Bush and Clinton Out of Toronto!
NATO bombs rain down on Belgrade,
March 24, 1999
The premise of the Toronto event is that of a "debate" between Bush and Clinton, where the latter is presented as a congenial celebrity in contrast with Bush's uncouth demeanour and indelible infamy. Far from it, the heinous doings of the Clinton presidency include maintaining brutal and genocidal sanctions on Iraq which killed some 1.5 million Iraqis, as well as the instigating the illegal bombing and invasion of Yugoslavia on the basis of "humanitarian intervention," both of which helped set the stage for the crimes of the George W. Bush presidency.
TML rejects the undignified role being imposed on Canada and Canadians by the U.S. imperialists and their sycophants and lackeys in Toronto, Calgary and elsewhere. It is unconscionable that two men directly responsible for wanton mass destruction and the deaths of millions should be permitted into Canada instead of being arrested and put on trial for their crimes, let alone be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and promoted as celebrities and a source of "inspiration"! The peoples of the world who have suffered directly at the hands of Bush and Clinton are not fooled by attempts to use Canada as a place to provide humanitarian makeovers for war criminals. Canada's obligations under international law require that Bush and Clinton be arrested immediately and prosecuted as war criminals and such events including the recent visit to Calgary of Condoleezza Rice are another manifestation of Canada's subservience to U.S. imperialism which brings Canada and Canadians into further disrepute internationally. TML urges Torontonians and others to go all out to denounce the visit of Bush and Clinton to Toronto!
On May 31, the "Spirit of Hope" fundraiser for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) is taking place in Toronto. The annual event brings together a rogues gallery of U.S. Zionist reactionaries along with their Canadian counterparts to generate funds for the FSWC's "educational" and other programs aimed at creating disinformation about the Zionist occupation of Palestine, promoting genocide against the Palestinian people and criminalizing opposition to Zionism. Last year's attendees included well-known American reactionary Newt Gingrich and Canadian cabinet ministers Vic Toews and Jason Kenney. This year's keynote speakers are former U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard and Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Based in Toronto, the FSWC states three areas of activities:
- "International Programmes and Activities," including the production of "film documentaries about the Holocaust and Israel" and the creation of the "Museum of Human Dignity" in Jerusalem -- notably built upon a Muslim cemetery and funded directly by Canadian donors -- which is scheduled to open in 2010
- "Educational Programmes in Canada," including "Researching, monitoring and tracking hate groups in Canada and around the world," "developing programmes to counter increasing antisemitism and anti-Jewish sentiment on some university campuses," a library "that reflects issues concerning antisemitism, terrorism and human rights" and "involvement in legal cases before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which can benefit from our acknowledged expertise and leadership in this field"
- "Tolerance Education in Canada," about which the FSWC says "Antisemitism, racism and hatred between various ethnic and religious groups in Canada is on the rise according to hate crime reports. Friends has undertaken new and innovative measures to promote tolerance and contribute effectively to the improvement of Canadian society"
The FSWC's abuse and exploitation of the memory
of all those who suffered and died at the hands of Nazi fascism for
purposes of justifying genocide against the Palestinians is loathsome
and unprincipled activity of the worst sort. Far from opposing racism,
the backwards notion of tolerance promoted
by the FSWC is part of the racist outlook of Zionism according to which
a society is based on a hierarchy of privileges and reasonable
accommodations, not on the recognition of inviolable rights that belong
to people by virtue of their being human. Contrary to its high-sounding
ideals, the activities of the FSWC
promote a racist Zionist agenda while attempting to isolate progressive
forces working for peace and human rights in Canada and abroad. The
Canadian working class and people refuse to be blackmailed by spurious
claims of anti-semitism! It will not pass!
The continued visits to Canada of war criminals and U.S. Zionist reactionaries show the need to build the work for democratic renewal and establish an anti-war government so that the political will of the Canadian working class people for peace and justice at home and abroad in opposition to the crimes being committed by the imperialists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere is given its full expression. This includes barring entry to and prosecution of war criminals and getting Canada out of Afghanistan and NATO.
