The writer’s so-called life

Every damn word of this is true. I have felt the sting of the betrayal, as the writer puts it, from both family and friends. You try and put it out of your mind, but you never really do.

However: that wonderful email from a stranger, that kind comment from someone you don’t know, out of the blue on social media? Those can you lift you up to the heavens.

You do it for love, not for money, I always say.

But not much love, either.


Column: heartless in Gaza

The email arrived at 6:03 a.m. It was accompanied with a little graphic of a flashing red siren, up near the top, presumably to signal its importance.

“Take action,” the email said.  “Tell the Canadian Government you’re disappointed.”

The email was authored by the “CEO” of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, in Ottawa.   “Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to acknowledge that it is Hamas – not Israel – that is responsible for the current violence on the Gaza-Israel border.  This is very disappointing – and we must let him know its unacceptable.”

If you clicked on that last part, it mines your data, and then it takes you to a three-paragraph letter to Trudeau.  If you click on some buttons, the paragraphs and the wording get changed around, so that the Prime Minister is under the false impression that the letter-writer authored it him or herself.

In the letter, the lobby group’s “CEO” makes no specific reference to the 104 Palestinians – among them 12 children, one an eight-month-old baby named Leila Anwar Ghandoor – who have been killed during the course of the demonstrations at the Gaza Strip. Nor did his letter mention the number of people who have been injured – more than 12,600.

Oh, and one (1) Israeli soldier has been injured.

(And, before either side bombards my inbox, please be advised that none of the above information comes from Israel or Hamas.  It comes from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who get called in where there’s complex emergencies and natural disasters. Canada helps fund it.)

Also not mentioned in the CIJA letter is the name of one of the wounded: Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency-room physician from London, Ont.  A sniper shot Dr. Loubani in the legs with high-velocity tactical rounds.  At the time, he was wearing one of those distinctive green surgeon’s outfits, and he was standing with several orange-vested paramedics.  He wasn’t near any of the protestors when he was hit.

Dr. Loubani, who has worked in several war zones as an emergency doctor, told theGlobe and Mail: “I am very seasoned about not being shot at. I know where to stand. I know where to be. I know how not to get shot. Snipers don’t reach me because of mistakes. I did everything right. We were all huddled. We were high visibility. It was quiet at the exact moment I got shot.”

In other words, this Canadian man was targeted by a sniper in the service of a foreign nation.  The sniper would have known he or she was aiming at a doctor.  Perhaps he or she had orders to do so.

One of the clearly-identified paramedics rushed to assist Dr. Loubani.  Later that same day, a sniper targeted him, too, and killed him.

As noted, the CIJA letter said nothing about the attempted murder of Dr. Loubani. The Israeli Embassy apparently didn’t say much about it, either, simply referring the matter to a “fact-finding team” with the Israeli Defence Forces – that is, the organization that attempted to kill the Canadian.  The IDF would investigate the IDF.

All this proved to be a bit too much for Canada’s Prime Minister, and rightly so.  The use of disproportionate force was “inexcusable,” Justin Trudeau said.

And: “We are appalled that Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded – along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children.”

At this juncture, some disclosure: I have been a member of the board of the former Canada-Israel Committee (CIC).  I have been a legal advisor to the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). I have worked for most of my adult life exposing and opposing anti-Semitism.  I love Israel and Israelis.  I am a Zionist.

I parted ways with Canada’s Jewish leadership about a decade ago, however, after a dispute with the aforementioned “CEO.” Someone in the Jewish leadership had decided to ferry two Muslim-hating white supremacists on a junket to Israel.  One of them, blogger Kathy Shaidle, has said this of Muslims:  “Your religion is fucking retarded…[you are] ungrateful belligerent foreign savages…most of them can’t even read…What we really need to do is stop immigration from Pakistan and other crazy Muslim countries filled with illiterate, violent tribal peasants…”  She has also called Muslim children “parasites.”


When I pointed out Shaidle’s statements to the “CEO,” and objected to her being feted in Israel, I was removed from the CIC and CJC.  I haven’t spoken to the “CEO” since.

In the interim, however, the exceedingly-well-paid “CEO” has overseen the elimination of the CIC and the historic CJC.  CIJA has also lurched to the Right, where it has become little more than a mouthpiece for the Likud Party. To many, in fact, CIJA has become a puny echo chamber for Donald Trump’s Islamophobic Middle Eastern policy.

