Reflections on the Tehran Conference In Support of the Palestinian Intifada
Why have those governments that describe themselves as “liberal democracies” so consistently embraced the expansionary project of Zionist Israel as a core priority in orienting themselves to their own citizens and the global community? Why have self-declared secular societies that claim to emphasize the rights and freedoms of individuals been so prone to serve the mission of a Jewish state devoted to the messianic creed of a supposedly-divinely-sanctioned religious collectivity?
Alternatively why have the ruling elites of these same self-declared liberal democracies so consistently failed to stand in the way of the vanquishment of the Palestinian people, but especially those situated on the frontiers of Israeli territorial expansion? Why have the Palestinians been rendered the universalized embodiments of those many Indigenous peoples victimized by settler conquest? Why have the Palestinians become the pre-eminent symbols along with Native Americans of those sacrificed to the feeding frenzy of Western imperialism? The most aggressive phase of this saga of imperial expansion began in 1492 and continues to this day on many fronts including the eastward march of Eretz Israel, Greater Israel.
These questions jumped out at me as this man from Alberta Canada took part as a registered delegate in the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada. The event took place in Tehran on Feb. 21 and 22, 2017. The assembly was hosted by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran’s Persian roots run deep in the civilizational heritage of humankind. This fabled Eurasian country of about 80 million inhabitants is situated at the nexus of a complex of recent history encompassing war, Western economic sanctions and a constant barrage of Zionist animosity.
Iran is a key part of an emerging alignment of indigenous powers building alliances opposed to the imperial agendas of Zio-American empire.
Iran is a key part of an emerging alignment of indigenous powers building alliances opposed to the imperial agendas of Zio-American empire. The importance of Eurasia’s destiny for the future of the world was most compellingly described in 1998 by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.
The commercial dimension of the developing pact of cooperation aligning Iran with Russia and China is sometimes referred to as the New Silk Road. Its visionaries are working towards developing the world’s largest trade emporium to be sustained by a network of Chinese-funded fast trains and modernized ports. The envisaged trunk line of this emerging polity would be a high-tech rail link connecting Berlin with Beijing. The realization of this scenario would obviously require Germany to veer away from its current trans-Atlantic orientation towards more friendly relations with its Eurasian neighbors.
The Tehran conference in support of the third Intifada of Palestinian Resistance drew together 700 delegates representing 80 organizations from around the world. Thirty-seven of the delegations present in Tehran represented national governments, many of them Muslim majority governments. The group to which I was assigned by our Iranian hosts hailed primarily from the so-called West, primarily from Europe and North America.
(Tony Hall visiting the shrine to the science martyrs of Iran’s nuclear science.)
Almost sixteen years after 9/11 it has become very clear that the Israeliocentric “West” has been subject to massive media-engineered campaigns of psychological warfare. The aim has been to mobilize public consent for military invasions abroad, heightened police and surveillance state interventions at home. This psychological operation of illusion combines fact and fiction to instigate fear of Muslims generally and of the Islamic Republic of Iran more specifically. In the psychology of Western public opinion, Iranophobia and Islamophobia are different aspects of the same phenomenon.
Iranophobia and Islamophobia are different aspects of the same phenomenon.
Our group’s inclusion in this major international convergence of Islamic leadership in Tehran helped illuminate some of the factors that have distanced us from the policies and priorities of our own national governments. Twenty-seven of us were included in the Islamic Republic’s list of favored Western dissidents. The conference’s organizers listed us as “American and European Guests,” as “Anti-Zionist Academicians, Politicians, Media Commentators, Writers and Activists.”
Palestine, Palestinians, Iran and the Islamic World
Tehran’s emphasis on the defense of Palestinian people from Zionist incursions has been a top priority of the Islamic revolution from its inception. Since 1979 the leadership of the Shi’a theocracy of Iran has outdone all other countries in investing major political capital in the cause of a Free Palestine. This pattern began with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the undisputed leader of the Islamic revolution emanating from Iran.
