A firestorm is erupting in Canadian politics, a potentially ugly destabilizing one which owes much to the dirty wedge politics of the American Republican party and the paralyzing power of the pro Israeli lobby in Canada.
Recently Liberal leadership front runner Michael Ignatieff stated on Quebec television what would be obvious to most Canadians.Israel committed a war crime in the recent overkill in Lebanon which resulted in over 1,200 deaths of Lebanese noncombatants.In a huff,Thornhill MP Susan Kadis who is Jewish and a strong Iggy supporter resigned as his co-chair. This was followed by Montreal Jewish community leader Ariela Cotler’s tearing up of her Liberal card.The latter is the wife of former Paul Martin cabinet minister,Irwin Cotler. Add to the disgruntled Israel true believers, Heather Reisman who along with hubby Gerry Schwartz owns Chapters.She too has left the Liberals over Israel though it was hubby Schwartz’s friendship with Paul Martin which moved our famously pragmatic governing party away from their traditional even handed approach to the Middle East.This barely publicized subtle shift worried several Canadian diplomats who warned Martin he was playing with fire and risking Canada’s reputation as an honest broker in Israel/Palestine. Canada has never recognized the Occupied Territories as part of Israel but as land of confiscated in the 1967 Six Day War.
This new found tilt toward Israel apparently is red meat for PM “Steve” Harper who accused Liberal leadership hopefuls of being anti-israel, prompting apoplectic responses from the leading candidates. Harper now is scheduled to receive Israeli lobby group B’nai Brith’s Award of Merit next week.Maybe Rex Murphy,Robert Fulford,Rosie Dimanno and Margaret Wente will be there to cheer Steve on.
As is often the case Letters to the Globe offer much more wisdom on the issue than the right wing Globe editorialists or the hopelessly pro-Israel National Post.
Responding to MP Kadis’s hissy fit,Globe reader Shaun Narine of Fredericton wrote on October 13:
Susan Kadis says that she would have thought Michael Ignatieff would “have a better handle on the Middle East given his years of experience.” Actually the fact that Mr. Ignatieff is willing to state something so as the fact that Israel committed war crimes in its recent attack on Lebanon is a testament to his knowledge of both the Middle East and international law-even as Ms. Kadis’s statements are testaments of her ignorance of both. One can certainly criticize Israeli actions out of a sense of friendship.God knows,israel needs more friends who are willing gto tell it the sad truth about its actions and policies.
In a same day webpost Jim Saxon from Toronto, Canada wrote:
Why are we so afraid of criticizing Israel? Or for any other country for that matter? Even Israelis themselves are probably harsher on their own government than us. Geez…..we go out of our way to pull down US – our most important ally and partner. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is that pro-Israeli lobby has very deep coffers and all political parties hope for big hand-outs. Any criticism of Israel is labelled as anti-semitism – a new form of McCarthyism. I, as a citizen of Canada, reserve the right to criticize God if I want to. Stop fuming and go and take a bath if you disagree.
Perhaps the sanest comment came from Canuck from Toronto:
This is a dangerous trend. Allegiance of a citizen should and must be first and foremost for Canada, not for Israel or any other Country (Muslim countries).
One would think the first duty of an MP would be to be radically concerned about the welfare and common good of Canada not of protecting the reputation of any foreign country.Harper is playing reckless with Canada’s reputation as a civilized, tolerant nation which refuses to pit religious and ethnic groups against each other.