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How To Deal With Gaza After Hamas

Thursday, October 26, 2023

How To Deal With Gaza After Hamas

If, as anticipated, Israel launches a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to drive out the Hamas government that deployed hundreds of terrorists to inflict barbaric horrors on Israeli civilians on October 7, the question remains: what next?

Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005. It removed all Israeli settlers and military personnel from the territory, and sealed it off from Israel, taking a wait-and-see approach. The hope was that self-governing Palestinians in Gaza would take the opportunity to build a peaceful, prosperous society that would be able to coexist with the Jewish State of Israel. That hope did not materialize.

Instead, within a year, Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah, the Islamic Resistance Movement known by its portmanteau Hamas, became the governing body in Gaza. Hamas is a fanatical religious organization committed to reestablishing an Islamic caliphate and has genocidal designs towards Jews, which it makes explicit in its founding charter.

Since 2006, Hamas, aided by the governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar, has made its main purpose to wage war against Israel both ideologically and through relentless terrorism. Ideologically, it tunned its education system into a hate factory that teaches kids, from the time they learn to speak, that Jews are evil creatures who not only deserve to be killed, but the reward for murdering them is a paradise in the afterlife. The terrorism took the forms of launching indiscriminate missiles at Israeli civilian centers, savage raids into southern Israel, and attempts at hostage taking. Contrary to popular belief in the west, these raids were never halted for any length of time since 2006. They had lulls and when these lulls turned into onslaughts, Israel was forced to periodically retaliate in force as a deterrent.

The scale of the sadistic, depraved brutality of this last incursion by terrorists controlled by Hamas has completely changed the equation for Israel’s leadership. No country could accept hundreds of terrorists invading and raping, murdering, and torturing innocents as young as infants, and to abduct children and the elderly. America imposed regime change on Afghanistan for acts less savage and on Iraq, which never launched an attach on the US at all.

The only viable solution to Israel for the war declared by Hamas is the complete reoccupation of Gaza and installation of a new government. For it to work in the long term, there is only one approach, but one that has come to be disdained in western capitols. Nation Building.

There is a particular conceit in the west that everyone is basically the same and if given the opportunity, they will all welcome the peaceful lives we have in liberal democracies. This outlook does not take history of culture into account. It took western civilization over two thousand years to develop the democratic traditions we enjoy, and we still haven’t perfected them. To expect a place like Gaza, a theocratic dictatorship with no liberal democratic tradition, to become a functioning democracy in a matter of months or even a few years is completely unrealistic.

To democratize and essentially de-Hamasify Gaza, it will require something like a Marshall Plan for Palestine. Democratic political parties will need to be fostered with western assistance. A massive shift in culture and education will be required, and the Palestinians have demonstrated little will and no ability to do this on their own.

Other powers, some from western nations, others perhaps from more moderate nations like Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, will have to administer Gaza until the task is complete.  

There is another component which is absolutely necessary but intimidating. Any armed resistance or efforts by parties in Gaza to reestablish terrorist political movements have to be crushed as ruthlessly as chemotherapy attacks cancer cells.

Based on historical example of post World War 2 Europe and Japan, this effort will take at least twenty years, and possibly even a decade or more longer. It is an expensive, risky, and daunting prospect. But the alternative, as anyone who has witnessed what has occurred in the region should now realize, is a continuation of the endless, horrific cycle of violence and despair. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Some Toronto Imagery

50 years from now or so, people may find these photos of what Toronto looked like in 2019 interesting.

People waiting in line for ice cream at Knockout Ice Cream on Northumberland Street near Geary Ave. 

Construction at Bloor and Walmer looking southwest

Looking southeast from Bloor and Walmer during sewer replacement construction

Baldwin Street

South view on Robert Street, south of Bloor, from supermarket parking lot

Friday, May 24, 2019

The 5 Best Adaptations of Shakespeare on Film

There's a reason that William Shakespeare's plays have survived and remain relevant over four centuries since they were written. Politics and elements of social conventions get wrapped up in wild, often bizarre trends, but the human condition remains constant.

The motivations we have, and our emotions are burned into our biology, no matter how much social theorists would like otherwise. Love, jealousy, ambition, greed, hare, fear and courage are part of us all, and no dramatist has demonstrated so great an understanding of these basic elements of human psychology than Shakespeare. These aspects of us are universal, which is why Shakespeare has been successfully adapted to just about every culture on earth.

