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27 janvier 2014 1 27 /01 /janvier /2014 14:50
  • [IPME-News] Digest Number 2097‏ (Israel, Palestine & Middle East News Group)

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Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:38 am (PST) . Posted by:

"Ken Stone"

Russia, China Conduct Naval Training Exercise In Mediterranean Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:40 am (PST) . Posted by: "Rick Rozoff" rwrozoff http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20140125/186916270/Russian-Chinese-Naval-Training-Exercise-Begins-in-Mediterranean.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
January 25, 2014

Russian-Chinese Naval Training Exercise Begins in Mediterranean

MOSCOW: A Russian-Chinese naval training exercise in the Mediterranean Sea began on Saturday involving the Russian nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Veliky and China’s Yancheng frigate, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced.

The exercise, which began with a gathering of the ships and accompanying speedboats, is being performed to reinforce co-maneuvering, air defense collaboration as well as naval helicopter landings on the different countries’ ships, the ministry’s press service said.

The exercise is focused on “raising the level of operational compatibility between Russian and Chinese military ships during joint actions in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea,” the ministry said.

Russian and Chinese military vessels began collaborating in the region on January 7 to ensure security for transports of Syrian chemical weapons.

Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:38 am (PST) . Posted by:

"Tyler Levitan"


Tyler Levitan
Campaigns Coordinator
Independent Jewish Voices-Canada / Voix juives indépendantes-Canada

Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:52 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://mondoweiss.net/2013/10/blasio-learned-israel.html>*

*Mondoweiss October 15, 2013 *
How Bill de Blasio learned to love Israel
*Alex Kane*

Democratic candidate for mayor Bill de Blasio shakes hands with
then-Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: Bill de

Bill de Blasio surrounds himself with hawkish supporters of Israel.

The likely next mayor of New York City appeared with the Jewish Community
Relations Council last month
< http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york-news/candidates-agree-pressuring-iran>to
laud sanctions aimed at Iran and said that nobody would be fooled “until we
see Iran move away decisively from the acquisition of nuclear weapons.” On
October 9, he extolled<http://gawker.com/bill-de-blasio-doubles-down-on-racist-rabbi-praise-1443183012>the
virtues of a rabbi who once called
for God to strike<http://mondoweiss.net/2013/10/charity-sensitivity-shoutout.html>Palestinians
with a “plague” at a fundraiser populated by Syrian Jews.

But it wasn’t always this way. De Blasio used to be surrounded by critics
of the Israeli occupation. He was a member of a Latin American solidarity
group that was critical of Israeli human rights abuses in statements and
flyers. While he was likely aware of the statements, he did not necessarily
agree with them–activists I spoke with don’t remember him saying anything
about Palestine back then. But the contrast between who his allies were in
the early 1990s and who they are today couldn’t be more stark.

De Blasio is now firmly in the camp of progressive New York City officials
who take a hardline stance in support of Israel and utter no criticism. The
transformation of de Blasio from left-wing activist to likely next mayor
wouldn’t have been complete without the current Public Advocate cozying up
to supporters of Israel in New York City.

De Blasio’s political lurch from left-wing activist to hawk on Israel is
“the state of New York City politics,” said Jane Guskin, who did Latin
American solidarity work with de Blasio. While de Blasio has strongly
defended his activism in support of Nicaraguan leftists, his campaign is
silent on the statements made that criticized Israel. (De Blasio campaign
spokesman Dan Levitan told me, “I don’t have a comment.”) The candidate
seems to be running away from any Israel trip-wires, and recently told
the *Daily
had no idea that a teacher he tried to help after an arrest in 2004
statements sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

As the *New York Times*’ Javier Hernandez reported last
de Blasio was active from 1990-1991 in the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of
Greater New York. The loose coalition of about 15 groups supported the
Sandinista movement, a socialist group that took power in the Latin
American country in 1979. By 1990, the Sandinistas had lost power in
elections, but the U.S.-based activists still pressured the U.S. government
to halt funding to the Contras, a group of rebels violently opposed to the
Sandinistas. De Blasio worked with the New York-based activists until 1991,
when he left for good.

While the Solidarity Network of Greater New York continued to focus on the
proxy Cold War battle in Nicaragua, they also turned their attention to
other causes, like opposing the Gulf War and criticizing the Israeli
occupation. The mayoral candidate has been attacked from the
his support of the Sandinistas–with some alleging the socialist
movement was anti-Semitic–but little attention has been paid to the
Solidarity Network of Greater New York’s actions in support of Palestine.