A pre-eminent and persistent feature of Ayatollah Khomeini’s policies entailed a sharp focus on the dilemmas faced by the Palestinian people. As the chief founding figure of Iran’s theocratic government saw it, the quest for a solution to the Palestinian problem offered the potential of becoming the great “pivot” that would unite Islamic people and peoples throughout the world. Thus the fate of the Palestine people and the worldwide Islamic ummah were perceived to be integrally intertwined.
In 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini famously handed over the keys of the abandoned Israeli embassy in Tehran to Yasser Arafat, the iconic leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Before 1979 during the heyday of the corrupt puppet dictator, the Shah of Iran, the Israeli embassy had been one of the most busy beehives of influence and activity in Tehran. The makers of the Islamic revolution were very anxious to change this pattern, to align their policies with the cause of the Palestinians rather than with the Israeli oppressors of the Palestinians.
Arafat’s PLO had played a significant role in training some of the military personnel that moved to the vanguard of the Islamic revolution. In spite of the PLO’s initial prominence in the transition from the rule of the Shah to Iran’s theocratic government, the partnership was soon subject to severe tensions. The more nationalistic and pan-Arab orientation of the PLO was inconsistent with Ayatollah Khomeini’s emphasis on Islamic principles. These Islamic principles he saw as the key to liberation from the imperial oppression epitomized by Zionist domination.
This framing of the Palestinian issue as “a pivot of unity for all Islamic countries” was reiterated in Tehran in 2017 in the presentation of the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei. In his welcoming oration Iran’s divine representative emphasized that the primary purpose of the conference was to show support for the third Palestinian Intifada. Ayatollah Khamenei asserted that spiritual, political and logistical backing for the Palestinian freedom struggle should be “the first priority of the world of Islam and freedom fighters all over the world.”
The main custodian of the Islamic Revolution advanced the case that “The global environment is gradually moving towards confronting the hostile, illegal and inhuman activities of the Zionist regime.” It crimes were said to include
Suppressing the people of Palestine in a brutal manner, arresting numerous individuals, looting and murdering people, occupying the lands that belong to the Palestinian nation and building settlements on them, making an effort to change the appearance and identity of the Holy City of Quds [Jerusalem] Masjid al-Aqsa [mosque] and other holy Islamic and Christian places, violating the basic rights of citizens and many other abuses…. These acts enjoy the all-out support of the United States of America and some other western governments and unfortunately, they do not receive a proper response from the world.
The Supreme Leader closely equated the rise of Israel in its present form to the assault on Palestinian rights and identity. Ayatollah Khamenei indicated,
Fundamentally the Zionist regime was formed in a way that could not avoid seeking dominance, suppressing others and violating the true rights of the Palestinians. This is because its entity and identity are dependent on the gradual destruction of the identity and entity of Palestine. The illegitimate entity of the Zionist regime will continue to exist only if it is founded on the ruins of Palestine’s identity and entity. That is why protecting Palestinian identity and guarding all the symbols of this truthful and natural identity is a necessity and a holy jihad.
When I returned to Canada I began to seek out and read more of the writings of Ayatollah Khamenei on the issue of Palestine, Israel and the West’s so-called liberal democracies. In this process I discovered a text of the Supreme Leader’s writings entitled The Most Important Problem of the Islamic World: Selected Statements by Ayatollah Khamenei About Palestine.
In this volume I discovered the following passage where Ayatollah Khamenei addresses what he sees as the internal contradictions between theory and practice on the part of many governments that label themselves as liberal democracies. In the cited passage the Supreme Leader implicitly addresses the argument that Francis Fukuyama advanced in the early 1990s following the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union’s demise. In his volume, The End of History and the Last Man, Prof. Fukuyama proposed that history had culminated for all time in a perpetual combination of liberal democracy and capitalism.
