Tar Sands for the week (January 21, 2014).

So I put together a little sheet on Canada-Israel extreme extraction links below. Why did I do that? Well, it’s been a strange week for tar sands developments, if you’ll pardon that pun. Almost a week ago, and during his Honor the Treaties tour, Neil Young was revealed to currently have booked an upcoming trip that will include playing before an apartheid audience in Tel Aviv. Young’s incredibly successful, powerful concerts and fund raising endeavor on behalf of legal defense for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation concluded on Sunday, which not at all coincidentally now kicks off the second Neil Young, solidarity with indigenous resistance campaign– this time, without him.

The possible damage to the struggle in Palestine is already being celebrated by various advocates for Israeli colonialism. Titles such as “Neil Young Proves the Failure of BDS’s “Cultural Boycott” with screeds denouncing people such as Roger Waters or Alice Walker (who wrote an excellent appeal to Alicia Keys, who played Israel last year in defiance of the boycott) have flooded out already. In one of the initial reports, in fact, Israeli apartheid apologists couldn’t conceal their glee in what was supposedly a simple news story at the Jerusalem Post: “With reports of shows by The Rolling Stones, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga still in circulation, 2014 is shaping up to be one of Israel’s most active for musical imports. Did someone mention boycott?”

Ironically, it is our job to now prove Stephen Harper right. He spent a lot of his time and energy, while saddling Canada as the single closest ally of Israel in the world during his speech to the Knesset (and getting shouted down by people suffering under apartheid when he declared there was no such thing as Israeli apartheid). His speech focused, often, on the close history and even trade relations between two countries born of colonialism, forced relocation, land theft and more. Young has learned enough about Canadian colonialism to take a clear and amazing stand against it; we need to hope the same can become obvious to Young regarding Palestine in the time before he plays to Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, here is a sortof cheat sheet for possible discussions around the similarities that go beyond the surface.

Canada and Israeli free trade deals may make Canadian assistance, on the model of the tar sands, with Israeli oil shale developments far easier. In fact, this is already part of the plan publicly. Israel, too, has “helped” inside Alberta.


Canada-Israel extreme energy collaboration and trade deals.

What the extreme extraction plans are inside Israel

  • Energy wise, the not-commercially-tested plans of the Israel Energy Initiatives operation would involve massive power inputs, likely from the offshore fracked gas known as the Leviathan Field near the maritime boundary with Lebanon. Lebanon has taken Israel to the UN with allegations of slant drilling.
  • This power for oil shale extraction would be used to heat giant coils inside the earth for over a year (!), before kerogen (which is much further from conventional crude than bitumen is) ultimately ‘bleeds’ out of the rock.
  • Only after this earth-cooking can the kerogen be transferred to a special upgrader and refinery to be made into fake or synthetic oil.
  • The plan is openly to enable Israel to withstand international pressures brought about in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The public CEO is a man named Israel “Relik” Shafir, a former pilot for the Israeli Air Forces who flew the illegal night time assault on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. He has stated “As a person who used up a lot of fuel during his military career, I am very sensitive to the threat of embargoes.
  • Zionism and the military are core values of the IEI project. This is stated right off the front pages of their own site.
  • The larger corporation that heads the IEI plan inside Israel is American company Genie Energy.
  • Genie Energy has an advisory board that includes Rupert Murdoch, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Michael Steinhardt, Howard Jonas and the mentioned Relik Shafir is CEO. Dick Cheney has removed himself in just the last few months.
  • Members of the board openly state political, geopolitical and/or religious reasons for what they are doing. The need is to “free the world of Arab oil.”
  • The same company, Genie, that heads the mission to open up the “final frontier” of development inside Israel also wants to do so in three other places. One is the United States, where the largest potential oil field in the world (more than half of all potential oil on the planet). Another is Mongolia, already deluged with mining projects from Canada, China and Australia.


Fracking illegally occupied Golan Heights


  • The final place that Genie wants to operate is the Golan Heights from Syria. Illegally Occupied in the 1967 war, the Golan Heights is supposed to contain large amounts of conventional crude oil that can only be released through fracking– despite the weak and dry nature of the aquifers in the region.
  • Further to the usual goal of creating “facts on the ground,” this could be one of the more perverse moves of the Israeli state yet: Use fracking to decimate a land in order to permanently affix it illegally to a settler state.


In Canada

  • Canada’s tar sands have been developed by Israeli technology before. In fact, before China bought both halves of the partnership in Long Lake (near Anzac, south of Fort McMurray), the company Opti was a Canadian-based Israeli corporation, parented by Ormat technologies of Israel.
  • Canada’s Long Lake project, near Anzac, is potentially the dirtiest ever tar sands project by carbon intensity. The technology in Israel was patented as “OrCrude”– now rebranded “cogeneration” in Canada– but essentially it means burning the waste gunk from extraction, and use it for energy to reduce financial costs. This gunk burns and spews carbon in a similar manner to a coal plant.
  • The technology for Long Lake was developed in Israel’s Niqab/Negev desert. Oil shale into oil projects using this particular technology were not constructed for wide use in Israel, as the Ariel Sharon government of the time refused to subsidize the commercial application of the project.
  • Canada subsidizes all tar sands development and Opti was born, partnered with Nexen, and has since built a massive in-situ operation rivaling the giant mines.
  • The Long Lake project has taken criticism from Fort McMurray’s regional government for failing to accurately predict water intake needs. Long Lake threatens the Clearwater River and not only the Athabasca.

Previous developments inside the Niqab/Negev

  • Mining has been carried out for energy projects, burning shale on a mass scale in a similar fashion to Estonia, Brazil or China.
  • Alongside multiple other industrial developments, shale mining has been implicated in abnormally high levels of cancers and other diseases in Bedouin populations living near such developments.
  • The Mishor Rotem electricity plant, burning oil shale every day, continues operations until 2015– despite the major fires that caused the temporary announcement of closure.
  • Developments in the desert led to the Long Lake Project in Canada, and the escalation of carbon emissions that resulted and continue to expand.


So, yeah. That’s just a few overview points. The issue certainly is that Neil Young going to Israel would undermine the struggle not only of Palestinians, but of his own credibility as one who stands against oppression everywhere. In short, it would undermine the great work he has done with the people of the ACFN and against the worst ravages of tar sands expansion. But “the tour and the damage done” has not happened yet.

The case of Palestine and Israel is more than similar because of European Settler history. The relationship threatens to expand ever farther beyond that, as Harper, Oliver and others want to help Israel help them fire up every last drop of every possible synthetic form of oil on the planet. And the Harper Government has made quite clear the contempt with which it holds Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general. It is a match made in reactionary heaven.

Meanwhile, this is not really getting into the whole areas of, for example, the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range and Israeli-Canadian air force collaboration on Cree and Dene territory. Nor the so-called “Canada Park” debacle outside of Jerusalem, or the traditions of the reserve systems seemingly imported from Duncan Campbell Scott to Avigdor Lieberman for use in the West Bank through the channeling of evil thoughts. Just a little on the extreme extraction, displacement and settler state hypocrisy.

But while we encourage Neil Young to get the similarity in oppression between indigenous nations colonized everywhere and to repeat a brave stance based on morality, let’s also further expand on the story already just told during his tour: The human and climate cost of extreme energy extraction– and what we can do to stop it.

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