War Criminals and Zionist
Reactionaries Are Not Welcome in Canada!
Bush and Clinton Out of Toronto!
Zionism Is Racism! No to the Zionist "Spirit of Hope Benefit"!
Open Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Top Ministers
George W. Bush, former President of the United States of America (U.S.) and Commander in Chief of the Armed Force, is reported to be coming to Toronto Ontario on May 29, 2009.
We write to advise you of your duty to immediately take all necessary steps to prevent George W. Bush from entering Canada, in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), s. 35 (1) (a).
If George W. Bush enters Canada we demand that he be arrested, as being inadmissible under the IRPA and as a person suspected of torture, and then either prosecuted in Canada for torture or extradited to another country that is willing and able to prosecute as required by the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 7 (CAT).
We remind you that the failure to take one of these actions violates Canada's international law obligations. In addition such inaction denies remedies to victims, ensures impunity for perpetrators and encourages other instances of torture. For example, reports released this month conclude that torture and abuse of prisoners in Iraq remains "routine and commonplace." (Iraq Ministry of Human Rights and Human Rights Watch)
George W. Bush stands accused of authoring, supervising and directing the most egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, during his eight year term as President and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. As such he is inadmissible to Canada under the ‘Human Rights and International Law Violations' sections of the 'Inadmissibility Division' of the IRPA.
In preparation for the mass action planned to oppose the upcoming visit of George Bush to Toronto, the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War held a public forum at the Steelworkers' Hall on May 22 under the theme "Why and how George Bush should be charged with war crimes."
Professor Michael Mandel of the Osgoode Hall Law
School at York University gave the main presentation on the legal basis
for prosecuting war criminals under Canadian law. Mandel explained that
a relatively new federal law called the Crimes Against Humanity and War
Crimes Act gives Canadian
courts jurisdiction to put on trial anyone who has committed genocide,
a crime against humanity or a war crime, as defined in international
law. The list of potential crimes against humanity covers many serious
offenses committed against a civilian population, including "murder,
enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence,
persecution or any other inhumane act or omission."
Mandel noted the wealth of evidence to convict Bush as the "military commander" responsible for ordering such crimes, such as the torture of detainees in Afghanistan, sexual violence against prisoners in Iraq and the more than a million civilian deaths that have resulted from the invasion and occupation of both countries. He also pointed out that former U.S. president Bill Clinton who is appearing with Bush, could also be held responsible for extermination of a civilian population for his role in maintaining the brutal sanctions that denied food and clean water to the Iraqi people for years and resulted in the death of approximately 1.5 million Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children.
Mandel also noted that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) could be used to keep both Bush and Clinton from entering Canada, since IRPA allows the Canadian state to refuse entry to anyone who is a war criminal.
However, Mandel noted that the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act is seriously limited because it does not consider "waging aggressive war" (i.e., a crime against the peace) to be worthy of prosecution even though it has been declared to be the most serious international crime by the community of nations. Instead, the law gives a free hand to the Canadian state to decide which individuals to prosecute according to whether the person's acts of inhumanity were for or against the powerful financial interests represented by the Canadian state. The law, he noted, specifically states that no prosecution under the act may be commenced without the personal consent in writing of the federal Attorney General. Bush would clearly be guilty of such an offense by virtue of his role as commander of the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq since these actions were not taken in self-defence or under other false pretences.
Also speaking at the forum was U.S. war resister Chuck Wylie, a 17-year military veteran now a war resister seeking permanent residence in Canada. He gave direct testimony of the unjust and illegal actions of U.S. in Iraq.
