Tuesday, August 23, 2016

That's What Leadership Is About

Elizabeth May has announced that she will stay on as leader of the Green Party. That will make Linda McQuaig happy. She had advised May to stay put. But she's also advising May not to walk away from the BDS resolution which the party passed at its recent convention:

Whether you agree with the boycott strategy or not, it is a peaceful way to protest a serious violation of human rights: the fact that millions of Palestinians have been living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza for almost 50 years, with Israel effectively annexing their land.

Some commentators have suggested that it’s OK to criticize Israel, but a boycott goes too far.

In the end, words will not change things. Action is required -- the kind of action which Brian Mulroney took against South Africa's apartheid regime: 

Back in the 1980s, it was divisive when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney imposed sanctions against the white-minority regime in South Africa.

Today, everyone agrees that Mulroney’s stance was laudable. But at the time it was highly controversial, with Mulroney acting in defiance of business leaders, members of his own cabinet and caucus, as well as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. 

Some are uncomfortable comparing Israel to South Africa. Not so Desmond Tutu:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu considers the comparison valid. In a 2010 letter to students urging the University of California to divest from Israel, Tutu wrote: “[D]espite what detractors may allege, you are doing the right thing. You are doing the moral thing…I have been in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid.”

May is in a difficult position. But that's what leadership is about. 

Image: Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press


Steve said...

Third wire of political discussion Israel. I think Netanyahoo is self described by his name. However, I do not expect Isreal to be held to a higher standard than any other country. Should we boycott all US products made in for profit prisions. in Guam and Houduras? Until the Arabs and Persians admit Isreal is a legitimate state I say lets support the people who are most like us.

Owen Gray said...

Sometimes it's not as simple as taking one side, Steve.

Dana said...

I will not support or countenance any action that may have the effect of delegitimizing the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland. Full stop. I'm disappointed to varying degrees by many actions of the Likud coalition yet they are the government the Israelis elected.

Why don't Canadians boycott Canadian products in protest over the treatment of First Nations peoples instead? Why should that be?

Because it's more self-congratulatory and a source of higher sanctimony to accuse the failings of other people than to recognize and address your own and Canadians love their self-congratulation and sanctimony.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that we are blind to our own segregated communities, Dana. However, the stumbling block in Palestine is the assumption that to recognize one state is to deny the other. History -- and there's a lot of it -- gets in the way.

Dana said...

Yes, I find it bitterly ironic that there are Israeli Jews who believe that in order for Israel to survive and thrive requires the ghettoization and suppression of another people.

Yet that's not the whole story.

Some points from a Harvard Kennedy School of Government study:

"Among the study’s most surprising findings:
• A great majority of both Jewish citizens (73%) and Arab citizens (94%) want Israel to be a society in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual respect and equal opportunities.
• 68% of Jewish citizens support teaching conversational Arabic in Jewish schools to help bring Arab and Jewish citizens together.
• 77% of Arab citizens would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world.
• More than two-thirds of Jewish citizens (69%) believe contributing to coexistence is a personal responsibility; a majority (58%) of Jewish citizens also support cabinet level action.
• Arab citizens and Jewish citizens both underestimate their communities’ liking of the “other.”
• Urgent action on coexistence in Israel is desired: 66% of Jewish citizens and 84% of Arab citizens believe the Israeli government investments should begin now, and not wait until the end of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."


Canada's history of ghettoization and suppression is considerably longer than Israel's.

The Mound of Sound said...

I disagree with Dana, a rarity. I think it's facile to compare our treatment of First Nations with Israel's oppression of the Palestinians. If anything is delegitimizing the State of Israel it has to be the actions of its own government, not some minor boycott of a limited number of products originating from illegally occupied lands. Israel has become a radical rightwing country, skilled in the repeated practice of Dahiyeh, a brutal war crime named after its own tactics. Yes they are the government the Israelis elected but that electorate is sharply divided. When it is denounced as fascist by its outgoing defence minister; the second in command of the Israeli Army, himself a refugee from Nazi Germany who cites the parallels today; and a former prime minister among many others, Dana would have us look the other way. To hell with that.

