Monday, 30 June 2014

Kidnapped Israeli Youths Found Murdered. Do the Palestinians Really Want Peace?

After more than two weeks, the search for three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped by members of the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, came to a horrible ending when soldiers from the IDF found their bodies in a shallow grave near Hebron.  Apparently, they were killed shortly after they were abducted (see: Security Forces Find Missing Teens' Bodies in the West Bank).  Upon hearing of this atrocity, I asked myself as I have so many times: Do the Palestinians really want peace?  After today, I have never been so adamant in answering myself with a firm no.  But it's not just this cold-blooded murder of three innocent teenagers that has made me cynical about peace prospects over the last month or so.

A Pact Made With Terrorists

About a month ago, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, announced that he had reached a deal for a unity government with Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group bent on destroying Israel, which has ruled over the Gaza Strip after pushing out Abbas' forces in 2007.  For more than 20 years, Hamas has made a name for itself with a series of violent attacks that have targetted and killed mostly Israeli civilians.  Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immediately condemned the new pact, saying that Abbas chose peace with terrorists rather than peace with Israel.  But most of the international community disagreed with him.  Instead, leaders from around the world, including the United Nations and the European Union, praised the new Palestinian unity government and asked the Israeli government to support it.  They had bought into the Palestinian assertion that the new government would follow a path of non-violence and seek a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  See, for example:

UN Envoy Visits Gaza in Nod to Palestinian Unity

European Commissioner to Israel: Support Palestinian Unity Deal 

Then, on June 12, 2014, three Israeli teens were abducted.  The Israeli government immediately suspected Hamas and towards the end of the month, it named two suspects in the kidnapping, both of whom were Hamas members (see: Israel Names Two Prime Suspects in Teens' Abduction).  Prime Minister Netanyahu found himself vindicated in the face of the naive international community.   So much for the path of non-violence.

Polls Show Palestinians Don't Want Peace

Even before the kidnapping, there appeared to be little appetite on the part of the Palestinians for peace.  In fact, earlier in June, a Palestinian research centre in the West Bank, known as the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, released a poll that showed more than half of Palestinians surveyed said that they opposed restarting peace talks with Israel (see: Poll: 56% of Palestinians Oppose Renewing Talks With Israel).  The poll did note that Palestinians opposed a renewal of talks based on Israel's refusal to release Palestinian prisoners and stop building in the West Bank.  But why blame the Israeli government for not releasing prisoners when doing so often leads to fatal results for Israeli citizens?  See, for example:

Israeli Killed on Passover Eve was Murdered by Palestinian Freed in Shalit Deal

In fact, as one Israeli journalist wrote, more than one hundred Israelis were murdered by ex Palestinian prisoners that were released in deals prior to the prisoner swap that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed from Hamas captivity (see: Shalit Campaign was a Hysterical Surrender to Terror).  So contrary to what the Palestinians tell Israel and the international community, freeing their prisoners will not lead to peace - it will only lead to more murdered Israelis.  Freezing construction in Israel's West Bank communities will not lead to peace either.  It certainly didn't when Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip and uprooted thousands of Israelis from their homes.  On the contrary, the only thing Israel got for handing land back to the Palestinians was barrage after barrage of rocket fire on its peaceful towns and cities.  

Many Palestinians even readily admit that they're no longer interested in a two state solution and a majority of them want their "resistance" to continue until they "liberate" all of Palestine from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea (see: Poll: Most Palestinians Reject Two-State Solution - and Violence).  This poll does indicate that most of the Palestinians currently don't support violence against Israel.  And as we know, President Abbas did publicly condemn the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens.  Meanwhile, however, the Palestinians don't seem to practice what they preach.  Instead, they condone the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas, happily passing out candy to celebrate the kidnapping.  Indeed, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip view terrorists killed in attacks against Israel, not as villains, but as heroes.  As for Abbas' public condemnations, they are little more than hot air and have just as little meaning as the late Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat's condemnations did every time his fellow Palestinians committed an act of terrorism against Israeli civilians, killing and maiming as many as they could.

I have tried to remain optimistic about peace prospects, but time and time again my hopes and the hopes of countless others are dashed.  Why?  Because the Palestinians refuse to end their love affair with terrorism.  And until they do, there will not be peace.





