Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Intended Roles of the Israel-Lobby and of Israel in the US-Empire are Incompatible with Peace

By Denis G. Rancourt

Several misguided commentators have advanced that Canada's unconditional support for Israel is the result of Christian Zionist ideology.

This is flat wrong, and inexcusably naive. Harper's unconditional support for Israel is not from right-wing or religious ideology. Nor is this the case in the US itself.

Canada's unconditional support for Israel started under former-Prime-Minister Paul Martin after he took over (and destroyed) the Liberal Party of Canada. And the take-over was one additional step from some degree of Canadian sovereignty to complete alignment with the US master.

That Canada has become a vassal to the US Empire -- and subservient to the Empire's military and finance economy -- also explains the new prominence of the Israel lobby in Canada.

The purpose and function of the US Israel lobby is central to the US Empire, and the international Israel lobby -- which radiates from the US base -- is prominent and powerful in every Western democracy that aligns itself under the US Empire, such as France and Canada. (It can't seem to settle-in to the UK, which recently rejected an outright invasion of Syria.)

Despite appearances, the Israel lobby does not "control" the US Empire, in a top-down fashion. Rather, it serves to align and discipline all the politicians (and media and intellectuals), in order to block discourse that would threaten the Empire's global exploitation project.

What started as a lobby that benefited from creating support for Israel as the US agent of discord in the Muslim World has become a highly perfected instrument of internal political alignment with the project of Empire.

The US Empire and the now-international Israel lobby are in a tightly woven symbiotic relation. They are inseparable.

One of the Empire's main concerns is to prevent the emancipation of the Muslim World in the Middle East, in order to control energy reserves and energy distribution routes. Israel is the Empire's main strategy to achieve the dividing, conquering, weakening, and destabilizing of the Middle East.

If the Empire's strategy in the Middle East were more varied, then both Israel and the Israel lobby would lose power and influence. So the lobby is committed to ensuring that Israel is the main show in the Middle East.

Countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, and Syria that dare to practice some independence from the Empire -- in terms of commerce, alliances, and monetary policy -- must be destroyed. Independence cannot be allowed to survive or spread. The same is true of South and Central America, but these are the US backyard that can be rearranged at will, and this backyard has little geopolitical relevance because there is no possibility of strong territorial ties with Europe, Asia, Africa... That is the thinking until things get out of hand.

The Empire is run on brute force and pillaging, in as many arenas as possible. The financial and corporate instruments of exploitation are imposed through the threat and regular actuation of military intervention.

This is the model that makes Israel relevant to the Empire. Israel serves as the Empire's professional thug in the Middle East, and trainer of thugs wherever needed. Talk of "peace" is pure sophistry for the masses.

This is the Israel that also wants to constantly upgrade to more spacious living quarters that exclude Palestinians, because killing Muslims for the Empire is Israel's lifeblood. In exchange for its services, Israel can have its little genocide. A thug needs an extraordinarily secure home-base. Mass murderers do not sleep well alongside the family members of their victims.

The recent rise of The Israel Lobby in Canada and in France is simply a development within the progressing logic of Empire. The media, intellectuals, and politicians need to be kept on track with the project of Empire. The Israel Lobby has developed a niche-expertize to do exactly that, and it has a holocaust that can be used to levy compliance from dissidents anytime.

The relation did not fall from the sky as ideology. It is also not parasitic. It is symbiotic. In symbiosis both partners benefit, and removing one harms the other. And this symbiotic monster wants to eat the World.

We are just the inconvenient citizens that question, and we are to be fed a diet of nonsense, like that there are "peace negotiations" or that there can be a "peace process". Actually, there will be no peace, only resistance, and possible pockets and episodes of liberation. Someday these pockets may coalesce. In any case, our resistance should be anchored in reality.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. While he was at the University of Ottawa, he supported student activism and opposed the influence of the Israel lobby on that institution, which fired him for a false pretext in 2009: LINK.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Israel's attempted genocide must fail -- Lessons from Canada's genocide

By Denis G. Rancourt

The Zionist Project is to eradicate all Palestinians who make claim to a home in Palestine. The Zionist Project is exactly what Israel has been doing since its artificial creation.

The Zionist Project is planned incremental dispossession and an on-going attempted genocide, and this has been repeatedly and explicitly expressed by its architects and executioners. The Zionist Project as attempted genocide is also expressly cheered-on by many Israeli citizens and by members of the Zionist diaspora of all religions.

The Israeli apartheid is not meant as a sustained apartheid. It is an increment in an attempted genocide that accompanies a vast racist pillaging of land and resources (water, gas).

The attempted Israeli genocide, in its on-going mid-phase, is not unlike the now-accomplished Canadian genocide against First Peoples. First there were population displacements, then exterminations, then land treaties, then reservations, then forced cultural assimilation for any survivors, then cultural normalization of the crimes, and never any possibility of return or reparations.

A main difference is that Canada's genocide is virtually complete, whereas Israel's attempted genocide is in full swing and unfolding militarily before the world, in a time of instant and distributed electronic publishing, and in a time when other genocides have been named, exposed, condemned, and studied and understood. [1]

Another difference is that Canadian politicians are -- these days, in the end-game of the Canadian genocide -- lying cover-up artists, whereas Israeli politicians are straight-up, and are supported by an overtly and enthusiastically racist population. 

By comparison, Canadian citizens are racist in condoning their state's violence (both domestic and international) but they practice language-cleansing to hide their true racism from themselves. (There is even a pseudo-intellectual legalistic framework to help accomplish this known as "critical race theory" [2] -- The aftermath of a genocide is always a bit tricky, with wanting a "safe" mental-environment for the children and all, and for the professionals that continue to advance and maintain the exploitative system.)

Yet another difference is that Israel was created and is supported by the super-genocidal states (USA, Britain, et al.) in order to prevent and police-against any unified emergence of the Muslim World in the resource-rich and geopolitically central Middle East. Then again, Canada was entirely supported by Britain during the most brutal period of its genocide, and this was in-part to counter USA emergence and domination on the North American continent.

An analysis of Israel's on-going attempted genocide is informed by the social history of Canada's genocide, and this model should be predictive.

If Israel's attempted genocide is allowed to ripen to completion, then Israeli's will cleanse their history and their language and thoughts, in the post-genocide period. We must not get there. The overt racism-of-expression of Israeli society and of the Zionist diaspora is an unmistakable indicator that the attempted genocide is in mid-project, as was the case in Canada during the overtly racist campaigns to take the territory.

Language and silence are both indicators of intention, but racist language is not the cause of the genocidal thrust. The cause is a lust for power and resources actuated by global and regional dominance hierarchies that are very real entities in themselves: The top layer probably being the global exploitation project of the American Empire, driven by its military economy and its control of global economic instruments.

I personally do not believe that Israel is the tail that wags the USA dog, but there is certainly a large degree of that going on [3][4]. The Zionist diaspora derives power and influence from supporting the Zionist Project, from its support for Israel's genocide [4].

The Zionist Project must now be stopped. This genocide must be stopped in its tracks, if it's the last significant geopolitical accomplishment of the global civil society. The tide is turning. We see real political movement in the UK itself. Western World civil society must not be irrelevant and ineffective. We owe that to ourselves.

The only effective barrier against the Zionist Project at the moment is the remarkable Palestinian resistance itself. And Israel is doing everything it can to isolate, divide, erode, and destroy that resistance. The Palestinian resistance is phenomenal. Against all odds, Palestine has repeatedly found ways to assert itself, despite the tremendous pressures to make it abandon.

The World civil society must actuate arguably-the-first stoppage of a nation-scale genocide pursued by a colonial invader.

There can be peace and coexistence but Israel is hell-bent on its Zionist Project, and those Muslim countries with corrupt leaders are participating in the Israeli genocide rather than impeding it. Therefore, the only chance for Palestinian survival, at this time, is increased armed Palestinian resistance. And that is something Western civil society had better understand before it's too late, if it wants to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem [5].

If Israel cannot be discouraged, and since it cannot be disarmed, then Palestine must be armed sufficiently to effectively discourage the on-going Israeli genocide. Can Israel be discouraged from pursuing its vicious plan? It's time to test that question, while supporting that Palestine be enabled to defend itself.

Israel must live and thrive without Zionism and thus without its apartheid/genocide project, and Judaism must thrive in Israel and in the World, but the Zionist project must die. Until that can be feasible, Israel must be ostracized, isolated, boycotted, and shunned. World civil society can achieve this if it gets serious and starts by rejecting the Zionist diaspora wherever it acts. Jews that abandon and reject the Israeli genocide must be loved, and Zionists of all religions must be constrained from supporting the Israel genocide.

In Canada, Stephen Harper is the "Prime Minister of Canada for Israel". Israel's regional violence keeps the price of oil high and the tar sands exploitable and profitable to the US masters of the Canadian economy.

The Canadian Israel lobby is an arm of US imperialism and has taken over as arguably the most influential superstructure acting on Canadian politics. Trudeau [6] and Mulcair are vying to be more Zionist than Harper. It's disgusting and humiliating for Canadians.

Virtually no Canadian members of parliament have condemned Israel for its grotesque massacre. Those who speak out condone and normalize the genocide. The Canadian mainstream media is largely poisoned by the same Zionism [7].

In Canada's capital Ottawa, the university presidents of the two largest universities in the city are both staunch Zionists that make artificial academic ties with Israel and suppress student movements for justice for Palestinians.

This has all gone too far. It's time to roll back Zionism in Canada and everywhere. Palestinians are doing the remarkable. The least we can do for ourselves is to cut back Zionists in our own countries.


[1] "A Little Matter of Genocide - Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present" by Ward Churchill, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1997.

[2] "Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism" by Denis G. Rancourt, Stairway Press, Mount Vernon, WA, 2013.

[3] "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen; New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

[4] "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering" by Norman G. Finkelstein, Verso, NY, 2000.

[5] "Rockets from Gaza are morally justified and are not contrary to international law" by Denis G. Rancourt, Activist Teacher blog, July 24, 2014.

[6] "Justin Trudeau: 'We have Israel's back'", Carey Miller YouTube Channel, published April 6, 2014.

[7] "CBC-Ottawa's biased reporting of a pro-Palestine rally -- Not good" by Denis G. Rancourt, Activist Teacher blog, July 27, 2014.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. While he was at the University of Ottawa, he supported student activism and opposed the influence of the Israel lobby on that institution, which fired him for a false pretext in 2009: LINK.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

CBC-Ottawa's biased reporting of a pro-Palestine rally -- Not good

By Denis G. Rancourt

On July 26, 2014, I was there. I took more than 250 pictures and 8 videos. I followed the demo from start to finish.

It was the most vibrant, humanistic, family-oriented demo that I have ever seen in Ottawa. There were more than 2000 participants, possibly as many as 5000 or more, counting those who did not stay the whole time and did not walk to the end-destination.

Then I saw a tweet by the CBC-Ottawa reporter Kamil Karamali that seemed to be making shit up. So I questioned the man.

Then I saw the CBC-Ottawa 6pm news report about the demo, and it was trash. Unbelievable.

Karamali and his editors decided to take this incredibly positive event and open the story with tabloid-trash about some "clawing at an Israeli flag" and such.

Here, I want to show readers all the videos, tweets, and emails that, in my opinion, expose this irresponsible reporting (again, my opinion), done in the context of large cuts to the CBC and a government ideology (including the full PC-Liberal-NDP Harper-Trudeau-Mulcair rainbow) that is viscerally pro-Israeli-war-crimes.

Here is Karamali's post-demo July 26, 2014 initializing tweet:
Here is the video that Karamali linked to his tweet:

Here is my first and only tweet to Karamali:

Here is the video that I linked to my tweet:

Here are the tweet replies of Karamali, to me and others concerned about the same matter:

Here is the 6pm final CBC News report (start and relevant segment) that was published:

And here is the full email exchange that I had with Mr. Karamali about this matter:

Denis Rancourt 27 July 2014 09:34 To: Kamil Karamali 
Hi Kamil, 
I want to have as open a mind as possible considering your report of yesterday's demonstration. 
But, I find it difficult to understand your language: 
"clawing at their flag" 
How does one do that? Is that journalistic language? 
"much needed police presence" 
Your images and words were the opening intro of the main day's CBC news, here: That is how you and CBC chose to represent the most respectful and humanistic and family-oriented demo I have ever seen in Ottawa, at which I took more than 250 pictures and 8 videos. No mention that the two provocateurs did not want to be identified, or did they identify themselves to you? No mention that the police let the provocateurs walk along side the demo without asking them to leave or step away and without insisting on being near the provocateurs to calm any reactions from people who have family in Gaza being bombed by Israel. 
How is your report objective? Balanced? You chose to contrast a 3-hour peaceful family event with a planned stunt that the police condoned, and you and your editors anchored the story with that stunt that had lasted seconds. I find it difficult to not interpret your actions negatively, to put it mildly. [red emphasis added]
And this still does not explain your allegations of "pushing and shoving" that you made on twitter, and that you claimed to have as "physical evidence" "on camera" but that does not appear in your news report. But then you told me that you did not have the event on camera. 
Will you be able to reply by noon today? If not, I will assume what seems apparent about your motives. 

On 27 July 2014 01:44, Denis Rancourt wrote: 
And how does this fit in? Your tweet: 
@AsoomiiJay hi Asoomi, I have physical exchange on camera. Maybe you missed that part? Would be happy to send u link to story once it's up. 

On 27 July 2014 01:27, Denis Rancourt wrote: 
Sorry Kamil, 
I see no allegation-even of "pushing and shoving" in the CBC videos. I see an allegation that a man "tugged" at the capes. This really does need clarification from you, if you could? 
You have accused a man in the public media of assault, described by you as "pushing and shoving". That man was visually identified by your camera. Yet, you have no evidence, and your own report talks about tugging on capes. This is rather serious. Will you be following up the police reports?

On 27 July 2014 01:13, Kamil Karamali wrote: 
I'm a journalist first and a cameraman second. I do more than just shoot. Some of the event was captured. You can watch at under videos. 

On Jul 27, 2014, at 1:05 AM, Denis Rancourt wrote: 
Hi Kamil, 
I really appreciate your answering me but one question remains: Did you film the event and if not why not? You are a professional camera man and you carried your camera in front of you, so I don't understand? I mean if the police had time to intervene and all, I would think that a CBC camara man would have time to get some of that on video? 
Please clarify. 

On 27 July 2014 00:59, Kamil Karamali wrote: 
Hi Denis, 
Thanks for your questions. 
If you go to my twitter feed, you'll see the tweet is still up. 
I am very much in awe of how well many of the ralliers handled the two pro-Israeli demonstrators. But what I saw happened before the majority of the ralliers saw the pro-Israeli people was one protestor grab both of them and pull at them very hard to the point where I was worried about them. The police apprehended him and stopped him from doing them anymore harm. 
I have been responding and defending myself to too many people on my time off, but it did happen and it was one small incident in a very peaceful protest. I articulated that properly in my story and brought a lot positivity about the event, and it's not right that that's the focus of everyone's attention. 
Thank you for your email! I do appreciate you reaching out. 

On Jul 27, 2014, at 12:52 AM, Denis Rancourt wrote: 
Hi Kamil, 
Thanks for clarifying by your direct twitter message to me that you are in my video with the dark blue shirt and camera. 
You tweeted 
"@denisrancourt Hi, yes that was towards end. When they first arrived, a man pulled them very roughly. I promise u, I wouldn't make that up." 
You seem to have deleted that tweet? I can no longer find it? 
Could you please clarify? 
Did you see the man do this? 
Did the police see the man do this? 
Did you film it -- you do have quite a camera setup, as we see in my video. 
Why did you not show any "pushing and shoving" in the video that you tweeted? 
Your allegations are harmful to the peaceful protester's efforts and to the organizers, so it would be good to know the evidence. 

There has been no further reply from Mr. Karamali.

The contrast between Mr. Kamali's tweets and his email statements is of some note: He has it on video, he will be happy to send link after posting, ... he doesn't have it, he did not film that part... (even though the camera is strapped to his body, as one can see in my video of him).

Unfortunately, the CBC is not subject to any access to information law, and the materials are sealed under freedom of the press, so there is no way for the public to know, even if it's a publicly funded corporation.

Here are my photos of the demo: LINK.

Here are videos of the demo:

I say trash the whole CBC, not keep just the parts that may suit the government. Social media is doing a much better job than this kind of professional work.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Canadian judge goes bonkers on a thought crime: Case of Mohamed Hersi defended by lawyer Paul Slansky

... Or the link between domestic Islamophobia in the courts and Israel

You could not make this stuff up.

Government passes a law (link) that makes it a criminal offense for a Canadian citizen to even attempt to help any group that is labelled by the Government (in its objective and infinite wisdom) as a terrorist group.

Thus the Government makes it a criminal offense for a Canadian citizen to choose to side (in thought, intention, or action) with an organization of which the government does not approve, in some conflict that has no demonstrated relevance to the safety of Canadians.

Why should the Government be allowed to limit the personal "foreign-politics" of its citizens who wish to use their personal resources and their personal selves in any way they choose in the world? 

How can such a criminal charge be laid without the real possibility of challenging the Government's certification or opinion of terrorism, as a defence against the charge? Or without the Government having an onus to show that the charged person has actually put a single Canadian in danger, or has actually caused harm to a single person?

How can a Canadian citizen be put away for 10 years on the basis of a Government's political attribution (as advanced by the Crown) that some group is a terrorist group?

I don't care which group. That domestic criminal charges could be based on such tenets is completely absurd. This is state Fascism.

If terrorism is performing or enabling violence against civilians to produce political change then Canada is a terrorist state. This is a fact, not some theoretical argument. What then is the Government's (Crown's) "terrorism"?

Why not also finish exterminating the First Peoples, re-intern Japanese-Canadians, round-up self-hating Jews, fire all the journalists...?

Just think. Canada has only very recently (2013) lifted its ban on the "terrorist" Nelson Mandela and the ANC (link). You worked from Canada to end South African apartheid by recruiting volunteers to help the ANC, you go to jail in Canada. It's that simple under this anti-democratic law.

Oh, now, look Hamas is a terrorist organization (democratically elected in 2006) but Israel is not a terrorist state, does not bomb civilian areas, does not annex land contrary to UN resolutions, does not kill women and children by the hundreds whenever it decides that there is a sufficient pretext. And all the lobbyists who recruit Canadian mercenaries and visitors to Israel cannot be charged under this law? No, your Government -- and its obedient judges -- decides who the terrorists are, irrespective of facts on the ground. (See article about Hamas rockets here.)

And if you don't agree, if your words or plane tickets suggest support then you are going away for a long time.

Did anyone notice how we got here? Well, now we are here.

And bravo to the crazed judge that decided to make an example of this case! (link) (link)

"Anything less trivializes the nature of his actions," said the judge about the sentence from the Peel Region court in Brampton, Ont.

Hersi was convicted of attempting to participate in terrorist activity abroad and trying to enlist an undercover officer. The Crown argued he was trying to join the Somali militant group al-Shabaab, which Canada deems a terrorist entity.

The 28-year-old, who was working as a security guard, intended to travel onward to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, the Crown said.

The judges are tripping over themselves trying to apply the new state zealotry, or else suffering the consequences.

Not to mention that the defence lawyer in the case is no judge's darling (link). But judges are not a partial club and do not punish on the basis of establishment sentiment. Right?

There is a slight and emerging stench to the Canadian judiciary in these special days of ideological warfare.

And now the party begins. It will go to appeal. Millions will be spent so that, eventually, the Supreme Court can not-decide-anything, as usual, so that we we can start again, and continue. The highest Court's main job will be to hide the obvious -- that this is crazy and wrong, the whole show.

If the appeals fail, then Mohamed Hersi will be Canada's first Section-83.18 political prisoner.

(relax. it's just a blog. nobody reads this.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rockets from Gaza are morally justified and are not contrary to international law

By Dr. Denis G. Rancourt

"It is the obligation of every person who claims to oppose oppression to resist the oppressor by every means at his or her disposal. Not to engage in physical resistance, armed resistance to oppression, is to serve the interests of the oppressor; no more, no less. There are no exceptions to the rule, no easy out..."
--Assata Shakur, 1984 [1]

Many well-meaning observers who indiscriminately oppose violence and who support Palestine against its ruthless oppressor Israel have condemned the Hamas rockets launched towards Israel.