While there have been spectacularly wonderful adaptations of Shakespeare, notable among them are Akira Kurowsawa's Throne of Blood (Macbeth) and Ran (King Lear), and of course some have even morphed into musicals (West Side Story), the language of the original is poetry.

With that in mind, the following are, in my opinion and in no specific order, what I believe to be the five best examples of Shaespeare's work which have been made into motion pictures, and are faithful to the respective plays, some edits due to the length and the time limitations of feature film notwithstanding.

I won't go into much description of them, as there's plenty of information which can easily be found online about each of these movies.

Julius Caesar (1953)

Julius caesar.jpeg

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring James Mason, Marlon Brando, John Gielgud, Deborah Kerr, Edmond O'Brien, Greer Garson, and Louis Calhern.

This movie raised skeptical eyebrows with its casting of Brando as Marc Anthony. His, like the rest of the cast's performances, was outstanding.

Richard III (1995)

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By Source, Fair useLink

Directed by Richard Loncraine, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Benning, Robert Downey Jr., Jim Broadbent, Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Maggie Smith.

This version's visual presentation reimagines the play into a 1930's fascist England, but as the dialogue and plot are faithful to the play, it still qualifies for this list, and it's outstanding in its direction and acting.

The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael York, Cyril Cusak, Michael Hordern, Natasha Pyne, Alfie Lynch

This is, along with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the best screen pairing of Burton and Taylor. The rest of the cast is tremendous and Zeferrelli's direction is lush and lavish, far better than his other attempts at Shakespeare, including his popular version of Romeo and Juliet.


Macbeth (1971)

File:Original movie poster for the film Macbeth.jpg

Directed by Roman Polanski, starring Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw and Terence Bayler.

Whatever one may think of Roman Polanski, he knows how to direct movies and this was Polanski at the height of his talent. Great performances, beautifully filmed,  and faithfully transcribed from Shakespeare in a screenplay by Polanski and Kenneth Tynan.

Hamlet (1948) 


Directed by Lawrence Olivier, starring Lawrence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Basil Sydney, Eileen Herlie, Anthony Quayle, and Norman Wooland.

You didn't imagine there was going to be a 'best Shakespeare on film' list without at least one of Olivier's movies, did you? Lawrence Olivier is generally considered the best interpreter of Shakespeare in the 20th Century and Hamlet was his most famous role.

Directed by the star, this is the archetypical Shakespeare movie, with performances and direction that make it essential viewing.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Social media may be toxic and stupid, but that doesn't justify censoring it

There are ideas that are dangerous and which cause social unrest, therefore it is for the good of the people that they must be censored and those who would spread them in the public sphere must be punished.

Every dictator in history has made an argument to the basic effect of the above sentence. 

Writers and thinkers from Galileo and Thomas Paine, and great thinkers of the Enlightenment, all the way to D.H. Lawrence, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, J.D. Salinger and a list that could take up pages were all the targets of authorities seeking to consolidate power and authority by prohibiting the expression of ideas they though might undermine the status quo. Certainly there's a big difference between some idiot ranting about the alleged racial superiority of white people on Facebook and James Joyce's Ulysses, but the central issue remains - who gets to decide what ideas you're allowed to read and hear and which you aren't.

In the case of social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter, the matter is less clear cut. They're corporations which effectively operate as private media, and like any similar entity, they have the right to determine what content they wish to publish and which not. But the threat to basic freedoms comes in when governments and authorities tell them what they can and cannot allow on their platforms.

In the days of Voltaire, or Charles Dickens or H.L. Mencken, there were fewer people with the means and the will to have their ideas disseminated to the public. The history of print is not always a positive one. Just as there were Ben Franklins to advance public discourse, there were Father Coughlins to drag it into the gutter. That is the price of a free society.

That price may be getting higher now that every idiot with a smart phone and a data plan can now broadcast their deranged conspiracy theories or invective and on occasion lull other idiots into believing them. But the technologies that have emerged in the last two decades have also added great wealth in the marketplace of ideas. The ability of citizen journalists, alternative media, and regular people who have specialized knowledge means that some of the distortions disseminated by the establishment media can be seen for what it is. 

