named the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter conducts efforts to reconcile with the past, inviting experts on Ukrainian and Jewish history to discuss their scholarly research and resulting interpretations of what had occurred, in the hopes of reaching a combined narrative in agreement of truth and justice.
"It's about time that somebody paid attention to it [researching Ukrainian involvement in the Holocaust]."
"The fact is the  Ukrainian government and the diaspora have been honouring Holocaust perpetrators and war criminals for a long time."
"The West should put greater emphasis on confronting the past. I do think they're neglecting their role if they're not putting pressure on Ukraine to do an honest confrontation with the events of the Second World War."
John-Paul Hinka, professor of history, University of Alberta
This man, Dr. Hinka, has conducted research that implicates Canada's current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland's grandfather, to Nazi collaboration; he also happens to be Freeland's uncle. Dr. Hinka has researched and written about his discoveries of the reality of Ukrainian responsibility in cooperating with the Nazi occupiers of Eastern Europe.

The data he retrieves and attempts to make public knowledge has not endeared him to the Ukrainian community. He is viewed as a Ukrainian traitor to Ukrainian history. He reports having been banned from Ukrainian-Canadian publications in his efforts to bring research on Ukrainian involvement in the Holocaust to public knowledge.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Canada, Steadfast Ally of Israel

"Canada is a steadfast ally and friend of Israel and friend to the Palestinian people. Canada's longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. This has been the policy of consecutive governments, both Liberal and Conservative."
Global Affairs Canada statement 
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to stand by Israel 'through fire and water' and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu several times   CBC
Under the previous Conservative-led government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Israel could have no doubt whatever that Canada supported it in every conceivable way, recognizing it formally and informally as a counterpart democracy and a legitimate homeland for the Jewish people restored to their heritage position in the Middle East. PM Harper had little patience for the United Nations' constant sanctions against Israel, ignoring the plight of people living under the deplorable dictatorships of its neighbours in a powerful Islamic bloc that continually slammed Israel for human rights abuses they themselves regularly indulged in, but Israel did not.

Under the Trudeau administration, Canada has continued to block resolutions brought to the Security Council and the UN Human Rights agenda, condemning Israel for one contrived reason or another, charges brought against it by the very same human rights abusers who have long transformed the purpose of the United Nations in upholding universal human rights and equality, into a forum for the world's most vicious human rights abusers to stand in sanctimonious judgement of nations with a stellar position on human rights. But the very fact that Canada opposes corrupt resolutions is merely a reflection of the fact that it should, that it is morally obligated to do so.

That it reflects a specific bias in favour of Israel is not in fact the case. In very point of fact, Canada states its official position being that of equal favour to both Israel and the Palestinians, neutral on the issues that divide them, supportive only of the fiction that a two-state solution is achievable, when the Palestinian Authority has proven time and again, despite hypocritically claiming to the contrary, that it has no intention of cooperating in the forging of a peace treaty, nor officially arriving at an agreement that would result in two separate, sovereign states.

The statement that the PA is so fond of, that it disseminates in Arabic to the Palestinians is a Palestinian State from the river to the sea; from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, reflective of its official map that has erased Israel from existence. Yet the Western fiction of the Palestinians working toward peace and the establishment of two states persists, enabling PA President Mahmoud Abbas to prosecute his plan to achieve greater legitimacy of a Palestinian state in de facto existence, giving it status in the United Nations and within its member bodies.

Trudeau's Canada believes that there is a global obligation, reflective of a motion that was brought before the UN, to "promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, to support the achievement without delay of an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and of the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 border." That "occupation" resulted from an all-out conflict imposed yet again on Israel, which it successfully repulsed, gaining the territories in question, as a result.

The "occupation" is one of self-protection, defense from constant violent attacks inspired by the Palestinian leadership in the Palestine Liberation Organization's Fatah movement and that of Hamas; the former aspiring to achieve the downfall of Israel through furtively organic means including incitement to popular violence, the latter directly and equally infamously, through violent military offences. If the Palestinian leadership were prepared to settle differences reasonably, there would be no "occupation" because there would be no threat to the existence of Israel. But the byword is to refuse "normalization"; recognition and acceptance of Israel's existence.

Last December, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, China and 162 other UN member-nations gave their unequivocal support to UN resolution 17/96, guaranteeing the protections of the Geneva Convention to Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories, when there is no real and actual threat to Palestinian civilians other than those they themselves provoke through incitement to violence, threats to destroy Israel, and never-ending incidents of deadly violence.
Trump Jerusalem Recognition
Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
The most recent resolution brought by Turkey and Yemen in the United Nations to the general assembly against the American announcement by the Trump administration that it was finally in favour of committing to relocating its embassy now in Tel Aviv to the de facto capital of Israel in Jerusalem, to impose pressure brought by the weight of the world body's censure of the U.S. was beyond absurd. Jerusalem is Israel's capital, despite the Palestinians claiming prior heritage status of the ancient city, when it was the capital of Judean Zion thousands of years before Arabs and Islam entered history.

As a sheer matter of principle, were it not for the governing Liberals' pride in their 'progressive' values, reason and intelligence should have ensured that Canada would vote "no" to denounce the resolution damning America for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. While the UN body daintily quibbles its outrage over Jerusalem, North Korea and Iran in their industrious commitment to ICBMs and nuclear warheads threatening world stability become a non-issue. Turkey's murderous assaults on the Kurds, Syria's on its own Sunni population and Yemen's deadly civil war, mere trifles.

In choosing to abstain, Canada has, in essence, allied itself with countries such as Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Venezuela. The result of the vote represented an exculpatory boost to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas, whose corrupt histrionics have been handsomely rewarded by the Non-Aligned contingent and the European democracies which pride themselves on their equanimity in the face of Islamist conquest, alongside the craven inability of countries like Canada to face the courage of the convictions they have mislaid along the way.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during an extraordinary meeting of the OIC
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/KAYHAN OZER/POOL)

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United Nations -- True to Form

"[The 57-member group Organization of Islamic Cooperation remains committed to a] just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution." 
"[The United Nations must end] the Israeli occupation [of Palestine and declare the Trump administration liable for] all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision]."
"[We] consider that this dangerous declaration, which aims to change the legal status of the [city], is null and void and lacks any legitimacy."
Organization of Islamic Cooperation statement

"The OIC rejects and condemns the American decision. This is a violation of international law ... and this is a provocation of the feelings of Muslims within the world."
"It will create a situation of instability in the region and in the world."
Yousef al-Othaimeen, secretary general, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

"Now, Muslim countries in addition to a whole lot of others that are allied with the Palestinian cause will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine."
"And those Islamic countries are ready to sever relations to punish any one country that follows in the footsteps of the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst, Al Jazeera
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during an extraordinary meeting of the OIC
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/KAYHAN OZER/POOL)
"We are here today to say together and in clear language: Jerusalem was, still is and will always be the capital of the State of Palestine." 
"We will apply to the UN Security Council for the annulment of US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital."
"We call on world nations to reconsider their recognition of Israel over its conduct toward Palestinians and its dismissal of decisions by the international community with the backing of the United States."
"We came to say 'no' to the Trump declaration and to the policy of occupation and ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel in Jerusalem."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Today's resolution brought before the United Nations to condemn the Trump administration's recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel, saw most of the nation-members of the UN vote in favour. There were a handful of rejections of the resolution and a larger group of fence-sitters, among them Canada, all of whom abstained, but the resolution carried with a majority vote in favour, non-binding though it is. The Trump administration does not look favourably upon the craven submission of most UN member-countries in supporting this resolution and in so doing backhand-slapping the U.S.

Co-sponsored by Turkey, the current chair of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Yemen, chair of the Arab Group at the United Nations, Mahmoud Abbas characteristically and predictably called the event a resounding success. Believing that his contention that the Palestinians are a distinct and entitled group of Arabs whose heritage decrees that Jerusalem with its undeniable (supported by UNESCO's denying Judaism's historical, Biblical and archaeological links to Jerusalem) Arabic heritage must be recognized as the capital of a nascent Palestinian state despite the falsity of the claim.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose hatred of Israel is clear in his spewing of vitriolic accusations of Israel as a genocidal, terrorist nation, confuses his own country's verifiably documented persecution and slaughter of Armenians, Greeks and Kurds with his version of a country whose civility and just and fair treatment in equality of citizenship with Israeli minorities, religious and ethnic groups are in stark contrast to Turkey's. The sectarian slaughter that is taking place in Yemen scarcely qualifies that country to condemn another in the region whose goal truly is peace. All that has occurred in this as in other instances of Muslim hostility to Judaism is sadly typical of Arab/Muslim countries.