“To us [the issue of Palestine] was another example of U.S. intervention.
It’s really that simple,” said David Wilson, a New York-based author who
participated in Nicaragua solidarity activism with de Blasio. “Some of us
wanted to get people who were in the Central America movement to start
seeing what was going on there.” That was the case even before de Blasio
came on board. As the crushing of the First Intifada escalated, the
coalition endorsed marches against Israeli violence.

When the Gulf War erupted in 1991, the network swung into action, joining a
coalition against U.S. bombing in Kuwait and Iraq. The network frequently
tied their opposition to the Gulf War to their criticism of Israeli
actions, pointing to what they called the hypocrisy of condemning the Iraqi
occupation of Kuwait while funding Israel’s occupation. A look at the
archives of the coalition, housed in a New York University
provides a window into the prevailing sentiment on Palestine among the

Attendees at a June 1990 strategy conference were informed of a
“demonstration/march in support of Palestinian rights” taking place near
the conference. The solidarity network coordinated “things with the
organizers of the march” so attendees of the conference could join in.

In January 1991, during one discussion at a meeting about a letter against
the Gulf War, a suggestion was made to connect the issue to Palestine.
Handwritten revisions read: “The government still gives de facto support to
Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and of Southern Lebanon.” In
March 1991, *Nica News*, a newsletter put out by the coalition, published
an article stating that “we mourn for the people throughout the
world–Palestinians, Cubans, Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans–who are
now more threatened than ever by the diplomacy of gunboats and smart
bombs.” Another flyer from 1991 published by *BuzzFeed*‘s Andrew
“In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The US has never
condemned that action. Instead, the US sends the Israeli government–which
recently massacred 21 Palestinians in Jerusalem–$10 million a day.”

The de Blasio campaign did not respond to questions inquiring about what
the candidate thought about Palestine back then and whether he has changed
his mind. But in a follow-up e-mail, Wilson told me that “I really can’t
remember whether Bill had anything to do with [the statements on
Palestine], although he undoubtedly knew they existed.”

After de Blasio left Latin America solidarity work, he planted his feet
firmly in the world of Democratic politics. He worked for the mayoral
administration of David Dinkins in the early 1990s. He went on to become a
Clinton administration official at the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, before he took the helm of Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate
run in 2000. It was then that he forged close ties to the New York Jewish
community, according to Ezra Friedlander<http://www.thefriedlandergroup.com/>,
an Orthodox Jewish political consultant who has known de Blasio for over a

When the Jewish community reacted with outrage at Hillary Clinton’s 1999
embrace and kiss of Yasser Arafat’s
it was de Blasio who was “instrumental” in smoothing ruffled feathers,
according to the *New York Times*. During the controversy, de Blasio
“stayed in close contact with Assemblyman Dov Hikind, concerned that Jewish
leaders might endorse her Republican opponent,” the reporter David Chen
reported in August.<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/26/nyregion/in-2000-a-clinton-war-room-didnt-fit-de-blasios-style.html?pagewanted=1>Hikind,
an ardent supporter of right-wing Zionism, is close to de Blasio
and has expressed support for his mayoral campaign, though he endorsed Bill
Thompson in the primary.

De Blasio continued his courtship of the Jewish community in Brooklyn
during his campaign to represent the neighborhoods of Borough Park–a
stronghold of Orthodox Judaism–Park Slope, Cobble Hill and more on the City
Council. “Bill de Blasio is a guy who feels very comfortable in the Jewish
community. It’s not a relationship he needs to develop,” Friedlander told
me in a phone interview. “It’s been a part of his life for many years, and
it’s a relationship that has grown over the years. There’s a strong bond.
It’s a warm relationship.” Friedlander called de Blasio “very pro-Israel”
and said that his past work on Nicaragua was “irrelevant.”

De Blasio is now hoping to turn those strong ties into a strong showing at
the polls in November, when he goes head to head with Republican Joe Lhota,
who is also making a bid for the Jewish vote. One Orthodox Jewish supporter
of de Blasio’s, Leon Goldenberg, told the* Jewish
he thought the candidate would do well among Orthodox communities, who
usually vote in blocs. De Blasio has also garnered support from the
progressive base of the Democratic Party, which includes a substantial
portion of New York Jews. In September’s primary race, De Blasio won 39
percent of the Jewish vote, the most of any

De Blasio has gone hard-right on Israel during the campaign. In late
August, he told the well-connected Orthodox radio host Zev
Brenner<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_glYKmLJmzE#t=318>that the New
York City mayor “has to be a strong voice in support of
Israel.” De Blasio also told Brenner that he has “stood up for Israel,
whether it’s taking on the I think very, very wrongheaded movement to
boycott, and disinvest from Israel. I’ve led the charge against that,
whether you’re talking about the Park Slope Food Co-op or at Brooklyn
College, I’ve stood against that divestment movement.” In 2012, de
Blasio defended
its air force rained down missiles on the Gaza Strip.