   





 

 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Harper Government Gets it Right on Canadian Citizenship

As we approach Canada Day, I thought it would be fitting to write a new blog post on the reforms to Canadian citizenship introduced by the Harper government.  Canadian citizenship has lost its value over the last few decades, beginning with the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's reforms in the 1970s.  These reforms watered down the requirements that prospective citizens needed to meet.   Canada's doors were open to immigration from all corners of the world.  While there is certainly no problem granting citizenship to someone regardless of where he or she comes from, there is a problem granting it to those who do not share Canada's values.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened under the guise of multiculturalism and so-called inclusiveness.  In fact, Canadian citizenship seems to have lost so much of its value that some folks on the left want to give people who are not Canadian citizens the right to vote in municipal elections.  See, for example:

Council Votes to Allow Permanent Residents to Cast Ballots

Give Permanent Residents Vote, City-Commissioned Report Says

Why Can't Permanent Residents Vote in Municipal Elections?  

What's next?  Will we be allowing permanent residents the right to vote in provincial and federal elections?  Maybe the lefties want to start distributing voting cards to people as soon as they get of the plane.  It's a scary proposition, but the lefties want and have always wanted to devalue Canadian citizenship for one reason: votes.



How Left Wing Politicians Use Immigrants

For decades now, new immigrants and prospective Canadian citizens have been pawns in the game that left wing politicians, especially those in the Liberal Party, like to play.  Prime Minister Trudeau began playing this game in order to realize his personal vision of a multicultural Canada.  But he also wanted to ensure the continued electoral success of the Grits by flooding Canada with new immigrants that he believed would be loyal to his party.  He would bribe them by making it easier to become Canadian citizens, thereby giving them access to our generous social security system.  This Liberal tradition continued well after Trudeau left office.  The Grits made it easier than ever for new immigrants to not only become citizens, but also to bring their families into the country, whether or not they actually had something to contribute to the economy.  But of course, the Grits and their fellow leftists don't care about whether or not immigrants benefit the country.  They're willing to let anyone come to Canada so long as they think they can get their votes once they become citizens.  This is the reason why the lefties are crying foul over the Harper government's reforms.

Harper Restoring Value to Canadian Citizenship

Earlier this year, the federal government introduced a new bill to reform the way new immigrants to this country become citizens, Bill C-24.  Among other things, the bill will increase the amount of time immigrants must reside in Canada before they can become citizens.  There will be additional measures to combat citizenship fraud and ensure that immigrants with a criminal past do not become citizens.  The government will be able to revoke citizenship and deny it to persons convicted of terrorism or high treason.  The bill also expands the ages of applicants required to prove their knowledge of Canada and their competence in English or French from between 18 and 54 years to 14 to 64 years.  Along with the new bill, the feds have also introduced a new citizenship handbook with more emphasis on Canadian heritage, such as our country's proud military history, our respect for democratic values and our ties to the British monarchy.

I support the Harper government's citizenship reforms because I believe that these reforms will restore value to Canadian citizenship.  But of course, the leftists are dead set against these new measures.  To them I ask, why should a prospective citizen not have to physically reside in Canada for a reasonable amount of time to prove that he or she intends to live here?  Why should they not be required to prove their knowledge of Canada's values and heritage?  Why should we allow immigrants with criminal pasts, or even a terrorist pasts, to become citizens of our great country?  And why should prospective new citizens not have to prove that they have at least a working knowledge of English or French?  As always, the folks on the left will have an answer to all of these questions, but they won't give you the real answer: "Because we want their votes!"

The leftists in Canada don't care about criminals or terrorists coming into this country.  They don't care if prospective citizens don't share our values.  They don't care if there are new Canadian citizens who can barely speak English or French, and they believe that Canadian citizenship is a right, not a privilege that every new immigrant to this country needs to earn.  Fortunately, we have a government in power that respects and honours the value of Canadian citizenship and wants to make sure that this value is maintained.  But you can bet that if Justin Trudeau's Liberals or Thomas Mulcair's NDP ever takes power, they will follow their leftist tradition and water down the value of Canadian citizenship just so they can benefit from the votes that they think an easy path to becoming a Canadian will bring them.      

