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March 10, 2010

To Ignatieff on Israeli Apartheid Week

With respect, I am compelled to inform you that I am profoundly disappointed in your just released official statement regarding Israeli Apartheid Week and for that matter, your ceaseless pandering to the pro-Israel lobby.

March 1, 2010

Right Hon. Michael Ignatieff

Leader of the Opposition

Dear Sir

With respect, I am compelled to inform you that I am profoundly disappointed in your just released official statement regarding Israeli Apartheid Week and for that matter, your ceaseless pandering to the pro-Israel lobby.

You seem intent on following in the footsteps of Stephen Harper, who in my view, is the worst prime minister this country has ever had.

Apart from demonstrating an apparent disrespect for hard won international humanitarian law, your comments do not reflect reality on the ground in the region. 

Furthermore, they contribute nothing to bringing an end to the Israel-Palestinian/Arab conflict, ill serve Canada's vital international interests in a world of new geo-political/economic realities and for what should be obvious reasons, put Canadian Jews in an increasingly awkward position.

As Bishop Desmond Tutu, who certainly knows apartheid when he sees it, has repeatedly declared, Israel is an "apartheid state."  In fact, he has described the plight of Palestinians as much worse than that of his people under apartheid in South Africa.

Israel's occupation, dispossession, brutalization, mass killing, extrajudicial assassinations, collective punishment, imprisonment without charge and segregation of Palestinians is well documented and known to the world. 

This was well reflected in a 2007 survey of global opinion that revealed Israel has the least positive rating of any country evaluated.  Indeed, at that time 56% of Canadians viewed Israel negatively (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/for-israel-every-traveller-is-an-ambassador/article1479056/)

I remind you that this survey was taken two years before "Operation Cast Lead." Since that unjustifiable, barbaric, illegal and unrelenting 22 day land, air and sea military assault against a defenceless people resulting in the slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians, mainly non-combatants, including hundreds of women and children, Israel's image worldwide has deteriorated much, much further.

What angers me is that you are a learned and well travelled man. 

Surely, you know better. 

If you aspire to make a difference in this world and our country, you should have the moral integrity and courage to do what is right by standing shoulder to shoulder with the victims, not the victimizers. 

I have no doubt that it would best serve your political ambitions as well as the interests of Canadians and all of humanity.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Keenan

*

March 2, 2010

Right Hon. Michael Ignatieff

Leader of the Opposition

Dear Sir

Further to my e-mail yesterday.

In light of new information published today throughout the Internet that contradicts your statement issued yesterday condemning Israeli Apartheid Week, I am confused as to what your real position is on Israeli Apartheid. 

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/19/israel3)

Excerpt: "Two years ago, an American friend took me on a helicopter ride from Jerusalem to the Golan Heights over the Palestinian West Bank. He wanted to show me how vulnerable Israel was, how the Arabs only had to cross 11km of land to reach the sea and throw the Israelis into it. I got this message but I also came away with another one. When I looked down at the West Bank, at the settlements like Crusader forts occupying the high ground, at the Israeli security cordon along the Jordan river closing off the Palestinian lands from Jordan, I knew I was not looking down at a state or the beginnings of one, but at a Bantustan, one of those pseudo-states created in the dying years of apartheid to keep the African population under control."

There can be no doubt that you were then convinced that Israel was imposing an apartheid regime on Palestinians. 

Indeed, this tawdry affair brings to mind your courageous and moral stand regarding the 2006 Lebanon/Israel war when you rightfully accused Israel of committing a "war crime," only to retract the accusation shortly thereafter.

As I wrote in my previous e-mail, you are a learned man of considerable world experience.  You must know the truth, that in gross violation of international humanitarian law, Israel widely discriminates against, occupies, dispossesses, dehumanizes, kills, humiliates and brutalizes Palestinians on a daily basis. 

Mr. Ignatieff, face reality. Harper's got the pro-Israel constituency and its financial contributions in his pocket.  At the same time, however, a growing portion of the so-called "Jewish vote" is joining hands with the Palestinians. 

Take the moral high ground, reach out to these righteous Jews along with the majority of other Canadians who have an increasingly negative view of Israel.  Be smart, do the right thing.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

Gary Keenan

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