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The Middle East – Where to Now?

Posted by Bob Rae on December 1, 2012 | No Comments

The last month has seen yet another bloody conflict in Gaza and Israel after several months of indiscriminate bombing by Hamas, and an appeal for upgraded status at the General Assembly from the Palestinian Authority that met with an overwhelming vote in favour.

The Harper government needs to keep its cool. Canada now risks losing its way if it does not.  Canada’s support for Israel’s security should not mean we lose our own voice as a country that understands, and supports, the Palestinian aspiration for statehood.

The issue is still how that can be achieved. There are forces within the Palestinian political community that refuse to accept the legitimacy of “the other”, and there is always the risk that these forces – fuelled by extremist, even fanatical rhetoric and actions that inevitably trigger a reaction – will prevail.

On one of my many trips to the Middle East a senior Israeli politician – on the conservative side of the spectrum – said that the continued settlement of the West Bank was “bad for Israel”.  A “one state” dominated by Israel would mean that Palestinians would have no status as citizens, no real human rights.  It would also mean that within our lifetime, “greater Israel” would have a majority Arab population, much of it disenfranchised.  This is clearly untenable – Israel would lose its democratic identity.

Those Arabs and Palestinians who deny the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish homeland, have to be seen as opponents of a real peace process. A “one state solution” is a complete dead-end for both sides.

Logic leads back to two states, but these are issues that have to be settled between Israelis and Palestinians in direct talks. President Abbas’ quest for upgraded status at the UN has delayed those talks. The announcement of new Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is an example of how “tit for tat” escalation can push the parties further apart, not closer together.

When and if negotiations resume, the issues will not be easy.  What mediators call “the zone of agreement” has been reached several times since Oslo, but each time talks ended in recrimination and were followed by intifadas, terrorism, and violence that destroyed lives and trust in ways that are truly difficult to repair.

The language of threats and “consequences” doesn’t contribute one whit to the search for peace. President Abbas missed a chance to show that he wanted an immediate return to direct negotiations, something he has said repeatedly in past months, but chose not to say in New York, retreating again to hard line rhetoric. In person President Abbas is conciliatory.  But if private assurances and public declarations don’t match, there is always a problem.

When the fighting stops, the rockets stop firing, the speeches are done, the symbolic resolutions are passed, the applause and demonstrations are over, the outstanding issues will still remain: recognition of the state of Israel; agreed-upon boundaries, including Jerusalem; a practical solution to the “right of return”; a workable formula for ratification of agreements within the Palestinian leadership. More particularly, can the Israelis deal with settlements outside the agreed borders and boundaries without fracturing their own society, and can Palestinians create durable, pluralistic, political structures which respect the rule of law, human rights, and democracy?

Canada needs to become as effective, and candid, a partner to the creation of a democratic and pluralist Palestinian state as we have been to the creation of the state of Israel, rooted in our own values and our own diplomatic traditions and skills.

Finally, the other feature of Mr Harper’s foreign policy – a continuing, unbridled attack on the UN, on humanitarian law, on the duty to protect – defies credibility.  The deep support for the Palestinian cause around the world, and the overwhelming vote at the General Assembly, is, for better or worse, a reflection of public opinion.  It is not the fault of “the UN”.  Canada is in the process of isolating itself – and only putting forward monologues that are fuelled by polls and short-sighted partisanship, and which abandon our basic values of dialogue, peace and unity. This is not where most Canadians want us to be as a country. David Cameron and President Obama were on the phone with President Abbas, and are reaching out to Arab and Israeli leaders in the hopes of finding a solution.  Canada should be picking up the phone as well, but it may be a while before we get an answer. It’s not always what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

Bob Rae

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  1. Avatar of Carmine A Lemma Carmine A Lemma said on

    I am sorry to say that the Conservative’s overall approach to the UN and the recent recalling of Canadian diplomats over the Palestine vote only apes the type of leadership and governance that this country deserves. I extend my appreciation to Mr. Rae and others in the Liberal Party in showing that there are Canadian’s that differ in view.

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  2. Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

    I, Martin Showell, member of the Liberal Party of Canada, would like to make it very clear that Mr Rae does not speak for the entire party on this issue – he certainly does not speak for me. The above statement is to say the least, disappointing, and to say the most, an expression of Mr Rae’s own personal views and does not represent my feelings or those of many members of the LPC. The members were not been asked to contribute on this statement and it was made without input or approval from the members of the party.