Friday, 27 June 2014

To the Western Powers: Stop Imposing Colonialist Borders

As the crisis in Iraq worsens, the U.S. continues to insist that the country remain united.  But why?  As I said in a previous blog post, Iraq: A Country Never Meant to be Falls Apart, Iraq is an artificial creation drawn up by former European colonial powers without any concern for the wishes of the different sects and ethnic groups living in it.  So why, then, is the U.S. trying so hard to keep this failed state together?  The simple answer: the Americans fear the idea of self-determination.  And they're not the only ones.  To this day, the European powers have gone to great strides to control current borders, both in Europe itself and abroad.  Essentially, the West never abandoned their colonialist desire to determine the borders of other countries so long as it suits them.

The Middle East: A Land of Broken Promises

After the First World War, it seemed as if the victorious Western powers finally wised up and realized that nation-states created by means of conquest rather than consent should not exist.  Hence, they dismantled the Hapsburgs' Austro-Hungarian Empire and allowed its various peoples the right to self-determination.  The end result was the emergence of some of the modern European states that still exist today, such as the republics of Austria and Hungary.  The victors of WWI initially promised the peoples of the Middle East that they too would be given the right to form their own nation-states.  Indeed, even before the war ended, the leaders of the Arab revolt in the Ottoman Empire had reached an understanding with the British that would have seen the Arabs achieve independence.  The British also promised the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine, hence the Balfour Declaration in 1917.  As we know, however, the Western powers did not keep their word.

In fact, at around the same time that they were promising the peoples of the Middle East the right to self-determination, the British and French governments were secretly dividing the region amongst themselves.  Thus emerged the ultimate betrayal of the Middle Eastern peoples: the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, which eventually led to the division of much of the region into British and French territories.  These territories were later granted independence, but the artificial boundaries that the British and French created remained, leaving peoples divided and creating new conflicts amongst different sects and ethnic groups that were forced together by the new borders.  The British also attempted to break the promise they made to the Jewish Zionist movement when they decided to appease the leaders of the Arab world.  In lieu of World War II, the British needed the oil that only the Arabs could provide, hence they curtailed Jewish immigration to the British Mandate of Palestine and reneged on the Balfour Declaration.  It was only after WWII, when the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, did the British decide to give up on their mandate in Palestine, turning the issue of Jewish independence over to the new United Nations, which eventually voted to partition Palestine and grant the Jewish people an independent state therein.

The Western Fear of Self-Determination


One hundred years after the Western powers carved up the Middle East, they are still trying to maintain the artificial borders that they created, hence the Americans' desperate attempt to keep Iraq together.  The Kurdish people, who never asked to be absorbed into Iraq or any other bordering country, have the legitimate right to an independent state of their own.  Even the leaders of Israel, America's most important ally in the Middle East, have tried to convince the Obama Administration that they should accept Kurdish independence (see: Israel Tells U.S. Independent Iraqi Kurdistan is 'Forgone Conclusion').  So why won't the Americans budge?  Well, for the same reason that France wants to keep the countries in its former colonial territory together.

    

It wasn't too long ago that the French intervened in the west African state of Mali to push Islamist terrorists out of the country's north.  After more secular Tuareg rebels seized northern Mali and proclaimed independence, the Islamists overwhelmed them and took over.  The French pushed them out, but instead of doing the right thing and supporting the Tuaregs' right to independence, they instead began assisting the Malian government to reclaim the north without any concern as to whether or not the Tuareg people wanted to remain part of Mali.  Just as the territory of the Kurdish people is divided by the borders of several countries, so to is the territory of the Tuareg.  The reality is that the Tuaregs did not and still do not want to be part of Mali or any other country drawn up by French colonists.  They want and deserve a country of their own on all of their territory.  But of course, neither the French, nor any other Western power want this to happen, just as they don't want it to happen in Kurdistan.  Why?  Because if the West allows the Kurds or the Tuaregs to be independent, it would have to give peoples still under their control the same right.



First Kurdistan, Then...