None of this rhetoric is a surprise to David Wilson, the former activist
with the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York.

“He’s a smart guy and he’s well-informed. And I can’t believe that he
believes the things he says about the Middle East. It’s perfectly obvious
that he’s saying the things New York City politicians say. I don’t know
what he actually thinks, but he can’t think that,” Wilson told me. “There
is a striking disparity between what he says now about Israel and what he
thought about Nicaragua.”

*The headline of this article is a nod to Ali Abunimah’s 2007 piece in the
Electronic Intifada
< http://electronicintifada.net/content/how-barack-obama-learned-love-israel/6786>,
titled “How Barack Obama learned to love Israel.”*

Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:46 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

*Montreal Gazette January 24, 2014Opinion*

*Egypt’s long struggle for democracy By Ehab Lotayef, Special to The

Egyptian anti-government protesters gather at Cairo’s Tahrir Square on
Feb., 2011 during “departure day” demonstrations to force President Hosni
Mubarak to quit after he said he would like to step down but feared chaos
would result. Photograph by MARCO LONGARI, GETPICS

Jan. 25 marks the third anniversary of the Egyptian people taking to the
streets to occupy Tahrir Square, in the heart of Cairo, to demand bread,
freedom and social justice. For more than two weeks, the momentum kept
growing until finally, on Feb. 11, President Hosni Mubarak stepped down
after nearly 30 years in power.

And yet here we are three years later, and Egypt finds itself back to
square one — or even worse.

Did the revolution fail?

It was only seven months ago that large numbers of Egyptians took to the
streets once again, frustrated with the lack of progress under Mohammed
Morsi’s first year of rule. Their main demand was a referendum on the
president — or hastened presidential elections. Morsi rejected both.

One has to keep in mind that the lack of progress during the one year Morsi
spent in power could not be all attributed to Morsi or his Muslim
Brotherhood. The disastrous situation the country was in after the Mubarak
years didn’t help, and neither did the lack of cooperation from the “deep
state” (the remnants of the old regime that controlled the police, army,
civil service and judiciary).

Last June 30, the coup started, with an ultimatum issued to the president
by the minister of defence, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On July 3, the
coup was completed, the president deposed and detained, the parliament
dissolved, the constitution suspended, and the country once again under
military rule.

Many Egyptian politicians and public personalities sided with the coup at
first. El-Sisi appointed a puppet president and instructed him to rewrite
the constitution. An unelected and haphazardly assembled group of 50 was
chosen to help him with this task. The result was a constitution that gives
full immunity and independence to the army, one that does not give the
president the right to appoint the minister of defence. It leaves in place
the rights of an army that owns businesses controlling 30 per cent of the
Egyptian economy. It allows for trials of civilians in front of military
courts, à la Guantanamo.

And even if we disregard the contents of the constitution, accepting the
coup remains, pure and simple, the main problem. Accepting the coup —
regardless of whether one supported it or not, and regardless of what one
thinks of the Egyptian political situation more generally — has made it
harder to imagine real democracy ever coming to Egypt. If the president and
other elected officials know that they can be deposed of anytime by the
military, and by the economic interests that support the army, how could
anyone have confidence in Egyptian democracy? Why would the people even
want to turn out to vote?

Before this month’s vote on the constitution, the Muslim Brotherhood, the
largest and most organized political movement in Egypt, was outlawed. Its
leadership and many of its members were detained, as were many other
liberal and progressive politicians. This followed the massacres of
civilians last summer, after the coup. So as voting on the constitution
approached, there was only one voice heard in Egypt: “Say Yes.” The farce
reached its climax with the arrests of anyone who tried to hang a No banner.

Of course, the voting result was 98 per cent in favour of Yes, but the
voter turnout reported by independent monitors was as low as 11 per cent.
(The government claims 38 per cent.)

