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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 03, 2003

Straight from the horse’s mouth

On Monday, December 23, 2002, I posted an article concerning the Ahenakew affair on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks. I noted that Ahenakew’s anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli comments were met with a storm of denunciation and I specifically quoted the letter of protest sent to the Canadian PM by the president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), Basil Hargrove. Comments e-mailed to me subsequently asked whether I was implying that the Canadian left was less anti-Israel than the “standard” left, since I specifically selected Hargrove’s letter from among hundreds of similar protests.

This query gives me an opportunity to set the record straight. On the whole, the left in Canada is no better than the “standard” left, when it comes to voicing anti-Israel propaganda. As a former union member myself, I state this fact with pain, but it is a fact nonetheless. Take the simple example of the Hargrove letter which I quoted: it refers to Ahenakew’s anti-Semitic comments, but says not a word about Ahenakew’s attack on Israel. A much more explicit proof are Hargrove’s words at a CAW Convention, Toronto, May 7-10, 2002. The following is cited verbatim from the official CAW site, straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were:
Then there is the crisis in the Middle East that is in our lives almost daily. We have the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon invading cities in the West Bank and Gaza. This is the third most powerful military power in the world killing innocent men, women, and children. We have the Palestinian suicide bombers, some of whom have been women, killing innocent men, women, and children of the Jewish faith. Sharon claims that destroying the Palestinian infrastructure, including buildings that house the ministry of health and the ministry of education, is somehow the only way to stop Palestinian suicide bombers. The Israeli people are absolutely entitled to peace and security within their borders and to live free from the threat of suicide attackers from any of their Arab neighbours, including the Palestinians. Likewise, surely the Palestinian people are absolutely entitled to be free of the Israeli occupation of their land as defined by the United Nations resolutions. A withdrawal of the occupying forces from the West Bank and Gaza is an absolute must if a solution is to be negotiated. An immediate halt to the expansion of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is an absolute must, as is the eventual withdrawal of the Israeli settlers to the pre-1967 borders. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and all other Arab states must recognize the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders. Equally, the Israeli government must recognize the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own. One that is not occupied by Israeli military forces.

Military in the occupied lands, the killing of Palestinians, and the destruction of property will not bring peace and security to the people of Israel. Suicide bombings of innocent Israelis will not win the Palestinians their right to a state of their own. In my humble opinion, both will only intensify the hatred. The rights and desires of the majority of Israelis and Palestinians can only happen through respect for the rights of others, through negotiation and through compromise. My statement today is not about being pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli: it is a statement for justice, freedom, respect, and for a peaceful resolve to the problems of the Middle East. We all have an obligation to do what we can to end the killing.
Moral equivalence at its worst.

I don’t wish to skew the picture to the other side either. There are still left among the Canadian left some who can see straight, a notable example being Dennis McDermott, the former president of the Canadian Labour Congress
(CLC). On June 25, just one day after Bush’s infamous speech in which he explicitly advocated a sovereign state for the Palestinian Arabs, Dennis McDermott published the following article in the Ottawa Citizen, pp. A17-18. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the article on the Web and, therefore, what follows is a scanned version from the newspaper proper. I’m reproducing the article in its entirety because it encapsulated most of the relevant pro-Israel arguments in a simple yet forceful way.

I love the Canadian labour movement with a deep and abiding passion, so what I am about to say does not come easy.

Anti-Semitism is a very latent disease. It can lie dormant and well-concealed for long periods of time. Given a convenient pretext, it can suddenly erupt, spewing its malicious pent-up venom in all directions.

The pretext now is that the nation of Israel is the aggressor. So out come the poison pens of the resolution writers. Come down on Israel like a ton of bricks and, by association, Jewish people everywhere. Make ridiculous accusations and parallels, describe Israeli policies as being everything from genocide to apartheid. Then on the last line of the resolution, to justify your neutrality and lack of bias, put in a whimper like, "please stop the suicide bombings."

Never mind the suicide bombings. What about the snipers? What about the legions of trained, terrorist commandos who kill and maim innocent Israeli citizens every day? What about the collective, armed might of neighbouring Arab states?