Anonymous said...

Dana, how does BDS "delegitimize" the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland? BDS is a protest against the actions of Israel in the Occupied Territories, not against the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland. Since Israel's transferring its population into land it occupies has never been legitimate, there's nothing to "delegitimize."

Lorne said...

The tyranny of this debate is the absolutist positions postured, Owen. there are those who would have us believe that criticism of Israel is tantamount to anti-antisemitism, which, in my view, is arrant nonsense. Anyone who has delved into the issue of Israel's abuse of Palestinians know that their actions need to be condemned in the strongest terms, something our politicians lack the stomach for.

It is true that other nations behave, in their own way, abominably, including us in regard to aboriginals, and the Palestinians who engage in violence against Israel, but that hardly lets Israel off the hook for its reprehensible behaviour. People of conscience need to make their voices heard.

Owen Gray said...

Our own misdeeds cannot be used to justify the misdeeds of others, Lorne.

Owen Gray said...

Then the question arises, Dana, if there is such documented support for mutual and peaceful co-existence between the two communities, how and why did Israel wind up with the Netanyahu government?

Dana said...

Because there are 34 political parties and coalition forming is a dirty business.

I said nothing about looking the other way. What I did say could be paraphrased as First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.

Owen Gray said...

True, Dana. But things won't settle in the Middle East until the Israelis and the Palestinians settle.

Dana said...

I don't believe that, Owen. If the surrounding Arab nations were so disturbed by the condition of the Palestinian people in Israel why haven't they stepped up to offer them sanctuary in their own countries, among their linguistic and co-religionist brothers and sisters.

I think its because the surrounding Arab countries are quite content to let the present situation persist as a continuing goad to motivate their own people to maintain a certain degree of annihilatory animosity toward Israel.

While there are undoubtedly principled people of good will supporting the BDS movement the movement itself is a balm and unquestionably a useful tool to anti-semites.

That's all I have to say on the matter.

Discuss among yourselves.

The Mound of Sound said...

Avigdor Lieberman as Netanyahu's second in command? Yeah, that's dirty business all right. And to then appoint Lieberman czar over the Palestinians and their territories, that does take a lot of looking the other way. Sorry, Dana, but your false equivalency is showing and it's not passing the smell test.

I guess it's just fortuitous that Canada never got around to raining Willie Pete on our First Nations.

Toby said...

Mound, I don't think it is as simple as Israelis bad, Palestinians good. It is much more complicated than that. Yes, Netanyahu and crew are bullies and up to terrible oppression. The very least the West should do is stop subsidizing and arming Israel until it stops the oppression. However, I don't think the BDS movement or anything else will solve the problem until the Israelis and Palestinians and the surrounding Arab countries are prepared to live and let live. This conflict is as disruptive as the Kashmir problem and won't simply go away.

Kirby Evans said...

The level of discourse by people like Steve and Dana is, sadly, rather pathetic. Here we have a state that has, for more than 50 years, intentionally segregated a population based upon race and religion, and then has systematically and consistently stolen 90% of their land. And many in the Israeli political establishment readily admit that they intend to eventually take all the land of Palestine. The proof is in the pudding and one simply has to look at the gradual disappearance of Palestinian land over the past few generations. To deny it is quite simply to deny the demonstrable fact of what has already happened. I know some people wish that the emperor had new clothes but he doesn't, he is simply naked.

Meanwhile, regarding May - she complained that what she was disappointed by was the failure of the party to compromise. What May didn't understand was that the boycott IS the compromise. A boycott like this is about the minimal that can be done other than just speaking up. Real action would be a complete embargo and breaking off relations. The boycott is the compromise. I don't really care if May leaves or not simply because I take it as read that no national politician has the courage to actually admit what is going on in Palestine let alone would be willing to take action. All they do is spin the issue (as Steve and Dana have done) Like any apologists for genocide, they want to pretend what is happening, isn't really happening.