From the category archives:

Middle East

Banksy: peace for paris

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for the TV show “The Wire”. And also some colourful language, such as you might expect when talking about terrorist bastards.

This week has been a bad one for the world. Unless, of course, you happen to be a giant terrorist asshole. Terror attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, and the deadliest attack in Paris since World War 2 have sent the world reeling. The group known by many acronyms — ISIS, ISIL, or what I’ll refer to in this post as Daesh, has claimed ‘responsibility’ (if such a word could even be used) for all three attacks.

All this has happened against a backdrop of unprecedented humanitarian crisis, as hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to flee Syria’s deadly civil war. Western governments are debating how they can cope with what they’ve dubbed a “migrant crisis”, as though the problem only started when desperate refugees started showing up in Europe. It happened on the eve of the G20 summit in Antayla, Turkey, and in the lead-up to a huge global summit on climate change taking place in Paris.

The responses to the attack, in typical format, have followed the Rorschach Test pattern; people see in tragedy what they want to see. More foreign aid. Less foreign aid. More military intervention. Less military intervention. More solidarity with refugees. Close our borders to refugees. It’s about Islam. It’s not about Islam. And so on, and so forth. French president Francois Hollande has taken a hard line, promising military strikes against Daesh, closing of borders, and crackdowns all around.

Everyone has an opinion on how to fight this so-called “war on terror”. But is this really a “war”?

It strikes me that this so-called “war on terror” bears a lot of resemblance to another misnomer: the so-called “war on drugs”.

Sure, this isn’t exactly an original observation. Plenty of people have pointed this out in analysis after analysis. But, other than depressingly similar tactics, sources of funding and consequences, these two so-called wars parallel each other in other ways. Here are just a few:

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Ten years ago today, this was the scene at Concordia University:


The riot was a culmination of more than five years of tensions at Concordia between the radical left-wing CSU groups, which were dominated by members of the pro-Palestinian group SPHR, and pro-Israel groups like Hillel.

Concordia Hillel had invited Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the time was the former Israeli PM, to speak on campus. The radical anti-Israel groups saw this as a reason to mount a mass protest, which quickly turned into a full-fledged riot. Protesters smashed windows, hurled antisemitic slogans at ticket-holders, assaulted and beat up several attendees, and were eventually contained by police. Five people were arrested and faced charges in connection with the riot. The rioting also inspired two documentary films, a rash of ill-advised free speech restrictions on campus, and worldwide infamy for my school.

I’d graduated from Concordia the previous spring, after spending three years on campus dealing with the events that led to that flashpoint, and they were fresh in my mind. As it happened, September 9th 2002 was my first day of my first post-university job, and news of what was happening back at my former campus filtered to me as I was sitting in my new office immersed in training materials.

In a way, the riot was the catalyst that inspired me to start this blog a couple of months later. I focused a lot on the goings-on and events at Concordia for the first couple of years, though the posts eventually tapered off as I gained more distance from my university years. But at the time, as a recent graduate with a lot of friends still directly involved in the day-to-day events on campus, I had a lot to say, and this blog gave me a platform to share news and views about the events that followed.

Now, a decade later, Benjamin Netanyahu is once again Israeli Prime Minister, the radical Left is busy bringing down Quebec governments and staging pots and pans protests, and Concordia University is in the hands of a new generation of student leaders who, since 2003, have been mostly moderates. However, some students have noted that the situation isn’t necessarily any less hostile to Jewish students, just quieter. Concordia has hosted an “Israel Apartheid Week“, an event by the ever-present SPHR, for the past 8 years running. Despite the presence of a couple of new pro-Israel student groups at Concordia, the tensions continue. It’s not difficult to see why Jewish students continue to choose McGill over Concordia by an overwhelming margin.

Furthermore, on university campuses across North America and Europe pro-Israel students are still dealing with having their right to free speech denied, barrages of anti-Israel propaganda from campus activist groups, “boycott Israel” events and other such nonsense. A recent study by the University of California, published in July of this year, found that:

“Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of activities on campus which focus specifically on Israel, its right to exist and its treatment of Palestinians. The anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements and other manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment and activity create significant issues through themes and language which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.”

Another report released earlier this year found that “More than 40% of students confirm anti-Semitism on their campus; some 41% of students have encountered anti-Israel remarks made in class by professors.” From North America to Europe, the situation for Jewish students remains pretty grim.

As Quebec students continue to lobby for free or cheaper education, it’s worth asking just what sort of education they will be receiving.


Freedom of speech, Palestinian-style


A West Bank resident has been imprisoned for insulting Islam on Facebook: A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down. The case of [...]

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If you can’t blame Israel, it doesn’t count


Good guest op-ed in the Gazette by Frida Ghitis: “No one much cares about what they endure, unless it can be blamed on Israel“: Palestinians are indeed victims of mistreatment. But you won’t hear much about what they endure, unless someone can pin the blame directly on Israel. Conditions in Gaza, for example, have made [...]

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Israeli-Lebanese border skirmish


So what really happened in the game of “the tree was on my property” that broke out on the Israeli-Lebanese border yesterday, resulting in a lethal exchange of fire? Pajamas Media takes a crack at deciphering the finger-pointing and media spin games. And the Jerusalem Post has more on UNIFIL’s role in this mess.

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‘Ayatollah, leave those kids alone’


The Independent reports how the Pink Floyd classic has gotten a new life as a theme song of the Iranian protest movement: (Via Lisa Goldman).

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Scott Adams solves the Mideast crisis


Plus, a whole bunch of other wars, conflicts, armed skirmishes, and general disputes: The Power of Ridiculous Reasons: I mention these examples because I think the world needs another ridiculous rule to solve some big problems. And it’s no fair saying my new rule is ridiculous because that’s exactly the point. The new rule would [...]

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Hamas ain’t too poupular wit da people


The Palestinian people, anyway. This according to a new poll conducted by Ramallah-based Near East Consulting that surveyed 880 Palestinians. Overall support for Fatah is at 48%, while Hamas is down to 11% support: “There is widespread support for Fatah,” Dr. Jamil Rabah, director of Near East Consulting in the PA, told The Media Line. “They [...]

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Duh alert


The IAEA is worried that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons: The U.N. nuclear agency on Thursday expressed concern for the first time that Iran may currently be working on ways to turn enriched uranium into a nuclear warhead, instead of having stopped several years ago. Its report appears to contradict an assessment by [...]

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Stormy weather


I wonder how long it will take Ahmadinejad to blame this on the Israeli Mossad, too?

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