Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Dead Candidate’s Report, a Memoir tells the story of a celebrated journalist who decided she wanted to be a member of Canada’s Parliament only to have her candidacy canceled by her leader without notice, as she was preparing to launch her campaign. In fact, her political obituary was written and distributed to the news media even before the candidate herself was informed. The decision to remove her from the Liberal Party roster in the 2008 federal election was prompted by a complaint from an anonymous blogger who claimed that an article she had written years before was anti-Semitic.

The candidate is Lesley Hughes for decades, a journalist at CBC radio, and one whose voice and views were familiar to the legions that tuned into her popular Information Radio morning program. She’s a broadcaster and a columnist whom I have long admired and who has become a friend and occasional colleague in recent years. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

—————-
Paul S. Graham: So maybe we can set the scene, or you can set the scene by beginning to describe that fateful morning when you learn that the Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion, had revoked your candidacy.

Lesley Hughes: I deal with this in my book in the chapter called “your execution may be televised” because that’s how I felt. My crew and I were just filming a little video for my website, showing the various places in Winnipeg that had helped to form my values as a candidate. And we were just setting up outside the CBC building because a national public broadcaster was very important to me. And, as we were setting up a group of my former colleagues came thrashing out, lugging all their awkward equipment in one tearing hurry, kind of like they were afraid the story might vanish, you know. And so I was very surprised. And then they wanted me to react to the fact that I had been dismissed as a candidate, which was something that I didn’t know. They were waving a press release at me, which claimed that Mr. Dion had done this. Well, he hadn’t done it. Nobody had done it, but it didn’t matter because the television footage really did it, if you can follow me. So that’s how I found out that I was dismissed. And I was, I was shocked. I felt betrayed and confused. And it was the beginning of a long ordeal. It was a life-changing event. That’s how I found out.

Paul S. Graham: That whole story says so much about the way in which politics or politicians and the media and the news cycle interact that they couldn’t take the time to say, Lesley you’re about to be disappeared. There was no apparent courtesy.

Lesley Hughes: No.

Paul S. Graham: You were alleged to be anti-Semitic, and this was based as far as I can see on one sentence in an article that you wrote in 2002 that challenged the official narratives around the 911 attacks and argued that Canadian soldiers should not be sent to fight in Afghanistan. Can you tell us a bit about the article and why you think your critics chose to call it anti-Semitic?

Lesley Hughes: It was called “Get the Truth.” It was published in May, following the attacks in New York. And yes, the point, the focus of the column was that Canadians should know and should agree if our country was going to support the Americans in the invasion of Afghanistan. And of course there were rumbles of the coming invasion of Iraq as well. I think the problem wasn’t so much one sentence as the whole idea of challenging the official story. I had never seen the media behave in quite the way they did after 9 11. Media everywhere became kind of a Greek chorus, basically repeating what George Bush had to say — in spite of the fact that all journalists are taught that the last thing you believe is the official story — the last thing you believe and the first thing you challenge. So, I was angry and, and I was embarrassed and I had reported the claim that Mossad had made that they had informed the Americans well before the attack that such a thing might be coming, and this was interpreted, certainly by the blogger who initiated the whole ordeal, as meaning that the Israelis knew and didn’t tell the other tenants in the building. And so this was considered to be a very offensive, basically anti-Semitically motivated idea. So that was a big part of the problem.

The other part of the problem was that the Conservatives were arguing aggressively for my dismissal. And Steven Harper had got out in front of the story before I even knew about it, saying that I had said that Israel was behind the attacks in New York, and that I refused to apologize and that he thought was a very serious thing — at the same time admitting he hadn’t read what I wrote. But of course, you know, once that happened, it didn’t matter what I wrote. What mattered was the theme that had been established.
So, I think basically that was the problem. The very idea of raising the topic is like, you know, there’s a target on your forehead, but it, it had to be done. It had to be done, you know. You just know when something needs to be done.

Paul S. Graham: And so, the fact that you had not said that Israel was behind the attack wasn’t a problem for people who just kept parroting that line.

Lesley Hughes: It was great copy. Absolutely great copy. It was everywhere by the elite media who claimed to serve politically astute Canadians. It all went out the window. Right. And I was left for dead, which explains the title of my book, The Dead Candidate’s Report.

Paul S. Graham: So, this affair not only cost you your Liberal candidacy, but more generally it cost you your reputation and your ability to work as a journalist. Do you want to elaborate on that?

Lesley Hughes: Well, the thing is that basically all a journalist has to offer is credibility and these charges destroyed mine. It made me look as if I had been pretending to be one person, you know, progressive and interested in human rights. And I had fooled everybody up until this point. That was the breaking news, according to the blogger. And then of course you have to remember that nobody wants to hang with an anti-Semite. It is rightfully a loathsome ideology. And so of course people would naturally just take their distance from me. And I understood that a lot of people who could have spoken up for me didn’t actually do that because they felt compromised. And of course, my sources dried up because who wants to appear in a story written by the now famous anti-Semite and by the way, a 911 conspiracy nut — that was an additional focus of the claims. So I think that apart entirely from the internal trauma that you feel that people could believe this about you after a career in which it was unthinkable. Apart from that, the end was nigh. It was there, as I say, left for dead. And now what to do?

Paul S. Graham: Despite all of that, though, you did have quite a number of supporters. I was one of them, actually, this was even before I had met you, but I’d been listening to your program for years and I thought, if this woman’s an anti-Semite I’m Adolf Hitler. And I remember blogging about this particular issue on a couple of occasions and in one blog that I posted, and unfortunately the original link to the Winnipeg Free Press story no longer exists, but it was September 27th, 2008. And there was an online readers’ poll that asked the question, “Do you think Liberal leader, Stephane Dion was right to turf Lesley Hughes over 911 conspiracy writings?” And, at that point, 2,469 readers had responded and 73 percent of them said “No.” So, you know, clearly, amongst readers of the Winnipeg Free Press, there were a vast majority that weren’t willing to accept the official narrative of the Liberal Party, that you were some dastardly anti-Semite. What about other people that would have given you support back in those days? Can you talk a bit about that?

Lesley Hughes: Well, you know, I was very touched by that poll. That was a huge number of respondents for that kind of poll. And it, as you say, it was very supportive, and I appreciated it. And however helpful it was, it’s comparatively easy to express your support in that kind of forum. You don’t have to answer for it. It’s an entirely different thing to identify yourself and take some kind of action and make some kind of connection with whoever it is that needs that support. Much more difficult to do in person.
And of course, most people, when they don’t know what to do, or they don’t know what to say, quite reasonably, don’t say anything, don’t do anything. And that was the case for me, some friends in the Jewish community who knew that it was nonsense were not able to speak up. And some friends that were very, I would say, close friends didn’t know how to respond. So that balance was very, very difficult, but where it ended was that it was a very, very, very lonely time, ultimately a lonely time, something I would never want to revisit.

Paul S. Graham: However, you decided to take action at some point. After reflecting on your situation for some time you decided to take legal action to clear your name and to reclaim your reputation. Can you tell us about this?

Lesley Hughes: Well, believe me, Paul, I did not want to do it. I had friends in the legal community who told me many, many times that, essentially, if you look for a legal remedy, it’s like volunteering to appear in front of a firing squad after you’ve already been killed, right. This is not an appealing idea. I understood it – expensive, lengthy, heartbreaking, no guarantees, but I just couldn’t live with the idea of me apparently lending my support to anti-Semitism or anything related to it. I just couldn’t do it. I really didn’t think I had any choice and there wasn’t any other way to approach a solution. So I had a hard time finding a lawyer who wanted to represent me, but I did. I had no money, but I mortgaged my house for a retainer, twice. And, you know what, I don’t regret it for all that it was kind of a heartbreaking journey, the legal thing in court — I didn’t get my day in court ultimately, because the charges were retracted and I was cleared — and I felt differently because initially I felt that I had been used to give antisemitism a new energy, and used to induce fear in a community that didn’t need any more fear of this kind. So I bit that bullet, that firing squad, I went through with it and eventually I won. At least legally I won.

Paul S. Graham: So, do you feel that you obtained all of the objectives you set for yourself when you reached this out of court settlement? And remind us again, who you were settling with. Who were the objects of the lawsuit?