Prof. Fukuyama argued that this formula of liberal democracy combined with capitalism offered the basis for the best possible system for a universal regime of human organization and governance. In late 2001, just as Afghanistan was being invaded by the United Sates, Ayatollah Khamenei observed,
Western liberal democracy has disgraced itself. There was a time when liberal democracy was claimed to be the highest point of perfection that human thought and action could ever achieve. It was claimed that nothing could be better than liberal democracy. I believe these claims are a sign of being narrow-minded. It is wrong to claim that it is not possible for human beings to go beyond a certain achievement. No, human beings can accomplish infinitely better achievements. This liberalism is what has given rise to the issue of Afghanistan and the issue of Palestine. This fake humanism of the west is what has ignored the Palestinian nation for fifty years and is determined to wipe it out. They do not ask themselves whether Palestine existed in the world or is it just a myth. If you accept that there is a country called Palestine, where are its people? They wanted to wipe out a nation and a geographical entity off the face of the earth. Today their humanism, liberalism and democracy have reached a point of suppression where they are not even prepared to let a foreign news agency report the events of Afghanistan. This is what the west calls the free flow of information. This prescription has been disgraced and it has been proven wrong.
Canadian Zionism in Canadian Public Policy
Ayatollah Khamenei’s observations on Zionism and the claims of liberal democracy caused me to evaluate a few recent positions adopted by my own Canadian government. In early 2016, for instance, the governing Liberal Party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined with the Conservative Party opposition to pass a parliamentary enactment condemning any group or organization that offers its support to the movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. This BDS movement is directed at encouraging individuals and groups to use their economic power in the marketplace to exert pressure on the Israeli government to improve its treatment of the Palestinian people.
The most fundamental principles of liberal democracy are betrayed when a government seeks to constrain and limit this kind of free expression aimed at realizing political objectives through the voluntary adoption of organized economic choices. This consideration applies especially to Canada where fully 80% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked whether or not they approve of the BDS campaign calling for Israel to afford more fair treatment to Palestinians.
Another similar demonstration of the Canadian government’s bias was manifest in the stance of Stéphane Dion,Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister. Dion recently went on record opposing a resolution of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Agency. This UNESCO resolution condemned the Israeli government’s restrictions on Muslim access to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. This same bias extended to Dion’s very public criticism of the fact that a Canadian Law Professor, Michael Lynk, had been appointed the UN’s “Special Rapporteur on Palestine.” What does this kind of discriminatory approach to public policy say about the quality of Canadian liberal democracy when the federal government so obviously treats Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims and Jews, inequitably before the law?
Media Manipulation and Psychological Security
On the issue of the role of the media in social interaction Ayatollah Khamenei has been extremely assertive in alleging Zionist bias and Zionist concentration of ownership and control. In 2002 at a Conference on Islamic World Media the Supreme Leader declared,
Regarding the role of the media and public relations, this battlefield is one that involves everybody. Throughout the world of Islam, each person has a responsibility to fulfill. Today’s world is the world of the media, public relations and clarification. Today you are faced with the news empire of the enemies of the world of Islam, an empire which is mostly controlled by the Zionists. Today there is a one-way media road where news reports and analyses flow from news agencies towards global public opinion, especially public opinion of the Arab and Islamic countries. The Zionists went after news networks and public relations from the beginning. One of their policies was to take control of the global media. This is how it is today. From the beginning, they chose a propaganda technique which was very important and effective and it has proven to be effective up until today. That propaganda technique is to present themselves as the victim. They fabricated many stories. They started rumors and made non-stop efforts. And today the same propaganda is being pursued with utmost cruelty. That is to say, the most important thing that the Zionists are doing in the world of propaganda is that they present themselves as the victim.
Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has identified deep meaning in the failure of openness and candour on the subject of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. From his perspective, this litany of failure, abuse, misrepresentation and censorship exposes a crisis of legitimacy in Israeli claims. Ayatollah Khamenei has remarked
Israel: faced with a legitimacy crisis sixty years have passed since the occupation of Palestine. During this time, all the tools of material power – ranging from money, weapons and technology to political and diplomatic efforts and a vast network of news empires – have been at the service of the occupation forces. In spite of these wide-ranging and amazing satanic efforts, not only have the occupation forces and their supporters failed to solve the legitimacy problem of the Zionist regime, but this problem has also grown more complex over time. The fact that the western and Zionist media and the governments that support Zionism do not even tolerate questions and investigations concerning the Holocaust – which was used as a pretext to occupy Palestine – is one of the signs of this decline and uncertainty. Today as far as global public opinion is concerned, the situation of the Zionist regime is worse than it has ever been in its dark history and questions regarding the purpose of its establishment have grown more serious.
In his presentation to the Islamic World Media Conference Ayatollah Khamenei drew attention to what he described as the Zionist demand for “psychological security.” “Psychological security” is open-ended concept that could extend from the edification of political positions through the invocation of hate speech laws to the transfer from Germany to Israel of substantial monetary payments. This Jewish and Israeli claim extends a still-continuing pattern that began when Germany was made subject to demands for vast reparations to be paid to the victors after the First World War. Ayatollah Khamenei explains,
Fulfilling Israel’s need for psychological security is more difficult than giving up a territory. When you lose a territory, you know what you have lost. But when you want to fulfill Israel’s demand for psychological security, you do not know how much you have to give up and how many concessions you have to make. There is no end to these concessions. You must constantly make concessions. In this regard, Europe’s experience is a lesson for us. The German government paid one hundred and fifty billion marks to the Jews in compensation, but Germany is still paying compensation.
The Perils of Speaking Truth to Power for a Palestinian Canadian Woman
Al-Quds is the Arabic term for Jerusalem. The yearly commemorations of Quds Day as led by Muslim people throughout the world serves as a reminder of the importance of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Palestinian struggle to hold native ground. These Palestinian lands include some of Islam’s most sacred places including the site of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.
Quds Day takes place every year on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan. The origins of Quds Day are rooted in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s decision during first year of the Islamic Revolution. His goal was to render real and regular a global time of commemoration to advance the cause of solidarity with Palestinian people suffering the aggressions of Israeli incursions.
In the Quds Day commemoration in Toronto on July 2, 2016 a Christian woman of Palestinian descent, Nadia Shoufani, gave a stirring speech asserting the right and responsibility of Palestinian people to defend themselves against the inroads of occupiers. She referred to exemplary figures, some of them martyred or jailed indefinitely for opposing the illegal occupation of their lands including in the Palestinian stronghold of East Jerusalem.
Ms. Shoufani’s heartfelt defence of Palestinian rights on Al-Quds Day was quite consistent with the principles outlined by many speakers who took to the podium at the recent Tehran conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada. Among the vital subjects Ms. Shoufani covered was her criticism of the “silence of the complicit media” in Canada for failing to report on many Israeli atrocities committed against Palestinian people. She declared, “We will not welcome with roses the bulldozers” which regularly appear in the Occupied Territories to push down Palestinian homes. We have a right to fight back,” Nadia Shoufani announced. She referred to support of the BDS movement “as the least we can do in Canada” to demonstrate opposition to what is being done against her Palestinian brothers and sisters on Palestinian lands.
Nadia Shoufani’s impassioned speech caught the attention of the Canadian branch of B’nai B’rith International. The B’nai B’rith complex of organizations extends to many countries, including Canada. All branches of this Zionist network proclaim their shared commitment “to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” What this phrase tends to mean in practice, is the embedding within the inner structures of many national governments of powerful in situ lobbies devoted first and foremost to the realization of Israeli policies and priorities.
The B’nai Brith-instigated crackdown on Nadia Shoufani after her Toronto speech on Al-Quds Day well illustrates the phenomenon. What damage is wrought to civil society by the spectacle of such powerful interests intervening to limit Ms Shoufani’s freedom of expression in one of the most fraught theatres of contention alive in the world today? How can the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put Canada First, or, in the words of US President Donald Trump, put “America First,” when Zionist lobbies so dominate the agendas of supposed liberal democracies throughout the so-called “West”?
