I spend a lot of time picking on other countries, but since I’m on a roll in picking on my own country, I thought I’d bring up a free speech issue that’s happening right here at home:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on NDP MP Libby Davies to resign as her party’s deputy leader after she suggested Israel has been occupying territory since the country came into existence.
If any of my Jewish readers are still speaking to me, can someone please explain to me why saying that Israel has occupied territory belonging to Palestine is grounds for getting shitcanned? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with her assessment. The reason Israel has to exist is because there was a worldwide effort to deny Jewish people a homeland, and to essentially eliminate Jews. Historically, the establishment of Israel was an attempt to combat global anti-Semitism; however, like so many things done in the wake of World War II, a decision was made by European powers that completely ignored the needs of the indigenous peoples of the regions that were carved up into territories, and generations of conflict were the direct result.
Since then, Israel as a political entity has made several missteps – not because they’re Jewish, but because they’re human. Right now there is massive suffering and death happening in Gaza as a result of those missteps (as well as ongoing Jewish/Arab conflict). Ms. Davies made the observation that Israel has done some morally reprehensible things, and in many cases has behaved like an occupying force. She supports a two-state solution, rather than allowing the status quo to continue.
Apparently, according to Stephen Harper, that makes her an extremist:
“The deputy leader of the NDP knew full well what she was saying,” Harper said during the daily question period in the House of Commons. “She made statements that could have been made by Hamas, Hezbollah or anybody else with no repercussions from that party whatsoever.”
I’m not a fan of Stephen Harper. He has been the worst prime minister in terms of the environment, the democratic process, and the Canadian style of open governance that I can see. Far worse, for example, than Paul Martin was (for the 20 minutes he was PM before a completely unrelated scandal forced him out of politics). This despicable smear of an MP who said something impolitic as a terrorist is below reprehensible. Of course, Mr. Harper seems to do his best work in the sub-reprehensible region so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. What does come as a surprise is that anyone would continue to support this man who cracks down on free speech and responsible government by pandering to the basest and meanest instincts in people.
If what I have said here is insensitive or incorrect, I’d really like to hear why. If there’s a good reason why Davies should be considered an anti-Semite or should be forced to resign, please let me know. All I can see so far is a slimy weasel trying to score points off the political misstep of an opponent, and casting a chill on the climate of free speech we enjoy here in Canada.
EDIT: Below is a video of the actual comments that MP Davies made. I confess my ignorance as to the history of the conflict, or of specific actions that Israel has taken over time. I do know, however, from doing a bit of reading about the story, that a two-state solution (which is what MP Davies seems to be suggesting) has been brought forward many times before. My anti-Semitism radar is pretty poor though, so if there’s stuff in here that is clearly offensive, please help me by pointing it out.
Ian- from what I’ve gathered, people are bothered by the fact that (not recalling her exact words) her comments suggested that Israel has been an occupied territory since 1948; i.e. the entire state of Israel is ‘occupied’ – her critics conclude that she therefore does not believe that the state of Israel should exist.
My uneducated guess, having read only bits and parts of the situation is that while she’s probably no fan of the state of Israel, her opponents simply seized on comments founded more on ignorance than a genuine belief that Israel shouldn’t exist at all.
Hmm, that’s something to think about. Thanks Alex.
You’re mostly right Alex, people are pissed that she said 1948, not the later date when Israel invaded more of Palestine and occupied more. I just wouldn’t say she’s no fan of Israel, other than reactionary (a better word for conservatives than radical) Muslims and anti-Semites, almost everyone supports the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state – but most also recognize the need for Palestinians to either (a) be fully integrated members of the Israeli state (which will likely never happen since there’s too much religion in the region) or (b) for a Palestinian state to exist independently from Israel.
Unfortunately, war with Palestine is a great distraction technique for the Israeli governments, so peace isn’t actually desirable for those in charge (because then they would actually have to deal with domestic problems). Meanwhile, in Palestine, the only group that must seem to make any progress is the violent Hamas, since the peaceful leaders get stonewalled by Israel anyway.
And then of course you have Christianists in North America who think the end times will come when Israel vanquishes all the Muslims from the holy land so they unquestionably support everything Israel does (including numerous human rights atrocities and repeated uses of vastly disproportionate force).
I am not an attorney. I am not a military general. I am no one smart. But, what I do know. The best, biggest and most well funded groups in the world whose mission is to bring world peace, help human survival and promote happiness globally all find fault with Israel – they all do.
Not one of these groups, not all of these groups 5 years ago but all of them now. At best they say the actions are inhumane & disgusting(immoral); at worst they say they are war crimes(criminal).
World Health Organization
Again, I am no politican. I am no policy maker. I am no attorney. However, I am a smart individual. If the UN has with the rest of the world commanded sanctions against Israel and the only reason nothing happened is because they were vetoed by the USA…. If all these groups find Israel at both criminal and moral fault… If all these groups find this fault multiple times in recent days, months and years – not decades ago there is something seriously wrong here.
I am getting tired of the crocodile tears. The holocaust was bad, I get it. However, to use this as justification for their vile & disgusting recent and almost daily actions is pathetic, stupid, irrational and delusional.
I have approved your comments because my policy is to do so. However, I find your Israel-baiting off topic and largely inappropriate. You seem like a troll to me, and if you post further messages without making a substantive contribution to any kind of conversation, I will ban you.
Also, how many of your relatives were imprisoned in extermination camps, executed and buried in mass graves? I really don’t think that you DO “get it”.