    While it is MR Rae’s right to make such a statement as he is currently the “temporary” leader of the party, I feel I also have a right to publish my opinions here as well.

    And so I have added my own addendums … in bold and italicized:

    1. “…after several months of indiscriminate bombing by Hamas brought on by the continuation of illegal activities and virtual imprisonment of the peoples of Gaza, by the Israeli government , and an appeal for upgraded status at the General Assembly from the Palestinian Authority that met with an overwhelming vote in favour…”

    2. “…This is clearly untenable – Israel would lose its democratic identity. which is why the we denounce the continuation of the illegal settlements of Palestinian land by the Israelis

    3. “…President Abbas’ quest for upgraded status at the UN has delayed those talks but he was left with no choice after the dominant western powers refuse to reign in Israel and their quest to settle more and more land in clear defiance of the UN and the wishes of the larger international community

    4. “…The announcement of new Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is an example of how “tit for tat” escalation can push the parties further apart, not closer together which is why we condemn this illegal response from the Israeli government

    5. “…Canada needs to become as effective, and candid, a partner to the creation of a democratic and pluralist Palestinian state as we have been to the creation of the state of Israel, rooted in our own values and our own diplomatic traditions and skills and not take sides as we have done in the past and continue to do now, purely for local political expedience.

    ———–

    The above amendments to Mr Rae’s statement are MY OWN opinions only. I am merely a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and cannot claim to speak on behalf of the entire Party. However, Mr Rae does not speak for me or many other members of the LPC on this particular matter.

    ———-

    The Israeli settlements are illegal. The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel’s construction of settlements constitutes violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice also says these settlements are illegal. As long as they continue and as long as the western powers allow them to continue, there can be no peace or justice for the Palestinians. What choice have we left these people when the free and powerful nations of the world have abandoned them. We enforce UN resolutions only when it benefits us, not to help others. We respect the rule of law only when it supports us, not when it supports others. We should be ashamed.

    Our governments operate on the basis of personal political gain and expediency instead of standing up for what is right.

    Some of us are not afraid to call a spade a spade.

    ———-

    My view … Martin Showell

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    • Avatar of Roy Derrick Roy Derrick said on

      Excellent commentary, Martin. I agree with you entirely.

      Unfortunately, by statements such as this, Mr. Rae has only served to ensure that the Liberal Party of Canada “is in the process of isolating itself” on this issue, the same thing he has condemned the Harper Government of doing with respect to Canada as a whole.

      Can a Harper posting of Mr. Rae as Canadian ambassador to Israel be in the offing next year?

      Roy

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  3. Avatar of Linda Belanger Linda Belanger said on

    Thank you Martin Showell for saving me the trouble of addressing Mr. Rae’s statement. I completely share your view as do the vast majority of Canadians and it is about time that the party realized that there is political capital to be gained by DOING THE RIGHT THING.

    Have look at the vote numbers on this CBC article in regards to the Palestinian bid for improved status at the UN. CBC audiences are our constituency – our potential voters. The Liberals have shamefully stood with the Harper government on the wrong side of history on this vote and this issue in general. It is time to speak out against settlement building, against the siege of Gaza and for the right of Palestine to be recognized by Israel.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/11/30/poli-canada-baird-palestine-united-nations.html

    Any way you sort the comments, they come out overwhelming in favour of justice for Palestine. I have been following this issue for years and the comments on this article reflect what I have been seeing, not just on the CBC website but the Globe and Mail as well and increasingly in Postmedia publications.

    As a Liberal who is heavily involved in my riding association I am feeling very demoralized right now and wondering why I give time and money for this party. It’s not just that I feel that the Liberals have failed to position themselves on the side of justice and history but also, that they are failing to grab a political opportunity by making biased and utterly false statements as Mr. Rae has done above. Martin your updated version of the statement inspires me, you would have my vote.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      Thank you Linda.

      Our party needs “official” policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict and that policy must come from a frank discussion of the issues and input from the entire membership. I am tired of being “spoken for” on this issue. I do not believe the views of our interim leader or our caucus reflect the feelings of the membership. I also don’t believe that approach of our government represents the will and conscience of the people of Canada.

      I intend to work this issue within my EDA and also using the promised new policy discussion/adoption online tool when it it becomes available. And I will continue make my feelings known here on this site and on the community page.

