Shame on you, Mr. Harper



THE DELIBERATE targeting by the Israeli army of civilian dwellings, cars and food convoys, the destruction of roads and civilian infrastructure, and the consequent death of hundreds of civilians is not a justified self-defence, nor does it constitute a moderate response, Mr. Harper.

"This is unequivocally a war of choice," wrote Israeli columnist Gideon Levy, a choice to destroy any political force that resists its occupation of Arab lands.

The idea that this is self-defence or a response to aggression is naive or cynical.

It is not fair. On July 18, you claimed that violence is not the solution. Why doesn't this apply to Israeli violence? Are you comparing the capture of two soldiers with the destruction of a whole country? After all, Israel also has several captured Lebanese, not to mention the 9,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including members of the Palestinian parliament. Would this be a reason to destroy Israel? Do you realize the depth of your bias, Mr. Harper?

It is not self-defence. The crisis did not begin with the capture of two Israeli soldiers. It is part of the larger Middle East conflict. It started with the expulsion of two-thirds of the Palestinian population in 1948, and it was exacerbated in the 1967 war when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza.

"An underlying reason that years of U.S. diplomacy have failed and violence in the Middle East persists is that some Israeli leaders continue to create facts by building settlements in occupied territory," wrote former U.S. president Jimmy Carter in 2000. The violence that we witness today is a result of Israel's desire to enforce its occupation. It is not self-defence.

Supporting it is not Canadian. We, Canadians from diverse backgrounds -- including Jews and Israeli Canadians, Arab Canadians, English and French Canadians, and immigrants -- are outraged at your blind support for a policy of aggression that has resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians and massive destruction.

Your government's position is not fostering peace in the region nor Canada's reputation as an honest broker.

We demand that the government of Canada stop supporting Israeli violence, the destructive power of which is far more lethal than the combined violence used by militant non-state groups.

We demand that Canada adopt an objective position, based on international law as well as Canada's historical reputation as a peacemaker -- fostering a Canadian tradition of independent thought and action regarding international diplomacy -- as opposed to support for an unjustified war and a brutal occupation.

This letter was initiated by members of Shalom-Salaam, a Jewish-Arab Montreal dialogue group and has been signed by more than 2000 others. The authors include:

Abby Lippman
Caroyln Shaffer
Rachad Antonius
Ehab Lotayef
Jihad Bahlis
A. Maeser Lemieux
Ronit Yarosky
Stephen Block
Nada Sefian
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