To condemn the rockets is misguided at best.

To condemn the rockets supports Israel in its war crimes against Gaza.

To condemn the rockets is also pompous, paternalistic, and racist.

Who are we -- as outside observers not sitting in Gaza -- to dictate to the victims of the brutal, systematic, long-term, and on-going suppression perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians how best to defend themselves?

Who are we to dictate which tactic might best increase survival?

Who are we to judge that Israeli civilians have such a high degree of innocence regarding the actions of their army as to prevent Gaza from attempting to defend itself with homemade rockets pointed in desperation at the only available targets?

In addition, one can easily make the moral argument that Israeli civilians share significant responsibility for the Gaza massacres. This responsibility follows from the structural circumstances:
  • Israelis are well informed about the war crimes
  • Israelis have political influence within a democratic system
  • Israelis have the means and institutions to speak out
  • Israelis can chose to abstain from military service
And it follows from the facts on the ground. Instead of opposition to the Israeli state's war crimes, social statistics show overwhelming support for the organized murder and genocidal suppression of Palestinians.
  • Only 5% of Israeli academics have expressed opposition to the land invasion, in a recent petition. Where academics have total freedom of inquiry and of expression. 
  • Israelis shamelessly gather to cheer-on the show of bombs dropped on Gaza, and threaten journalists with bodily harm who might report negatively about this particular display of cruelty.
  • The Israeli media is overwhelmingly brutal and racist in its expression against Palestinians. Politicians make political points the more violent and waring they are -- there's an indicator. 
  • The state is an apartheid state in both law and fact, yet there is virtually no opposition from Israeli civil society against the apartheid.
  • And so on.
There is no doubt that the Hamas rockets constitute self-defence. The statement that the rockets are "indiscriminate" is no more than a statement that the rockets are not high-tech weapons, and this fact on-its-own is irrelevant to whether or not the rockets constitute self-defence.

There is no doubt that the rockets constitute self-defence because the rockets are a response to a brutal occupation, deprivation, and slaughter. No sane analyst can claim that Israel's long-term policy and actions of genocidal cleansing and land and resource annexation by force is caused by rockets or by suicide bombs or anything that the resisting Palestinians have or may do. (The inverse logic itself should be declared criminal.)

In my estimation, the use that Gaza makes of rockets is amply morally justified. And it is up to Gaza to decide how best to defend itself for its own survival.

Israel is showing little sign that it cares about World criticism of its actions in Gaza. It does not appear that anything except some moderately effective military resistance could slow Israel down in subjugating and torturing Gaza. For this reason, for the sake of Gaza, we can only hope that it will secure more and better weapons for its defence in the future, as this would probably minimize the loss of life and accelerate a just political resolution.

Furthermore, for readers who require the approbation of jurists, recently Dr. Norman Finkelstein has competently argued that the Hamas rockets, in the context of Israel's aggression, are not contrary to international law (LINK):

Human Rights Watch has argued that, even if its civilians are being relentlessly targeted, a people does not have a legal right to carry out “belligerent reprisals”—that is, to deliberately target the civilians of the opposing state until it desists. “Regardless of who started this latest round, attacks targeting civilians violate basic humanitarian norms,” HRW’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa director stated in the first press release.  “All attacks, including reprisal attacks, that target or indiscriminately harm civilians are prohibited under the laws of war, period.” Not so. International law does not—at any rate, not yet—prohibit belligerent reprisals.[4] The United States and Britain, among others, have staunchly defended the right of a state to use nuclear weapons by way of belligerent reprisal.[5] By this standard, the people of Gaza surely have the right to use makeshift projectiles to end an illegal, merciless seven-year-long Israeli blockade or to end Israel’s criminal bombardment of Gaza’s civilian population. Indeed, in its landmark 1996 advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons, the ICJ ruled that international law is not settled on the right of a state to use nuclear weapons when its “survival” is at stake. But, if a state might have the right to use nuclear weapons when its survival is at stake, then surely a people struggling for self-determination has the right to use makeshift projectiles when it has been subjected to slow death by a protracted blockade and recurrent massacres by a state determined to maintain its occupation. 