      I also intend to demand that each party leadership candidate states and explains fully their position on this issue.

      If I am wrong and the majority of Canadians and/or the LPC membership wish to continue our current policy, I will shut up. But I don’t think that’s what we’ll find if we ask the questions. It’s time our party and the government of Canada asked us and all Canadians what we think.

      This is too important to leave solely in the hands of politicians.

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  4. Avatar of Cindy Aspden Cindy Aspden said on

    I am going to address some of your quotes Mr. Rae.

    “There are forces within the Palestinian political community that refuse to accept the legitimacy of “the other”, and there is always the risk that these forces – fueled by extremist, even fanatical rhetoric and actions that inevitably trigger a reaction – will prevail.”
    First off, why does ANYONE have to accept the legitimacy of an occupier. Second, your vocabulary referring to a democratically elected governing body, whether you like it or chose it or not, is the actual rhetoric and shame on you for perpetuating this. Third, an oppressed people are supposed to recognize their oppressor and yet the oppressor is not charged for WAR CRIMES in a so-called civilized world with world courts to police this!!??

    “Those Arabs and Palestinians who deny the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish homeland’ . . . ”
    In fact Mr. Rae, there are thousands and thousands of Jews and hundreds of thousands of world citizens who deny the legitimacy of the “Jewish homeland’. Practicing Jews do NOT believe in violence and occupation for their land. They are waiting patiently as their ‘word’ teaches them. They see this occupation as a Zionist movement, which is predominantly political.

    “Israel would lose its democratic identity.”
    They occupied another nations/peoples’ land. The ONLY way this can be consider democratic, is if you are using the USA’s definition of democracy. See how they brought ‘democracy’ to Iraq, etc? Bomb and occupy. You don’t bomb your way to democracy.

    “Logic leads back to two states, but these are issues that have to be settled between Israelis and Palestinians in direct talks.”
    Logic leads back to direct talks? And if that worked Mr. Rae, there would have been peace by know. Time after time, the USA AND/OR Israel have vetoed steps towards peace in peace talks. Insanity is defined as “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results”

    “When the fighting stops, the rockets stop firing, the speeches are done, the symbolic resolutions are passed, the applause and demonstrations are over, the outstanding issues will still remain:”
    I would say it’s who breaks the peace first and kills innocent people? >>> Dec 1, 2012. BREAKING: Israel shells Gaza – 1 dead, 3 wounded. http://rt.com/news/israel-gaza-violate-ceasefire-067/

    I’m appalled and frankly disgusted with the harper government’s behavior and the stance of all the opposition in this matter. I used to be so proud to be a Canadian. We are not a perfect nation by any means (ie. Canadian Mining Companies abroad, astronomical rates of bribery, etc), but we used to be a peace-keeper. This issue is horrific. We are talking about an oppressor. We are talking about an oppressor that can threaten with nuclear weapons (which by the way they have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and not allowed the IAEA to monitor them) vs. an occupied people who can basically thrown sticks and stones to try to protect themselves. Shameful, shameful, shameful.

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  5. Avatar of Carmine A Lemma Carmine A Lemma said on

    This is looking at it through a Palestinians lens and I would agree that, as Palestinian’s are those whom are oppressed, many other Canadian’s are looking at through this same lens. Personally, I have been following this issue in the media with keen interest for decades and I believe that I have a fair survey of knowledge of the history in the region.

    I appreciate your views and often feel very much the same way on this issue however, objectively, I also understand that this is not a simple “Master Slave” relationship and Mr. Rae’s point on recognition of “the other” has real merit. To summarize my view of what is meant with respect to “the other,” I find it instrumental to draw upon a quote from Etienne Balibar in “Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities.” The quote can be simply stated in the following way: ‘without misrecognition the violence of racism would not be tolerable to those who perpetuate it.’ (Balibar, E. “Is There a Neo-Racism?” Balibar, Etienne & Wallestein, Immanuel (Ed.). Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities. NY: Verso, 1991. Page 19) The quote is part of a personal philosophy on the subject of race and racism, violence and non-violence, oppression, anti-oppression, and the tactic of counter-oppression to oppression. Although I wish to offer more of an explanation, I will keep it short by stating that tactics of counter-oppression to oppression will only serve to perpetuate oppression and the subjugation of others. Also, intolerance towards “the other” and simply replacing one type of injustice with another type of injustice is, in my view, not a better state of affairs in our society.