In the presentations and question period that followed, it became very apparent that a key problem facing the world's peoples is the double standard in the application of international law in terms of who wields political power to decide what acts constitute war crimes and which states and individuals are to be prosecuted for war crimes. Both speakers strongly urged those present to raise the consciousness of Canadians about who the real war criminals are and who is really interested in prosecuting them. Mandel cautioned against putting any faith in the international war crimes tribunals established by the UN, explaining that UN tribunals were created for the two-fold purpose of accusing the enemies of U.S. imperialism of war crimes while absolving the U.S. and its allies of any such crimes. The new International Criminal Court (ICC), he pointed out, has been set up with the same scope. For example, the Rome Statute which created the ICC allows the UN Security Council to veto any of the court's prosecutions.
Similarly, Mandel pointed to the recent example of the Harper government using federal immigration law to exclude British anti-war activist George Galloway from Canada, while it has done nothing to stop Bush or Clinton from entering Canada. Mandel urged people to raise their voices in actions such as the rally against the visit of Bush because there is a "necessity to make people in Canada and the U.S. conscious of the truth about the practice of governments of the rich around the world in violation of international law."
In closing, the forum organizers encouraged everyone in attendance to take posters and flyers for the rally and distribute them widely throughout the city with the aim of making the action a success.
The reason we must keep the torture issue alive is not to exact a small measure of comeuppance from the Bush administration zealots who bent the law till it screamed, but to alter the course of history.
Thus the filing of disciplinary complaints a few days ago against 12 Bush administration lawyers, who crafted the quasi-legal justifications that made waterboarding a household word, has significance well beyond the case for their disbarment. This action, taken by a coalition of citizen organizations -- from the ACLU and Vets for Peace to the Libertarian Party of West Virginia, 200 groups in total, claiming a membership of more than a million people -- represents, as I see it, American citizens' furthest reach of patriotic sanity.
The Bush sins are unoriginal. We've always done torture. We've always been at war with a dehumanized (and usually dark-skinned) other, whom we have simultaneously attempted to kill and, in our armed righteousness, "save."
The cocky Bush boys were different only in their open pursuit of this agenda. They had no need for nuanced, bipartisan hypocrisy and flaunted the shadow ops of empire as perfectly legitimate tools of government. With the declaration of an endless war on terror and much of the media on their side, they almost succeeded in legitimizing the premise that the commander-in-chief and his designated agents are beyond all law, and ushering in a strange new American oligarchy.
This effort collapsed of its own hubris, as we all know, and now Hope and Change, the Bobbsey Twins of the Democratic Party, skip merrily through the wreckage, disavowing the obvious cruelties of the last eight years and urging us to "move forward" -- while the extra-legal pursuit of America's strategic interests, as defined by the defense establishment, retreats quietly to the background.
Uh, excuse us, Mr. President. The mandate you've been given is a little bigger than that, to the regret (I fear) of the Washington establishment. We want to purge the Bush era from the national soul. We want the words "never again" to hum with meaning. We want a new relationship with the world and we want our "strategic interests" to line up with our ideals, not merely because it's right but because it's the only way we'll ever be secure. And for this to happen, we have to look squarely at the truth of who we are and who we have always been.
The failure of the Bush administration to remake America -- and the fact that the crimes of its attempt to do so are indelibly part of the public record -- present us with the best opportunity we've ever had to confront our national flaws, at least those that flow from the bete noir known as American exceptionalism, and begin making substantive changes. All that's lacking right now is the will. Believe me, it won't come from the top.
"There's a vise grip on D.C.," said Kevin Zeese, executive director of Voters for Peace and a leader in the effort to make Bush officials accountable for trying to circumvent both the U.S. Constitution and international law in order to legitimize torture. The Justice Department has sat on it for five years; Congress is paralyzed by its own complicity; and President Obama lacks the leverage to buck the defense establishment even if he has the inclination (and it's not clear he does).