Lesley Hughes: Well, my lawyers had informed me that defamation laws in Canada had become significantly less powerful in the last few years. And so alas, they eliminated the idea of holding the media responsible for their, you know, wholesale slaughter [of] my reputation and my character and what they decided to do was, in their words, pursue the most extreme defamers, I guess, is the correct word. And so the lawsuit was against B’Nai Brith National, against what was then called the Canadian Jewish Congress and against the honorable Peter Kent, who was a candidate in the same election, in a heavily Jewish writing. And really, you know, was able to use this much to his advantage. So those, those were the objects of the lawsuit. People said, are you insane? People said, are you nuts? What makes you think, you know, that you’re going to do anything but bounce, like a pebble off these really powerful well-resourced experienced people, but oh, no, I had to do it.

Paul S. Graham: And in the end they settled out of court. Can you provide any details about the nature of that settlement?

Lesley Hughes: No. Legally I cannot discuss that. They withdrew the charges; they offered a retraction. An apology was out of the question. It’s interesting to note that in all of this, from the beginning, until this very conversation, nobody ever apologized. No one ever apologized for what happened. When I think about that, I can scarcely believe it. But in any case, my lawyer said, “Hey, the public. They forget everything, but they will remember that you went to court and that you won, and that’s what you want.” My legal team was very happy, very happy. They felt this was a good outcome. And I think, you know, realistically, practically speaking, they were, they were correct.

Paul S. Graham: I’ve long thought that the attack on you was motivated by two objectives. One, and I think you mentioned this earlier, to weaken the Liberal campaign by removing a candidate when it was too late to replace her. But, but also more fundamentally, I think there was a desire to squelch mainstream journalistic dissent around the origins of the invasion of Afghanistan and Canada’s participation in that. And you were one of the very few established journalists who chose to take a critical approach. And as we’ve discussed, you’ve paid quite a high price for thinking independently. Would you agree? Have I encapsulated it or is there more to be said about that?

Lesley Hughes: No, I think you nailed it Paul. I think you nailed it. I remember — you may remember as well — one of the, celebrated stories in the wake of 911 was a column that went — it might’ve been Margaret Wente, I’m not sure – “we are all Americans now.” Right. And when I saw that, I said, no, we’re not, no, we are not. And we should not be aspiring to be Americans. We should be aspiring to find out as the title of my troublesome column was — we should be trying to “get the truth,” get the truth before we make judgements and before we plan retaliation.

And we know what the results of the decisions to go into Afghanistan [were]. I mean, the results are just unfolding in front of us right now, but at the time I think what was revealed about media was the underlying and ever present fear of authority and by authority I mean the usual, the traditional – a fear maybe of the military, a fear of government, our own government’s response, and a fear also, of course, among corporate media owners, right, that the status quo could be disturbed. So, in my view, the whole thing did expose something that desperately needs repair. We need a new attitude, which doesn’t focus on fear, but actually does focus on the truth. Does that make sense to you?

Paul S. Graham: I think so. I’ve heard people in the alternative media, so called, refer to the established media as stenographers for government, and, less cheerfully as “press-titutes.”

Lesley Hughes: Awesome!

Paul S. Graham: And I’ve often thought that the official media does spend a lot of time cheer-leading for whatever comes out of Ottawa or Washington. And I’m reminded, and I think you alluded to this earlier that, journalists have forgotten the first rule is that “don’t believe something until it’s been officially denied.”
Anyway, I imagine the last 13 years, since this all went down, have been extremely challenging and reading your book, I had some sense of the ups and downs and the turbulence and the emotions, and the heartbreak and the fear and everything that must have been going on. How are you doing now?

Lesley Hughes: Well, I’m doing much better now that my book is in print. You know, this was a series of disappearances over this, more than a decade, right. Disappeared by the blogger, then disappeared by my party and then disappeared by the media. Then I went to court, I won and that victory was also disappeared because the media declined to print how the story had turned out, which was a great disappointment to me. So, my victory could be described as a thud. Boom! Right.

And now what, how do I live with that? And it dawned on me very slowly that I really had to write a book about it, even though it was going to be a book in which nobody looked good. And probably for that reason, a lot of people wouldn’t want to read. I knew that, okay, if I, if I practice my belief that the best journalism is preventive and liberating at the same time, then I had to write the book.