One might legitimately question the political prudence of Hamas’s strategy. But the law is not unambiguously against it, while the scales of morality weigh in its favor. Israel has imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza. Fully 95 percent of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. By all accounts, the Palestinian people now stand behind those engaging in belligerent reprisals against Israel. In the Gaza Strip, they prefer to die resisting than to continue living under an inhuman blockade. Their resistance is mostly notional, as makeshift projectiles cause little damage. So, the ultimate question is, Do Palestinians have the right to symbolically resist slow death punctuated by periodic massacres, or must they lie down and die?


[1] This is the opening quote in Ward Churchill's essay "Pacifism as Pathology: Notes on an American pseudopraxis". Churchill's works are dedicated to the genocides against the native peoples of the Americas, including Canada. Assata Shakur has been feature on this blog in these posts.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. While he was at the University of Ottawa, he supported student activism and opposed the influence of the Israel lobby on that institution, which fired him for a false pretext in 2009: LINK.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Defend the right to criticize!

Here is the answer:

Please view the story at Indiegogo and consider contributing to the Denis Rancourt Legal Defence Fund campaign: LINK

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The crisis of access to justice and self-represented litigants — as I see it

By Denis Rancourt, PhD

There is a crisis of access to justice in Canada. It is a crisis of systemic judicial partiality against ordinary citizens who cannot afford brand-name “justice”.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin frequently warns of a crisis of “access to justice” in Canada. This crisis involves a large and growing number of self-represented litigants who cannot afford lawyer’s fees, which are inflated by corporate clients.

The Facebook group “Canada Court Watch” is focussed on self-represented litigants and has over 4,000 members. Self-represented litigants regularly picket outside courthouses and lawyers offices across the country. Researchers, such as law professor Julie Macfarlane, have described a widespread disillusionment and distrust of the legal establishment by ordinary self-represented litigants from all walks of life.

Beyond what is acknowledged by the chief justice and the legal establishment, there is a widespread conviction among self-represented litigants that the courts are biased against them. I am the coordinator of the Self-Represented Litigant Workgroup of the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, and I have experienced this bias directly as a self-represented defendant.

In a single case of alleged defamation for words on a blog, I have been required to go before 17 different judges, at all courts up to the Supreme Court of Canada, in over 30 open court hearings, over more than three years -- in the motions, appeals of motions, and case conferences in the action against me. I have prepared thousands of pages of legal documents, and I have been ordered to pay legal costs of the suing party of more than one quarter of a million dollars to date, prior to the trial that is now on-going.

In light of my recent experience as a self-represented litigant, it is difficult for me to believe that the pleas of the chief justice are authentic. I tend to think that the chief justice means only that lawyers should be affordable and available for ordinary persons, and that she wishes that the legal processes were less wasteful. However, access to lawyers alone does not provide access to justice, and neither does strong-handed case management by judges.

I feel like I have seen it all in terms of the behaviour of judges, in terms of the tremendous systemic bias against self-represented litigants, and that is described by legal researchers. This bias exists irrespective of my level of education (PhD) and irrespective of my ability to present an argument (former university professor), and so I believe what I have heard about what it is like for a single parent navigating issues of child custody.

In my case, the potential for systemic bias is increased by the fact that the plaintiff is a high-status lawyer within the legal establishment, and two of the lawyers who oppose me have formerly represented Canadian prime ministers. In addition, the private plaintiff is funded without a spending limit by a non-party using public money, a situation that has been denounced by the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (LINK).

At the mandatory mediation I was not allowed an accompanying person (because he was not a lawyer) even though I faced five lawyers on the side suing me. But obvious asymmetries of means are not the only problem.