We won't take the country back all at once, but we have to start somewhere. And it begins with accountability. This is why I applaud the coalition's filing of complaints with state bar licensing boards against these dirty dozen Bush administration attorneys: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan and David Addington. In addition, the coalition is calling for impeachment proceedings against Bybee, now a sitting federal judge.
I don't know how much of the truth will ever come out, in a way that cannot be ignored (think Germany, think South Africa), but my hope is that we begin a process that gets at all of it, that pries open every secret grave: the CIA torture research of the 1950s; the Phoenix Program of the Vietnam era; the overthrow of the governments of Iran, Guatemala and Chile; the torture training at the School of the Americas; the Reagan era complicity with the thug regimes of Central America; and so much more.
These are all products of American exceptionalism, the belief that our brutality is always benign. Where once we killed to spread the word of God, we now kill and torture in the name of democracy -- and in the Bush era, we did both, a fact underscored by the recent revelation that Donald Rumsfeld's special intelligence memos to Bush had inspirational photos (an American tank at sunset, e.g.) and Bible verses on the cover: "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground ..."
Perhaps the antidote to this self-righteous lunacy is to be found at the coalition Web site: disbartorturelawyers.com. It will happen again if we don't stand up to it now.
* Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at email@example.com or visit his Web site at commonwonders.com.
For Your Information
TML is printing below an article by Walter J. Rockler written on May 23, 1999. Mr. Rockler was a prosecutor at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial, held in Nurembergy, Germany from 1945-1946.
As justification for our murderously destructive bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, it is of course necessary for the U.S. to charge that the Serbs have engaged in inhuman conduct, and that President Slobodan Milosevic, the head Serb demon, is a war criminal almost without peer.
President Clinton assures us of this in frequent briefings, during which he engages in rhetorical combat with Milosevic. But shouting "war criminal" only emphasizes that those who live in glass houses should be careful about throwing stones.
We have engaged in a flagrant military aggression, ceaselessly attacking a small country primarily to demonstrate that we run the world. The rationale that we are simply enforcing international morality, even if it were true, would not excuse the military aggression and widespread killing that it entails. It also does not lessen the culpability of the authors of this aggression.
As a primary source of international law, the judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal in the 1945-1946 case of the major Nazi war criminals is plain and clear. Our leaders often invoke and praise that judgment, but obviously have not read it. The International Court declared:
"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
At Nuremberg, the United States and Britain pressed the prosecution of Nazi leaders for planning and initiating aggressive war. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the head of the American prosecution staff, asserted "that launching a war of aggression is a crime and that no political or economic situation can justify it." He also declared that "if certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."
The United Nations Charter views aggression similarly. Articles 2(4) and (7) prohibit interventions in the domestic jurisdiction of any country and threats of force or the use of force by one state against another. The General Assembly of the UN in Resolution 2131, "Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention," reinforced the view that a forceful military intervention in any country is aggression and a crime without justification.
Putting a "NATO" label on aggressive policy and conduct does not give that conduct any sanctity. This is simply a perversion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, formed as a defensive alliance under the UN Charter. The North Atlantic Treaty pledged its signatories to refrain from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, and it explicitly recognized "the primary responsibility of the Security Council (of the United Nations) for the maintenance of international peace and security." Obviously, in bypassing UN approval for the current bombing, the U.S. and NATO have violated this basic obligation.
From another standpoint of international law, the current conduct of the bombing by the United States and NATO constitutes a continuing war crime. Contrary to the beliefs of our war planners, unrestricted air bombing is barred under international law. Bombing the "infrastructure" of a country -- waterworks, electricity plants, bridges, factories, television and radio locations -- is not an attack limited to legitimate military objectives. Our bombing has also caused an excessive loss of life and injury to civilians, which violates another standard. We have now killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians, even some Chinese, in our pursuit of humanitarian ideals.
