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June 16, 2010

Harper is more Zionist than Netanyahu, MP says

Reuel S. Amdur

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A couple hundred demonstrators gathered at Ottawa's Human Rights Monument, next to City Hall, on June 5, to denounce the Israeli attack on the flotilla bringing relief supplies to Gaza.

There was a sea of Palestinian flags, along with a few Lebanese ones and a Turkish standard.  It was announced that this was one of about a hundred pro-Gaza demonstrations across the world that day, with around 20 in Canada. 

The demonstration was called by the Palestine Solidarity Network. 

Various organizations were represented, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). 

Denis Lemelin, speaking for CUPW, called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to demand that Israel let future boats in to Gaza.  He supported the call for boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions. 

Israel, he said, is “a terrorist state, a colonial state.”

Jessica Squires, speaking for the Ottawa Peace Assembly, addressed the Conservative government’s cutting the funding for Kairos and the Canadian Arab Federation. 

She charged that the Harper government is attacking groups that are doing immigrant settlement work. 

Bloc Québécois MP Richard Nadeau proclaimed—echoing the words of John F. Kennedy in Berlin many years ago—“We are all Palestinians.  We are all Gazans.” 

He spoke of his visit to Gaza along with MP’s Libby Davies (NDP) and Borys Wrzesnewskji (Liberal), and of the massive destruction that they saw.  He called Gaza the world’s biggest prison and tagged Israel as an apartheid state.  “Stephen Harper,” he charged, “is more Zionist than Netanyahu.” 

In a side interview, he reported that he met with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon on behalf of the three MP’s, as the other two were not available at the scheduled time.

He told Cannon what they had witnessed and expressed concern that Canada had eliminated its funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides assistance to Gaza.  Cannon replied that Canada was providing money for food through other channels.

While “official” Jewish organizations like to charge that opposition to Israel and Zionism is really camouflaged anti-Semitism, the crowd burst into loud cheers when Nadeau and Dr. Eman Loubani made reference to Jews who support Palestinian rights. 

The crowd was told that a ship of Jews would be heading to Gaza, and Independent Jewish Voices was present at the rally with their banner.

There was a handful of people from different Communist organizations, and on the other side of the street 25 pro-Israel demonstrators gathered. 

This reporter crossed over to cover the counter-demonstration, where people waved Israeli flags. 

One of the pro-Israel people, Fred Litwin, was asked what their group was, and he replied that they had gathered individually.  When asked his view of the pro-Gaza gathering, he said, “They have a right to protest.”  Referring to the seizure of the flotilla, he commented that “The evidence is clear as to what happened.”  The interviewing on that side of the street came to an end when another fellow demanded whom I was reporting for.

The name Canadian Charger immediately elicited a diatribe.  “Don’t talk to him because nothing will be reported honestly.”  It is interesting that the Canadian Charger is becoming widely known in unexpected circles.

As the rally was drawing to a close, a youngster who had crossed over to the other side of the street was forcibly arrested and driven to the police station. It is said that this boy had spit at people in the pro-Israel group. 

Some hundred demonstrators marched from the Human Rights Monument to the police station.  Not everyone knew of the reason for the arrest, but there was concern that one of their own was locked up. 

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