Thursday, March 05, 2009

Michael Ignatieff on Israel Apartheid Week

Carl in Jerusalem has a bit of video from Arabic al-Jazeera, an interview with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. One of them says
"...Then the [Israeli] forces started entering the town, and our fighters moved back in there as well, setting up booby traps. Each man booby-trapped his own home, so all of Gaza was set to explode. We were ready to die on our own soil in our very own houses. I was ready to fight from my home."
So what does one say about people who would sacrifice their own families and then look to the world to rail against Israeli atrocities? Here's Michael Ignatieff, unelected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in today's National Post (HT Catfur):
Throughout our history, Canadians have strived to understand each other across the solitudes that have broken other countries to pieces. Our common national purpose has been built on our diversity.

We respect differences — of opinion, nationality, race and creed. We abandon that respect at our peril.
“Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW), now underway on university campuses across Canada, betrays the values of mutual respect that Canada has always promoted.

International law defines “apartheid” as a crime against humanity. Labelling Israel as an “apartheid” state is a deliberate attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state itself.

Criticism of Israel is legitimate. Attempting to describe its very existence as a crime against humanity is not.
IAW is part of a global campaign of proclamations, boycotts and calls for divestment, which originated in the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Like “Durban I,” IAW singles out one state, its citizens and its supporters for condemnation and exclusion, and it targets institutions and individuals because of what and who they are — Israeli and Jewish.

IAW goes beyond reasonable criticism into demonization. It leaves Jewish and Israeli students wary of expressing their opinions, for fear of intimidation.

No Canadian should ever have to fear for their safety in a public space because of who they are or what they believe. All Canadians should condemn any attempt to intimidate anyone in the legitimate affirmation of their beliefs and identity.

The Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees has joined the chorus of denunciations of Israel on our campuses. The CUPE Ontario resolution passed last week to boycott Israeli academics is an unacceptable violation of academic freedom.

Canada enjoys strong academic, economic and cultural ties with Israel and Israeli institutions, and these relationships benefit both our countries. Collaborative research between Canadian and Israeli academics is mutually rewarding, and should be encouraged. The CUPE resolution is an attack on the free exchange that is at the heart of our university system.

The Liberal Party of Canada condemns the CUPE resolution in the strongest possible terms.
[...]
Political leaders should also take care not to deepen the distrust between Canadian communities over the Middle East. Politicians who use the ongoing conflict in the Middle East as a wedge to divide Canadians for their own political gain can succeed only in accentuating acrimony and deepening tensions.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict evokes passionate disagreement. It should not damage academic freedom and it should not divide Canadian communities. We can move forward if we work together to promote the common objective of Canadian policy ever since 1948 — a secure Israel living side-by-side in peace with an independent Palestine.
Is that moral clarity, two-faced hypocrisy and moral relativism, unrealistic wishful thinking? You be the judge. I would ask, how can you not divide Canadians, to some extent, if some of them support the likes of Hamas, as some do?

4 comments:

freedomshighway said...

What's consistent about Ignatieff is that when in a bind, he will always tilt towards power and the status quo. Here he is in 2002 himself using the term apartheid to talk about the occupied territories

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.

Ignatieff, 2002

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

truepeers said...

Yes, my take on Ignatieff is that he is a supreme opportunist, not necessarily because he is a cynical bastard, though he may be, but because his kind of liberalism ultimately leaves him with no other guide in situations like this. (Choosing sides in this conflict, or choosing any realistic road to end the conflict, is ultimately a theological move.) His worship of Isaiah Berlin might indicate this (see discussion of Berlin's multiculturalism here.

truepeers said...

BTW, freedomshighway, thanks for remembering that 2002 piece.

Dag said...

I used to be surprised how often no one would even blink when I'd say, "I'll see it when I believe it."

am amazed and depressed when I encounter people who just lap up any damned thing they're told and take it as Gospel. t's like Hugh Fitzgerald's joke of the women who comes home to find her husband n bed with another woman. She says: "You're in bed with another woman." He says,"No I'm not." She says,"Yes you are, I can see you." He says, "Who are you going to believe? ME-- or YOUR LYING EYES!"

There's no end, it seems to those who can't see a difference between right and wrong. Bully them a bit, and two plus two is five.