On June 15 2011, the Canadian government extended its military support of the US/NATO-led intervention in Libya. Intervention in the conflict, which has now turned into a full fledged civil war, was initially done on humanitarian grounds to protect civilians and was sanctioned by UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in March 2011.

The situation in Libya has changed drastically since and so has the objective of the intervention. NATO is now calling for regime change and will not withdraw its forces unless Col. Gadhafi is removed from power. This is not what Canada signed up for. This is no longer about protecting civilians; this is about forcibly toppling a leader that doesn’t support the agenda of Western powers and Canada has no place to be there.

NATO’s intentions are no longer in line with the Security Councils’ resolution as removal of Col. Gadhafi was never a stated. Also, there is no reason to believe the his ousting will lead to stability in Libya or protection of its civilians. The alternative to Ghadafi is a group of disorganized and untrained rebels who’s ability to run the country is questionable. Thousands of Libyan refugees are fleeing the country as NATO (using Canadian jets) intensifies air strikes on Tripoli, attacking civilians along with Gadhafi’s forces.

Sadly and surprisingly, Elizabeth May was the only MP in the House of Commons to reject the extension of Canada’s mission in Libya. I congratulate her for standing up and being the only one to represent the voice of Canadians, while the rest bowed down to party politics and pressure from Harper. A recent poll by the Globe and Mail showed that 71% of Canadians are against the mission.

As Jeffery Simpson pointed out, Canada went into Libya with little knowledge and lofty ideals. The government has been quite successful in tricking Canadians; there was virtually no public opposition to this military mission disguised as humanitarian aid. What will happen next is anyone’s guess, but I hope and pray that it doesn’t get more ugly and that peace soon prevails in Libya.

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After the recent flotilla killings, the Israeli PR is in full swing trying to manipulate the news reports we see and read. Following is a series of refutations to some of the claims Israel has made in order to justify its indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians and aid workers aboard the flotilla.

Source: MuslimMatters

FACT CHECK

Weapons On Board the Flotilla

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Monday morning that the pro-Palestinian activists on the flotilla sailing to the Gaza Strip were carrying weapons on board [Source]

RESPONSE: Nothing could be further from truth. The ships had discharged from Turkey after the government checked for weapons. Forget the Turkish claims; common sense dictates that symbolism of peaceful resistance that the flotilla mission was engaging in would not allow the presence of weapons. Finally, the video released by the IDF itself shows that those on board were using miscellaneous items to fight off the soldiers (pirates), not any arms.

“Allegations that there were weapons aboard the Turkish ship are baseless,” Fevzi Gulcan, the head of customs at the Mediterranean port city of Antalya, said on Monday.  He added that passengers had been allowed to board the Mavi Marmara ship after they were searched and scanned via X-Ray, the Anatolia news agency reported.” [Source]

Israel Acted in Self-Defense

“Israel, though, insists its forces fired in self-defense. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says they had to “defend their lives, or they would have been killed.” [Source]

RESPONSE: Like all the “self-defense” claims that Israel as one of the world’s mightiest military power makes against kids with stones, this one doesn’t fly either. See the video below released by none other than the IDF. Let’s assume for argument’s sake, that the NGO participants on board the ship started the altercation. As an illustration of the hollowness of the self-defense argument, let’s assume my neighbor comes to my house and kicks and punches me. I am in full military fatigue, I have all the weapons, while my neighbor is employing his boots to the best of his ability. In return, I take him and his family out. What would the court say to my self-defense argument?

Furthermore, there are strict guidelines on the response by military and police in law enforcement situations. Under San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, Section II (Armed conflicts and the law of of self-defence). Note the condition of proportionality mentioned twice for emphasis:

3. The exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations is subject to the conditions and limitations laid down in the Charter, and arising from general international law, including in particular the principles of necessity and proportionality.

4. The principles of necessity and proportionality apply equally to armed conflict at sea and require that the conduct of hostilities by a State should not exceed the degree and kind of force, not otherwise prohibited by the law of armed conflict, required to repel an armed attack against it and to restore its security.

Israel’s “Proof” of Self-Defense — the Proverbial Foot in its own Mouth:

Israel’s Interception of Flotilla was in Accordance with International Laws

Israel maintains that it has the right to defend its territorial integrity, in accordance with international laws.

RESPONSE: The attack took place in international waters, so in fact, Israel was in full breach of international laws. For instance, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has already come out in asserting that Israel’s attack on aid flotilla violated international law.

Robin Churchill, a professor of international law at the University of Dundee in Scotland, said the Israeli commandos boarded the ship outside of Israel’s territorial waters. “As far as I can see, there is no legal basis for boarding these ships,” Churchill said. Also, a group of lawyers in Israel have petitioned the High Court, charging that Israel had violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by capturing the boats in international waters.

Under the same San Remo manual, Part II, Section I, hostile actions are forbidden on neutral waters, and clearly the Israeli action took place in international waters by all accounts:

14. Neutral waters consist of the internal waters, territorial sea, and, where applicable, the archipelagic waters, of neutral States. Neutral airspace consists of the airspace over neutral waters and the land territory of neutral States.

15. Within and over neutral waters, including neutral waters comprising an international strait and waters in which the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage may be exercised, hostile actions by belligerent forces are forbidden. A neutral State must take such measures as are consistent with Section II of this Part, including the exercise of surveillance, as the means at its disposal allow, to prevent the violation of its neutrality by belligerent forces.

Furthermore under Section V, Line 67, Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked. Clearly the flotilla flying the flags of Greece and Turkey fall under this category. The exceptions to this default state include “reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade… engage in belligerent acts on behalf of the enemy” and a bunch of other categories where there is clearly an “enemy” involved. While Israel may state that the ships were breaching a blockade, this argument is patently false, since the blockade itself is illegal and not approved by the international community.

