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Saturday, December 27, 2014

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Support for Israel is not a wedge issue

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Jonathan Goldbloom

“Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Hamas is a terrorist organization and must cease its rocket attacks immediately.”  Justin Trudeau

Michael Taube’s effort to put a negative spin on Justin Trudeau’s support of Israel in the Aug. 14 issue brings political partisanship to a new low.

At a time when all three major parties are standing with Israel and essentially speaking with one voice, Taube portrays the Liberals as “pandering to the Jews.”  He alleges that members of the Jewish community have shifted massively to the Tories, and that this is not because of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s support of Israel but because Jews are in tune with small “c” conservative ideas.

As I go door to door, participate in coffee parties, and listen to grassroots individuals, I find that people are responsive to what Trudeau and the Liberals are saying. 

For the record, Liberals all want peace. We hope that the cease fire is restored and negotiations resume. Too many people have suffered, and too many people continue to live in fear.

Peace, however, is impossible in the long term with an enemy, Hamas, which does not want peace; which wants to destroy Israel; which denies Israel’s right to exist; and which uses its citizens, including its children, as pawns and propaganda victims of war. Israel has every right to defend itself. 

That being said, we must all work to find a solution to avoid more deaths and destruction – military and civilian – and on all sides. Our shared goal is a two-state solution where each state enjoys secure and recognized borders.

Canada, under a Liberal government, will solidly support Israel.  We could also play a constructive role in the peace process. One vital step, for example, would be to help in establishing mechanisms to ensure a genuine, verifiable demilitarization of Gaza.  Canadian expertise could also be used to help the people of Gaza build a democratic and productive society.

Trudeau is earning respect for the consistency of his message, and for his courage in expressing it to all audiences.  I urge readers to review key statements he has made by going to Liberal.ca. Or look at the video on YouTube of Marc Garneau’s speech several weeks ago at an Ottawa rally. 

Taube, an exponent of the Conservatives’ derogatory attack strategy, and a speech writer for Harper, makes a big stretch when he asserts that a majority of members of the Jewish community – or indeed a majority of Canadians – have bought into small “c” conservative policies.  My experience in talking with Canadians indicates that basic Canadian values continue to be historic Liberal values.  Polls bear this out.  

We take pride in the Liberal legacy, from ensuring universal access to health care to rejecting bank mergers, and staying out of Iraq. I have yet to come across a Jewish audience that supports closing all of The Status of Women’s offices in the country, or linking foreign aid to anti-abortion policy, or denying health care to refugee claimants, or ending the Court Challenge’s Program used so successfully by Quebec’s English speaking community to ensure access to English schools and institutions.

Canadians want a government that is both fiscally and socially responsible, that, for example, initiates policies in support of middle class Canadians while leading the fight against climate change and taking steps to build bridges amongst Canadians of all backgrounds. 

The bottom line is that Liberal values are Jewish values.

Taube’s partisan nastiness does a disservice to Canada and to Israel.

Jonathan Goldbloom is a  candidate for the federal Liberal nomination in Mount Royal, Que.

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