    Yours respectfully to those that differ in view, Carmine Lemma

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      There are two sides to every conflict. Palestinians MUST renounce violence and MUST acknowledge the right of Israel to exist.

      Israel MUST find a way to ease the blockade of Gaza and to not only allow, but to assist with, the economic development of all Palestinians towards a goal of an independent self-governed state. Israel MUST also IMMEDIATELY stop all settlement of the occupied Palestinian land and be willing to negotiate the possible withdraw from settlements illegally established already.

      Unless both sides meet these minimum prerequisites to civilized and legitimate negotiation of a solution, there will never be peace in the middle-east.

      For years the western powers have condemned Palestine for not doing their part, but are unwilling to condemn Israel for not doing their part.

      The UN and the rest of the world have the power to demand these prerequisites be met or both sides will suffer the consequences of isolation and sanctions.

      However the western world is unwilling to sanction Israel. We allow them to continue to break international law and only blame the Palestinians. We support Israel even though the international community has deemed their actions illegal.

      The Palestinians are left with no recourse, abandoned by the world they fight with the only weapons available. They are fighting for their very existence, their very lives.

      To say as you do “…tactics of counter-oppression to oppression will only serve to perpetuate oppression…” merely shows that you have never been oppressed. Surely you don’t mean that the oppressed should just bow down and accept their fate? And surely your statement can be turned around i.e. “…tactics of oppression to counter-oppression will only serve to perpetuate counter-oppression…?

      It is time for Israel to do the right thing and stop stalling and pretending. Everyone knows they are – they are not fooling anyone. Unfortunately, their plan is deeply flawed. The continued settlement of land only makes a two-state solution harder and harder, and more and more unlikely. Eventually they will have their “one-state” and then what? The population of Palestinians already exceeds that of Israelis in the region. In a one-state solution the Palestinians take control.

      So what … we stand by a let Israel create “one-state” and then deny 60% of their population the vote?

      It is time to move forward on a two-state solution. It is time that the rest of world says ENOUGH! and demand that the two sides work it out. This can be done but to do so requires that we treat both sides as EQUALS and that we stop supporting Israel regardless of their actions.

      And the only reason, the only thing that years of looking at this situation says to me makes sense , is the we – The US, Canada, and until recently most of Europe (although they seem to have come to their senses) is personal, local, political expedience. Our leaders no longer represent the people on this issue, only their own shallow desires for re-election.

      As I said before … this issue is far to important to leave to the politicians to solve . It is time to make our voices heard.

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  6. Avatar of Linda Belanger Linda Belanger said on

    Carmine, I think it is important to discuss this issue but unfortunately I have no idea what you are talking about. Vague theoretical discussions about the oppressed will get us nowhere. The bottom line is that the Liberal party has failed to support a peaceful initiative on the part of Palestinians to equal the very unequal playing field. Rae’s statement is NOT BALANCED as it does not strongly condemn settlement building and completely fails to mention the occupation and the siege of Gaza. Perhaps you missed this excellent article in the Toronto Star which explains why this is important for both Palestinians and Israelis.http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/1296228–stephen-harper-is-not-doing-israel-any-favours-siddiqui

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  7. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    I fail to see where, at any point in this statement, that Mr. Rae is unsupportive of a Palestinian state.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      Yes, it is very carefully written isn’t it? Mr Rae is very careful to not cross any lines But sometimes it isn’t what‘s said, but what is not said. You have to look deeper… read between the lines … Let’s take it paragraph by paragraph …

      According to Mr Rae there was “ … indiscriminate bombing by Hamas …” true … but where is the mention of the massive overkill response from Israel? Where is the mention of the provocations that lead to these attacks of frustration?

      Mr Rae says “ … Palestinian political community that refuse to accept the legitimacy of ‘the other’ … “ but no mention of Israel refusing to obey the UN and the international community and stop the illegal settlements. There is no mention of the fact that Israel, with its blockade has effectively turned Gaza into the largest prison (or concentration camp, if you prefer) every created by man. No mention at all.

      Mr Rae talks about a trip to the Middle East and a talk with a senior Israeli politician who – even he a conservative – denounces the settlements, but for some reason … Mr Rae does not denounce the settlements -he doesn’t say it anywhere does he? Why not?

