Open Letter to Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell

By Hanna Kawas

Larry Campbell
Mayor of Vancouver

Dear Mr. Mayor:

We received your invitation to participate in the nomination process for the 2003 Cultural Harmony awards; we regret that we will not be able to participate due to our opposition to one of the signatories on the invitation, Mr. Erwin Nest, Chair of Special Advisory Committee on Cultural Communities.

Mr. Nest is a well known advocate of hard-line Zionism, which discriminates against the Palestinian people inside and outside Israel. When he was the Executive Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific Region in 1987, he tried to “muffle” the Voice of Palestine on Coop Radio 102.7 FM, the community radio station in Vancouver (see www.voiceofpalestine.ca under history, Province Article). He also sent an official letter of complaint to the CRTC. All of his allegations were baseless, and the proof is that Voice of Palestine is still on the air and celebrated its 16th anniversary just this month.

To build united communities, the city should look for people (from all faiths) who promote understanding, peace with justice and treat all fellow humans as equals.

If you are interested in people that promote such concepts (again from all faiths), we can supply you with many names.

We think it is offensive and outrageous to have a Zionist that advocates and supports Israeli racism and war crimes against the Palestinian people as a chair for a committee on cultural communities. We fail to comprehend how the presence of such a person on any city committee “promotes cultural sensitivity” and we feel you may not realize the immediate alienation this appointment invokes amongst many Arab and Moslem Vancouverites.

We, along with many peace-loving Canadians including Jewish Canadians, oppose Israeli apartheid practices and all those who support them, because they contribute to prolonging the suffering of the Palestinian and Arab people and also because they stand as an obstacle to a just peace in the Middle East.

If you want to know why we strongly oppose dealing, dialoging or associating with such representatives, please see our website www.cpavancouver.org ,follow “statements” and check the following two articles: CJC Chair misleads the public, and Is it Liberalism or Normalization?

We regret that a progressive city council, such as yours, still has Mr. Nest as an advisor. We are sure that council would be outraged if an advocate of South African Apartheid or any other kind of racist proponent was in any capacity associated with Vancouver. We urge you and council to reconsider the appointment of Mr. Nest, and to take into account the chilling effect his appointment has on other cultural communities.

Yours truly,
Hanna Kawas
Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
Host, Voice of Palestine, Vancouver
C.C. Heather Deal Chair, Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation

“Arafat’s fate should rest in Palestinian hands”, editorial in the Vancouver Sun

By Gary Keenan,¬†published in the Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, September 23, 2003 in reply to “Forget about peace until Arafat and Sharon are out of the way, Norman Spector, September 19th, 2003.”

Arafat’s fate should rest in Palestinian hands

Columnist Norman Spector neglected to mention the extremely important fact that Yasser Arafat is the democratically elected leader of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have no right whatsoever to insist that Mr. Arafat be removed from power, especially when it is obvious he enjoys the overwhelming support of Palestinians.

The real reason Messrs. Bush and Sharon want Mr. Arafat replaced is his refusal, as demonstrated at Camp David in 2000, to betray his people by accepting a deal that does not meet the minimum requirements of international law. Nor will Mr. Arafat precipitate a civil war in the occupied territories by ordering the disarmament of Hamas and other militant groups.

The only solution is Israel’s full withdrawal from all lands it occupied in 1967. The vast majority of Palestinians are willing to sign a peace treaty in exchange for a viable state comprising a mere 22 percent of their original homeland. With plummeting immigration and increasing emigration of Jews, Israel should accept this generous offer before it is too late. Time and demographics favour the Palestinians.

“The Sharon government is a giant laboratory”, letter to the Editor of the Calgary Sun

By Gary Keenan, in reply to the Calgary Sun article “Realities of Israeli oppression rarely aired in North America”

Kudos to Bill Kaufmann for his insightful commentary on Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian lands. (“Realities of Israeli oppression rarely aired in North America,” Sept. 1.) Kaufmann’s reference to the fact those who criticize Israel’s policies are frequently and unjustly accused of being anti- Semitic by Israel’s supporters brings to mind the wise words of Uri Avnery, renowned Jewish Israeli journalist and former member of the Knesset:

“The Sharon government is a giant laboratory for the growing of the anti-Semitism virus. It exports it to the whole world … Many good people, who feel no hatred at all towards the Jews, but who detest the persecution of the Palestinians, are now called anti-Semites”.

“Thus the sting is taken out of this word, giving it something approaching respectability … Not only does Israel not protect Jews from anti-Semitism, but quite to the contrary — Israel manufactures and exports (anti-Semitism) around the world.”

Gary D. Keenan