The Conservative Party of Canada is showing its true stripes this week. On two equally disgusting fronts. First, the Tories are defaming whistle blower Richard Colvin because he implicated that government employees in both Defense and Foreign Affairs tried to bury the torture of Afghan detainees in Kandahar's prisons. Second, the Tories are continuing their relentless pursuit of the Jewish vote by implicitly calling two Jewish Members of Parliament anti-Semitic. Don't see the connection? Let me explain. The common thread between the two incidents is the Conservatives equating criticism of a state with an attack upon that state or its people. Democratic governments function best when criticism is absorbed and listened to, not when it is rejected out of hand and denigrated. Mr. Colvin becomes the latest in a line of public servants to feel the wrath of the Harper government because they dared to paint a less than rosy picture of what is going on around them. The Tories have responded to Mr. Colvin's allegations by saying that Mr. Colvin is spreading "Taliban propaganda". It is beyond low.
The ten-percenters hit a little closer to home for me. I struggle as a Jewish-Canadian to comprehend the connection between my life in Canada and the state of Israel. Historically speaking my great-grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe not Israel. Mostly though, I'm Canadian. Yes, I'm Jewish in my faith but my country is Canada, and only Canada. I hope for peace in the Middle East but I refuse to take responsibility for the actions of the state of Israel just because the majority of its citizens share my faith. No state, not Canada, not Israel is perfect. No state, not Canada, not Israel is above criticism. Critiques of Israel do not have to stem from an anti-Israeli place let alone an anti-Semitic place. In fact, Israelis are often the most virulent critics of Israel, as should be true in any democratic country. The implication that the position of a Canadian political party on the conflict in the Middle East is of any relevance to the lives of Canadian Jews or the combatants in the Middle East is absurd. Canada may like to think of itself as an honest broker, but frankly we don't do much brokering. We don't matter very much in the grand scheme of Middle Eastern politics. By all means, attack real anti-Semitism in this country. I can say from personal experience that it is all too prevalent. However, saying the IDF may have made mistakes in the heat of battle is not anti-Semitic. As a Canadian, it offends me when people think that my political motivations are governed by my faith. Fifty years ago John F. Kennedy had to ward off attacks that he would take orders from Rome. It is a sad state of affairs when the same mentality that supported those attacks is alive and well in the government of Canada.
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