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Letter to Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP

From: Judy Haiven
To: angusc@parl.gc.ca; mcdonough.a@parl.gc.ca; layton.j@parl.gc.ca; bellc@parl.gc.ca;
blaik.b@parl.gc.ca; chrisd@parl.gc.ca; bevind@parl.gc.ca; comarj@parl.gc.ca;
atamaa1@parl.gc.ca; blackd@parl.gc.ca; chowo@parl.gc.ca; crowdj@parl.gc.ca;
cullen@parl.gc.ca; martito@parl.gc.ca; martin.pat@parl.gc.ca; masse.b@parl.gc.ca;
priddp@parl.gc.ca; mathyi@parl.gc.ca; godiny@parl.gc.ca; marstw1@parl.gc.ca;
dewarp@parl.gc.ca; mulcat@parl.gc.ca; wasylj@parl.gc.ca; savoid@parl.gc.ca;
nashp@parl.gc.ca; siksab@parl.gc.ca; stoffp@parl.gc.ca
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008
Subject: Re: Layton backtracks on UN racism conference

Dear Jack and the entire Caucus,

I am enraged that you have decided to support the right-wing position that Canada should not participate in the conference against racism, commonly called Durban II.

I am a Jew and a supporter of the NDP; I also sometimes donate – especially at election time. This week's article (24 June) in the National Post claims that a “delegation of eight angry MPs told Mr. Layton the NDP's call for Canada to take part in an event critics fear will degenerate into an anti-Semitic hatefest.” And that the NDP's support for the conference “risks alienating the party's traditional blue-collar voting base.”

On the first point: the “hatefest.” Since when has opposing Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian lands been a “hatefest” against Jews?

An increasing number of Jews like me are rejecting Israel's racist policies and the state-sanctioned brutalisation – and murder – of the Palestinian people. Three months ago a new national organisation of Jews and Jewish Groups the ACJC was formed; it unites Canadian Jews against the occupation. Israel's occupation of Palestine, the cantonisation of Palestinian land, the bypass roads, the demolition of Palestinian houses are facts ON THE GROUND – facts that are noted daily in newsreports, websites and blogs and reported on by reputable journalists worldwide. Last time I checked, Israeli organisations such as Gush Shalom and B'tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, see www.btselem.org) reveal the extent of the brutality, the assaults, the humiliations and delays at checkpoints, and the murdering of children who throw stones at the Israeli soldiers – all in Israel's effort to cleanse the land of Palestinians. This is not just MY point of view. It is espoused by people such as Noam Chomsky, Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter.

The real hatefest in Canada seems to be against Muslims and Arabs in our own country, not against Jews. We have 5 Muslim men held without charge or under house arrest. There are 10 young people charged – charges already dropped against 7 – for essentially playing soldiers. The trial is ongoing but there is scant evidence of terrorism. Our government refuses to repatriate Canadian Omar Khadar – who experienced torture and abject conditions while incarcerated in Guantanamo for more than six years. In Canada, our government is following the policies of George Bush – and by rescinding support for Durban II you and the NDP caucus are supporting those policies and further injustices.

I would like you to think back on the Maher Arar case. If it had not been for Alexa McDonough's courageous and unwavering support for Arar and his wife, that man would be dead today. At the start McDonough, and by extension the NDP, went out on a limb to call for an enquiry – you faced ridicule and worse. But now there is hardly a fair-minded person in Canada who does not know the Arar story and is appalled by the Canadian government, the RCMP and CSIS's role in Arar's incarceration and torture. This was the NDP at its finest hour.

Today we see the NDP at its worst and most craven.

Finally, on the issue of the NDP potentially alienating its working class base – come off it. In the last two years, we have seen at least two major unions CUPE and CUPW overwhelmingly support divestment and a boycott of Israeli products etc. How can you blame your retrenchment and lack of spine on “blue collar” supporters?

I would like an answer to my questions, and not just the pap about how you support human rights (in general).

Sincerely, Judy Haiven

Dr Judy Haiven

Associate Professor
Department of Management
Saint Mary's University
Halifax, NS Canada B3H 3C3
email: jhaiven@smu.ca

Layton backtracks on UN racism conference

Senior NDP MPs fear anti-Israeli tone at Durban 2

Read complete news item by John Ivison on the National Post website (June 24, 2008).