No 622 Posted by fw, November 26, 2012
“Conservatives tacitly egged Israel on in its disproportionate violence, and the NDP and the Green Party limited themselves to handwringing over the dangers of an escalation in the conflict. CJPME observes that none of the federal parties has mentioned that Israel violated the ceasefire brokered by Egypt last Tuesday. Nor did any of them acknowledge that Gaza’s Palestinians have endured five years of an extremely harsh Israeli-imposed blockade which has impoverished and embittered Gaza’s civilians.” —Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), press release, November 19, 2012
It is clear where the Conservatives stand on the latest Israeli-Gaza conflict – firmly on the wrong side of documented evidence about Israeli culpability. According to foreign affairs minister, John Baird, the Gaza conflict is not complicated: “You have a terrorist group launching rockets against Israel and it’s not — it doesn’t take much — you know, it’s not a complicated issue…”
On the other hand, NDP (New Democratic Party) critic, Paul Dewar, chided Baird for his “non-constructive” comments about blame. “What Canadians want to see,” said Dewar, “is how is Canada going to help build the bridge to solve the problem and have a lasting peace for the security of those who live in Israel and the peace and security of those who live in Palestine.” Paul Dewar wants a durable peace, Straight Goods News video interview, November 21, 2012.
If this latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza is not the time for Mr Dewar, or any Canadian MP for that matter, to at least acknowledge, in CJPME’s words above – “that Israel violated the ceasefire brokered by Egypt last Tuesday…. That Gaza’s Palestinians have endured five years of an extremely harsh Israeli-imposed blockade which has impoverished and embittered Gaza’s civilians” — if not now, will there ever come a time when Canadian MPs will not be afraid to speak factually about Israel’s culpability in the Gaza conflict?
Returning to Paul Dewar’s recorded video interview —
First, playing it safe in a short interview, Dewar resorts to repeating himself, calling six times for a “durable peace”, once for a “lasting peace” –
Second, Mr Dewar appears to be linking the NDP’s “next steps” to those of the UK and US when he says: “I’ve noted that Mr Hague in the UK, I’ve noted that Ms Clinton in the US has talked about the next steps. And that is to have a lasting ceasefire and to look for a durable peace.”
Are these the two role models the NDP will follow in plotting their next steps?
Third, when finally pressed by an interviewer to be more explicit about what sort of action is required to solve “the problem”, Paul Dewar gives Canadians the benefit of his best advice –
For Mr. Dewar, “the road to a durable peace” seemingly starts with letting Palestinian representatives into our country and ensuring aid can get to Gaza and the West Bank. He’s non-committal about what “the hard work of diplomacy” will involve or what it will achieve. Without offering specifics, he says Canada has to decide “what role it’s going to play.” Then, almost as an afterthought, he suggests that rather than deciding what our role will be, perhaps we can just “…[offer] ourselves up in any way that partners see fit.”
Is this the intellectual effort that is supposed to win the confidence of Palestinians abroad (or pro-Palestinians at home) in the NDP as a prospective player in the peace negotiations?
How did MPs get to this sorry stage in the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Perhaps Paul Dewar’s timid comments are perfectly understandable given what happened to fellow NDP MP Libby Davies for her candid remarks in a June 5, 2010 video-recorded street interview — Stephen Harper called for her resignation and current NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said her comments were “grossly unacceptable.”
Recapping the interview — When pressured by blogger, David Katz, who seemed to be keen to put words in her mouth, Ms Davies, speaking from the heart and not the head, candidly and innocently enough offered some solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: first, drop the siege of Gaza; remove illegal settlements; dismantle the Wall; and return land to the Palestinians through a “negotiated or imposed settlement.” Ms Davies acknowledged that she is not an expert on the Middle East.
Asked if she supported the BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaign, MP Davies initially said she does not. But her subsequent off the cuff remarks were probably what got her into hot water –
There is virtually no information in the political arena or understanding about the BDS movement. People are actually afraid to speak out on this issue. The political reality in Canada is, I think, worse than any other country. Elected people who are sympathetic actually are afraid to speak out and so the whole notion of a BDS…I’m very excited that it’s grown in a civil society, but in terms of the political arena it’s not even being debated. Personally I support BDS but it’s not in the political arena. Somehow we have to make this issue something that can be properly debated in the political arena because it’s not. The fear, the censorship. I’m trying to open up that debate in the community and the political arena. People are worried about being criticized because if you’re perceived to be anti-Israeli occupation then somehow you’re also branded as being anti-Semitic. To me it’s sort of akin to being a new McCarthyism that’s taking place.
In his follow-up blog post, interviewer David Katz wrote this about Libby Davies:
She had no clue what she was talking about other than parroting a few lines at me getting flustered when I tried to push beyond them. This is of a particular concern, because as the second highest ranking member of the NDP, she will most likely receive a cabinet post if the NDP/Liberal merger goes ahead, and if she is ignorant in a cause she has been championing would it really be a smart idea to give her a ministry?
I beg to differ. With the exception of her error on the date the Israeli occupation started, I found Ms Davies’ candid heart-speak about “fear and censorship” in the political arena to be honest, refreshing and revealing. Too bad there aren’t more MPs just like her. Sadly, they appear to have been bullied into silence.