As for the emergency conference called by Erdogan in Istanbul earlier this month to gather the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for the purpose of standing together in unified defiance of the American statement on Jerusalem and condemning Israel for thinking it could reclaim its history and heritage and deprive the Arab world of its claims that the heritage and history are its, when in fact it is a well documented usurper, the conference did not go quite as planned when its most important members failed to present themselves. A tepid showing serving to demonstrate just how divided the cooperative members truly are among themselves.

Palestinians protest in the West Bank town of Hebron on 13 December against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel last week.
Palestinians protest in the West Bank town of Hebron on 13 December against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel last week. Photograph: Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA

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A Muslim Nation's 'Honour'

"It's an epidemic, and, unfortunately, at the moment, Indonesia has no legal protection for sexual harassment."
"Women have to be brave to report it, and the police services here are not friendly toward victims."
Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, vice-chairwoman, National Commission on Violence Against Women

"The more stories people see, the more brave and willing they are to come forward."
"It just adds up when it happens every day. It's tiring."
Kate Walton, Australian writer, Jakarta
Coconuts Jakarta

Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Islam is vital to its identity, but it is mostly in the far reaches of the country where Sharia-led Islam is practised. Indonesia prides itself on being a democracy. India too is a democracy, priding itself as being the largest democracy in the world. And within India's immense population of 1.3-billion people, live the second largest group of Muslims. The 8th Century saw the violent sweep of the Islamic conquest reach the east; some dispute that date, attributing it to the 12th Century; either way Islam spread by the sword and established itself firmly in the geography.

Pious Muslims are informed that men must lower their gaze when confronting a woman, whereas women are enjoined to be chaste and to conduct themselves modestly, covering their womanly allures because men are helpless to restrain their base impulses. When women are assaulted generally they are found at fault for flaunting their sexuality and forcing men to notice them. A woman noticed is a woman deemed to be loose and therefore deserving of violation through physical force.

Coconuts Jakarta

Daily harassment in Indonesia is a common experience for most women. "I froze. I didn't know what to do", recounted Tunggai Pawestri, speaking of her first encounter with sexual aggression in public when on a crowded bus a man began gyrating from behind against her. When this kind of thing happens women do tend to freeze, to think that they are responsible for this type of bestial behaviour. Ms. Tunggal is older now by several decades and she has joined a growing number of women activists enjoining women not to put up with being harassed on the street, on trains and buses across the country.

Millions of street harassment incidents are unreported annually, according to Indonesian activists. A matter of little concern to the Indonesian National Police who are disinterested in tabulating and making public official data on cases of street harassment. Which would, in any event, only reflect a small proportion of such events, since women are loathe to report them, knowing the disinterest their experiences are viewed with by authorities.

A mere 268 street harassment reports were filed in the last year with the police, nongovernmental organizations or the commission itself in this nation of over 260 million people. In the Jakarta region alone over 200 women posted incidents where they had experienced harassment or groping to the Indonesia website of Hollaback, an international initiative responding to street harassment. "I feel street harassment has been normalized within our country", commented Anindya Restuviani, coordinator of Feminist Festival Indonesia.
How they got away with street harassment
The Jakarta Post

Women-only cars have been reserved on crowded commuter trains, and spaces have been particularly designated for women on public buses, as a response leading to an effort to somehow be seen to react to outrages against women. In January, Kate Walton conducted an experiment, walking from her home in South Jakarta to a shopping mall located four km distant. Within the space of 35 minutes she was the subject of harassing incidents on thirteen occasions.

The online discussion group she helped establish to give women an assurance of cohesion and support now has two thousand Indonesian and expatriate members who regularly recount events of street harassment as a vital exchange between themselves in the belief that every bit of exposure and support that women offer one another will eventually lead to more women speaking out and demanding change to make the government sit up and take responsible notice.

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