What about the Islamic fundamentalists who danced in the streets on Sept. 11 and who have been in a declared state of war with Israel since 1948? What about the Jew-hating Arab allies who contribute billions of dollars to Arab terrorists and provide training facilities for terrorists? I'm talking Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and so on.

I am sad because this sick, bigoted mentality is seeping into Canadian labour. I cannot understand why freedom loving Canadians would be drawn to admire the terrorist demagogue, Yasser Ararat. It is completely beyond my comprehension to see intelligent, progressive, Canadian trade unionists expressing affinity with a proven, corrupt, immoral, autocratic leader, totally lacking integrity.

We are treated to the spectacle of Israeli military might versus Arab freedom fighters armed only with stones. Well, that was a pretty powerful stone that blew a hole in the U.S. destroyer in Aden, killing 17 and injuring 38 more. Was the PLO armed with mere stones when it massacred the Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972? Something more than stones was used in the truck bomb attack in Beirut that killed large numbers of U. S. servicemen.

Without going into chronological detail, uncontradicted evidence shows that Arab terrorists have killed and maimed thousands of human beings through hijackings, kidnappings and atrocities over a period of many years throughout the world. Arabs have executed hundreds of their own brethren suspected of co11aborating with Israel. In each case, lethal firearms and other weaponry were the instmments, not stones.

For too long we have been treated to the mythical spectacle of Arab youth spontaneously reacting to Israeli brutality by throwing pebbles. In fact, the Arab youth are an integral part of a tightly organized terrorist group, active participants in carefully orchestrated events designed to attract international sympathy skilfully contrived, diversionary tactics to steer world attention from the main issues.

There is much ado about the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Israel won those territories fair and square in defensive responses to Arab attacks. As the highly regarded diplomat Abba Eban once said, “The Arabs have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

If the Palestinians had agreed to the Peel commission in 1937, they would now possess 80 per cent of the land that then constituted Palestine.

If they had agreed to the 1947 United Nations partition plan, they would now be celebrating more than 50 years of a state made up of half of the then-Palestine, including the old city of Jerusalem. They have demonstrated over and over again that they want it all, and the ongoing objective is the ultimate destruction of the Jewish state.

Why does a tiny nation like Israel with just a few million population, about the size of the Greater Toronto Area, need such a military presence? Do the Israelis relish appropriating a disproportionate amount of their gross national product to the maintenance of military-alert armed forces, depending on the conscription of Israeli citizens, both male and female?

Israel is a nation under siege. Do the Jewish people, regardless of geographical location, have a history of belligerent, aggressive, military action? Some six million mostly docile victims of the Holocaust dispel that notion.

I submit it is time for all of us to face reality. Since 1948, a beleaguered Israel has been compelled to fight for its right to exist. The courageous Zionist pioneers endured the blatant blockades during the years of the British mandate.

Following the creation of the state of Israel by the United Nations, it surived the invasion of the combined, hostile Arab states. Surrounded by agressive Arab hostility and daily murderous attacks, Israelis somehow forged a nation and changed the face of the arid desert into a fertile and promised land.

Their history of courage and determination is unparalleled. Israel opened its boundaries to millions of Jews around the world, an example of humanitarianism unmatched anywhere. They created a model democracy, a democracy in the true sense of the word. A system that embraces economic and social democracy as well as political.

For a newly created nation, Israel produced legendary leaders such as David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. Israel demonstrated its loyalty to its citizens by the incredible, daring rescue of its kidnapped people at Entebbe, Uganda, which left the world breathless.

Israel is not perfect, nor should it be expected to be any more than any other nation. With all of its shortcomings, Israel still stands as the only genuine democracy in the Middle East. It shines as a beacon of light in the midst of Middle East totalitarian darknes.
This article, so passionately written, raises a significant question for all pro-Israel advocates: how do we tap into this fountain of support withing the desert of leftist hostility? Or, more generally, how do we harness the goodwill and clear thinking of Israel’s supporters within the general population in North America and Europe? We should really give this issue intensive consideration even as we keep preaching to the converted.

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland This piece is cross-posted on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks.