Naturally there’s been a lot of talk about the G20 coming to town and how, overall, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be any benefit for the city from this crazy assembly. Costs have gone up almost ten-fold to about a billion bucks (how does the government manage to get everything so wrong all the time?), all of which is going toward making the G20 leaders’ visits nice and comfortable. Chunks of downtown are being completely shut down, much to residents’ chagrin, and not a penny of that exorbitant sum is being spent to help locals or businesses with lost profits, protest damage, etc. Organizers aren’t even hiring local security for the job.
Basically, unless someone can come up with one tangible benefit, the summit will end up being a huge middle finger to Toronto as well as the taxpayers of Canada. Nebulous statements of “benefits to the city” made by officials are not very convincing. Like, what benefits, exactly?
Well, there is one that I can think of, and it applies to only a very small group of Torontonians. Like myself. :)
I’m talking about the global media coverage that the G20 will invariably get. It’ll do nothing for local businesses, and I’m fairly certain most Canadian tax payers don’t give a flying fuck if the summit makes headlines in Brazil. But for anyone in the media, stories like this are akin to a sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top, especially if shit really does go down and the protests start to get violent. For insignificant bloggers who happen to live near the turmoil, that’s especially true.
As crass as that may sound, it’s the truth. Tragedies, disasters, protest movements – they’re all headline fodder extraordinaire.
Take the recent seizing of Palestinian aid ships by the Israeli army, for example. Israel, Palestine, and the ships may all be half a world away, but thanks to Toronto’s Palestinian population the story came right to my front door. And thanks to an unfortunate series of events that resulted in the pro-Palestine demonstration yesterday, the topic can happily fly under the Toronto City Life flag.
In my privileged position as a blogger I can dispense with any pretense of journalistic impartiality (whatever that is). I’m not anti-Israeli, at least not the citizens, as certain shrill extremist Zionists might suggest; it’s just painfully obvious that the Palestinians are the ones getting shafted. I’m simply in favour of the Palestinians getting a fair shake.
If it wasn’t for tragic events and resulting Torontonian rallies, I might not get the opportunity to talk about these things. And talking about they need because it seems like some painfully obvious facts are being ignored.
Here’s the thing: I’m quite aware of the history of this conflict. I know that Palestinian factions share just as much of the blame for this mess as the Israeli security apparatus. Israel has every right to defend itself as does Palestine.
The whole conflict has been one story of retaliatory action after another. The most recent major example being Palestine’s shelling of Israeli towns within their own borders, and Israel’s resulting incursion in Palestine. In terms of violence, neither side is guiltless, this latest action included. However, there are a number of factors which put Israel clearly in the wrong.
The Israeli defense for going into Gaza has long been, well, defense; that the strip was used by Hamas and other organizations to launch attacks against Israel and so it needed to be secured. The army needed a barrier between the terrorists and Israeli civilians, in other words. Up until that point, even though Palestinian deaths were absolutely atrocious and completely unbalanced, I kinda had to side with Israel. Even to this day Israel is under attack from external forces so going outside the country in order to defend it seems reasonable. Not the way the Israelis carry out these missions, mind you, but the underlying justification seemed to make sense.
But then they started to settle Gaza and that entire argument went right out the window.
The moment Israel started to occupy lands that were not their own, and by doing so moving their own citizens right back into the line of fire, it demonstrated that the Israeli state wasn’t really interested in defense at all. They didn’t want to simply “exist” in peace in the region as they claimed, they didn’t really even care about protecting their own citizens — they’re an imperialist nation with the capabilities, support, and willingness to invade other countries. Palestine, being poor and disorganized, makes a perfect first target. Iran, it has been publicly stated many times, is next.
It’s important, though, to draw clear distinctions between the state of Israel, it’s people, and Jews. The three, although related through history, really don’t have much to do with each other. The state of Israel is the culprit – it has the power, means, and allies to carry out their ambitions. The Israeli people, I suspect, would likely happily give up this notion if they could live in genuine peace. I bet the people living on occupied lands aren’t living a carefree lifestyle. If Israel was a Jewish (religious), state then it’s frightfully fucked in the eyes of God – they’ve broken so many of God’s commandments now that simply calling themselves Jewish would be blasphemous. And while the state of Israel moves as a unified force, insisting that Jews worldwide control most western media means that they’re doing an awful job covering up the misdeeds of the Israeli government.
I don’t buy it as much as I don’t buy the wholesale branding of Palestine as a terrorist state. Which is another major problem in this struggle. While Israel’s flouting of Geneva conventions is somehow legitimized or simply shrugged off (white phosphorous weapons, illegal occupation, etc.) — I guess because the army has fancy uniforms and the U.S.’s cock buried in its ass — Palestinians’ use of guerrilla tactics is apparently pure evil and absolutely reprehensible. Like they have any other choice.
The Canadian and U.S. governments insist that Palestine lay down its arms and surrender to Israeli-U.S. rule before there’s even a hint of discussion. Palestinians, who can barely get food sometimes, are supposed to have a unified fighting force according to the selective Geneva rules that the U.S. and Canada like to pull out, who should all wear fancy new uniforms. No, seriously — apparently without that they’re not a legitimate army. And while they’re at it, they really should be lining up in fields in nice formations, ready to be shot at (exactly like the Israelis do). Without these qualities they’re simply terrorists and hence no negotiations.
The latest bit of nonsense coming from Israel in response to their invasion of the Palestinian flotilla, on it’s way to Palestine, in international waters, is just as absurd. The Israelis claim they had to shoot some people on the ships because they were brandishing weapons. Like knives, and crowbars, and wooden boards. I mean, if that’s good enough justification to unlawfully enter someone’s sovereign space and kill them then … you know, I’m not even going to justify that stupidity by elaborating.
Not only are the Israelis waging an assault on basic human rights along with their circle-jerk U.S. brethren, basically posturing about as nothing more than international thugs with big guns, they’re also directly assaulting our own intelligence. It’s nothing short of calling us all imbeciles for thinking that we’d buy their obvious bullshit.
What the hell gave them the right to board any ship in international waters in the first place?
Israel wants us to believe that killing hundreds of people, in their own country, in response to a few Israeli deaths is justified. What Israel is stating, quite clearly, is that a Palestinian life is worth considerably less than an Israeli life.
As it is, it’s in America’s best interest to keep the conflict going. And no, the U.S., just like Canada, has no interest in humanitarianism or helping out the underdog. We’re there to look out for our own interests, period. Afghanistan was a strategic location for the Russians when they invaded in the eighties; the U.S. fought them because it was the Cold War and the Russians were trying to grab new territory. America never gave a shit about Afghans. They wouldn’t have given a shit about Kuwait being invaded by Iraq either except that Kuwait’s run by people who play ball with the U.S. and, surprise surprise, the country has huge oils reserves.
The U.S. defended Kuwait’s oil fields under Bush senior while the slaughter of Kurds took place in northern Iraq. The only reason America gave for going there in the first place was to defend the Kurds. Mission accomplished! The reason the U.S. invaded Afghanistan this time around was to find and destroy Al Qaeda. Mission accomplished! The reason the U.S. invaded Iraq was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. Mission accomplished! The reason the U.S. gave for going into Vietnam was to stop the spread of Communism. Mission accomplished!
Bush junior’s legacy will be the stripping away of basic human rights, promoting violent knee-jerk reactions based on wisdom like “we’re gonna smoke ’em out, huhuh”, legalizing torture and kidnapping, allowing unwarranted wire-taps, unprecedented invasion of personal rights (been to the airport lately?), and so on. Thank goodness U.S. citizens aren’t living under some oppressive foreign regime, eh? Mission accomplished!!
Look, Saddam Hussein wasn’t exactly leader of the year but if Iraq didn’t have a bunch of oil he’d still be in power. I can’t imagine how naive you’d have to be to think otherwise, especially considering the amount of evidence and the ever-unfolding web of lies and deceits put into place by George and his face-shooting cronies. It’s why Saddam’s forces set all the oil fields on fire as they retreated, and it’s exactly why the U.S. hasn’t gotten involved in actually helping people in places like Congo, Rwanda, Bosnia, etc. There are plenty of awful conflicts happening around the globe right now – how come neither the U.S. not Canada are there? (The U.N. doesn’t count. In any way.)
The answer is simple: there’s nothing there that America or Canada can use. It’s true that Palestinian fighters are calling for the destruction of Israel, and I can’t defend that. It won’t solve the situation (has it solved anything so far?), and will accomplish exactly nothing. Worse, in fact. But at least Hamas is honest about it, something our own government is highly allergic to.
Here are some clumsily strung-together videos of yesterday’s demonstration. The procession of about 1,500 people (including a good number of Jews and Israelis), went from the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor Street West, down Queen’s Park, along College, and down Yonge where the march terminated at Yonge-Dundas Square where Naomi Klein concluded the protest with a speech.
Apologies for the crapiness on this last video; it’s a combination of amateur videography and inexperienced editing. I’ll get better, I promise!