And I had to tell it, you know, exactly the way it was, with an understanding, you know, of human nature, human behavior, how it all came about. And so, I feel so much lighter now, now that this book is out because it was very hard; it was like defying the entire crowd all over again, you know, and again, the trepidation that comes with that, but I feel relieved. I feel as if I’ve practiced what I preach. And, I’m not responsible for the outcome now because I have done my part. And that feels really good, really good.

Paul S. Graham: I think you deserve to feel good. I think your book should be read by every journalism student and everyone who calls himself or herself, a journalist and every anonymous blogger out there who thinks that they can pile on without having done any research of their own. And perhaps every consumer of media, to understand how lies can circulate at the speed of light and, and how reputations can be destroyed, maliciously, and in some cases, I suppose, innocently as well.

Lesley Hughes: You’re just reminding me of what happened at one point in the story where somebody reported my victory in court, but they said that I had settled with B’nai B’rith. Somehow they missed the rest of that story, which of course meant it was not a big story. Right. It was just a little story, part of a little story. And the people lost interest. And then, Yahoo picked up the wrong story. And in the blink of an eye, the small part of a big story was everywhere. And then it was over. And of course, people look to Yahoo News, you know, as a moderately responsible organization. And that’s how this kind of thing happens. And it has implications for real human beings.

Paul S. Graham: I think the word “Yahoo” says it all.

Lesley Hughes: I’ve heard that.

Paul S. Graham: I very much enjoyed your book. It’s very readable. It’s compelling. It sounds like you. It’s a page turner, as they say. I got my copy from Amazon. Are there other sources?

Lesley Hughes: There may be books in bookstores before Christmas, if things go well. The easiest way at the moment is to go to Amazon, or you can go to thedeadcandidatesreport.com, our page, and then it will give you the options.

But thank you, Paul. Thank you for reading it. Thank you for understanding it and thank you for this time.

Paul S. Graham: And thank you for taking a bit of time to talk with me.

Winnipeg, Aug. 24, 2014: Some of the people camping out in Memorial Park to call for a national inquiry into the deaths or disappearances of over 1200 aboriginal women. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Some of the people camping out in Memorial Park to call for a national inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of over 1200 Aboriginal women. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The hatred directed at aboriginal people in Canada is appalling, as is their poverty and exclusion from the opportunities that exist for non-indigenous Canadians. Nowhere is this more evident than in the federal government’s continuing refusal to hold a national inquiry into the causes of the deaths and disappearances of over 1200 aboriginal women. Now, aboriginal women are beginning to speak up for the aboriginal men who have disappeared over the years.

My latest video explores some of this.

To connect with the Protest Camp on Facebook, click here.


by Peace Alliance Winnipeg

During the Vietnam war, tens of thousands of American conscientious objectors sought refuge in Canada to avoid taking part in a war they could not, in conscience, support. While the Canadian government was slow to respond in a positive way, under persistent pressure from peace, church and labour activists, they were eventually permitted to obtain immigrant status. Many remain in Canada to this day as valued members of our communities.

Fast forward 40 years – many US soldiers have sought refuge here  rather than fight in the Iraq war, a war widely recognized as a crime against humanity. Rather than be complicit in war crimes they left their homes, their families and communities and sought refuge in Canada.

Their pleas for refugee status have been thwarted at every turn by the Harper Government. In defiance of two Parliamentary resolutions calling on the federal government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada, the Harper Government has continued to smear American war resisters as criminals. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has publicly labelled them as “bogus refugee claimants.” In July 2010, he issued a bulletin to all Immigration Officers requiring them to red-flag applications that involve US war resisters, labeling them as “criminally inadmissible.”

In recent news, the Harper government ordered U.S. Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera, her husband Mario and their four young children deported to the United States. Kimberly served in Iraq in 2006, and sought refuge in Canada in 2007 after making the decision that she could no longer participate in the Iraq War. She was the first female US Iraq War resister to come to Canada. Kimberly and her family live in Toronto.

If deported, she faces harsh punishment. War resisters Robin Long and Clifford Cornell, two Iraq war resisters deported by the Harper government, were court-martialed and sentenced to 15 months and 12 months respectively for speaking out against the Iraq War.

