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Israeli Peace Activists Are Shocked By Harper's Visit Too

03/03/2014 05:13 EST | Updated 05/03/2014 05:59 EDT

Prime Minster Harper's visit in Israel left many of us in disarray. When the hawks in our Knesset give a repeated standing ovation to a leader of note, they invite them into the fray. Since Mr. Harper choreographed his visit here, he cannot be surprised by the critical outcry in response to his evident pro-Netanyahu bias.

Canadians like Ms. Michelle Whiteman should be reminded that Netanyahu is not a synonym for Israel and that a critical stance towards Netanyahu is not an automatic support for the Palestinian cause. Israeli society is defined by a conflict of vision which regard to our relations with the Palestinians. We, peace activists, are not any less patriotic than Mr. Netanyahu and his followers. We, peace activists, were in fact quite shocked by the conduct of Mr. Harper during his visit, which was seen here by too many as a gesture of solidarity toward Mr. Netanyahu as politician rather as a token of friendship toward us Israelis.

We are strong believers in the necessity of Israel to maintain strong bonds with members of the Family of Nations, Canada in particular. Unlike the current government, we are convinced Israel is leaning far too heavily on its military might and far too little on reaching out to the world at large. When Canada voted for the creation of the Jewish State of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in November 29th 1947, only 57 independent countries were represented in this body. Today, 193 nations are represented and a similar vote would end dismally for Israel. Most, if not all, 136 new members of the UN are products of 20th century de-colonization. No wonder this majority identifies itself with a nation still wishing to be endowed with the right of self-determination, sovereignty, and statehood.

On June 5, 2017, barely 40 months from now, Israel will have occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza for half a century. For nearly 50 years one nation of 4 million people has been denied the basic right every Canadian takes for granted. Mr. Harper should have stood up in our Knesset and told Prime Minister Netanyahu that this fact stands in contradiction to the values and interests of Canada.

In 50 years, Israel -- in contravention of international law and the will of the Family of Nations -- has settled close to 500,000 Israelis in the West Bank. For every Jewish settler there are four Palestinians. But the settlers entertain the privileges of democracy while the Palestinians are systematically denied them. This is a reminder of the dark days in South Africa.

The occupation contradicts the values and wishes of most Israelis. There is no need for incitement to drive a wedge of hate between Palestinians and Israelis. The policy of occupation and the behavior of the settlers is enough. I condemn terrorism and incitement, but the truth must be said: some of us, Israelis, engage in incitement. Sadly, some of us engage in terrorism as well. The current government in Jerusalem fails time and again to bar Jewish anti-Palestinian terrorism. It is needless to say that it shows no interest in dealing with incitement stemming from Israeli sources towards the Palestinians. In fact, a US-initiated trilateral committee geared to monitor and remove manifestations of incitement in textbooks and the media, ceased to operate due to Israeli refusal to constructively cooperate.

We wish the entire world -- including Canada -- would embrace Israel in friendship to the last centimeter of the Green Line of June 4th 1967. Beyond this Green Line, however, is occupied territory. Replacement of the Green Line with a new border can be concluded only upon an agreement with the Palestinians through peace negotiations. Only then should friends like Canada extend their friendship beyond that line, to the new border dividing the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.

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