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January 26, 2011

Who is Bob Rae?

Susan Howard-Azzeh

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The "big surprise Canadian speaker" at the celebration of the 46th Anniversary of the Palestinian Revolution January 22, 2011 at the Vic Johnson Community Centre in Streetsville was Bob Rae. The crowd cheered and clapped for him like he was a hero, even though most did not know who he was.

The crowd cheered and clapped for him like he was a hero, even though most did not know who he was. He is the Liberal MP for Toronto-Centre, the foreign affairs critic for the Liberal Party of Canada - and a Zionist. Does Rashad Saleh, Ahmad Abu Hanoud, Issam al Yamani, former Liberal MP Omar Alghabra... think that cozying up to Bob Rae will make him pro-Palestinian human rights?

Bob Rae is a committed Zionist. And he has always been a committed Zionist. Please inform yourselves about his past, his politics, his actions. Read his foreign policy, articles and speeches. He is involved with the Jewish National Fund which raises money for Israeli control of Palestinian lands.

His wife Arlene Perly Rae is also involved with the Jewish National Fund and was a board member of the Zionist Canadian Jewish Congress. Rae was involved in the founding of “Canada Park” which was built on top of the Palestinian villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba in order to erase any traces of their existence.

These villages were occupied June 6, 1967 without a shot being fired and then systematically dynamited, bulldozed and demolished on the direct orders of Yitzhak Rabin, the then chief of staff of the Israeli army.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention the forcible displacement of people and destruction of property of those under occupation is a war-crime. Canada Park was built with tax-deductible Canadian dollars donated by the Canadian Jewish National Fund and Joseph and Faye Tanenbaum of Toronto and is now a picnic area for Israelis accessible from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

However, Palestinians cannot enter or picnic in old Imwas as the roads are Israeli only.

Currently the Jewish National Fund is ethnically cleansing Palestinian Bedouins from their homes and lands in al-Araqib in the Negev. Under the false name of environmentalism, JNF bulldozers are levelling al-Araqib and again erasing any trace of Palestinian history in the area - and planting trees. In response, principled Jews such as the International Anti-Zionist Network IJAN are organizing US/UK/European and Canadian campaigns against the JNF.

Bob Rae, along with Zionists Irwin Cotler and Jason Kenney, are also on the Steering Committee of the biased Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, which seeks to criminalize criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

While at the Funonyat event January 22 Rae told the much admired Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion that he would like to name a street or a plaza in Ramallah after her. Who is Bob Rae to decide who Palestinian streets should be named after? Palestine is not Bob Rae's to give away.

Rae's whole speech was double-talk. He said "Peace can only be gotten with peace". People clapped. But what was Rae really saying? Was he telling Israelis to stop killing Palestinians? No, he was telling Palestinians to lay down their arms, compromise, make more concessions and co-exist with Israel, even if Israel does not give Palestinians back their land, retreat to the 1967 borders or implement Palestinian right of return. He said he believes in a Palestinian state. But where? With what borders? He said he spoke to Abu Mazen five times.

But what about? Making what deals?

Who is Bob Rae to speak about issues dear to Palestinian Canadians and Canadian human rights activists? He said Canada must have a more balanced approach to "the Middle East".

But this is not a battle of equals. Israel is the oppressor; Palestinians are the victims. Throughout his career, both as an NDPer and a Liberal, Rae has never defined what kind of peace he believes in, never defined the borders of a potential Palestinian state or the status of Jerusalem, never condemned the Israeli killing of Palestinians, never condemned the building of Jewish settlements, never endorsed Right of Return, and never acknowledged that Palestinians were the victims of ethnic cleansing in 1948. Of course, the organizers of the event know this. Yet Rae asks Palestinians to “work for peace with peace”. Gobble-de-gook.

Liberal MP Bonnie Crombie who also spoke, could not even say the word Palestine. She said she was at the event to recognize "The Day of Solidarity" but she could not complete the words "Day of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights". When Omar Alghabra introduced Bob Rae he introduced him as, "An important Canadian. Please welcome Bob to the stage." Why not say Bob's full name? Omar probably feared if he did the people would Boo.

Of course, as soon as Bob finished speaking he left the building, without hearing any of the English speeches. Thus he was given a free public platform but without even the opportunity to educate him in return.

A federal election will be called soon. This was not a “Day of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights” but a “Day of Solidarity with the Liberal Party”. Bob Rae, Omar Alghabra and "the Palestine Arab Association" are positioning themselves for a Liberal win. Long-term, Rae wants to be the Prime Minister of Canada. It will never happen. Or at least we better not let it happen.

Whether Conservative, Liberal or NDP all three Canadian federal parties and their leaders have twisted and inadequate policies on Palestine. None of the federal parties for example endorse Palestinian Right of Return. Our Canadian party system is broken. So rather than kissing up to the Liberals hoping the Conservatives will lose – challenge our politicians whichever party they belong to, "speak truth to power", educate, educate, educate, DEMAND from our politicians not just peace but justice for Palestine, and vote out staunch Zionists like Rae.

However, Canadian politicians will not respect Palestinian Canadians and their allies if we do not respect ourselves. As one attendee stated, “My beef is not with Rae, we know he is Zionist, but with the people who welcomed and hosted him. Their ignorance has no bounds. The same people that embraced Zionist Rae also worked in the last municipal election against Carolyn Parrish, one of the most vocal Canadian supporters of the Palestinian cause.”

Bob Rae can now use this event to declare that he has a close relationship with the Palestinian Canadian community. As evidence he can state, “I just spoke at one of their events with 700 cheering attendees”. People who came were duped into thinking they were attending a cultural celebration of Palestinian dabke. The organizers can now send video tapes back to Ramallah and the Palestinian Authority declaring their imaginary strength and support, to the benefit of their own self-importance.

With files from Khaled Mouammar, Ismail Zayid, Ibrahim Kanaan, Linda Belanger, Elias Hazineh and James Kafieh.

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