In addition to shredding the UN Charter and perverting the purpose of NATO, Clinton also has violated at least two provisions of the United States Constitution. Under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, Congress, not the president, holds the power to declare war and to punish offenses against the law of nations. Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 69 pointed out one difference between a monarchy and the presidency under the new form of government: A king could use his army as he pleased; the president would have no such unlimited power. Under Article VI of the Constitution, treaties, far from being mere scraps of paper as we now deem them to be, are part of the supreme law of the United States. Of course, these days a supine Congress, fascinated only by details of sexual misconduct, can hardly be expected to enforce constitutional requirements.
Nor can a great deal be expected from the media. Reporters rely on the controlled handouts of the State Department, Pentagon and NATO, seeing their duty as one of adding colorful details to official intimations of Serb atrocities. Thus, the observation of a NATO press relations officer that a freshly plowed field, seen from 30,000 feet up, might be the site of a massacre has been disseminated as news.
The notion that humanitarian violations can be redressed with random destruction and killing by advanced technological means is inherently suspect. This is mere pretext for our arrogant assertion of dominance and power in defiance of international law. We make the non-negotiable demands and rules, and implement them by military force. It is all remindful of Henrik Ibsen's "Don't use that foreign word 'ideals.' We have that excellent native word 'lies.'"
The following item consists of excerpts from a December 1999 article by Edward S. Herman entitled, "Clinton Is The WorId's Leading Active War Criminal," originally published in Z Magazine.
[... Bill Clinton] has gone beyond the [George H.W.] Bush record of criminality, and has brought to the commission of war crimes a new eclectic reach and postmodern style. A skilled public relations person, he has refined the rhetoric of humanistic and ethical concern and can apologize with seeming great sincerity for our earlier regrettable sponsorship and support of mass murder in Guatemala while carrying out similar or even more vicious policies in Colombia and Iraq at the same moment. [...]
Clinton's crimes range from ad hoc bombings to boycotts and sanctions designed to starve into submission, to support of ethnic cleansing in brutal counterinsurgency warfare, and to aggression and devastation by bombing designed to return rogues to the stone age and keep them there.
On June 26, 1993, Clinton bombed Baghdad in retaliation for an alleged but unproven Iraq plot to assassinate former President George Bush. Eight Iraqi civilians, including the distinguished Iraqi artist Layla al-Attar were killed in the raid, and 12 more were wounded. This kind of unilateral action in response to an unproven charge is a violation of international law. The legal excuse given by U.S. officials, which they relied on in justification of the bombing of Libya in 1986, is the right to self defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. But that Article requires that the response be to an immediate threat to the retaliating party, clearly not the case, and therefore a legal fraud. This was a crime -- petty by the usual U.S. standard -- but still a crime. And it had the further repellent feature that it was done almost surely for purely internal political reasons -- to show Clinton's toughness, despite his Vietnam War record, and to countervail right-wing attacks on his lack of militancy.
The same point can be made as regards his 1998 bombing of Afghanistan and the Sudan. Unknown numbers were killed in Afghanistan (and by the missiles that accidentally landed in Pakistan), and the pharmaceutical factory destroyed in the Sudan was the major source of medical drugs in that poor country. All evidence points to the fact that the Sudan factory destroyed had no connection whatever to chemical weapons or Bin Laden, and was bombed on the basis of insufficient and poorly evaluated data. But following the attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, Clinton felt compelled to act for internal political reasons once again, and there are no international constraints or costs to him or his country if he chooses to bomb small and weak countries to score political points at home. This was rogue and criminal behavior.
Clinton has given unstinting support to Turkey in its war against its indigenous Kurds. He has also escalated his aid to Colombia. In both of these countries the civilian casualties from counterinsurgency warfare and death squad operations during the Clinton years has exceeded the pre-NATO bombing deaths in Kosovo by a large factor.