I again looked at the email from the “CEO,” trying to detect a reference to the baby, Leila Anwar Ghandoor – or even for Dr. Loubani, a Canadian who was in Gaza to save lives.  There was no mention of either.

So I looked for the “unsubscribe” button, down at the bottom of his email, and I clicked it.

#ONPOLI this hand, that hand

Random thoughts on that startling Abacus poll this morning:

  • On the one hand, the Abacus survey doesn’t entirely take into account regional realities, seat distribution, and turnout – so Doug is still way ahead, as in the 2016 Electoral College in the US
  • On the other hand, the PC-407 mess – which, to be fair, predates Doug’s arrival as leader – isn’t really reflected in the period in which Abacus was polling
  • On The One Hand, um, again, regular readers know my long-held view that “scandal” stuff does not excite voters nearly as much as it does the media or politicos – mainly because normal people think those of us in politics/media are all crooks anyway
  • But back, er, to The Other Hand: the media are frustrated that Doug is winning without (in their view) working for it – so it’s in their interest to drive this 407 narrative to make it more of a race

Jordan Peterson says witches exist. And they live in swamps.

From the mouth of the latter-day Father Coughlin, in today’s New York Times.

Mr. Peterson illustrates his arguments with copious references to ancient myths — bringing up stories of witches, biblical allegories and ancient traditions. I ask why these old stories should guide us today.

“It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp. Yeah,” he says. “Why?”

It’s a hard one.

“Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level. Right. Yeah. And it makes sense that an old king lives in a desiccated tower.”

But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.

“Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”

Jordan isn’t alt-Right.

He’s just a nutbar with a thesaurus.

Operation Save the Furniture

My old friend David Akin got in touch with me about a study that Global News has put together. Akin and a team of researchers looked at where the three provincial party leaders have been since the election started – and it tells a very telling story.

What I’m hearing is that, presently, Wynne and her Wizard have one safe seat in Toronto, and a couple leaning their way.  That’s it.  Everything else is blue or orange.  So that suggests to me that Akin’s analysis is right.

Anyway: that debate is going to be pretty important, I’d say.  Comments are open.

A Global News analysis of the campaign itineraries of each leader adds some new data points to support what multiple polls have already shown. The NDP, in second place, have the wind at their backs. The front-running Progressive Conservatives are largely playing it safe. Meanwhile, the Liberal mission from day one appears to have been “Save the Furniture” by placing the leader in a series of ridings considered Liberal strongholds like Ottawa-Vanier, Mississauga-Malton, Guelph and London North Centre.

Struggling to avoid becoming the third party in Queen’s Park, Wynne has been campaigning in several ridings her party won by 20 points or more in 2014.

“The Ontario Liberal Party is calling its campaign ‘Care Over Cuts’ but it should be called ‘Save the Furniture’ [or]’Shore the Core’ because that’s what [Wynne’s] doing,” said Warren Kinsella, a Toronto-based lawyer and political consultant who played a key role in the election war rooms for winning Liberal campaigns for both Jean Chretien and Dalton McGuinty. “You can tell that by the ridings she’s visiting.”

Up to and including Friday’s published itineraries, Wynne has made or will make 28 campaign stops but just six, or 21 per cent, have been in ridings where one of her opponents is the incumbent.In fact, on Thursday night she visited for the first time a riding where the PCs are the incumbent, stopping in at a brewery and pub to meet with a handful of supporters in the GTA riding of Whitby.

“Everything can change, but when you look at where she’s going and what’s doing, it’s not a growth strategy,” said Karl Belanger, a veteran of several federal NDP campaigns, including the “Orange Wave” of 2011 that vaulted Jack Layton into the opposition leader’s office in Ottawa.

Publishers Weekly: Recipe for Hate “riveting…an unflinching page-turner”!

Publisher’s Weekly is the book trade publication in the United States.  As Wikipedia notes, it is the “American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents. Published continuously since 1872, it has carried the tagline, “The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling”.

And I have never had one of my books mentioned in it.  Like, ever.

But here’s what they have said about my new one, Recipe for Hate:

“Riveting…Tension starts high and stays there in this unflinching page-turner, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the early punk scene and a moving testament to the power of friendship.”

Link is here.

Quill and Quire, now Publisher’s Weekly.  If you are so inclined, feel free to order your copy (or copies!) here and here!