Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Monday, September 3, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
By Menachem Daum
More about Lifta: Saving Lifta
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Quebec: New poll shows support for Charest's tuition increases has dropped 41 points in six days
Quebec is known for swift and drastic shifts of popular opinion. From the election of the first PQ government, to the rise of the ADQ and the Orange Wave, public opinion in this province is prone to sudden reversals.
The results of the most recent poll, an online survey of 1000 Quebecois conducted between May 23 and 25 by CROP for Radio-Canada, seem to suggest we are in the midst of such a dramatic swing.
When CROP was last in the field, on May 17 and 18, they found that a whopping 68% supported the government's proposed tuition increase, with only 32% supporting the students. The same poll found 66% supported a "special law" to help end the crisis.
The poll was roundly criticized for asking respondents about a law which had yet to be introduced, and was at that time an unknown quantity. Criticism was also levelled at its methodology. That poll, and the most recent one, were conducted using a representative online panel, which was not randomly selected and as such cannot be assigned a margin of error.
Fast forward six days, through a civil-liberties-crushing special law, the largest protest in Canadian history, and mass arrests of over 700 people, and the results are stunning.
The latest poll did not ask the same question, but instead asked who respondents felt was to blame for the crisis. 44% placed the blame on Jean Charest's ailing government, while only 36% blamed the students. On the question of what should be done with tuition fees, the poll found 45% supported indexing them to the cost of living, 13% thought they should be frozen at current levels and 11% thought they should be abolished. Only 27% thought they should be increased beyond inflation. Add that up and 70% of the population are now opposed to the Charest government's proposed increases.
In a period of six days, support for the proposed increases to tuition has gone from 68% to 27%, a drop of 41 percentage points.
Unsurprisingly, the poll found that 60% were opposed to Loi 78, with 42% being strongly opposed. 30% supported the law, with 11% strongly supporting it. This is a drop of 36 percentage points in support for Loi 78, but given that the first poll was conducted before details of the law were public, that's not as surprising.
The poll also found that 49% believed mediation between the government and student federations was the best way to resolve the dispute, coming in far ahead of a new election, a moratorium or a summit on university financing.
When asked if the student federations and government had been negotiating in good faith, both received failing grades. 48% thought the government had been negotiating in bad faith, over 37% who disagreed, while 58% thought the same of student federations, with 26% disagreeing. 50% did not have faith in either the government or students to resolve the conflict, while 25% had more confidence in the government and 16% more faith in student federations.
Given that both sides have been adamant that they will not back down from their demands, this is hardly surprising.
A friend commented that this showed people "hated Charest, but hated the students more." I think he's off the mark. Although there is clearly a warranted pessimism that there will be a swift end to the strike, I imagine 9% more people have greater confidence in the government to resolve the issue because 70% now want the government to make major concessions. People expect the government to fold, and as such expect that this will lead to the resolution of the conflict.
I prefer to compare polls by the same company, because differences in methodology and questions can make comparison between companies difficult, but if we look at the Leger poll done for the Journal de Montreal between May 19 and 21 (prior to the mass demonstration), it really demonstrates the trendline in this province.
The question asked was, given the positions of both sides ($1625 increase vs. freeze) do you support the students or the government? The poll showed an 18% shift in support from government to students over Leger's previous outing, ten days prior. However, it still left the government with 51% support, and the students with 43%.
The change from 51% supporting the government position to 27% is a drop of 24 percentage points. In four days.
The Leger poll also found that 47% supported Loi 78, with an equal 47% opposing it. With 60% opposition, and 42% strongly opposed in the new CROP poll, we can see that opposition to the law has grown by 13 percentage points and crystalized. Those opposed tend to feel strongly about the subject, perhaps explaining the sudden popularity of the "casseroles" phenomenon (Where Quebeckers in all parts of the province go outside each night at 8 PM to bang on pots and pans in opposition to the law)
Notwithstanding all the normal caveats about polls and their flaws, it seems clear that there is a seismic shift going on in Quebec right now. The introduction of Loi 78 was a political miscalculation of epic proportions. It contributed to hundreds of thousands pouring into the streets on Tuesday, and provoked the casseroles movement.
