Wednesday 28 August 2013

Stephen Harper : One Question About Israel

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario    K1A 0A2

Dear Stephen,

How do you reconcile Canada’s staunch and rigid support towards the Israeli state with that country’s universally illegal settlements programme?

Whoa there, Stephen – hold on!  Don’t tear up my letter just yet!  Look, I’m sure you think that anyone who poses such a (logical and pertinent) question to you doesn’t deserve to be answered.  Everything you’ve said and done on the Palestine portfolio indicates as much.  By even breathing such (logical and pertinent) words I must be a radical, socialist, terrorist-loving, brainwashed, red-flagged pariah of good sense, right?  But wait!  I haven’t yet used any of the following (logical and pertinent) words in association with Israel: apartheid, racism, belligerence, ethnic cleansing, genocide, human rights, and United Nations.  So can you bear with me?


Listen, I think I get why you as a pragmatist support the present government of Israel.  There are two possible main reasons.  First, you’re following the electorate who you judge, perhaps correctly, to be mostly indifferent to Palestine and the Middle East; and thus, by default, are more comfortable on Israel’s side.  And for the second reason, I’ll quote you: “Israel is the one strong stable democratic western ally that we have in” the Middle East.  And, if you aren’t a pragmatist?  Well, there’s corruption (maybe Israeli proxies help fund your election campaigns), there’s personal preference (maybe you just really like the country’s angular shape on a map without a West Bank aberration), and there’s even religion (maybe you think the Israeli Jews are the Chosen 144,000 who will play a revelatory part in the coming Apocalypse; or maybe you just don’t like Muslims).

I mention the non-pragmatic stuff just to show I’m not ignorant.  But I’ll assume you’re the cold, calculating political wizard everyone thinks you are, and that it’s one or both of the first two.  Now, in and of themselves, those are pretty good reasons, Stephen.  So I get it.  You don’t have to explain it.  What you need to explain, though – besides merely stating that more Israeli settlements are “not helpful” to the peace process – is how you can countenance such blatant, illegal and profoundly avaricious aggression, as the West Bank settlements are and have always been, within your grand, high-principled, earth-shattering Canada-Israel Democratic Alliance.

Because, here are the problems.  The Canadian public may indeed be indifferent to Israel, Palestine and the settlements.  When they see the simply-presented news (rocket attacks and bus bombings by one side, nice new homes built by the other), they might think it obvious which way to sway.  But what if you told them what the new homes are all about, where they’re being built, who they’re kicking out, what they’re doing to those they kick out, how these actions are designed as political tools, and what long-term effect these new homes will have?  What if you showed them that map of the West Bank, where Palestinian land ownership has gone since 1968 from a total shade of colour, to perforated, to split, to a few scattered blots?  I think, and I’m tempted to say that you’d agree with me, that if Canadians really cared, and really knew what was happening in Palestine, they’d at the very least be asking the same question as me.

And, to the argument that Israel is all the west has got?  Firstly, to say that a racially-motivated, religiously-constituted state which does not recognize a huge portion of its inhabitants, walls off conquered territory which it refuses to allow real or nominal independence whilst embarking on a programme of veritable annexation and ethnic cleansing, is a democracy is a little pessimistic on the term, don’t you think?  I mean, was the slave-owning United States a democracy prior to 1865?  Maybe at the time, but we’d certainly laugh at such a nation calling itself democratic today.  As many laughed, and cringed, at apartheid South Africa.  Oh, and speaking of South Africa, do you remember what stubborn world leaders said about that country through the 60s, 70s and 80s?  Yep, that’s right: it was “the one strong stable democratic western ally that we have” in sub-Saharan Africa.  Woops!

There’s very little mystery here, so your chance to maneuver around my question in the name of realpolitik is slim.  The Israeli government barely attempts to conceal its rationale for the newer settlements: to “punish” the Palestinians for their recent statehood bid; and, in the run-up to the coming peace talks in Washington, DC, to grab more bargaining chips which they can return in exchange for more permanent concessions.  Even if we put the older settlements (which the present Israelis, especially with your support, won’t give up any time soon) and the long-term goal of the whole programme aside (many Israeli politicians are not afraid of talking about exterminating Palestine as a nation and a people, to make lebensraum for Israel), we’re still left with some pretty awful behaviour.  I mean, seriously Stephen, what if the US started to “punish” illegal immigrants?  What if Britain was forced to make a new peace agreement in Northern Ireland, but in advance of the actual peace talks, they started kicking Republicans out of their homes and turning the land over to Unionists, for no reason other than to gain bargaining chips?  I guess you’d say that those actions “weren’t helpful”.  The correct answer would be – and is – that those actions are “wrong”.

And please, let me say it again, in case the UN, the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, unanimously accepted international law, and official Canadian foreign policy itself (which does not recognize – cannot legitimately recognize – Israel’s claims, despite Mr. Baird’s coffee break), are all too communist and terror-loving to have the right to remind you: Israel’s actions are illegal. 

So how about it?  How do you reconcile Canada’s unquestioning support for Israel with that country’s criminal behaviour?

To save you the sweat, try not to respond with the following:

1) What about those who support the illegal, violent actions of the Israel’s opponents?

Why not? Because no non-blacklisted nation supports these assholes or what they do.

2) What about Israel’s right to defend itself?

Why not? Because this has nothing to do with the settlements.

3) What about the those who refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist?

Why not? Because this has nothing to do with the settlements.

4) If Canada softened its stance towards Israel, it would be caving into the demands of oil-rich Arab powers, and weakening in the face of terrorism.

Why not? Because this has nothing to do with the settlements. Just because you’re oh-so-brave, doesn’t mean your friends are justified to commit crimes.

5) What about Canada being a maverick in the UN, one of only nine votes against Palestinian membership?

Why not? Because there’s a reason everyone else voted for it, or abstained. And, because this has nothing to do with the settlements.

6) It was insensitive for me to use the word lebensraum in reference to the settlements.

Why not? Because it is insenstive for the Israelis to use Palestinian land for lebensraum.

7) The United States was a democracy before 1865.

Why not? Right, so should Palestinians get more or less than 2/5 of a vote? That is, if they can vote at all? Apply to “democratic” ancient Greece, “democratic” nations before women's’ suffrage, and “democratic” South Africa while Nelson Mandela was on Robben Island.

8) Apartheid South Africa and Israel should not be compared.

Why not? Because they should. Ask Rob Anders, MP.

Hey Stephen, did you see how I got through that whole letter without being too radical?  Isn’t that great?  I’m pretty proud of myself.

Anyway, I hope that means you took the time to read.  I look forward to your answer. 

Yours moderately,