      And then, again Mr Rae is back to blaming some Palestinians and Arabs “…Those Arabs and Palestinians who deny the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish homeland, have to be seen as opponents of a real peace process …” but again, no blame on Israel no mention of those Israel politicians that are opponents to the peace process by refusing to negotiate and by continuing with illegal settlements.

      Mr Rae says “…these are issues that have to be settled between Israelis and Palestinians … “ and then goes on to say that Abbas has delayed the process, but no mention of the fact that the rest of the world overwhelmingly support Abbas and the Palestinians in their recent bid for improved Status … that Canada stands virtually alone with just the US, Israel and 6 other minor countries all under the thumb of the US. He also completely fails to explain how this in any way affects the peace process other than the fact that Israel “doesn’t like it”.

      Then we hear that “each time” talks ended with “intifada and terrorism”, both terms associated with the Palestinians but there is no mention that each time the talks fail, Israel tightens its stranglehold on Gaza and settles more land in the West Bank and elsewhere.

      “President Abbas missed a chance” according to Mr Rae. What has Netanyahu done? Embraced the peace process? Hardly.

      It’s not what is said necessarily, it is also what is not said. Abbas is mentioned several times. Netanyahu, not once. Terrorism and intifada are mentioned but not Israel human rights violations, massive over response and illegal blockades and land settlement.

      The Palestinians are chastised for what they have done and are doing … but nowhere is there any blame levelled at the Israelis.

      This is not a balanced, fair approach. This is biased and slanted. This will not help the quest for peace.

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  8. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    Furthermore, Mr. Rae DOES condemn illegal settlements. He just so happens to take their implementation to their logical conclusion; a “Greater Israel” with a majority population of disenfranchised Palestinians, a situation that would morally and democratically be untenable.

    His statement re: settlements logically points to the conclusion that they have to end. In fact, many Israelis are well aware of this fact as well. Their political system has allowed an extremist, orthodox fourth party to become “king maker” to the party that becomes government. They always side with the conservative majority party, and lo and behold, their demands are for settlements! Not only that, but to convert all non-Orthodox Israelis to become Hacidic and colonize the entire former Palestine. The majority party elected was Kadima, who have a policy of ending/removing settlements, but “shockingly” they could not get support from the Shas fourth party. In essence, a lot of this has to do with the fact that the Israeli electoral system is in desperate need of reform, but to criticize all Israelis under the negative term of “occupiers” quite frankly does not advance the prospects for peace.

    I’m not saying that the injustice of their political system makes Israel’s decisions “right”, but the majority of the population did not vote for this policy; the self-interested did. Kind of like how the majority of our population did not vote for the CPC, and yet they continue to make decisions that many of us disagree with.

    On the other side of things, how is Israel supposed to negotiate for peace with an entity which refuses to acknowledge its existence? If we’re being realistic here (and indeed, viewing the situation from the perspective of a defensive realist), Israel and its allies could have very easily wiped out any population it didn’t want to co-exist with; it is pretty clear this has not happened because ultimately, both sides want peace.

    I stand with Mr. Rae’s comments, and while I encourage healthy debate on the subject, it is very difficult to do so with those who totally gloss over the fact that the barriers to peace have been proportionately the fault of extremist elements on BOTH sides.

    Our government’s response to the Palestinian bid at the UN was wrong, again as Mr. Rae asserts. We should be engaging with the world to find peaceful solutions to the world’s conflicts, not running away from them; the tradition of activist diplomacy was part of what made Canada historically “punch far above its weight”.

    I stand with Mr. Rae’s statement, and I stand for the ideal of allowing a country to defend itself from those who wish to do it harm. That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean I am “anti-Palestinian”.

    I wonder how we would react if our own marginalized and occupied population started attacking us, instead of working with the government to attain a greater measure of independence, because our treatment of the First Nations populations has been abhorrent ever since our forebearers colonized Canada, and we treat them with a much greater apathy than moderate or centrist Israeli governments have treated the Palestinians.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      Actually if you read carefully, no Mr Rae specifically DOES NOT condemn the settlements, ha actually does not have one negative word to use against Israel. He is very careful to say that someone else he once talked to, says the settlements are bad … apparently Mr Rae has no direct opinion of them.