The protest and ongoing casseroles in turn sent a strong message to Quebeckers that all was not right. They demonstrated to those outside Montreal that this was no longer a student issue alone, but a social one which involved people of all ages. Then that crazy social solidarity I wrote about earlier this week kicked in, and people began to turn on the government en masse.
The CROP poll did not ask for voting intentions, but I will be interested to see if the next provincial poll shows improvement for the PQ, who originally proposed increasing tuition at the rate of inflation.
Assuming this is not a rogue poll, it seems clear that the Charest increase is dead in the water. Most Quebeckers now want an increase at the rate of inflation, if that. These numbers will put wind beneath the wings of tiring students, and indicate that the record for protest attendance set last Tuesday may be challenged sooner rather than later.
The open question now is, will Charest hunker down and defy public opinion in the face of what will certainly be growing protests? And if Charest does offer students an increase at the rate of inflation, does it resolve a conflict which has become about much more than tuition?
While this poll holds some negatives for the students too, Quebeckers rejection of both Loi 78 and the proposed increase will no doubt have many a glass lifting tonight wherever students and their supporters are gathered.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Introduction by Gilad Atzmon
When I met Paul Eisen back in 2001, he was the most respected Palestinian solidarity activist in Britain. At the time Eisen was the UK director of Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) – an organization which memorialises the seminal massacre of the Palestinian villagers of Deir Yassin.
Eisen transformed the solidarity discourse. He managed to locate the Palestinian plight in general and DYR, in particular, at the very centre of the public discourse. He also managed to gain the support of the Palestinian and Arab communities - something most other Palestinian solidarity organisations have singularly failed to achieve.
But, in the proximity of Deir Yassin to the Jewish Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem, DYR and Eisen found meaning. Jewish suffering was now firmly on the agenda and then the inevitable happened. Possessing of a sharp intellect and an incurably inquisitive disposition, Eisen crossed red lines.
Monday, February 20, 2012
A neighbor becomes a nemesis and friends become foes. Below are four instances in U.S. history when citizens, guests and foreign residents all became alien enemies.
In 1798, the U.S. legislators and citizens were philosophically divided over the French Revolution.
While some people saw Britain as the country’s nemesis and felt France’s political changes were a direct result of the American Revolution, others feared that France’s rebellious behavior might lead to a conflict with the U.S.
The situation became so tense that John Quincy Adams informed his father, President John Adams, that France had plans in the works to invade the U.S. western frontier. Worried that a conflict with France might stir up French sympathizers and divide the nation, Congress enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.
The Alien and Sedition Act
Four separate laws comprised the Alien and Sedition Act: The Naturalization Act upped the residency requirement from five to fourteen years, the Alien Act allowed for the deportation of any resident alien considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States.”
The Alien Enemies Act allowed alien residents from countries at war with the U.S. to be deported, and the Sedition Act which made it a high misdemeanor for any alien or U.S. citizen to “make any defamatory statement about the federal government or the president.”
Once the legislation passed, lists of possible deportees were created. But so many people feared deportation, they fled on their own.
The Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 resulted in eighteen indictments, fourteen prosecutions and ten convictions. Upon taking office in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson pardoned everyone convicted under the Act.
Although the Alien Enemies Act was never utilized when tensions were high with the French, The War of 1812 saw enemy aliens being forced to notify U.S. marshals of their presence, obtaining special passports and living at a distance from the Tidewater if they were merchants.
German-American Internment During World War I
Fears about “alien enemies” and individuals with “enemy ancestry” once again emerged during World War I.
By 1917, more than 250,000 German-Americans and Germans living in the U.S. who had declared citizenship in other countries were required register at their local post office and carry a special identification card at all time.
During World War I, more than 6,000 individuals were arrested and sent to one of the internment camps in Fort Douglas, Utah or Fort Ogelthorpe in Georgia.
Keeping an eye on the U.S. German-American and Italian-American population during World War II was difficult.
The country’s citizenship had swelled so greatly that no internment camp could hold them all. Instead, officials decided to send more than 11,000 German and Italian-born non-citizen immigrants who were men, women and children to internment camps throughout the country.