Canadian support for American war resisters is widespread. We must redouble our efforts to make the Harper government listen.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg has sent a $300 donation to cover Kimberly Rivera’s legal costs. We have written to each Manitoba MP and we will be taking our message to the Winnipeg Take Canada Back demonstration on September 17th. Here are some things you can do:

1. Write, email, fax and or call your MP. If you wish, you can use or adapt the letter sent by Peace Alliance Winnipeg (below, at the end of this message) or you may wish to adapt the letter being used by the War Resisters Support Campaign.  To get their contact information, follow the links below:

(More MP contact information can be found here.)
2. Make a financial contribution to help with Kimberly Rivera’s legal expenses. You can make a donation online, here. To donate by cheque, make it payable to War Resisters Support Campaign and send to:

War Resisters Support Campaign
Box 23
427 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1X7
Canada

3. Write, email, phone or fax Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and ask him to let Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera and her family stay in Canada. You can use thisonline letter, or send your own message to:

325 East Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-954-1064 Fax: 613-957.2688
Email: jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca, minister@cic.gc.ca

4. Join the Peace Alliance Winnipeg contingent at the Winnipeg Take Canada Back Demonstration on September 17th, 5:00 p.m., at the Manitoba Legislature. More information on this national demonstration, which coincides with the opening of Parliament, can be found here.

If Kimberly and her family are to be allowed to remain in Canada, we need to act now. Please share this message widely, and take action today.


LETTER SENT TO MANITOBA MPs FROM PEACE ALLIANCE WINNIPEG

September 13, 2012

Dear Member of Parliament for Manitoba

Re: Deportation of Kimberly Rivera , American Iraqi war resister

On behalf of the Peace Alliance Winnipeg I ask for your immediate attention and support on an urgent matter regarding the imminent deportation of Kimberly Rivera, a young American war resister, woman and mother. Her appeal to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds has been denied by the Federal government and deportation is scheduled for as early as September 20, 2012.

Kimberly has sought refuge in Canada on moral grounds, motivated by her conscience, values, and political opposition to the American military action in Iraq. Many thousands of Canadians support her and view her decision and actions as a heroic matter of conscience.

On being forced to return to he US she will face two to five years of imprisonment made all the more harsh by her separation from her young children.

There is nothing to be gained from this inhumane decision and much will be lost. Kimberly losses her freedom and her ability to parent her children; her children lose precious time with their mother; the American military gains nothing but retribution and, as Canadians, we also lose.

This is a serious and symbolic issue for us a nation. If we fail to reverse this deportation decision, and all others like it, Canada loses a significant degree of independence in determining the value of individual conscience particularly as it concerns the matter of conscientious objection. The deportation of war resisters sends the message that Canada does not value those who refuse to fight in war. It further erodes our standing in the world as peace keepers and a middle power capable of being an honest broker on the world stage.

Most troubling we will have failed our long held national values of defending legitimate moral opposition, defending the right to conscience and protecting political refugees from certain prosecution. Our once highly held principle of humanitarian consideration for refugees will be irrevocably threatened along with our national identity as a compassionate and tolerant country.

This is a costly and grave matter for Kimberly and her family and for us as Canadians. It is erroneously being framed as a criminal matter. Deportation of Kimberly and others like her will have far reaching, long term destructive consequences for us all. The real crime is a moral one in allowing this deportation to proceed unchallenged.

In June 2008 and March 2009 Parliament passed resolutions calling for a halt to the deportations of war resisters and allowing them to stay in Canada as permanent residents. Please use your position and voice as a parliamentarian to immediately stop the deportation of Kimberly Rivera.

Glenn Michalchuk
Chair, Peace Alliance Winnipeg

About 300 Winnipeggers rallied at the Manitoba Legislature on Saturday in support of the Egyptian struggle for democracy. Joining millions around the world, they chanted “Free Egypt Now!” and “Step down Mubarak!” Here’s some video.

Yves Engler has written a highly informative article on the deepening ties between Manitoba and Israel and the key role of the Canadian wing of the Jewish National Fund. Writes Engler:

“Manitoba’s ties to this openly racist institution are shocking, but also part of a decades-old pro-Israel policy of the NDP that must be challenged by real progressives.