      Yes both sides are being led by extremists but apparently we do not accept that from the Palestinians but we do from the Israelis. Funny that.

      Israel cannot negotiate with a people that do not want them to exist. But then Palestine can’t really negotiate with a country that is sitting at the table while at the same time stealing their land, can they? So, who blinks first? We have the ability to force the end game if we stop accepting that Israel can play by whatever rules they want and we treat both sides as equally to blame and equally legitimate.

      And are you seriously comparing our treatment of Native Americans to the concentration camp that Gaza has become?

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  9. Avatar of Linda Belanger Linda Belanger said on

    Yes, all parties have been excelent in supporting the two state solution in word but never in deed. Unfortunately, this has led to a situation where the two state solution is pretty dead. Martin’s comment above is accurate: “It is time for Israel to do the right thing and stop stalling and pretending. Everyone knows they are – they are not fooling anyone. Unfortunately, their plan is deeply flawed. The continued settlement of land only makes a two-state solution harder and harder, and more and more unlikely. Eventually they will have their “one-state” and then what? The population of Palestinians already exceeds that of Israelis in the region. In a one-state solution the Palestinians take control.”

    This map from the Israeli website Kibush says it all: http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=553

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  10. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    Lastly, I wonder how granting statehood to the Palestinians would automatically and necessarily resolve all of the animosities and issues that both sides have with each other.

    It’s as if it is assumed that the moment statehood is granted, Hamas would stop firing rockets. I believe it is simplistic and naieve to believe this would be the case. Both sides need to resolve their issues b negotiating in good faith and honestly; leaving none of their respective qualms “under the table”. But granting statehood while addressing any of the historical issues and animosities between the two will not result in peace. Agreeing, under many conditions, to stop senseless violence on both sides will lead to peace.

    We need to be considering history here; in what circumstances has a declaration of statehood been successful without either defeating the population with which you seek independence from (the American War of Independence, the Plains of Abraham, the Yugoslav Wars, the list goes on and on) or with peaceful negotiation (Serbia and Montenegro, former British Empire colonies in the 19th and 20th centuries)?

    I find the lack of historical context in the debates about the Middle East to be rather shocking and anachronistic, and I hope that the UN decision will hasten both sides to begin realizing that maintaining the status quo will only result in more indiscriminate death.

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    • Avatar of Roy Derrick Roy Derrick said on

      Hello, James.

      I see you say, “But granting statehood while addressing any of the historical issues and animosities between the two will not result in peace.” Can I assume here that you are referring to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent expulsion of many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians?

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  11. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    My point here is not to be disrespectful of your opinions; I’m merely saying that there is more than one view with regard to this situation, and by claiming that your argument is more valid than those of us who see things differently is somewhat ignorant to the fact that both the Israeli and Palestinian stances have some degree of merit.

    To paraphrase Piers Morgan from a few weeks ago, “You listen to arguments from both sides and end up shaking your head in agreement with their competing desires for peace. The only way that conundrum can be resolved is to TALK, so let us hope that the UN decision will hasten exactly that process.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      I agree talk is what is needed.

      What isn’t needed are one-sided, biased. personal “opinions” from “interim” leaders of third place parties pretending to speak for the members of their party and posting things like this on our official website where it appears to be Liberal Policy – IT IS NOT!

      If Bob wants to comment, he needs to either, make it clear that these are his own personal opinions, or he needs to present or more balanced narrative – clearly this statement is not – that better reflects the feelings of the membership.

      Or best yet, he needs to talk to the memberships of the Party and to all Canadians at which point, I believe, he will find that his “say nothing bad against Israel” policy is no longer supported by the majority.

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  12. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    Apologies, I typed that out on my phone. “By granting statehood while NOT addressing…”*

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  13. Avatar of Linda Belanger Linda Belanger said on

