While the neocons in the Harper government continue to embarrass us and the blind men in the US, both Republican and Democrat alike continue to shield israel from justified international condemnation, the modern prophets, writers and poets, continue to speak out. The list of Canadians of conscience supporting the giants of Israeli literature keeps growing.
Margaret Atwood and John Ralston Saul have added their names to a list of 91 writers who have signed an open letter to Israeli and Canadian leaders. The letter asks Israeli leaders to halt the imminent “firing zone” evictions of 1000 Palestinians from the Southern Hebron Hills, and the Prawer Plan for the forced displacement of 20,000 to 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from the Negev.
The latest signatories to join Atwood and Saul are Yann Martel (Life of Pi), Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes), Guy Vanderhaeghe (The Englishman’s Boy), Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry and Jane Urquhart.
Earlier voices inclded Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Vincent Lam, Lisa Moore, Lorna Crozier, Alberto Manguel, George Bowering, Edeet Ravel, Patrick Lane, Sheila Heti, Kyo Maclear, Dr. Gabor Maté, Michel Tremblay and Canada’s current Parliamentary Poet Laureate Fred Wah.. Dozens of nominees or winners of the Governor General’s literary awards, the Giller Prize, the Impac Dublin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Man Booker Prize, and other honours, including the Order of Canada, figure in the list.
“It’s nothing but ethnic cleansing,” said one of the signatories, Gabor Mate, in an interview with Postmedia News last week. Mate is a Jewish Canadian and Holocaust survivor, and said that personal conviction compelled him to co-sign the letter. “One thing I’ve learned is you don’t be quiet when things happen that shouldn’t happen,”
“These writers’ compassion and clear-mindedness are refreshing at a time in which Canadian politicians seem to have abandoned all principles, especially when determining Middle East policy,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley. CJPME points out that Canadian politicians are almost always silent when Israel violates international law by confiscating Palestinians’ land and establishing Israeli-only “settlements” in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPT).
CJPME is appalled that a spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird last week dismissed the Prawer Plan as an “internal” Israeli matter. “Given the sheer numbers of people slated for forced displacement – 20,000 to 70,000 – it’s tragic that Canadian leaders are acquiescing to such cruelty,” adds Woodley. The Israeli arguments that they are dislocating the Bedouin “for their own good” are reminiscent of arguments once made for placing Canadian aboriginal children in residential schools.