Yes, there is Fake News created by people trying to manipulate the public. But as we see frequently, much of that Fake News comes from established, legacy media which is often just as guilty of lying as a clickbait website based in some fat guy's garage. 

Check the veracity of a report by looking at lots of credible sources. Don't believe anything because just one person says it is so if you don't know that person to be an absolutely honest, credible source. And then, still verify if you can. If your emotionally fragile facebook friend puts up a post telling you about some new horror or danger, the odds are it's about as accurate as the reports of an invasion from Mars that people who tuned into the middle of Orson Welles' radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds though had beset them. 

Indeed there are some horrible, hateful, bigoted things being said online. There are also some truths being told and some important insights being shared. You're smart enough to be able to distinguish one from the other. And if you aren't, then neither is the government. Because the government doesn't manufacture some special breed of genius who can provide unassailable wisdom, it's made up of people just as stupid, and sometimes a lot stupider and often a lot more malevolent, than you or me. And those are not the people you want dictating your information flow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

An Unsafe Space - a controversial new play about Free Speech and Identity Politics to premiere in Toronto in January

The play I wrote, AN UNSAFE SPACE, now has a live website and tickets are available for purchase.
The cast is the most impressive you're ever likely to see in an independent Toronto theatre production.
It features nationally and internationally known stars Craig Lauzon, of CBC TV's flagship comedy series, Air Farce, Precious Chong, who is incredibly talented and comes from the amazing entertainment lineage of being Tommy Chong's (of Cheech and Chong) daughter, Canadian stage legends, John Jarvis, Jane Spidell, and Peter Millard, all of whom are considered among the best stage actors ever produced in this country, and two amazing young talents, Jenny Weisz, who was the lead in the Young People's Theatre Dora -nominated production of Annie, and the incredible, Stratford alumni actor Chanakya Mukherjee.
Who is so wise that you would be willing to entrust with the authority to make decisions of what you should and should not see? Should education and public discourse be controlled by a few people with one kind of perspective who suppress things with which they disagree or just don't like?

Anyone who is interested in these types of issues should definitely see An Unsafe Space, no matter which side of that argument they take. Because all sides will be given concepts to think about and discuss.
Free speech, censorship, and the ideologically-based suppression of ideas, as well as the stereotyping of people and their opinions based on their racial and ethnic identities, are among the hottest topics currently in the public sphere.
The comedic play AN UNSAFE SPACE, which will have its world premiere in Toronto on January 10, 2019, addresses these concepts in a biting, irreverent way that entertains while acting as a stimulus for people to think about and confront their preconceptions.
Inspired by an actual events at a major North American university, AN UNSAFE SPACE begins with a meeting of progressive academics who have gathered to find ways to foil a large donation to their department by a conservative benefactor.
The play takes place in the home of Joanna Whitney, a Political Science professor, and includes some of her colleagues, who also happen to be her friends. Joanna also had arranged to meet her new romantic interest, an aboriginal lawyer named Oliver Waterman, at the same time that the impromptu meeting is occurring. Rather than cancel her date with Oliver, curious to learn what his political stances are and how he interacts with her friends, Joanna experiments with letting her personal and professional relationships interact.
To the surprise and consternation of Joanna's colleagues, Oliver expresses strong opinions which contradict the expectations of what the academics believe a First Nations person would and should hold.
Romantic and professional rivalries and disputes, and the outrage that Oliver instigates at the meeting leads to clash after clash. The events leave the characters confronted with the unexpected necessity of having to examine their own outlooks and prejudices.
There is no other play that addresses the important issues discussed in AN UNSAFE SPACE in the same way.
At a reading of the play done at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, one of the participants described it as "a smart play written for smart people." Darrell Dennis, the renowned aboriginal actor and playwright, who participated in the reading, said, "Thank you for writing this so audiences can finally see a play with an aboriginal lead who isn't a victim."
Upon reading the play, the nationally-syndicated columnist and radio host Andrew Lawton said of AN UNSAFE SPACE, "It's hilarious and delightfully irreverent. AN UNSAFE SPACE slays every sacred cow, taking no prisoners in the process. The play offers a tragically funny look at how the perpetually offended interact behind closed doors. It certainly won’t be appropriate for any campus safe spaces, but will be a must-see wherever it’s allowed."