The fact is that the Western powers are loathe to see any new states emerge from their former colonial territories, or anywhere for that matter, unless they can control what happens.  Hence, it is very difficult for any people who desire a country of their own to actually achieve it.  Say, for example, that France were to support an independent Kurdistan or a separate Tuareg state.  Clearly, if they allowed either of these peoples the right to self-determination, they must also accord the same right to, say, the people of Brittany, Corsica or Alsace - all of which are now regions of France.  Similarly, if the British government were to support Kurdish or Tuareg independence, they should have to support the aspirations of sovereigntists in Scotland and Wales, right?  And how about the U.S.?  If the Americans suddenly changed their tune and opted to support the aspirations of the Kurds and Tuaregs, then clearly they would have to acquiesce to the demands of Native Americans for a return of the lands that the U.S. stole from them.  Yes, the fact is that the countries of the West will eventually have to comply with the demands of some of the peoples within their own borders for self-determination, but if they are truly democracies, then they should have no problem doing so.

Self-Determination: Resistance is Futile

The reality is that the West cannot stem the tide of self-determination.  They can only slow it down, and by doing so they harm countless lives.  There would be a lot less bloodshed if the West just allowed independence-seeking peoples, like the Kurds of Iraq or the Tuaregs of Mali, to go their own ways.  How many people have to die before the West gives up its desire to control the borders of the rest of the world?     

      

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The "Islamic" Inquisition

In Muslim history, the period from the seventh century up until the thirteenth century is generally regarded as Islam's golden age - an age of learning when scholars recovered and translated the knowledge of ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.  Had it not been for the work of various scholars during the height of Islamic civilization, the knowledge of ancient philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, would have been lost to the dustbin of history.  Islam's golden age was also a period of great advances in technology, astronomy, medicine and other sciences.  The economy and international trade in the Muslim world flourished.  In fact, some of the most basic foundations of early capitalism were built during Islam's golden age.  And although my knowledge of the history of Islamic civilization is limited, I do know enough to safely say that without the knowledge acquired and re-acquired during Islam's golden age, modern Western civilization as we know it today would not even exist.  Moreover, at about the same time that Islam's golden age occurred, Europe was in a period of violent upheaval and economic stagnation.  But after the thirteenth century the tide began to turn, finally culminating in the fall of Granada, Islam's last kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula, in 1492 at the hands of Spain's Christian monarchs, thus ending the so-called "Reconquista".  From this point onward, Muslim civilization began a sharp decline.  Territory that was once part of vast Muslim empires slowly became European vassals or colonies.  By the beginning of the 20th century, nearly the entire Muslim world was under the control of European powers.  Perhaps, however, the tide is beginning to turn again.

Islam Emerges From Its Dark Age Just as the Europeans Did From Theirs - By Going Back Before Going Forward

By the mid-20th century, after centuries of colonization at the hands of the Europeans, most of the Muslim world regained its independence, though they became divided into many different states with borders largely drawn up by their former colonial masters.  After they regained their independence, the Muslims undertook certain actions that very much resemble the actions taken by the Europeans after the Reconquista.  Upon driving the Muslims from the Iberian peninsula, the newly-liberated European Christians began and orgy of persecution and slaughter.  They brutally massacred, deported or forcibly converted the peninsula's non-Christian inhabitants as part of their attempt to "cleanse" Iberia and the rest of Europe of foreign influence.  And so began the heydays of what became known as the Spanish Inquisition - a period of persecution for all things and people deemed by the powerful Roman Catholic church to be non-Christian.

Similarly, once the Muslim states threw off the shackles of their colonial masters, a widespread persecution of non-Muslim peoples began, culminating in a mass exodus of Christians and Jews from much of the Muslim world.  What were, for example, large Jewish communities in places like Iraq, Yemen and Morocco are all but gone.  At the same time, long-established Christian communities, some dating back to the earliest period of Christianity, have largely vanished from the Muslim world.  Many of the aforementioned non-Muslim populations fled in the face of a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement, which as we should all know is still growing by leaps and bounds and continuing to scare or force both non-Muslims and more enlightened Muslims into exile.

There is also a persecution of modern ideas in the Muslim world, just as there was when Christian Europe was beginning to emerge from its dark age.  Whereas the world of Islam once embraced modern science and education, it is now a world in which people are killed for distributing polio vaccinations and in which girls can be killed for simply going to school and trying to get an education.  In essence, what used to be Europe's Spanish Inquisition is now the Muslim world's "Islamic" Inquisition.  I use quotations with the word Islamic because any enlightened person who knows anything about Islamic history or thought knows that what is happening in today's Muslim world is the exact opposite of what Islamic is, or at least what it used to be.

Sparks of Enlightenment

Now for the good news.  If we assume that Islam is going through the same process that Christian Europe did after emerging from its dark age, we can also conclude that the Muslim world will at some point become a more enlightened place, just as Europe eventually did.  In fact, even during the dark times of the Spanish Inquisition, there were individuals that were courageous enough to raise their heads and challenge the fanatical, conservative  religious establishment.  We know, for example, that Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed to the so-called New World in the same year that Muslim Granada fell to the Spaniards and the Spanish Inquisition was still in its infancy, so that he could prove that the world was round.  Columbus' discovery would of course be followed by the work of scholars like Copernicus and Galileo, who also lived during the time when new perspectives on anything were considered heresy and punishable by death.

And just as a handful of enlightened individuals arose during the Spanish Inquisition, so to have some enlightened Muslims emerged to challenge the rigidity of today's "Islamic" Inquisition - people like two of my fellow Canadians, Irshad Manji and Tarek Fatah, who have openly challenged their fellow Muslims (including each other) to re-examine and re-evaluate the way Islam is interpreted and practiced.  They, like the scholars who lived in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, have also faced threats to their lives, but they have continued their work nonetheless.  And if history is any indicator, they will be vindicated just as those who challenged the Spanish Inquisition were.

Sparks of enlightenment during Islam's current inquisition can also be found in the form of whole countries.  History tells us that when the Spanish Inquisition was not even a century old, folks in some countries decided to go against the rigid Catholic doctrine that ruled over western Europe.  One of those countries was England, whose leaders decided to break with the Catholic church in the early 16th century.  For this, England was hated throughout much of Catholic Europe.  In fact, England's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was a pivotal moment in European history as the Armada was in part an attempt to crush England's new faith and bring it back into the rigid fold of Catholicism.  A Spanish victory in 1588 would have certainly meant the slaughter of England's reform-minded leaders and perhaps even an end to the growing Reformation that was sweeping parts of Europe at the time.

Fast forward to today's "Islamic" Inquisition and you'll find one country that, like England, is also a beacon of enlightenment in a region of ignorance and intolerance.  I am referring here to Israel.  Although not a Muslim country, Israel does lie in the heart of the Muslim world and is the only democratic country therein.  As we all know, Israel is hated throughout the Muslim world, but contrary popular opinion, this hatred does not stem from the displacement of the Palestinian Arabs.  The issue of Palestinian self-determination is actually just an excuse used by people throughout the Muslim world, particularly in the Arab states, to justify their hatred.  In fact, the treatment of the Palestinians by fellow Muslims is often worse than the treatment they receive from Israel.  The real reason is for Muslims' hatred of Israel is a general hatred of non-Muslims.  So the fact that a non-Muslim state exists in the heart of the Muslim world is an abomination to Muslims who see the geographical area that encompasses the Muslim world as their exclusive domain.  Israel's victories over the forces that have tried to destroy it on several occasions are not unlike the England's victory in 1588 over forces seeking to vanquish its Reformist regime because they saw all of Europe as the exclusive domain of their rigid and intolerant Catholicism.

There are also other countries in the Muslim world where progress towards modernity is being made, though this progress has mostly taken the form of economic growth in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.  Some social and political liberalization has also taken place in states such as these, but not to the extent that economic liberalization has.  Up until recently, Turkey was the textbook example of what a modern, Muslim state should look like.  After World War I, a new, secular republic of Turkey, founded by Kemal Attaturk, was born - a country where religion and state were completely separated and where the Turks sought to do away with all the vestiges of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, even changing the script of the Turkish language from Arabic to Latin.  In recent years, Turkey has stepped back from Attaturk's modernist vision and Islamist doctrine has made a comeback with the support of a regime whose origins lie in the Islamic fundamentalist movement.  That being said, it is very common for a country or even a whole civilization to move backwards before it moves forwards.

