Did you hear the one about the Jewish video blogger who interviewed a prominent female public figure who then made anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements?
So I must be talking about Helen Thomas. But alas I am not.
The prominent female public figure to whom I am referring is Libby Davies. Okay, Davies isn't exactly a prominent female public figure in the United States, but she certainly is one in Canada.
Davies is a Member of Parliament in Canada's House of Commons and has represented the constituency of Vancouver East since 1997. She is also the Deputy Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada's democratic socialist political party. (I was an active, card carrying member of the NDP for more than a decade before moving to this country. Eventually, I would become disenchanted with the NDP and the Left in general following the events of September 11, 2001.)
Earlier this month, Davies was attending an anti-Israel rally in Vancouver which was recorded by David Katz, the aforementioned video blogger who writes for the liberal blog Comments from Left Field. Katz videotaped Davies' brief address to the crowd. During her talk, Davies repeatedly stated Gaza was under siege, praised the flotillas as "a worldwide movement to support the Palestinians" and questioned Canada's "so-called friendship with Israel."
At the rally's conclusion, Katz approached Davies to ask her some questions of his own and would videotape this exchange as well. The first question Katz asked, "When do you believe the occupation in Israel started? '48 or '67?" An astonished looking Davies replied, "Forty-eight. I mean, it's the longest occupation in the world."
For all intents and purposes, Davies effectively stated Israel was an illegitimate state. Never mind that Gaza and the West Bank were under Egyptian and Jordanian control from 1948 to 1967, respectively. Isn't it curious that no one was advocating Palestinian statehood while Egypt and Jordan were occupying those territories?
Davies also called upon Israel to dismantle all settlements, dismantle the security fence and, of course, to end "the siege of Gaza." She also expressed support for the BDS movement. That would be boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. "We have to make this issue something that can be properly debated in the political arena," said Davies with regard to BDS.
Frankly, speaking from my experience as a former NDP activist, I cannot say her statements surprise me. This is, after all, the same woman who back in 1998 tried to lead a Citizens' Weapons Inspection Team into Washington State to inspect U.S. weapons of mass destruction. Davies puts the loon in the loony left.
When Katz's video began to circulate in earnest on YouTube last week, the spotlight of scrutiny shone uncomfortably on both Davies and the NDP. On two separate occasions during Question Period, Prime Minister Stephen Harper denounced Davies' statements and called upon NDP Leader Jack Layton to remove her as the party's Deputy Leader. Harper even likened Davies' statements to those of Helen Thomas:
This is a fundamental denial of Israel's right to exist and repeats the kind of comments that were made by Helen Thomas on which she was forced to resign and the member of the NDP who said those should be forced to resign as well.
The Prime Minister's comments earned him a standing ovation from his fellow Tories. But Harper wasn't done there. He also said of Davies, "She made statements that could have been made by Hamas, Hezbollah or anybody else with no repercussions from that party whatsoever."
Davies' statements have also been condemned by the opposition Liberal Party. Bob Rae, Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic, also called on Layton to strip Davies of her post as NDP Deputy Leader. (9) It is worth noting that for many years Rae was an NDP stalwart and would be elected Premier of Ontario in 1990 under an NDP banner. However, Rae broke with the NDP in April 2002 when Svend Robinson, then an NDP MP and also the party's Foreign Affairs Critic, traveled to Ramallah in solidarity with Palestinian Authority President and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Robinson accused Israel of committing "acts of state terrorism." In an editorial which appeared in the National Post, Rae wrote, "Mr. Robinson's views are apparently now the official stand of the federal New Democratic Party. They are not mine."
As for Katz, he took Davies to task for not being well informed. In an interview, Katz stated:
I know my stuff, but I expect a member of parliament, who is vocal on the issue, to know her stuff as well…this is one of the highest officials in the land....it just makes me wonder if there are any other issues she has taken a strong stand on without having studied the issue in full.
For her part, Davies issued a self-serving statement. She called her claim that Israeli occupation began in 1948 "a serious and completely inadvertent error." One must then wonder if standing in front of an "End Israeli Apartheid" sign while giving her speech at the Vancouver rally was also "a serious and completely inadvertent error." But, as of this writing, Davies continues to enjoy Layton's full support.
Personally, I hope Davies stays on as NDP Deputy Leader. So long as she remains in a senior level position of leadership within the NDP it will serve as a constant reminder that I made the right decision to leave the NDP. It would serve as a reminder of the NDP's implacable and irrational hostility towards Israel. It would also serve as a reminder that conservatives are Israel's greatest champions, be they in the United States or Canada.
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