And so here we are today, three years after Jan. 25, 2011, that first day
of occupation of Tahrir Square. Egypt is ruled by the military. Some may
say there is no way out this time. But I don’t. The struggle for democracy
can be a very long path. Remember what happened in Chile in 1973; despite
that, democracy did return to Chile. And democracy will return to Egypt.
There will be bread, freedom and social justice in Egypt, sooner or later,
as long as people keep working for it.

Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:52 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/01/u-s-dismantling-rhetoric-ignores-irans-nuclear-proposals/>IPS
Jan 25 2014 U.S. “Dismantling” Rhetoric Ignores Iran’s Nuclear Proposalsby
Gareth Porter*

John Kerry's rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel
loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching
negotiations. Credit: US Mission/Eric Bridiers

WASHINGTON - Iran’s pushback against statements by Secretary of State John
Kerry and the White House that Tehran must “dismantle” some of its nuclear
programme, and the resulting political uproar over it, indicates that tough
U.S. rhetoric may be adding new obstacles to the search for a comprehensive
nuclear agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with
CNN’s Jim Sciutto Wednesday, “We are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re
not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching
over five percent.”

When CNN’s Fareed Zakaria asked President Hassan Rouhani, “So there would
be no destruction of centrifuges?” Rouhani responded, “Not under any
circumstances. Not under any circumstances.”

Those statements have been interpreted by U.S. news media, unaware of the
basic technical issues in the negotiations, as indicating that Iran is
refusing to negotiate seriously. In fact, Zarif has put on the table
proposals for resolving the remaining enrichment issues that the Barack
Obama administration has recognised as serious and realistic.

The Obama administration evidently views the rhetorical demand for
“dismantling” as a minimum necessary response to Israel’s position that the
Iranian nuclear programme should be shut down. But such rhetoric represents
a serious provocation to a Tehran government facing accusations of
surrender by its own domestic critics.

Zarif complained that the White House had been portraying the agreement “as
basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear programme. That is the word they
use time and again.” Zarif observed that the actual agreement said nothing
about “dismantling” any equipment.

The White House issued a “Fact Sheet” Nov. 23 with the title, “First Step
Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program”
that asserted that Iran had agreed to “dismantle the technical connections
required to enrich above 5%.”

That wording was not merely a slight overstatement of the text of the
“Joint Plan of Action”. At the Fordow facility, which had been used
exclusively for enrichment above five percent, Iran had operated four
centrifuge cascades to enrich at above five percent alongside 12 cascades
that had never been operational because they had never been connected after
being installed, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had

The text of the agreement was quite precise about what Iran would do: “At
Fordow, no further enrichment over 5% at 4 cascades now enriching uranium,
and not increase enrichment capacity. Not feed UF6 into the other 12
cascades, which would remain in a non-operative state. No interconnections
between cascades.”

So Iran was not required by the interim agreement to “dismantle” anything.
What Zarif and Rouhani were even more upset about, however, is the fact
that Kerry and Obama administration spokespersons have repeated that Iran
will be required to “dismantle” parts of its nuclear programme in the
comprehensive agreement to be negotiated beginning next month.

The use of the word “dismantle” in those statements appears to be largely
rhetorical and aimed at fending off attacks by pro-Israel political figures
characterising the administration’s negotiating posture as soft. But the
consequence is almost certain to be a narrowing of diplomatic flexibility
in the coming negotiations.

Kerry appears to have concluded that the administration had to use the
“dismantle” language after a Nov. 24 encounter with George Stephanopoulos
of NBC News.

Stephanopoulos pushed Kerry hard on the Congressional Israeli loyalist
criticisms of the interim agreement. “Lindsey Graham says unless the deal
requires dismantling centrifuges, we haven’t gained anything,” he said.

When Kerry boasted, “centrifuges will not be able to be installed in places
that could otherwise be installed,” Stephanopoulos interjected, “But not
dismantled.” Kerry responded, “That’s the next step.”

A moment later, Kerry declared, “And while we go through these next six
months, we will be negotiating the dismantling, we will be negotiating the

After that, Kerry made “dismantle” the objective in his prepared statement.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Dec. 11, Kerry said
the U.S. had been imposing sanctions on Iran “because we knew that [the
sanctions] would hopefully help Iran dismantle its nuclear programme.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed Zarif’s comment as “spin” on
Iran’s commitments under the Joint Plan of Action “for their domestic
political purposes”.

He refused to say whether that agreement involved any “dismantling” by
Iran, but confirmed that, “as part of that comprehensive agreement, should
it be reached, Iran will be required to agree to strict limits and
constraints on all aspects of its nuclear programme to include the
dismantlement of significant portions of its nuclear infrastructure in
order to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in the future.”

