Shalom to you. I am a card-carrying New Democrat active in Vancouver and a modest financial donor to the party. We met a few years ago as you and Libby Davies were walking out of Vancouver City Hall and I was walking in.
I also am a rabbi with a Vancouver synagogue. I lived in Israel four different years since 1971. I am very deeply tied to that land and its people. My son is there now and my daughter is going in less than a month for a year. I am involved with Israel daily and know its realities well.
Unfortunately, you make a real mistake in criticizing Libby Davies for her comments about the Israeli occupation beginning in 1948. (http://tinyurl.com/369ggcm) You fell into a trap, Jack. A blatantly manipulative political ploy was set up to capitalize on a volatile and emotional issue. You played right along.
Libby said that she thinks the Israeli occupation began in 1948. Well, it did. I can introduce you to Palestinians living here in Vancouver who were forced out of their homes at gunpoint by Jews in 1948 and their villages destroyed. That’s occupation. It happened. Denying it doesn’t change a thing.
Just look at this map on the left here of the 1947 UN partition plan. The UN assigned the orange parts to the Jews' control and the pink parts to the Arabs. Now, look at a 1948 map of the ceasefire lines. The purple is what Israel held and eventually became its more-or-less acknowledged boundaries until 1967.
Even well before 1948, Jewish organizations launched a well-planned and well-executed campaign to establish “facts on the ground” by planting 57 settlements literally in the middle of the night all over the country. This was especially true in the southern Negev desert region so that the UN would grant that area to the Jewish state-to-be. Even though there was negligible and recently imported Jewish population amidst a far larger and very well-established Arab population (in that large orange area in the south), the UN partition granted it to the Jews and not the Arabs. This is a source of great pride in Israel, well-known to every school child and celebrated in museums. To know more, see "Tower and Stockade", tourist attraction and commemorative coin.
To imply that Libby doesn’t support the existence of the State of Israel is nothing but disingenuous manipulation. You know that’s not true; Libby does support the existence of the State of Israel. It is Israel’s behaviour that Libby condemns – and rightfully so.
I am surprised and deeply disappointed that you didn’t defend Libby, certainly one of the NDP’s most courageous, clear-thinking and popular MP’s. You should have turned the criticism back on Bob Rae and Thomas Mulcair for suggesting that, because Libby spoke the truth about 1948, her support for Israel’s right to exist is suspect. That is a ridiculous accusation. One thing has nothing to do with the other. I don’t understand why you succumbed to such simplistic trickery and didn’t have the guts to say what was really going on.
As an active member of the NDP, I would appreciate hearing your reasons for going along with this attack on Libby and this intentional distortion of very significant historical facts regarding Israel and Palestine. If you honestly didn’t know better, I can excuse it. You can’t know everything about every issue. (But you certainly need to check with someone who does.) On the other hand, if you felt you simply had to bow to political pressure, you and the NDP have lost some of the respect I always have had for you. I would appreciate a reply.
Thank you so very much,