But there is even further qualification, by exemptions for certain type of vessels, under Section IV,

136. The following vessels are exempt from capture:

(ii) vessels engaged in humanitarian missions, including vessels carrying supplies indispensable o the survival of the civilian population, and vessels engaged in relief actions and rescue operations;

Flotilla Organizers Have Ties to Al Qaeda

“Before the flotilla entered Israeli waters, rumor had it that the organizers [of the aid initiative] had links with the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Arthur Avnon was quoted as saying on the website of public broadcaster DR. [Source]

RESPONSE: “Rumor has it”… Rumor? Are we now going to depend on rumors? Desperation? Here Israel is using, once again, the Islam vs. the West “clash of civilization” fear-mongering approach. Increasing Islamophobia has been a strategic goal of the Israel Lobby. As long as Westerners are afraid of Muslims (=Palestinians), Israel will always be justified in all its ruthless actions to subdue the uncivilized Muslim populace. Ever since 9/11, Israel has made great pains in equating the terrorists with Palestinians fighting occupation. The great differences between the two situations conveniently escapes Israel, but it has still been effective at making this case. No surprise when many Americans still think Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.

The response is actually quite simple. Al-Qaeda is a caustic entity, besides being a terrorist outfit. No cause would want connections to this organization as it will instantly digress from any positive message. Thus, not only is it unreasonable, but it would be foolish to include Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, since when did Al-Qaeda tactics shift from terrorism to unarmed humanitarian efforts?  Let’s review the list of notable personalities on board. Would they even remotely risk being tied to Al-Qaeda? The list includes newspaper journalists, members and former members of EU states governments, a member of the Israeli Knesset (!), Swedish historians and artists, actors,  a survivor of the USS Liberty, former United States Ambassador and more. See the entire “Al-Qaeda’s Who’s Who List” on Wikipedia:

No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

On a related note, since this flotilla was after all meant to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister reminded reporters recently  “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” [Source].

RESPONSE: This is a lie (=disinformation) in so many ways that it boggles the mind that someone can even make this claim:

Sophisticated Approach to Media by the Israeli Lobby:


I have heard numerous arguments against religion. A friend of mine once dismissed religion on the grounds that ‘it divides people’. I’ve heard that argument before and after that conversation I was compelled to put some thought into it. Following are some thoughts on that argument.

Religion does divide people. That is true. However, I prefer the word separate rather than divide and you will see later why. Religion does group people into different sects. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus. These differences sometimes can cause disagreements and hostility between people of different religious backgrounds. Wars have been waged in the past and present in the name of religion and often times the resentment follows through generations to come.

But here’s the thing people tend to overlook. Religion divides people; but so does race, ethnicity, nationality, political philosophies (democracy vs communism), language (Quebec vs English Canada) etc. Look at the wars that have been waged in the past century. At least 60 million people have died in armed conflicts in the past 100 years. How many of these wars were ‘religious’? Did the Americans bomb Hiroshima for religious reasons? Did Stalin massacre thousands for religious reasons? Did the genocide in Rwanda happen for religious reasons?

The number of people that been killed in so called ‘religious wars’ is miniscule compared to those in secular wars. So the point is, why insult religion and put down its beauty by making it responsible for our disunity? Look at all the hate that has resulted because of democracy. I’ve never heard any one ridicule democracy or blame wars on it. Why the double standard?

Here is what people need to understand. Humans are inherently different from one another. No matter what you do, people will disagree over one matter or another and will always have different opinions. As humans we all have an identity, a set of values or a philosophy which suits our rational faculties. We cling onto people who share this identity and pledge allegiance to them. No matter what one tries to do, this cannot be changed and is in fact something that God has programmed into us and is there for a reason. God says in the Quran,

“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people: but they will not cease to dispute” (Quran 11:118)

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes, that you may know one another” (Quran 49:13)

I gather three things from the above verses. One the confirmation that we have been purposely made different and have been split into nations and tribes. Second that disputation is also a part of our nature and even if we were one nation we’d continue to dispute over religious matters. Lastly, the purpose behind our divisions: to learn from each other and not to despise one another. Living in peace and learning to co-exist is a divine trial and we as humans ought to live up to it.

If anything, religion unites people that are divided. Look at the history of the Arabian Peninsula before and after Islam for example. The Arabs had a strong sense of tribalism and maintaining the honour of their particular tribe was of utmost importance to them. This resulted in never ending wars where one tribe was always trying to take revenge and shedding blood in order to remain ‘honourable’. After the advent of Islam, not only was the Arabian Peninsula united but along with it were Eastern Europe, North Africa, India and Western China.

‘Okay fine, religion isn’t the only thing that divides people and maybe it can unite people sometimes too. But what about hostility, hate and resentment between people of different faiths? Wouldn’t our world be more peaceful without all this religious bigotry? One less reason to hate’

What people don’t understand when they ask the above question is the following: Religion isn’t the cause of hate amongst people; religion is the justification for hate. No religion inherently preaches hate. No religion inherently teaches one to be hateful to others; they preach the opposite in fact. Yes, religious people differ but differences don’t equal hate. Theological disagreements don’t usually amount to hate and deep rooted resentment.

Hate is a human problem. It is a manifestation of anger, pride, greed, struggle for power and other human flaws. The Palestinians don’t hate Israelis because they are Jewish; they hate them because they are oppressed by them. Even in that case, religion is used as a justification for hatred.

Some people argue that a world without religion might not be perfect, but at least better than what it is today. I argue that we’d be in a position that is far worse as the good that religious values bring far out weight the divisions attributed to religion. The divisions would remain the same even if you remove religion. People would find other excuses to justify hate and oppression. Removing religion would just rid the world of the good that it brings about.