No 1644 Posted by fw, April 19, 2016
Yesterday I sent the following email letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The content derives, in large part, from my post of Thursday, April 14. I decided that Ms. Wynne was more likely to at least learn about, if not actually read my personal letter than she was to discover my blog post.
Here’s my letter.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Dear Premier Wynne,
As a responsibly informed citizen of the long and tragic history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, I find your decision to lead a trade delegation to Israel reprehensible, for it legitimizes, rather than challenges, seven decades of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
In the words of Herbert Thelen (1913-2008), the revered American scholar, and my mentor: “To act ignorantly when knowledge is available, to deny realities that patently exist and make a genuine difference, is the worst crime of civilized man.”
In the context of Thelen’s words, I can only surmise that you are largely ignorant of this history. As a result, Israelis will no doubt feast on the impunity that will travel with you to Israel.
Renowned author and journalist, Dr. Ramzy Baroud, recently wrote: “The danger of impunity is not merely the lack of legal accountability, but the fact that it is the very foundation of most violent crimes against humanity, including genocide…. This impunity began seven decades ago and it will not end without international intervention, with concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable in order to bring the agony of Palestinians to a halt.”
Let me fill in some possible gaps in your knowledge base with just a few empirically verifiable realities of the life-threatening risks to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza: realities, that in Thelen’s estimation, would make you an accomplice in one of the worst long-standing crimes of civilized man.
I will phrase these realities as questions, to which I invite your answers. (The “Read more” links associated with the questions provide access to related information).
1/ A recent article by Ottawa blogger, Peter Larsen, implies that you are unaware of the “deeper” history of the region, given the pro-Israeli coverage of our mainstream news media. Had you a deeper grasp of Israeli barbarity, one would like to believe that you would not be making this trip. For example, you would surely be aware that Israel is now jailer to a third generation of Palestinian children. (Read more and scroll down to the B’Tselem video). Is it correct, therefore, to presume you were unaware of this fact?
2/ A shocking story that received global coverage concerned the recent assassination of a Palestinian youth, Abdel Fatah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, executed by an IDF soldier. Before firing the lethal round at the wounded Palestinian, the murderer reportedly announced that the ‘terrorist had to die.’ But are you also aware, Premier, that the vast majority of Israelis, 68%, condone this execution? (Read more)
3/ The assassination of al-Sharif is not an isolated incident. Did you know, Premier, that the state of Israel has slaughtered more than 5,500 Palestinians in the last 15 years, and not one soldier has been prosecuted for murder? (Read more).
More to the point, why are you asking Ontarians to be indirectly complicit in this morally repugnant trade exercise through their taxpayer funding of a mission to a state at pains to disguise from the world its grisly record of death, torture, imprisonment, and destruction?
4/ Please explain to me, Premier, why you want to promote “political, economic and cultural ties” with a state that, in 2015, arrested 860 children in East Jerusalem alone, of which 105 were under 12? (Source: watch 5-min video).
5/ Please explain to me, Premier, why you are using my taxpayer dollars to encourage increased trade with a rogue state that in a single day made 124 Palestinians homeless by multiple demolitions? According to UN figures, Israeli authorities have demolished 539 structures in the occupied Palestinian territory’s Area C since the beginning of 2016. (Read more)
6/ Premier, please reassure me that I am wrong in presuming that you have consciously chosen to remain conveniently and willfully ignorant of the fact that some 75,000 Palestinians in Gaza, half of them children, remain displaced after their homes were destroyed during Israel’s assault in July and August 2014, this according to a new United Nations study? (Read more ) Otherwise, how could you morally and ethically defend this trade mission? Or are morals and ethics not part of your political decision-making calculus?
7/ Your press release promoting this trip notes: “Over 60 per cent of Canada’s Israel-born immigrants live in Ontario. The province is also home to about 200,000 people of Jewish faith.” I infer that by showing strong support for increased ties with Israel, you expect to secure the vote and financial support of pro-Israeli Jewish Canadians. Which prompts me to ask, was it the prospect of political and economic gains that trumped any moral and ethical considerations in your decision to make the trip?
And in announcing this trip, did you give any thought to the estimated 31,245 Palestinians in Canada, and the 151,645 Arab-Canadians residing in Ontario? What will they think of your Israel trade mission? Will you be planning any trips in the near future to promote trade in the Israel-occupied West Bank and Gaza? Of course not. Because according to a UN study, under Israel’s occupation “the occupied Palestinian territory was cut off from previous trade relationships and forced into asymmetrical economic ties with Israel” (Read more)
8/ Returning to Peter Larsen’s article cited above in item 1, he mentions your planned visit to the Israeli Holocaust Museum. Before your departure, may I recommend a visit to my blog, Citizen Action Monitor, where you will find a side-by-side photo essay of comparative Holocausts, assembled by the head of the Norwegian Embassy in Saudi Arabia — disturbing photos of Jews in Europe, and equally disturbing photos of Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank. (Read more)
9/ In the concluding paragraph of his post, Peter Larsen gives you the benefit of the doubt, Premier. He writes: “Ms. Wynne is an experienced and thoughtful politician. There is every reason to believe that she has a genuine concern for human rights and social justice.” On what basis, one wonders, does Mr. Larsen surmise this? Certainly not on the basis of any evidence of which I’m aware of your expressed concern for the human rights and social justice of Palestinians. Can you, Premier Wynne, put to rest any doubts Ontarians might have about your concern for the human rights and social justice of innocent Palestinians trapped in their West Bank and Gaza prisons?
Coming full circle, I conclude this letter with a reminder of the words of Herbert Thelen: “To act ignorantly when knowledge is available, to deny realities that patently exist and make a genuine difference, is the worst crime of civilized man.”
The knowledge is available, Ms. Wynne: this letter barely scratches the surface of the history of the conflict. As Premier, there is no legitimate reason or excuse for your ignorance of seven decades of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.
Although it may be too much to ask, my passion for justice and peace for Palestinians cannot be denied – “Let right be done, Premier.” Which brings me to my 10th and final question — Will you cancel your trip to Israel?
I look forward to timely answers to my questions.
Publisher and editor of Citizen Action Monitor