“Shutting out Palestinian citizens of Israel, JNF lands can only be leased by Jews. A 1998 United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found that the JNF systematically discriminated against Palestinians in Israel. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” In 2005, Israel’s high court came to similar conclusions. It found that the JNF, which owns 13 percent of the country’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest, systematically excluded Palestinian citizens from leasing its property.”

You can read the complete article at the Peace Alliance Winnipeg News.

Galloway, quoted in the National Post, Oct. 4, 2010:  “I was a boxer in my youth. Maybe Mr. Kenney would like to go five rounds with me.” Photo: Mike Cassese/Reuters

It’s official. The much anticipated, cross-Canada tour by George Galloway begins in Montreal Nov. 17. By the time it’s over, he’ll have visited 10 cities, bringing his message of free speech, free Afghanistan and free Palestine to thousands of Canadians. It’s a message Canadians need to hear, again and again, and we should be pleased that Galloway is demonstrably up to the challenge. Tour details are available here.

Freedom of speech in Canada is in danger, especially on the subject of Palestine. According to a recent statement by Independent Jewish Voices,

“The Harper government is sponsoring a conference of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’ (ICCA) – the CPCCA’s international counterpart – in Ottawa on November 8 and 9. The CPCCA and ICCA have an agenda to attack free speech and to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by falsely conflating this with anti-Semitism.”

The IJV is hoping to mobilize opposition to this conference and what it represents, and deserves the support of every Canadian who treasures the right to speak our minds on any topic without fear of repression.

Another way of resisting attempts to restrict free speech is to promote and attend George Galloway’s speeches. Between now and the time he sets foot in Canada, we can confidently expect there will be attempts to discredit Galloway and distort his message. Our support for the tour will not only counter these reactionary diatribes; it will help raise funds for the local peace coalitions and Palestine solidarity campaigns across Canada that are sponsoring Galloway’s tour.

Defend free speech in Canada

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

This, just in, from Independent Jewish voices . . .

A TIME TO SPEAK OUT: DAY OF ACTION TO DEFEND FREE SPEECH ON NOVEMBER 8

FREE SPEECH UNDER ATTACK

The Harper government is sponsoring a conference of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’ (ICCA) – the CPCCA’s international counterpart – in Ottawa on November 8 and 9. The CPCCA and ICCA have an agenda to attack free speech and to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by falsely conflating this with anti-Semitism.

Independent Jewish Voices is deeply concerned about the threat to free speech and civil liberties posed by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’(CPCCA). It is legitimate and ethically necessary for Canadians of conscience to criticize Israeli human rights abuses and to support non-violent remedies.

A NEW MCCARTHYISM

The Harper government has already slashed funding to NGOs that dared to express support for Palestinian rights, brutally attacked and abused G20 demonstrators, barred British MP George Galloway from entering Canada because of his aid to the people of Gaza, and attacked CUPE, CUPW, and Israeli Apartheid Week activities. The list doesn’t end there.

The CPCCA, with Minister of Censorship and Deportation Jason Kenney as one of its driving forces, aims to entrench these attacks on free speech in the federal parliament.

The CPCCA held hearings this past year to try to paint a veneer of credibility on its transparent intention to attack free speech in Canada.  It ignored many critical submissions, including those from Independent Jewish Voices. Even the CPCCA witnesses from Canadian universities and the police confirmed that there is no rise in anti-Semitism and called on the CPCCA to respect free speech.

The ICCA conference is intended to distract from this embarrassing result.  At a cost of over $451,280 in federal funds, the ICCA conference is closed to the public and the media, and makes no pretence of unbiased research.

STAND UP, FIGHT BACK

1. Raise your voices for a day of action for free speech on Monday, November 8. Organize locally – get in touch with the nearest IJV chapter, human rights groups, free speech advocates and Palestine solidarity coalitions. Local events for the day of action could include press conferences, protests, teach-ins, or other creative ideas to build the movement to defend free speech.  IJV will release a 10 minute video on Nov. 8, which will be posted on YouTube and the IJV web site. Feel free to use it in your events.  Please let us know what actions you’ve taken:  Contact Independent Jewish Voices at ijv@magma.ca.

2. Contact your MP and the federal party leaders and demand they reject any attempts to silence or criminalize legitimate criticism of Israel, and to stand up for the principle of free speech in Canada. www.webinfo.parl.gc.ca.

