Thursday, March 5, 2009

Iggy Scolds the Anti-Israel Movement

I'm not generally considered to be a cheerleader for the Liberal Party. I was not a fan of Chretien; I was not impressed with Martin's foray into the PMO; I believed that Dion was more of an activist than a credible leader; and while I respect Ignatieff's intellect, I'm less than enamoured with the arrogance that accompanies it. Heck, to be honest, I still haven't forgiven the Liberal party for Trudeau.

Notwithstanding all of that, I do believe in giving credit where credit is due. And Michael Ignatieff's op-ed in the National Post does evince the right stuff -- ability to stake out a resolutely moral position and defend it. In this case, Iggy smacks down the organizers and participants of Israeli Apartheid Week, being held this week on many Canadian university campuses.

“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.

This Liberal chief also has some choice words for CUPE Ontario's anti-Israel posturing of recent weeks.

The Liberal Party of Canada condemns the CUPE resolution in the strongest possible terms. I salute the others who have spoken out against the resolution, including my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House of Commons, and CUPE’s national president, Paul Moist, who has refused to support the resolution. I encourage all CUPE members, and all Canadians, to follow their example.

Israel Apartheid Week and CUPE Ontario’s anti-Israel posturing exploit academic freedom, and they should be condemned by all who value civil and respectful debate about the tragic conflict in the Middle East.

This is a refreshing departure from the "Mackenzie King revue" we've come to expect from Ignatieff since his coronation as Liberal leader -- you know, the "_____ if necessary, but not necessarily _____" routine, famously used by King in 1942 when the _____ was filled in with the word "conscription".

It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the "progressive" wing of the Liberal party's base -- those who coalesced around Dion and the Green Shift; those in parliament like Dennis Coderre who marched alongside banner-wavers for Hamas and Hezbollah in Montreal; those who protest a little too much that there is a line separating anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. (For the record, yes there is a clear line between criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism. However, the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is very thin, often blurry and somewhat fluid. I think Ignatieff underlines this point well.)

When is anti-Zionism simply a rejection of a perceived ideology, and when is "anti-Zionism" code for something far more nefarious?

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