In the Clinton years these recurrent U.S. policies have impacted heavily on Cuba and most dramatically on Iraq. The tightening of the embargo on Cuba under the Toricelli-Helms bill, signed into law and enforced by Clinton, which banned the sale of U.S. food and curtailed access to water treatment chemicals and medicines, took a heavy toll. According to a 1997 report of the American Association of World Health, the food sale ban "has contributed to serious nutritional deficits, particularly among pregnant women, leading to an increase in low birth-weight babies. In addition, food shortages were linked to a devastating outbreak of neuropathy numbering in the tens of thousands. By one estimate, daily caloric intake dropped 33 percent between 1989 and 1993." The decisive offsetting consideration, however, was that Clinton was able to preserve some of his political support from the powerful Cuban lobby in Florida.
The most monumental of Clinton's war crimes, however, has been his policy of sanctions on Iraq, supplemented by the maintenance of intense satellite surveillance and regular bombing attacks that have often resulted in civilian casualties. UNICEF reports that in 1999 more than 1 million Iraqi children under 5 were suffering from chronic malnutrition, and some 4,000-5,000 children are dying per month beyond normal death rates from the combination of malnutrition and disease. Death from disease was greatly increased by the shortage of potable water and medicines, that has led to a 20-fold increase in malaria (among other ailments). This vicious sanctions system, causing a creeping extermination of a people, has already caused more than a million excess deaths, and it is claimed by John and Karl Mueller that Clinton's "sanctions of mass destruction" have caused "the deaths of more people in Iraq than have been slain by all so-called weapons of mass destruction [nuclear and chemical] throughout all history" (Foreign Affairs, May/June 1999). U.S. mainstream reporters, who have so eagerly followed the distress of the Kosovo Albanians, somehow never get to Iraq for pictures of the thousands of malnourished children.
One of the notable features of the NATO-U. S. war against Yugoslavia was the gradual extension of targeting to civilian infrastructure and civilian facilities -- therefore civilians who would be in houses, hospitals, schools, trains, factories, power stations, and broadcasting facilities. Two months after the war was over, the BBC "revealed" that the attack on Yugoslav television on April 23 was part of an escalation of NATO bombing whereby the target list was extended to non-military objectives; NATO was "taking off the gloves." According to Yugoslav authorities, 60 percent of NATO targets were civilian, including 33 hospitals and 344 schools, as well as 144 major industrial plants and a large petro-chemical plant whose bombing caused a pollution catastrophe. John Pilger noted that the list of civilian targets included "housing estates, hotels, libraries, youth centres, theatres, museums, churches and 14th century monasteries on the World Heritage list. Farms have been bombed and their crops set afire."
This NATO targeting was in open violation of the laws of war, although this was certainly neither publicized nor condemned in the mainstream media; U.S. pundits like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times frequently called for a more aggressive bombing of Serb civilian targets and the commission of more war crimes (Rachel Coen, "Lessons of War: Leading papers call for more attacks on civilian targets next time," EXTRA! Update, August 1999). There can be little doubt that Yugoslavia finally agreed to a military exit from Kosovo mainly because they recognized that, although their forces had not been defeated on the battlefield, the NATO strategy of attacking civilian targets in violation of international law, was subject to no limits.
On May 27, in the midst of this criminal operation by NATO, Louise Arbour, chief prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, issued an indictment of Milosevic for war crimes, thereby implicitly exonerating and facilitating the NATO commission of war crimes. By allowing her Tribunal to be so mobilized in NATO propaganda service, Arbour and her colleagues were arguably guilty of war crimes themselves. [...]
(This item can be viewed in its entirety, here: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/International_War_Crimes/ClintonWarCriminal_Herman.html)
Museum of Tolerance or object of
"American Jewish cultural imperialism?"
Rabbi Marvin Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, never seems to miss an opportunity to put his foot in his mouth when promoting his international anti-Semitism carnival show. Lately, he's been doing it in spades regarding his $250 million Jerusalem satellite, known rather grandiosely as the Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.