3.  Contact university presidents and human rights offices in your city and ask them also to issue a statement affirming the right of students and faculty to free speech.

4. Sign our anti-CPCCA petition at http://ijvcanada.org/sign-signez-petition-cpcca-hearings/ which will be released to the press and all MPs on Nov. 8.

5. Send a photo to ijv@magma.ca of yourself holding an anti-CPCCA sign (perhaps with duct tape over your mouth) or a sign saying “I support free speech.”  We will post it on line with a title “The is what Democracy looks like.”

6. Donate to IJV to help fund our campaign for free speech: Please send donations to IJV,  P.O. Box 23088, Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E2.

For more information, visit Independent Jewish Voices at www.ijvcanada.org.

Dear Premier Selinger,

To put it politely, I am deeply upset by your decision to deepen economic ties with the State of Israel. The ongoing violation of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel has made Israel, deservedly, a pariah among nations. Because of this, individuals, organizations, companies and even governments are banding together in a nonviolent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in the hope that Israel will recognize the rights of Palestinians and seriously work for peace.

Surely you are aware of the 1400 Palestinians (including 300 children and hundreds of civilians) who were killed during the 18-day invasion the Israelis called Operation Cast Lead. If not, please follow this link to a report by Amnesty International.

You must have heard of the widespread misery and deprivation that persists in Gaza because of the Israeli blockade.  Possibly you are too busy to follow these matters in any depth, but I hope you will take the time to read the UN Human Rights Council report on the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the murders perpetrated against unarmed peace activists during that attack. These people were murdered because they were bringing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, people prevented by the blockade from rebuilding after the devastating Israeli invasion.

All too commonly in this country, affluent and ill-informed people are willing to turn a blind eye to injustice. The injustice against Palestinians began with their expulsion from their land in 1948. Systematically and relentlessly Israel has reduced the land available to Palestinians to a few small patches, hemmed in by Israeli soldiers, checkpoints and growing Israeli settlements. The situation of Palestinians is not unlike that of blacks in South Africa during the apartheid years. It is no accident that the term “Israeli apartheid” is heard more and more.

Is Manitoba in such desperate straights that our government sees a need to do business with such a repressive regime? What were you thinking?

Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinian people is an affront to all who cherish human rights and social justice. Those who do business with such a regime are complicit in this ongoing horror show.

I expect better of my provincial government and I expect better from you.

Please cancel your upcoming trip to Israel and reverse your policy of economic and cultural cooperation with Israel until such time as it shows serious commitment to redressing the injustices it has committed against the Palestinian people.

Sincerely,

Paul Graham
Winnipeg


Dear Reader,

Please do your part to remind Mr. Selinger that it will not be acceptable to do business with Israel until it makes peace with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and dismantles the ugly apartheid system it has set up.

Tell him Manitoba should be a part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestine movement, rather than a partner in apartheid.

Greg Selinger’s email address is premier@leg.gov.mb.ca.

It is disgusting to admit it, but Manitoba’s Premier, Greg Selinger, is traveling to Israel this month to “sign partnership agreements, help promote the Royal Winnipeg Ballet 70th anniversary tour of Israel and dedicate a park designed to promote peace . . .” He’s taking a couple of cabinet ministers as well as a freshly minted “special representative for Manitoba to Israel for economic and community relations.”

In the wake of Israel’s murders of Gaza Freedom Flotilla crew members, Operation Cast Lead, and the ongoing oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank, the premier’s decision to deepen ties with Israel is unbelievably stupid and sickening.

Photo: Al Jazeera. See Al Jazeera’s feature entitled Gaza: One Year On

Had any of Selinger’s predecessors opted to visit South Africa during its apartheid era, the outcry would have been deafening.

Do your part to remind Mr. Selinger that it will not be acceptable to do business with Israel until it makes peace with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and dismantles the ugly apartheid system it has set up.

Tell him Manitoba should be a part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestine movement, rather than a partner in apartheid.

Greg Selinger’s email address is premier@leg.gov.mb.ca.

Thanks to we move to canada for ongoing, persuasive arguments in support of war resisters, including this latest: soldiers have rights too: the human right of conscience applies to everyone.

While you are at it, check out On Harper’s hatred for the troops, and the medicalization of trauma, a timely offering from your heart’s on the left.