In fact, moving backwards and then forwards is exactly what Western civilization did when it emerged from the dark age, and is just what Islamic civilization is doing now.  The West took several steps big steps backwards with the Spanish Inquisition and the persecution of modernity that it entailed, but slowly and surely began to move forward again until eventually reaching the point at which it became the world's dominant civilization.  In the same respect, the Muslim world is taking very big steps backwards with it's own "Islamic Inquisition", where modern ideas are quashed and rigid religious doctrine reigns supreme.  But even now, as I have said, some Muslim individuals and countries are making great strides towards modernity.  It will take time, perhaps a long time, but the Muslim world can, once again, take its place amongst the more enlightened regions of the Earth.                






Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Iraq: A Country Never Meant to be Falls Apart

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  Iraq is now on the verge of full-blown sectarian warfare pitting religious sects and ethnic groups against each other in a country that was never meant to be.  A country cobbled together by British and French colonial interests, using the remnants of the Ottoman Empire that they had captured during World War I and subsequently divided amongst themselves.  As was usually the case when drawing colonial borders, neither Britain nor France cared about whether or not the different groups that were forcibly incorporated into Iraq wanted to be part of the new country in the first place.  In fact, what is now Iraq was originally governed as three separate provinces under Ottoman rule: Mosul in the north, Baghdad in the centre and Basra in the south.  These former provinces roughly correspond to the main ethno-religious divides in Iraq today: Kurds in the north, Sunni Arabs in the centre and Shiite Arabs in the south.  This history was once referenced on the Saddam Hussein era Iraqi flag, which featured three stars representing the three former Ottoman provinces.






There have been several regime changes since Iraq was first created, but they all had one thing in common: They could only keep the country together by force.  Saddam Hussein was Iraq's last dictator.  When the U.S. and her allies toppled him in 2003, they got rid of the glue that held the country together.  Not surprisingly, the ethnic and religious tensions that had long simmered under Saddam's ruthless dictatorship resurfaced once he was removed from power.  Only Western military might prevented the country from coming apart - barely.  But now, there are no Western troops in Iraq.  Now, the Iraqis are on their own and there's no one to stop the country's different religious sects and ethnic groups from going at each other's throats with the intent of ruthlessly slaughtering one another.  So not surprisingly, Iraq's Shiite-dominated government is now fighting a brutal war with Sunni militias, the largest of which is ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a group of Islamic extremists that some people describe as being more extreme than Al-Qaeda.  In the meantime, the Kurds in the north are consolidating their de facto independence as Iraqi forces flee further south for what may be a final showdown with Sunni militias in Baghdad.  There is only one way to stop, or at least slow, what will no doubt be a heinous bloodbath: Recognize that Iraq is a product of colonialism that was never meant to exist and allow Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds go their own separate ways.

Partition is the Only Solution:

As ISIS and other Sunni militias advance towards Baghdad, the international community is struggling to come up with some kind of solution that will keep Iraq united.  But this is a futile effort.  The only plausible solution is to partition the failed Iraqi state into three separate countries.  The north for the Kurds, the centre for the Sunnis and the south for the Shiites.  The exact borders will have to be determined through negotiation between the parties concerned, but ultimately, each of the main groups will have self-determination and one will not be able to control the other.  This is the only way peace can exist, if only on a temporary basis, between the various religious and ethnic groups, for if they cannot live together in peace, then they must live separately.  Besides, they never wanted to live together anyway. 

    

Monday, 16 June 2014

Independence is Priceless

This fall, two of Europe's oldest nations, Scotland and Catalonia, will vote on whether or not they should become independent states.  Proponents of independence in both regions face heavy opposition from their respective national governments, big business and the rest of the member states that make up the European Union.  In fact, the Spanish government even refuses to recognize any sovereignty referendum in Catalonia as being valid.  So much for democracy.



Whether it's national governments, big business or the stiffs that run the E.U., the argument against independence for Scotland, Catalonia or any other distinct region of the world seeking self-determination is always pretty much the same.  More specifically, people in independence-seeking regions are always threatened with economic doom and political isolation if they opt to separate from the country in question.  If any of this sounds familiar to the folks in Canada who read this blog, I'm not surprised, because this same argument is used by Canadian federalists whenever the notion of a sovereign Quebec comes up.



It's not that this argument is incorrect.  In fact, Scotland, Catalonia, Quebec and any other region with a distinct population would find that having independence is very difficult, at least in the short run.  But should people not seek self-determination just because it might be difficult?  Absolutely not!