Since German and Italian naturalized U.S. citizens could not be sent to internment camps, a process of exclusion was enforced that prohibited entrance to certain geographic areas and events. While reparations have been made to Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps, little is discussed today regarding the internment itself, and the exclusion of Germans and German-Americans.
One of the worst injustices suffered by Japanese-Americans was the relocation and internment of more than 120,000 individuals in ten U.S. concentration camps scattered across the United States.
Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942 required that Americans of Japanese descent, visitors and legal and illegal aliens be forced to move from their homes, abandon their businesses and live as prisoners in their own country.
Most were given 48 hours to get their affairs in order prior to being shipped off. Although the war ended in 1945, the last Japanese-American internment camp didn’t close until the following year.
Ironically, only 10 Americans were accused of spying for Japan – and all of them were Caucasian.
More than forty years later, President Ronald Reagan issued a formal apology to Japanese-Americans who’d been forced to live in the camps. He also signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided every living former internee with $20,000.
President George Bush allocated additional compensation and also issued an apology. The camps are now preserved as historical landmarks.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Digital History
(3) Quest Garden
Sunday, February 19, 2012
A video-portrait of Balata Refugee Camp, created by Giorgio Algeri – January 30, 2012
By Giorgio Algeri
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Balata Rufegee Camp, near Nablus, has the highest ratio of population per square meter in the West Bank. At least 20,000 people live in less than one square kilometer. More than sixty years since its establishment, and the camp continues to grow.
As: “Lack of privacy, and no closed doors create a lot of social problems,” said Mahmoud Subuh, Director of International Relations at Yafa Cultural Centre. The high density is matched with a high unemployment rate. Residents of the camp are uncertain about their future, contributing to social and psychological problems among the population.
When The Palestine Monitor visited the camp on 21-23 January, it was evident how its inhabitants suffer from litte private space. As an example, we were told how residents have built “their walls” to refrain other people from passing through the alleyways.
Open spaces for socio-cultural activities are inadequate. However, some residents decorated the designated public spaces with colorful graffiti. A significant number of refugees come fromJaffa, so many painted their images of theMediterranean Sea.
Others decided to assert the importance of their own culture and identity, painting traditional ceramic jars, the olive tree, an oud and the Haram Ash-Sharif inJerusalem.
Balata Refugee Camp was established to be a “temporary solution” after the 1948 War, after which the State of Israel was established. Eventually, it became a “permanent temporary solution.”
Over time, its population has become increasingly demanding. In particular, the younger generation of refugees has been exposed to the influence of new technologies and lifestyles. As Subuh remarked, this is why “young generations feel more frustrated today.”
Photo by Giorgio Ageri
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
• Section of 5 in the Law of Political Parties and section 7A of the Basic Law: Stipulates that any party platform that calls for full and complete equality between Jews and non-Jews, can be disqualified from any political post. The law demands that Palestinian Arab citizens may not challenge the state's Zionist identity.
• Law of Return: “Every Jew has the right to become a citizen no matter where they come from” while the indigenous non-Jewish inhabitants who were expelled in 1948 are expressly barred from returning to their homes
• Nakba Law: Penalizes any institution that commemorates or publicly mourns the expulsion of the native Palestinian population
• Anti-boycott law: Provides anyone calling for the boycott of Israel, or it’s illegal settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid.
• Admission Committees Law formally allows neighborhood screening committees to prevent non-Jewish citizens from living in Jewish communities that control 81 percent of the territory in Israel. In March 2011 Israel passed a law to allow residents of Jewish towns to refuse non Jews from living in their communities.
• Amendment to the Citizenship Law: Stipulates that an Israeli citizen who marries a Palestinian cannot live as a couple in Israel with his or her spouse. A Palestinian spouse can neither gain citizenship nor residency.
• 93% of the land, the vast majority of which was confiscated from Palestinian owners after 1948, can only be owned by Jewish agencies for the benefit of Jews only. One of these agencies is the Jewish National Fund, which, in its charter forbids sale or lease to non-Jews.
