MP Irwin Cotler: “Canada remained (at Durban I) at the request of the Israeli government”

From a Facebook post on Dec. 4, 2009:

The loyalty war for Israel between the two main Canadian parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, is heating up and in the process, exposing many facts. One of them is that Canada stayed at the Durban I conference not to further the anti racism agenda, but “at the request of the Israeli government” to further another country’s agenda in implementing apartheid, ethnic cleansing and war crimes against the Palestinian people.
And for the first time the Zionists seemed to have discovered that the Conservative Party policy “plays up dangerous stereotypes” and concretely promotes antisemitism against all Jews, Zionists or not (see below).


December 4, 2009
Get rid of 10-percenters
A recent flyer sent out by Conservative members of Parliament, promoting their party’s Israel record at the expense of the Liberals, has put the Jewish community at the centre of controversy.
MPs are allowed to send – with free postage – flyers to up to 10 percent of the voters in a riding outside their own. These so-called “10-percenters” cost taxpayers about $10 million a year. Their benefits are less clear.
Liberal MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett apologized recently for her 10-percenter that attacked the Conservatives’ handling of the H1N1 (swine) flu among First Nations communities with the slogan “No vaccines, just body bags” and a picture of body bags and a sick aboriginal child. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq chastised Bennett and told CBC, “First Nations communities should not be used as punching bags for a political party.”
Perhaps not to be outdone in the fear-mongering-among-vulnerable-minorities department, the Conservatives recently sent out a flyer to several Liberal ridings with large numbers of Jewish voters, including ones in Quebec, Toronto and Winnipeg.
On one side of the flyer asking which federal political leader “is on the right track to represent and defend the values of Canada’s Jewish community?” there are two columns, each with three points. On the left, the Conservatives: “Led the world in refusing participation in Durban II hate-fest against Israel”; “Insisted on banning Hezbollah and led the world in defunding Hamas-led Palestinian Authority”; “Strongly backed Israel’s right to self-defence against Hezbollah during 2006 conflict.” On the right, the Liberals: “Willingly participated in overtly anti-Semitic Durban I”; “Opposed defunding Hamas and asked that Hezbollah be delisted as a terrorist organization”; “Michael Ignatieff accused Israel of committing war crimes during 2006 conflict.”
It is true that the Conservatives have been unambiguously supportive of Israel and have strongly condemned anti-Semitism. Under Stephen Harper’s leadership, for example, Canada joined the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. The Conservatives have spent millions on the Jewish community, as part of the security infrastructure pilot program (though B’nai Brith Canada (BBC) notes in its annual anti-Semitism report that the Liberals made a pre-election pledge of $75 million for a similar program, which BBC considered “clearly a more realistic figure” than the Conservatives’ $3 million) and the federal government will provide Lubavitch B.C. with $633,300 from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to renovate the Lubavitch Centre (the B.C. government and Lubavitch B.C. will each invest an identical amount).
Wouldn’t it have been nice to see a positive 10-percenter promoting these achievements? Instead, the recent flyer comes so close to mistruths that, as of Monday, House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken ruled the flyer had breached the Parliamentary privileges of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler (to whose riding flyers were sent) and the House was set to vote on sending Cotler’s complaint to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee for an inquiry.
For example, it was the Liberal party that designated Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations in 2002, thereby making the financing of them illegal. While the Canadian delegation under the Liberals went “willingly” to Durban I, there was no indication that it would turn into the hate-fest it did and, according to Cotler, once it turned ugly, Canada remained at the request of the Israeli government. Finally, Ignatieff did accuse Israel of war crimes, though he did apologize and has since repeated his and his party’s strong support for Israel, calling in a speech to Canadian Jewish Congress for “all parties to be genuine defenders of Israel.”
Where does this leave us as Jews? Well, most of us were probably already familiar with the record of the Conservatives and Liberals on Israel. So what was the purpose of sending the flyer?
One of the results has been to bring to the national public stage divisions within the Jewish community. More than 100 Jews signed a letter of protest to the Harper government, supporting the Liberals’ record. Among the signatories was David Matas, senior legal counsel of BBC. Meanwhile, Frank Dimant, BBC chief executive officer, told the CBC that “he doesn’t interpret the pamphlets as accusing the Liberals of anti-Semitism. Rather, he said, they seem to accurately recount the fact that on several key issues, the Conservatives ‘were more in tune with the Jewish community’ than the Liberals.”
Even if that’s the case, one has to wonder at all the money and effort spent on the Jewish community, which makes up less than one percent of the Canadian population. The attention generates conflicting feelings. It feels great to have such strong supporters of Israel in Parliament, but so much attention to gaining Jewish votes (as if Jews are one-issue voters) could backfire, as it plays up dangerous stereotypes, not the least of which are that Jews control the world’s political institutions and that Jews have a double loyalty, first to Israel, second to their country of residence.
Such messaging, no matter how unintentional, should concern us. As should the messaging that a government doesn’t care about its First Nations citizens. As should any such propagandizing by any political party – especially with taxpayer dollars. Whatever the initial purpose of these 10-percenters was, it’s time to get rid of them.