Monday, March 01, 2010

The Cons - All Israel all the time

Two days ago Jason Kenney's communications director Alykhan Velshi tweeted that Con MP Tim Uppal from the inquiry panel at the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism will be looking for unanimous all-party approval when he introduces a motion to condemn the use of the word 'apartheid' as applied to Israel in the House of Commons this week :

"That this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of "Israeli Apartheid Week"; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid."
Apartheid Week.
While I suspect that Uppal and friends would still condemn the protest even if the name was changed to Israel Not Very Nice This Week, Antonia Zerbisias at The Star pointed out :

"The moment that Israel is generally recognized as an apartheid state is the moment when the boycotts and divestments begin in earnest. Which is why Israel must fight to keep the label out of the language surrounding the Jewish state."

Here's the UN's definition of apartheid. You can make up your own mind whether it fits :

United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid,Article II[1] :

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term 'the crime of apartheid' shall apply to the following inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

a. Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person
i. By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
ii. By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

b. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

c. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

d. Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

e. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

f. Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

Last Thursday MMP Peter Shurman put forward a similar motion condemning Israeli Apartheid Week to the Ontario legislature, where it purportedly received support from all parties, including Cheri DiNovo of the NDP.
Shurman :

"I move that in the opinion of this House, the term "Israeli Apartheid Week" is condemned as it serves to incite hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and the use of the word "apartheid" in this context diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa."
This would work better for Shurman had many Israelis and South African leaders who once lived under apartheid in South Africa not already offered their opinion that Israel does practice apartheid.
Back to Shurman :

"In fact, the values of Judaism and of Israel were bedrock values for the foundation of Canada, and those values from Judaism and from Israel date back over 3,000 years - all to say that if you're going to label Israel as apartheid, then you are also calling Canada apartheid and you are attacking Canadian values."

Canada does indeed have its own apartheid problems which is why we have not signed on to the above UN Convention on Apartheid nor the UN Declaration on Aboriginal Rights.

But Shurman's Canada = Israel equation just echoes last week's "An attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada" from Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Kent, and this government's determination to defund and muzzle any Canadian NGOs which have had the temerity to suggest that the slaughter and oppression of Palestinians should not go unremarked upon in Canada.

Very good discussion as to the fairness and efficacy of using the word apartheid in comments over at Pogge's.

But why are the Cons pushing so hard on this?
Because it's a perfect issue with which to divide the opposition. The Con base will just agree to the McCarthyite motions en masse; some Libs and more particularly the NDP will tear each other apart over it while risking being smeared as anti-Semitic to their ridings by the Cons if they refuse to give preference to Israel over the rights of Canadian citizens.

Stinks, doesn't it?
(Edited for spelling and clarity)
Update, 1pm : Well, that was quick. Iggy goes the HarperCons one better via

Skdadl : Ignatieff condemns fellow citizens, defends foreign government


Anonymous said...

It really does stink but nothing stinks as much as Iggy today - condemning IAW and rolling over on the Afghan detainee documents all on his first day back.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this proposal is why single out Israel. The situation is worse in Hamas controlled Gaza and a bit better in the West Bank. There is a lot of prejudice, racism, laws and actions that meet the criteria for apthartheid. If you are not a Muslim and a Palestinian, but say an Israeli Arab Christian, then you suffer a lot. I shold know I use to live there and left because of it. The situation is not much better in other Arab countries such as Syria and Saudi Arabia, or in Iran. Tolerance and understanding isn't part of the mind-set in the Middle East. I think you need to stand back and see the bigger picture and not just limit it to Canadian politics. Canada is a great country and the fact that you can even have this kind of discussion is an example of what it makes it great. Other then in Israel, I don't think the so-called politicians in Gaza and the West Bank could even have this kind of discussion. It is a tribal and feudal society, a fact that is often ignored in north America. At least here there is an open choice which is one of the great things about living in a democracy.

Marky Mark said...

I like how you set everything out including the question of our own Canadian issues and also how this is being used as a political wedge issue. IMHO those on the Left who are committed to "solidarity" with the Palestinians might show a little less contempt and hostility for others that are part of the broad coalition that forms the Left who think the existence of Israel was and remains justifiable and based in social justice.

Lindsay Stewart said...

anon there's no question that there are ugly regimes throughout the region. the choice to protest israeli policies is in no way stating otherwise. one reason that israel gets singled out for this criticism is that we are so close to the nation politically, economically and by unwritten treaty militarily. our business and corporate sector is heavily invested with israel and we do an enormous amount of military provisioning. the military economic numbers are left out of the total trade figures between the nations, a tidbit i found interesting.

politically we have all levels of canadian government and all parties it seems, tripping over each other to swear loyalty, friendship and mutuality. we even have an un-negotiated and unwritten treaty declared by our wingnutty politicians declaring an attack against israel an attack against canada.

if we are all that married up, then it is not only our right but our duty to criticize crimes against humanity carried out by the israeli government because to do otherwise makes us complicit. for the very same reason that we criticize american excesses, for the very same reason that we demand accountability from our own government for canada's actions in afghanistan. and for the same reasons we condemn atrocities committed by any people or nation against another.

criticizing israel is not the same as approving of the situation in darfur or iran or syria or where ever else you'd care to point. there's no shortage of ugliness to this world but israel is supposed to be the regional example, the true democracy our best friend and ally. and it is not acceptable to witness the ongoing crimes against their neighbours. and neither is it acceptable for those neighbours to pop rockets into israeli territory. two wrongs and like that.

croghan27 said...

Lindsay - Lindsay - Lindsay .... as Reagan said to J. Carter ... "there ya go again..' speaking sense, logic and consistency of position in a situation that is far beyond that.

Certainly what you say is the reasonable way to see the situation - but 'wedge issues' and not concerned with reason and thought - but with emotion, fear and reaction ...

Not Sara Palin, John Baird nor J Kenny can be countered by dry thought - they have gone beyond it into the realm of gut reactions.

My gut reactor to them is to pray that Canadians will not be sucked in by their anti-intellectual (maybe not anti-intellectual - it is beyond intellectual) foolishness.

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