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A Taboo Called Palestine: Selectivity in Supporting Revolutions

The world is smitten by the Arab Spring and despite inconsistencies in support, the general vibe is that everyone–including superpowers–considers Arab citizens brave in fighting for their basic rights of dignity and self determination, regarding it an unprecedented manifestation of courage against injustice.

It seems goldfish memory is more common than I thought.

Flashback to 1936: The Palestinian Revolution. Have you heard about it? Probably not, since Palestine was (and still is) being advertised as ‘A Land without a people for a people without a land’. Mainstream media convinced us that Palestine was a barren land with no one but nomads; something that official documentation denies with crystal clear evidence:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGBoGKPZlQE [/youtube]
In favour of creating a Zionist state—which started well before the holocaust for pure strategic reasons—the world decided to introduce waves of European Jewish settlers, increasing them massively after WWII: Basically stepping on the rights of Palestinians by making them pay for Nazi atrocities without the decency to ask for their permission. Most people fail to realize that before the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians began, they had decided to revolt. However, this was one revolution no so-called ‘democracy’ wanted to support. With the collaboration of conspiring Arab countries, the Palestinian revolution was crushed and the people silenced, eventually being expelled from their land with nothing–not even their dignity was spared.

The Palestinian strike of 1936 was one of the longest general strikes in labour history, but you most likely haven’t heard about it either. If anything, it is Zionists who introduced terrorism to the region by blowing up buses in Jerusalem in the 1930’s. It was also the Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who said:

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all services to rid the Galillee of its Arab Population.”-May 1948, to the General Staff.

“We will expel the Arabs and take their place. In each attack a decisive blow should be struck resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.”-Letters to his son, 1937.

Despite these facts, Canada—a proud defender of human rights everywhere– staunchly supports Israel, regardless of its violation of international law: An Apartheid Wall, attacking unarmed civilians, illegal occupation, and torturing Palestinian children, only to name a few. With absolutely no regard for the plight of Palestinians–officially the largest refugee population worldwide–Prime Minister Harper ‘Mazel Tov’s Israel on its 63rd Independence anniversary (independence from whom, no one knows). He further decides to reject a Palestinian state; a telling move reflecting how much he values human rights. Now that the ‘Only Democracy in the Middle East’ banned the BDS movement—a peaceful resistance effort gaining tremendous global support–Harper decides to censor freedom of speech in considering to criminalize criticism of Israel in Canada under the false guise of Anti-Semitism.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm7dMhE80dw[/youtube]Al Nakba: An eye-opening documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While superpowers debate which leader should be tried for war crimes next, Israel  continues to manipulate them with the dexterity of a professional puppeteer. I leave you with this quotable quote by Ariel Sharon, when asked what would become of the Palestinians:

“We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. Yes, we’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years’ time, neither the UN nor the US, nobody, will be able to tear it apart”.

Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space
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Economics and Women’s Unpaid Work

A few weeks ago, in India, the Supreme Court ruled that it was not just or fair for women,  who are “housewives’ (or their families),   to be compensated,  at a substantially lower rate than men and/or the “employed”, when they are in a motor vehicle accident.   But,  more surprisingly, the justices said,  that, seeing home-based work, as without economic value, was tantamount to gender bias and should not be tolerated.   According to an article in Tehelka, an Indian magazine :

Seeing women’s home-based work as without economic value, the judges said, was tantamount to gender bias, and they suggested that not only the particular law in question (the Motor Vehicles Act) but also others should be changed, and the question of the value of women’s work should be taken up by Parliament. In a further radical step, they cited a report by an NGO that values Indian women’s homebased work at $612.8 billion per year!

http://www.tehelka.com/channels/Op-ed/2010/Aug/07/images/img.jpg

It was back in 1988  that Marilyn Waring wrote a book (If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics) about how women’s work was unpaid and uncounted, in the gross domestic product,  of any country. You can see the original NFB video,  “Who’s Counting, Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics”,   from 1995,  at:  http://www.nfb.ca/film/whos_counting/ or here:

15 years on,  and her analysis is still true.   We could debate her conclusions and suggestions for remedy, but there has not been much improvement in the counting of women’s unpaid work in any country.  There is also a good overview of the issue of women’s unpaid work in Canada and around the world at: Women and the Economy.

At least the “amount” of unpaid (mostly women’s) work  is now being measured in the census of some countries – but that is about to change – perhaps for the better in India,  but for the worse in Canada.  It is a side note, but an interesting one,  that a Google News India search reveals only the Tehelka story and one in the Economic Times (Times of India), about this judgement, at all. [later:  found one more story, actually a “comment” written by an MP at – http://www.deccanchronicle.com/dc-comment/women-prejudice-823 – I wonder if there are more I missed?]

India is moving forward.  Clarity about the work done by women, and all unpaid labour, is increasing;  the analysis is increasing and, not surprisingly, action on the economic and ethical implications are increasing.  In Canada, the clarity is being removed, the data won’t be collected, the question won’t even be asked.

There has been a public controversy raging in the last few weeks, over changing the so-called “long form” census,  from a mandatory census form,  to a voluntary “national household survey” that is NOT mandatory (for which there has been universal condemnation, including the resignation of the chief statistician, and yet the government has not changed their minds, and do not seem likely to do so.)  But,  lost in THAT controversy is another.

The question on the, now voluntary, “household SURVEY”,  about unpaid work,  is being eliminated.   Antonia Zerbisias writes about the loss in the Toronto Star -  She says in part:

All but lost in the controversy over the Conservatives’ impending elimination of the mandatory long-form census is how, in the proposed $30 million dollar replacement — the voluntary National Household Survey — Question 33 from the long form has been cut.

Question 33 (let’s call it Q.33) is a three-part query that has been in place since Canada made commitments at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing. The question gathered data on how much time people spent on unpaid work: domestic chores, child care and attending to the needs of elderly relatives and friends. It helped make Canada a world leader in “time-use” data.

The results have also been showing how women are faring, socially and economically.

For example, the results indicate that despite a higher volume and percentage of women in the workforce over the past 20 years, changes between men and women in respective unpaid workloads have merely been “marginal.”

Based on information gathered in the 2006 census, StatsCan reports that, on average, “Women spend about an hour a day more on basic housework chores than their male counterparts. In 2005, women aged 25 to 54 averaged 2.4 hours daily cooking, cleaning and doing other basic unpaid household chores, compared with 1.4 hours per day for men in this age range.”

Two-thirds of Canada’s unpaid work is being performed by women. No matter how the value of that is evaluated —anywhere between 30 to 45 per cent of Canada’s $1.5 trillion GDP. That’s a heck of a lot of productivity that is being completely discounted.

Clearly women’s work contributes to productive work and “the economy”, everywhere, even if the numbers re participating in the formal economy are different.  For example: Only 18% of women in India work “outside the home”.    But it is 2010 and time to count women’s productivity, paid or unpaid,  around the world,  as part of what makes economies function smoothly. It is time that,  looking after people,  should be counted, around the world.

There are a lot of other things that should be counted as economically productive, and plenty that should not.  See for example, Raj Patel on the BP oil spill.  I will save those issues, however, for another blog.


Category : Economic Justice
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