    James you are quite right in that we cannot assume that the moment statehood is granted that Hamas would stop firing rockets. However, until Palestinian grievances such as occupation, settlement building and the siege of Gaza are addressed, there is no way of sorting out which Palestinians are racists and haters and which one are freedom fighters. But more realistically, if you looked at the map that I provided in my earlier post, what we are headed for is a one state solution but even in a democratic single state, there is no guarantee that violence will end. The Shahs supporters that you refer to and fanatical settlers will not likely stop their assaults on Palestinians. Let’s remember that the HR abuses are not restricted to the occupied West Bank but that Palestinian citizens of East Jerusalem are being thrown out of their homes to install Jews in their place. You seem well informed so you no doubt know about the settler only highways. What about the “Security barrier” which is 80% built on Palestinian land cutting as deep as 10K into the West Bank. Why all the fuss about Hamas’ rockets when Palestinians are dying at the rate of 10 to 1 Israeli. Israel will have peace when it recognizes that Palestinians have equal right to life, liberty and human rights as Israelis do. As for historical context, I note that you neglected to mention Apartheid South Africa which is the closest parallell to Israel – and it had to be pushed to do the right thing by an international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. The Liberal Party is on the wrong side of history.

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  14. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    Perhaps a reading of Mr. Rae’s book, “Exporting Democracy” would give some better insight into his views. I reiterate again, that he does not believe in a policy of “say nothing bad about Israel”

    From p. 165-166; “Canada needs to be as clear an ally to the peace process and to the birth of modern Palestine as we have been and will continue to be to the State of Israel”. This is not about balance for its own sake. It is about doing the right thing: right for peace and stability, right for the interests of the people in the region, and right for Canada’s role as country whose international focus must once again become what it was in Pearson’s fay–the prevention and resolution of conflict, and the support of democratic and human values”.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      It is interesting that you would pull that particular quote out of Mr Rae’s book – it is almost word for word the second last paragraph of the above statement and while I agree with that particular sentiment, the fact that Mr.Rae is quoting himself from his own personal writings as opposed to LPC policy, is all the more reason that he should make it clear that this statement is his own personal opinion and may not reflect the views of the majority of the Liberal Party.

      I will listen to Mr Rae (and perhaps read his book), and I will listen to other Canadian and US politicians as soon as they publicly and without equivocation, condemn the illegal settlements and the siege of Gaza.

      Until that, until they actually say the words that the Israeli settlements are illegal and MUST stop, and say that Israel MUST not continue its inhumane treatment of the prisoners it has created in Gaza, until they are as ready to defend the Palestinians as they are the Israels and as ready to condemn the Israelis as they are the Palestinians, I am not interested in their cleverly worded propaganda.

      If this is what Mr Rae really believes, if he really believes in treating both sides equally then he should do that. Mr Rae, if you are going to condemn one side, have the courage to condemn the other. If you are going to defend one side that be prepared to defend the other.

      Say the words.

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  15. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    To that, I would say time will tell. If the PLO uses this as an opportunity for real steps toward peace, then our Conservative regime will for years be marked with “egg on its face”. Mr. Rae uses nuance to demonstrate that point.

    I sincerely hope that this will be the case, however it is also difficult to predict the intentions of Hamas despite this largely symbolic gain. Their philosophical underpinning remains to destroy the Jewish population worldwide, so in my opinion the only way real, substantive peace will be achieved will be for the two competing Palestinian authorities to resolve their differences and create a united, diplomatic entity; not a hateful militaristic one.

    Let us hope that the PLO victory here spurs on some form of cooperation and unity among the Palestinian people. Respond to this decision by becoming tireless champions of peace, and not use their increased recognition on the international forum as an avenue for increasing the divisions between two peoples that ultimately want to see an end of the bloodshed of their neighbours, friends, and relatives.

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  16. Avatar of Margreta Carr Margreta Carr said on

    Martin and Linda, sincere thanks for speaking so eloquently on this. Honestly I feel so angry about this abandonment of those “Liberal values” all in bold in the last $5 fundraising email — what values are those?

    I don’t see any values or principles to this party any more.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      Thank you Margreta. But let me correct you … you ARE seeing values and principles in the party … you, Linda and I are the party, and thousands more like us – we just have to speak up and be heard. With the upcoming leadership contest we have a great opportunity to insist that our next leader takes a more neutral and balanced approach on this issue.

      Unfortunately Mr Rae is in a position where he no longer answers to anyone. We have no way of holding him accountable. He can write and say what he pleases as the “interim” leader and the only recourse may come from his own constituents should he decide to run for his seat again in 2015.

      I suppose he has earned that right and in most matters I have great respect for Mr Rae, but on this issue, as I have tried to make clear here, he does NOT speak for me and he does NOT speak for a large portion of the LPC.