The evidence for routine judicial bias, as I see it, is overwhelming and includes:
•    the trial judge cancelling my main and pleaded defence, off-the-cuff and in the middle of my opening address to the jury
•    judges and lawyers disrespectfully referring to me in court as “he”, and discussing me as though I were not present (until this behaviour was denounced on the Ontario Civil Liberties Association website)
•    judges’ frequent, repeated, and disorienting interruptions of me in court
•    allowing opposing counsel to make repeated and hyperbolic prejudicial comments, despite my objections
•    not allowing me time to make my arguments, despite my good preparation and organization
•    refusals to hear evidence of misconduct by opposing counsel
•    refusing to acknowledge transcript evidence of opposing counsel leading his witnesses in out-of-court examinations
•    allowing procedural dirty tricks by the lawyers, such as calling motions on one day’s notice
•    constructive barring of my evidence on motions and at trial, using both procedural technicalities and legal abstractions
•    allowing the plaintiff to pick and choose which questions to answer in cross-examinations
•    orders that I pay outrageously high costs, which in effect punish me for trying to defend myself, despite the fact that I have no money
•    orders that I, rather than the opposing party, pay costs even in the cases where I won all or the majority of the points argued in the motions
•    disadvantageous deadlines for document submissions and disadvantageous scheduling of court appearances, despite objections with reasons

In fact, there appears to be no limit to what the court thinks it can get away with when dealing with a self-represented litigant.

In my own case, for example, I discovered that a motions judge (in a motion to end the action) had a blatant conflict of interest. In the middle of the proceedings, I learned that he had strong personal, family, emotional, and contractual financial ties to a party intervening for the plaintiff in the case, and also to the law firm representing the party in court. He had not disclosed any of these ties. The judge’s ties made it inconceivable that he would rule against the plaintiff.

When I presented the evidence of the judge’s ties, the judge lost decorum, threatened me with contempt of court (a criminal judgement), and recused himself, but refused to rule on whether there was apparent bias, and continued to release decisions that stand to this day.

I raised the matter through available procedures with three more judges of the Superior Court, three judges of the Court of Appeal, and six judges of the Supreme Court (in two applications for leave to appeal), but all of them refused to allow bias as a ground for appeal.

In my first attempts, I was not even allowed to access the Supreme Court. It is a demonstration of apparent systemic judicial bias at the highest level that the Registrar of the Supreme Court refused to accept my duly prepared application — and then refused to accept my motion to denounce his refusal to accept the application. This was resolved only because the Ontario Civil Liberties Association made a request, directly to the Chief Justice of Canada, that the Registrar’s conduct be investigated.

That whole bias episode, involving 13 judges from three courts, shows the degree to which the entire judicial structure will tolerate a judge’s apparent bias, at least when the bias complaint is brought by a self-represented litigant being sued by prominent members of the legal establishment.

The only remaining remedy in the matter resides in international law. I am preparing a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee for violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees an impartial court to every litigant in signatory countries, including Canada. Few self-represented litigants can defend themselves this effectively, and there are far too few resources among civil rights organizations to address the gargantuan need.

All of this has only been repeated at the trial itself, which started on May 12, 2014, and which is on-going. Prior to trial, I had asked then Regional Senior Judge Charles Hackland (who resigned on May 8, 2014) to name a case judge who had no connection with the University of Ottawa, and I had made a formal motion for the trial judge to recuse himself because of the judge’s shared interests with the University of Ottawa (LINK). None of this mattered and the trial judge refused to recuse himself. This, and the judge’s in-court actions, led to my walking out of the trial, which was reported in the media (LINK1, LINK2).

My case, the ordeals of countless others, and academic research show that there is a systematic bias against self-represented litigants. Such evident, overt, and pervasive bias proves that the judges are not impartial, but rather are significantly influenced by the social status and power of the litigant. Corporate and government litigants know this well, and count on it. It is the elephant in the courtroom for self-represented litigants.

For self-represented litigants the crisis in “access to justice” is really a crisis in access to an impartial court, a court that is not influenced by social status. This crisis will not be solved by increasing access to lawyers and reducing court backlogs. The solution will require that litigants themselves and civil rights organizations insist on and monitor impartiality of the courts.

In my case, high-profile American political activist Cynthia McKinney has started a petition demanding that the chief justices of Canada allow a new trial with a trial judge having no ties to the University of Ottawa — which is funding the lawsuit without a spending limit — and this has been reported in the media (LINK-petition, LINK-media). Only this type of protest-application of the open court principle, in combination with media exposure and civil society association pressures, has any chance of catalyzing a reform in a system that has now degraded itself beyond self-repair.

There is indeed a crisis, and it is of the court’s making. It is a crisis of partiality against ordinary citizens who cannot afford brand-name “justice”.