• Specified Goods Tax and Luxury Tax Law [art 26, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 6, p. 150 (1952)] Authorizes lower import taxes for Jewish citizens of Israel compared with non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
• National Planning and Building Law (1965) Through various zoning laws freezes the growth of existing Arab villages while providing for the expansion Jewish settlements and creation of new ones. The law also re-classifies a large portion of established Arab villages as "unrecognized” and therefore nonexistent, allowing the state to cut off water and electricity as well as to simply appropriate that property.
• Appropriations are carried out under The Requisitions Law which allows a “competent authority” to requisition the land – called “land requisition order” – so that only he may “use and exploit the land” as he sees fit. This applies to “home requisition orders” as well, whereby another “competent authority” who can “order the occupier of a house to surrender the house to the control of a person specified in the order, for residential purposes or for any other use, as may be prescribed in the order. “
• In the education sector within Israel, as an example, the state spends $192 per year per non-Jewish student compared to $1,100 per Jewish student.
• There is a planned Mosque Law that will prohibit the broadcasting of the Muslim call to prayer, which has been sounding over that land since the beginning of Islam.
• Non-Jews living in the West Bank are denied access to the holy places of Jerusalem, which are only a few kilometers away from them.
• ALSO, for the first time in the history of Islam and the history of Christianity, Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the West Bank and Gaza are denied access to their holy Places of Jerusalem, even on the high holy days of Eid, Christmas, and Easter Sunday.
• Since Israel took the West Bank, the Christian population has declined from 20,000 in 1967 to less than 7500 today.
• Military Order 1229: authorizes Israel to hold Palestinians in administrative detention for up to six months without charge or trial. Six-month detentions can be renewed indefinitely, without charge or trial.
• Military Order 329 and 1650 effectively prevents Palestinians from being anywhere in the West Bank without a specific permit to be there, making it a criminal offense to go from one Palestinian town to another.
• Military Oder #92 and #158: gives the Israeli military control of all water resources in the West Bank, which belongs to Palestinians.
• Israel then allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, while unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies creating a reality of green lawns and swimming pools for Jewish settlers and a parched life for Palestinians, whose access to water, according to the World Health Organization does not meet the minimum requirements for basic human water needs.
• Furthermore, that fraction of confiscated Palestinian water is sold to Palestinians at 300% more than what it costs Jewish settlers in the same area. ($1.20/cubic meter vs $.40/cubic meter).
• Military Orders #811 and #847: Allows Jews to purchase land from unwilling Palestinian sellers by using “power of attorney”.
• Military Order #25: forbids public inspection of land transactions.
• Militar Order #998: requires Palestinians to get Israeli military permission to make a withdrawal from their bank account.
• Military Order #128: gives the Israeli military the right to take over any Palestinian business which is not open during regular business hours.
• Military Order #138 & #134: forbids Palestinians from operating tractors or other heavy farm machinery on their land.
• Military Order #93: gives all Palestinian insurance businesses to the Israeli Insurance Syndicate.
• Military Order # 1015: requires Palestinians to get Israeli military permission to plant and grow fruit trees. This permit expires every year.
• Through various military orders, according to the WHO, Israel has uprooted 2.5 million trees belonging to Palestinians, and which often represent their only means of sustenance.
And here are the numbers that scare me and break my heart the most. These are the cold prose of statistics pertaining to Palestinian children, that reflect the systematic destruction of Palestinian society:
• (UNICEF): “Conditions have rarely been worse for Palestinian children.” One in 10 Palestinian children now suffer from stunted growth due to compromised health, poor diet and nutrition and 50% of Palestinian children are anemic, and 75% of those under 5 suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
• Palestinian children are routinely imprisoned for months and years for throwing stones at Israeli jeeps, tanks, and soldiers. Many of them, as young as 12 years old, are tortured and held in solitary confinement.
• Meanwhile, for bludgeoning a 10 year old Palestinian boy (Hilmi Shusha) to death with the butt of his riffle, an Israeli settler received community service and a fine.
• A Palestinian man was convicted of rape and sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for having consensual sex with a Jewish woman, because he did not disabuse her of her assumption that he was Jewish.