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  17. Avatar of Linda Belanger Linda Belanger said on

    James you say “it is also difficult to predict the intentions of Hamas despite this largely symbolic gain. Their philosophical underpinning remains to destroy the Jewish population worldwide”. Some people would say the same of Zionists so lets stop attaching broad labels to people and attributing to them beliefs that are for the most part propaganda on the part of their opponents. Some Zionists do indeed want to expel all Palestinians to Jordan, others like Uri Avnery are tireless workers for justice. Hamas is a resistance movement comprised of both fanatics and desperate people who have lost hope of attaining justice by any other means. This last appeal to the UN is not the first. It has been preceded by many others that have been vetoed by the US or in the case of the ICJ ruling on the Wall, not enforced by the international community. The only way to get rid of Hamas is to take the wind out of their sails by speaking out against the racist Israeli policies that they claim are self-defence. When Palestinians have hope and dignity of life they won’t be joining Hamas.

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  18. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    Firstly, you just attached a label to all Zionists while telling me not to do the same to a single organization that does not represent all Palestinians. The PLO has largely been peaceful over the past few years, and the step they have taken in the UN have furthered their prospects for statehood. What Hamas has been doing is not; it in fact undermines their efforts.

    Secondly, Hamas has the destruction of Israel and of the Jewish people strictly outlined in its covenant. It is available for all to see in a number of different venues, so I will spare myself from having to post it here. You have attributed the continued desire to establish new settlements as a widely accepted Israeli desire when that is categorically false. Many polls taken in the country reflect that it is not the will of the population. So while you’re attributing a series of beliefs to an entire country when it is simply not the case. I am stating that the stated desire to wipe out Judaism across the globe is an intractable barrier to peace, and must be modified in order for peace talks between Israel and a united Palestine to occur.

    At least with Israel having a democratic process, a new government can be elected that has a different strategy than Netanyahu and his fellow Hawks. Note Ehud Olmert,Tzipi Livni, and many others. backing the UN’s decision and hailing it as an opportunity to work toward peace. There are many people within Israel who are Zionists and who continue working hard to challenge the coalition Hawks and secure the independence that Palestinians rightly deserve, so painting all Zionists as a bunch of anti-Palestinians is a categorical falsehood and I will not simply let a statement like that go unchallenged. You are however correct that there is an unacceptable amount who have antiquated views, and I can tell you that there is a significant movement attempting to change that culture.

    It is unquestionable that Hamas as an organization operates under a covenant to destroy the people who live next door. It is as formalized and enshrined within the organization as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are here, and that likewise needs to change.

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  19. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    The other issue with your last comment is that you seem to be attributing the Palestinian UN bid to Hamas, which it had no role in achieving. That victory is a victory of the PLO, and is a triumph of diplomacy over violence. The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire gave increased legitimacy to Hamas in Gaza, and the PLO secured a victory for the greater Palestinian people, and I have no doubt that their victory will resonate far longer and more powerfully than the short-term victory achieved by Hamas. I hope this victory continues to give more legitimacy to the PLO and that it uses that legitimacy to continue to further the cause of good, not violence.

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  20. Avatar of James Bridges James Bridges said on

    We seem to have two entrenched opinions, so I will leave it at disagreeing without being disagreeable. I am happy explaining my point of view and do not hope to convert anyone with my views, and share the view that steps be taken for peace and prosperity to be enjoyed by all.

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  21. Avatar of Linda Belanger Linda Belanger said on

    James, you need to read my entire comment before you jump on the offensive. I said, “Some Zionists do indeed want to expel all Palestinians to Jordan, others like Uri Avnery are tireless workers for justice.” I also maintain that Hamas is a resistance movement comprised of both fanatics and desperate people who have lost hope of attaining justice by any other means.”

    Fact, although the PLO initiated the bid, Hamas expressed its support just days before the vote. You say that the PLO victory (at the UN) will resonate longer than the Hamas “victory” in Gaza. I certainly agree so can we deduce from that that you disagree with the Liberal Party position that Canada was right to vote against the Palestinian UN bid. Why would the Liberal Party oppose a peaceful initiative such as the Palestian UN bid?

    And if you want to go on with this garbage about the Hamas Charter, let me tell you that a friend of mine just came back from Israel. The self-guided taped tour of the Knesset said that “Israel’s title to the land is the Bible…. and that there would never be a Palestinian state.” So let’s drop the accusations of fanaticism; they flow both ways.

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