Dear Prime Minister Harper and Federal Legislators:
Prime Minister Harper recently led a junket to Israel that included more than 200 of political cronies, including a member of a Jewish terrorist organization, religious leaders who support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and homophobes. Many of the 200+ travelled for free on the taxpayers’ tab. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Harper gave unqualified support for Israel, refusing to offer any criticism. Mr. Harper’s extreme favouritism towards Israel even raised questions among the mainstream media.
Mr. Harper’s message to the Knesset in his speech was that Canadian support for Israel is unwavering (actually meaning that his support of Mr. Netanyahu’s Likkud party is unwavering). In no way did he convey that Canada’s official policy, in accordance with international law, opposes Jewish settlements in the West Bank, nor did he criticize the expansion of settlements even as the U.S. is attempting to broker a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Harper even jumped on the right-wing bandwagon of referring to non-violent strategies such as boycotts aimed at ending Israel’s political and military domination of the Palestinians as the ‘new anti-Semitism’ – a charge that serves to endanger free speech.
Mr. Harper said that using the term ‘apartheid’ to describe the brutal military occupation and building of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands was odious. In fact many prominent Israeli leaders have used the same term to describe Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. Here is a quote by Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s attorney general from 1993 to 1996, who described Israel’s approach to the Palestinian territories captured in 1967 thusly: “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities… We developed two judicial systems: one — progressive, liberal in Israel. The other — cruel, injurious in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.”
The list of senior Israeli officials describing their approach as apartheid includes Shulamit Aloni, who once served as Minister of Education under Yitzhak Rabin, and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Another former prime minister, Ehud Olmert said: “If the day comes when the two state solution collapses, and we face a South African style struggle for equal voting rights, then as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
I want my government to respect Canada’s stated policy to stop the illegal settlements in the West Bank, and to agree that criticism of the actions of the State of Israel is not anti-Semitism. I wish for a more balanced approach by my government to the long standing Palestine-Israel crisis and the suffering of generations of Palestinian people.