But the State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, was much less
categorical in a press briefing Jan. 13: “We’ve said that in a
comprehensive agreement, there will likely have to be some dismantling of
some things.”

That remark suggests that the Kerry and Carney rhetoric of “dismantlement”
serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S.
leverage in the approaching negotiations.

Kerry and other U.S. officials involved in the negotiations know that Iran
does not need to destroy any centrifuges in order to resolve the problem of
“breakout” to weapons grade enrichment once the stockpile of 20- percent
enriched uranium disappears under the terms of the interim agreement.

Zarif had proposed in his initial power point presentation in October a
scheme under which Iran would convert its entire stockpile of 20-percent
enriched uranium into an oxide form that could only be used for fuel plates
for the Tehran Research Reactor.

U.S. officials who had previously been insistent that Iran would have to
ship the stockpile out of the country were apparently convinced that there
was another way to render it “unusable” for the higher-level enrichment
necessary for nuclear weapons. That Iranian proposal became the central
element in the interim agreement.

But there was another part of Zarif’s power point that is relevant to the
remaining problem of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium: Iran’s
planned conversion of that stockpile into the same oxide form for fuel rods
for nuclear power plants as was used to solve the 20-percent stockpile

And that plan was accepted by the United States as a way of dealing with
additional low-enriched uranium that would be produced during the six-month

An element included in the Joint Plan of Action which has been ignored thus
far states: “Beginning when the line for conversion of UF6 enriched up to
5% to UO2 is ready, Iran has decided to convert to oxide UF6 newly enriched
up to 5% during the 6 month period, as provided in the operational schedule
of the conversion plant declared to the IAEA.”

The same mechanism – the conversion of all enriched uranium to oxide on an
agreed time frame — could also be used to ensure that the entire stockpile
of low-enriched uranium could no longer be used for “breakout” to
weapons-grade enrichment without the need to destroy a single centrifuge.
In fact, it would allow Iran to enrich uranium at a low level for a nuclear
power programme.

The Obama administration’s rhetoric of “dismantlement”, however, has
created a new political reality: the U.S. news media has accepted the idea
that Iran must “dismantle” at least some of its nuclear programme to prove
that it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo was shocked by the effrontery of Zarif and Rouhani.
“That’s supposed to be the whole underpinning of moving forward from the
United States perspective,” Cuomo declared, “is that they scale back, they
dismantle, all this stuff we’ve been hearing.”

Yet another CNN anchor, Wolf Blitzer, who was an official of the
American-Israel Public Affairs Committee before becoming a network
journalist, called Zarif’s statements “stunning and truly provocative,”
adding that they would “give ammunition” to those in Congress pushing for a
new sanctions bill that is clearly aimed at sabotaging the negotiations.

The Obama administration may be planning to exercise more diplomatic
flexibility to agree to solutions other than demanding that Iran
“dismantle” large parts of its “nuclear infrastructure”.

But using such rhetoric, rather than acknowledging the technical and
diplomatic realities surrounding the talks, threatens to create a political
dynamic that discourages reaching a reasonable agreement and leaves them

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in
U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for
journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new
book “Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare”,
will be published in February 2014.

Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:57 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Values+charter+moral+implications+just+limited+Quebec/9429368/story.html>
Vancouver Sun January 25, 2014Values charter's moral implications not
just limited to QuebecIt involves us all: Can we as a country live with
this ethnocultural chauvinism? Will our consciences allow it? By Andrew

Nariman Eldoraini wears a niqab during a Montreal gathering on Jan. 12 to
oppose the proposed Quebec values charter. If implemented, the law would
ban all public employees from wearing religious symbols and clothing.
Photograph by Graham Hughes, The Canadian Press, Vancouver Sun

Discussion of the Parti Quebecois' "Charter of Quebec Values" has until now
been conducted rather on the same lines as discussion of a third
referendum: as a theoretical possibility, but not an immediate likelihood.

The thing was so outlandish, so crude, so ugly in its implications and so
obvious in its motives - to this day we have yet to be given a shred of
evidence of its necessity - that the consensus was that it was unlikely
ever to be put into effect.

Quebecers would not stand for this, we told ourselves. It was a throwback
to an earlier time, catering to old insecurities, unrepresentative of the
Quebec of today. Oh, perhaps it might fly in a few rural backwaters, but
never in cosmopolitan Montreal.