The West Jerusalem site in the Mamilla neighborhood chosen for the Museum is an old Muslim cemetery, part of which has been used for several decades as a Jerusalem Municipality parking lot. During earlier excavations at the site, skeletal remains were unearthed which led to the Islamic Movement of Israel protesting the desecration of the graveyard. This week, the Israeli Supreme Court, not known as a particularly strong defender of the rights of the Arab minority, ruled in Hier's favor, allowing construction to continue.
As a result, hundreds of Israeli Arabs have protested continuously since the ruling was made public, calling the museum a betrayal of their dignity:
"Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein called the court ruling a 'grave decision' which harms the Muslim holy sites, and said it was difficult to believe the project's promoters would want to build a Museum of Tolerance 'whose construction constitutes an act of aggression.'"
The rabbi has made some statements defending and explaining the project which would make anyone other than him wince:
"Hier said, the goal is to create 'a great landmark promoting the principles of mutual respect and social responsibility.'
"'Asked whether he was concerned that the project could become a new flashpoint in the ever-volatile Arab-Israeli conflict, Hier predicted that 'you'll have protests for two or three days,' then things will go back to normal."
This reminds me of something Herbert Hoover probably said after 1929's Black Thursday. "Oh, you'll have a few days of selling and before you know it, we'll be back to business as usual." How can Israeli Muslims possibly come to terms with this defilement of their dead? Only someone with absolutely no sensitivity to Muslims could possibly make such a comment with a straight face.
[Architect Frank] Gehry's comment's as carried in Samuel Freedman's excellent 2004 N.Y. Times consideration of the Museum are unintentionally ironic:
"Mr. Gehry ... designed the museum to be accessible in both literal and metaphorical ways. 'People can come from all directions, and all kinds of people can come. Families and children are constantly in view, in your face, so that you never escape from the issue of what this place is about.'"
Which makes one wonder how Mr. Gehry incorporated into his design the fact that the building will sit on an ancient Muslim burial ground. In fact, it seems to me that the building, its designer, and its creator have a rather limited idea of the "what the place is about." That idea closes out all but Jews from consideration. Can Gehry honestly tell me how it will be "open" to Muslims? What will be in it for them?
As far as I'm concerned, this is the coup de grace as far as the Museum's willingness to confront the existence of the "other" within the boundaries of the current State of Israel:
"Mr. Hier maintains that, while the museum will not conspicuously avoid the Palestinian situation, 'It's not about the experience of the Palestinian people. When they have a state, they'll have their own museum.'
I guess someone forgot to tell him that 20% of Israel itself is not Jewish, but Arab, and these Israeli citizens will not become part of this Palestinian state. Perhaps Rabbi Hier has a bad case of ethnic amnesia?
Freedman's critique of the vision behind the Museum is prescient:
"'The proposed museum is already drawing withering and widespread criticism, years before its opening ... The leftist Israeli politician [Benvenisti is an urban planner and journalist, not a politician] Meron Benvenisti, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, denounced the museum in the newspaper Ha'aretz as 'so hallucinatory, so irrelevant, so foreign, so megalomaniac.' Even mainstream Israelis are dubious that a museum conceived, financed and designed by Americans can possibly fathom, much less redress, the political and social chasms here
"...To...Israeli critics...the museum...is flawed in its very conception, because it's the product of an American rabbi and the object of American philanthropy. The museum strikes many here as the latest version of what Israelis tartly term 'the American uncle' -- that well-intended, well-endowed know-it-all. In private conversation, one hears the museum disparaged as the 'Museum of Nice' or an example of 'American Jewish cultural imperialism.'
What have right-wing Orthodox American Jews like Hier contributed to Israeli society? The settler movement, hamburger and pizza parlors, and Museums like this. Such contributions are usually toxic to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and utterly devoid of contact with reality on the ground for both peoples. They are grounded in ideology or theology, rather than common practice or everyday life. [...]
(This article can be viewed in its entirety, here: http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2008/11/11/jerusalems-museum-of-in-tolerance/)
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org