The disproportionate influence of B’nai Brith Canada was put on public display by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to announce on Facebook his “welcome to the B’nai Brith’s 2016 Human Rights Gala.” In this welcome the Canadian leader traces the history of B’nai Brith Canada back to 1875. He then identifies the organization as “an outspoken advocate for human rights throughout the world.” Clearly this characterization shows a bias on the part of Canada’s prime minister. The official at the very pinnacle of the Canadian government promotes a conception of human rights that radically excludes the dispossessed and disempowered Palestinian people for whom Nadia Shoufani spoke so eloquently on Al-Quds Day, 2016.
In her talk Ms. Shoufani referred to Palestinian martyrs like, for instance, Ghassan Kanafani, a writer and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Kanafani was assassinated by the Mossad in 1972. She also referred to George Ibrahim Abdallah who has been incarcerated in France as a result of his military role in the Lebanon War of 1982. These references were interspersed among her comments on the large number of jailed Palestinians current warehoused in Israeli prisons often without formal charges.
B’nai Brith officials chose to defile Ms. Shoufani’s efforts to situate the contemporary struggle of the Palestinian people in the context of a notoriously tempestuous history. The “human rights” specialists at B’nai Brith passed onto the police a crude characterization of her analysis as a simple support for terrorism. The police investigation did not produce criminal charges, an outcome lamented by B’nai Brith’s CEO, Michael Mostyn.
The police investigation served, however, to upset the directors of Ms. Shoufani’s employer, the Dufferine Peel Catholic School Board. Prior to her speech on Quds Day Ms. Shoufani was an elementary school teacher at St. Catherine of Sienna School in Mississauga Ontario. Her employers suspended Nadia Shoufani with pay while they very publicly investigated her work and ideas.
The publicly-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation helped created the background against which the School Board’s investigation unfolded. CBC journalists authored two reports that more or less mirrored the B’nai Brith’s condemnation of Nadia Shoufani. One of the CBC authors, Murial Draaisma, repeated the B’nai Brith’s allegation that Ms. Shoufani’s convictions about Israel’s maltreatment of Palestinians made her unfit to teach in a Canadian classroom. In her report the CBC’s Ombudsman, Esther Enkin, sided with the B’nai Brith and against those many citizens that intervened to condemn the CBC’s coverage of the whole episode as unfair, unbalanced, and biased.
The role of the CBC in this affair calls attention to the importance of the media’s role in the viability or failure of liberal democracies. Liberal democracies cannot serve their citizens if the citizenry is deprived of news coverage from a variety of angles covering all sides of important stories like, for instance, the conflict between Israel and Palestinian people. Citizens cannot be counted upon to make responsible decisions in elections when they are deprived of true and balanced information that accurately depicts all sides of various contestations Very serious allegations have been directed at the failure of the tax-payer-funded CBC. The CBC has been repeatedly accused of violating its mandate of public broadcasting to serve instead as an instrument of propaganda for Israel First interests.
In this account of the maltreatment of Nadia Shoufani I have depended heavily on Karin Brothers’ account in her essay of September 20, 2016 in Global Research.ca. Ms. Brothers puts significant emphasis on the role of the CBC in embracing in too unqualified a way the perspective of B’nai Brith Canada. Ms Brothers concludes her essay as follows:
While it’s to be expected that those who are invested in defending the State of Israel would attack those calling for a resolution based on international law, why are elected officials, community leaders and even faith-based organizations capitulating to bullying that violates the rights of Canadians?
The loyalties of all of those involved in such bullying situations should be challenged. Israel’s lobbyists choose to call such challenges to their loyalties “anti-Semitic”, yet they continue to make demands that damage Canadian interests in order to benefit Israel.
The actions of the CBC are a case in point. After having been notified that its article on Nadia Shoufani was spurious and defamatory, why did the CBC insist on reiterating libel that would humiliate her, destroy her reputation, threaten her livelihood and chill Canadian freedom of speech on this issue? Who benefits from the CBC’s actions?