At any rate, the opposition parties would block it in the legislature. Some
watered-down version might pass, an affirmation of the secular character of
the Quebec state blah blah blah, but the core of it, the ban on religious
garments in the public service - effectively, a ban on religious minorities
in the public service - could not possibly become law.

Indeed, as more and more hospitals, school boards and municipalities spoke
out against Bill 60 (as the legislation is called), as demonstrators
marched against it and lawyers denounced it as unconstitutional, and as
divisions began to emerge even among Péquistes as to its merits, it seemed
increasingly evident the PQ's desperate gambit - for surely that is what it
was - had backfired. Evident, that is, to everyone but the PQ leadership,
whose response to this firestorm of opposition was ... to tighten the bill

Well, now, here we are months later, and every one of these wishful myths
has been destroyed. The PQ, far from dwindling to a reactionary rump, can
now see a majority government within reach: A Léger poll, taken several
days after hearings on the bill had begun, put them ahead of the Liberals,
36 per cent to 33 per cent overall, but 43-25 among the francophone
population, where elections are won or lost.

That wasn't a tribute to the leadership of Pauline Marois. Neither was
there any great surge in support for sovereignty. Rather, it seems clearly
to be based on popular support - enthusiasm would perhaps be more apt - for
the charter.

While nearly half of all Quebecers - 48 per cent - support the bill,
according to Léger, that's almost entirely due to the support it enjoys
among francophones, at 57 per cent, compared with just 18 per cent support
among the province's linguistic minorities. The ban on religious garb, in
particular, attracts even more support: 60 per cent overall, 69 per cent
among francophones - up 11 points since September. And while support is
particularly strong outside the metropolitan areas, it is very nearly as
strong in Montreal and Quebec City as well.

But you don't need to consult the polls to see how this is playing out. You
need only look at how the political parties are reacting. Neither
opposition party has come out four-square against the bill, or even the ban
on religious clothing. The Coalition Avenir Québec would restrict its
application to persons in positions of authority, such as police officers
or judges (as suggested earlier by the Bouchard-Taylor commission on
"reasonable accommodation"). Marvellous: so only the minority police
officers and judges would be fired.

And the Liberals - ah, the Liberals. After dithering for months, while
various figures within the party freelanced a range of positions on the
issue, the party leader, Philippe Couillard, emerged with a stance of such
infinite nuance that it ended up contradicting itself more than the bill.
The party would allow public servants to wear the kippa and the hijab, but
not the burka and the niqab. OK: the latter two cover the face, which
suggests at least some sort of principled underpinning. But then why ban
the chador, which does not?

Such exquisite parsing has earned the party the ridicule of all sides. With
the opposition in disarray, there is growing talk of a spring election,
with Bill 60 as its central issue. What once was a theoretical possibility
has become a real, and disturbing, probability.

By this point, Quebecers can be under no illusion what the bill portends:
the expulsion from the public service of thousands of observant Jews,
Sikhs, Muslims and even the odd Christian (among the bill's other
anomalies, crucifixes would be permitted, so long as they are not too
large), unless they submit to stripping themselves of any outward
manifestation of their faith. And the majority seem quite content with this.

Rationalize it all we like - a distinctly French approach to secularism,
the legacy of Quebec's Catholic past etc. etc. - but if the polls hold the
province is about to elect a separatist majority government, on an explicit
appeal to ethnocultural chauvinism.

The moral implications of this are profound, and not limited to the
province, or its government. They involve us all. Put simply: Is this a
state of affairs we can live with in this country? Will our consciences
allow it?

What, in particular, will be the reaction of the federal government? Will
it defend the rights of local minorities, in the role originally envisaged
for it, as it has pledged to do? Or will it do as federal governments have
done since Wilfrid Laurier, faced with a determined local majority: shrug
and abandon them to their fate?
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  • : Le blog de Antonio Artuso - Reconstruction communiste Canada
  • Le blog de Antonio Artuso - Reconstruction communiste Canada
  • : But : Reconstruction d'un et d'un seul parti communiste au Canada, dans chaque pays et d'un et d'un seul Mouvement communiste international. À l'étape actuelle, la formation théorique-idéologique sur la doctrine de Marx et d'Engels, et de Lénine et de Staline est essentielle - (1) élaboration d'un programme d'études: (2) formation de cercles d'études marxistes-léninistes
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Vidéo sur le 11 septembre 2001


Hymne de l'U.R.S.S.

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    Staline - imagesCAZWBVDE

                                                                                                                                                                                          Staline n'a pas quitté Moscou encerclée par les troupes nazies