Self-Determination is Priceless

If you study the history of each of the world's nation-states, you would be hard-pressed to find any country that did not go through harsh times because they chose independence, especially in their early years.  In fact, if peoples around the world stopped wanting self-determination because they thought that it would be too difficult, almost none of today's nation-states would exist at all.  Just think, for example, if the Americans decided that they should not try to seek independence from the British Empire because doing so would mean grave consequences, and no I'm not talking about bad economic prospects.  I'm talking about facing the guns and soldiers of the strongest empire in the world at the time.

Fear of the consequences of independence didn't phase the founders of Israel either.  The Israelis, like the Americans, were outnumbered and outgunned.  They faced the armies of several Arab states.  But unlike the Americans, they also faced the threat of extermination for seeking independence on their own land.

Basically, what I'm saying is that if peoples are willing to go to war and risk death or even extinction so that they can achieve self-determination, then the threat of economic hard times and political consequences shouldn't seem so scary.

Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain

Yes, it's true that if peoples like the Scots, the Catalans and the Quebecois choose independence, they may go through some difficult times.  I know of very few countries whose early years were not beset by struggle of one kind or another.  But economic and political struggles are nothing compared to what some nation-states have had to go through in exchange for their freedom.

Indeed, freedom is something that isn't free at all.  It always comes with risk, challenges and sacrifices.  Whether or not a nation-state succeeds depends on how its people meet those risks and challenges and how willing they are to make sacrifices for their country to succeed.  At the end of the day, one can't put a price on a people's right to independence and self-determination, so whatever a people needs to do to gain and maintain their freedom is worth whatever consequences may come.     

  

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Time to Hit Hamas and Hit Them Hard

It's official.  Israel's government is now saying Hamas carried out the abduction of three young Israelis.  I'm not surprised, nor should anyone else be.  Ever since abducting Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists have been attempting to kidnap more Israelis so that they can exchange them for fellow terrorists now in Israeli jails.  We should also remember that just days before the kidnapping, members of the international community, including the Americans, were toasting the national unity government that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his rivals in Hamas had recently established.  Leaders around the world were screaming at Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and his government to restart peace talks with the new, Hamas-backed Palestinian regime.  Even one of his coalition partners, Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party, threatened to pull out of the government if Netanyahu did not start talking to the new Palestinian government supported by Hamas.  Nevertheless, Bibi, as many of us Israelis like to call him, resisted both the external and internal pressure put upon him.  And now we know why.

Hamas' new arrangement with Abbas changed nothing about the terrorist organization's nature and its intentions, which are of course to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth and create an Islamic state in its place.  Bibi knew this, but as is often the case, many people didn't want to believe him.  Now that Netanyahu has proven himself right, again, on the subject of how to deal with terrorists, it is time for Israel's government to show unity and do whatever it takes to crush Hamas once and for all.

Indeed, there may never be a better time to destroy the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Not only will a swift, decisive and fatal blow against Hamas unite the Israeli people, but it will also earn praise, albeit that of a quiet nature, from governments throughout the region who are struggling with their own Islamist terrorists.  Egypt's military-backed government, for example, has spent about a year decimating the ranks of the country's Muslim Brotherhood, most of whose prominent figures are now in jail.  Many have been sentenced to death.  I would encourage Israel to follow the same root that the current Egyptian regime has taken to imprison and kill every Islamist terrorist until there are no more.

               

In other words, Israel should arrest, jail and if necessary, kill every member of Hamas and any other Islamist terrorist organization in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and inside the Green Line until they are never heard from again.  Furthermore, Israel should compel the Palestinian Authority led by Abbas to terminate its unity deal with Hamas and assist in the liquidation of the Islamists.  If the PA refuses to co-operate, Israel should respond with punitive measures, including the gradual annexation of areas of the West Bank in which there is a Jewish majority.  Doing this will send the Palestinians a serious message that if they will not agree to root out the terrorists in their midst, Israel will do it for them and they will slowly lose the territory that they hope to retain for a state of their own.  We will then see what is more important to the Palestinian people: safeguarding the lives of terrorists who jeopardize their quest for self-determination, or ridding themselves of these same terrorists so that they can enjoy a peaceful, independent state alongside Israel.  The choice will ultimately theirs to make.  Let's hope they choose to do the right thing this time, because the Palestinians have an infamous history of making bad choices.