Canadians exercising their rights should not be threatened by Canadians representing the interests of any foreign state. Those who are concerned about the CBC’s treatment of Nadia Shoufani should demand of CBC President Hubert Lacroix and The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, as well as their Members of Parliament, that the CBC stop placing the interests of those invested in Israel over the interests of their own country.
Nadia Shoufani’s case has special significance for me in that her experience closely mirrors mine in recent months. During this period I have been smeared and lied about by “human rights” officials at B’nai Brith Canada. As a result I have been subjected to a police investigation for hate speech and incitement to genocide by the police forces of Calgary and my hometown of Lethbridge Alberta. I have been suspended, initially without pay, in complete disregard of my tenured status as well as outside the provisions of the collective agreement between the faculty and the administration at the University of Lethbridge.
I have been subjected to misrepresentations and smear by journalists at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As in the case of Nadia Shoufani, my effort to tell my side of the story to Canada’s public broadcaster ran into obstacles raised by the Crown corporation’s uncritical adoption of B’nai Brith Canada’s Israeliocentric perspectives.
B’nai Brith Canada has been spearheading a purge in recent months aimed at removing from employment at Canadian universities those individuals that question Israel First priorities. For instance Nikolaos Balaskas was removed from his position as a lab technician at York University in September of 2016. His removal was based on B’nai Brith Canada’s complaints about some of his Facebook posts.
Similarly B’nai Brith Canada succeeded in having teaching assistant, Ayman Elkasrawy, removed from his post at Ryerson University in Toronto based on comments he had made about blocked Muslim access to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Quds. This approach of making employment at universities conditional on one’s orientation to relations between the Israeli government and Palestinian people is well advanced as demonstrated by the blacklisting activities of those hidden sponsors of an Internet site known as Canary Mission.
This favouring of one group over all others in, for instance, deciding issues of employment and unemployment, the content of school curricula, access to media and cultural institutions, the process of making law, interpreting law, enforcing law and implementing public policy runs absolutely counter to the ideals of equality of opportunity. These ideals of equality are supposed to animate the operations of liberal democracies. The realization of such ideals, however, is rendered impossible when most constituencies in Western countries are rendered subordinate to the priorities of Zionist lobbies.
Victims and Perpetrators of Terrorism
Since September 11, 2001 the still-ongoing Global War on Terror forms a primary matrix of interaction between Zionism, Islam, and what passes for liberal democracy. That matrix of violent and often oppressive interaction originates in a specious interpretation of 9/11. This interpretation perpetuates the lie that Islamic jihadists acted alone on 9/11 out of no other motivation than religious zeal and an irrational hatred of the West.
To this day the ridiculous religious fantasy of 9/11 is kept alive by an elaborate cover up. The purveyors of the 9/11 fraud proclaim that, with nothing more than box cutters, Islamic terrorists successfully hijacked airplanes to strike out at America’s primary symbols of commercial and military might in New York and Washington DC.
Its is the maintenance of this 9/11 fable that has subsumed the memory of narratives that not-too-long-ago maintained a place for recognition of freedom fighters intent on achieving better worlds to come. Clearly Nadia Shoufani’s invocation of such memories was used against her. For the act of bringing forward memories of Palestinian freedom fighters Ms. Shoufani was herself labelled a terrorist. Those who so labeled her are themselves agents and apologists for monumental acts of state terror.
This strange reversal of roles would result in Nadia Shoufani being characterized as a protagonist of terrorism rather than as a spokesperson for the victims of terrorism. This phenomenon has been touched on by Ayatollah Khamenei. He has noted that after 9/11 “the deceptive definition of terrorism has become one of the main pillars of terrorism in the modern world.”
From my perspective the world’s Muslims have collectively become primary victims of “the deceptive definition of terrorism.” I believe the Tehran conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada would have been better served if the big lies of engineered false flag terrorism had been more forthrightly addressed in the proceedings.