are you now or have you ever been: the new mccarthyism turns on libby davies

What kind of a country are we living in when Members of Parliament attack one of their own colleagues and demand her resignation for expressing a point of view different from their own?

This insane attempt to censure and stigmatize any discussion about the Palestinian people that isn't simply "Israel good, Palestine bad" is completely out of control. It is a mass hysteria. We cannot make it go away but we cannot allow it stand unchallenged.

British MP George Galloway, a peace activist, is called a terrorist, because he gave money to Hamas.

Organizers of Israel Apartheid Week are condemned and harassed and vilified.

The words "Israeli apartheid" have been banned from Canada's largest Pride week. They're banning words, people! Doesn't that make you sit up and take notice?!

Now Libby Davies, as fine an MP as this country has, a woman as committed to justice and equality as any public figure you'll meet, is being attacked in the House of Commons because she dared to utter words that some people don't agree with.

Davies was asked, "When do you believe that the occupation in Israel started — '48 or 67?" She answered 1948.

And for this, her colleagues are calling for her resignation?!

Yet these same MPs - so outraged, so incensed, in such a state of hysteria over Libby Davies' words - were silent about the brutal murder of nine activists and the illegal detention of hundreds by Israeli forces.

What is happening when words are more widely condemned than murder??

What's more, the whole Davies flap was a set-up - an ambush. The question was asked by a pro-Zionist blogger, posing as either neutral or pro-Palestinian, in an attempt to "prove" that Davies denies Israel's right to exist. Libby Davies, are you now or have you ever been a member of the pro-Palestinian community?

Naturally, the Liberals and the Tories side together on this. We expect that, as they are indistinguishable on foreign policy. But we might have once expected more form the NDP. Murray Dobbin, writing in Straight.com, explains how this all came about. It was, as Dobbin says, a leadership test for Layton. And Layton flat-out failed.
Today, Tuesday June 15, is a day the NDP‘s Jack Layton will face a leadership test. He is poised to make a decision to punish one of his MPs and it could stain his leadership for a long time to come.

The party is in a state of near hysteria over what should have been a minor flap. But when the question of Israel and the Palestinians is involved, nothing is simple. The pro-Israel lobby and its friends are masters of taking advantage of any situation to promote their cause and vilify Israel’s critics. And it doesn’t matter if the victim is an icon of progressive politics.

In this case Vancouver East MP Libby Davies got bushwacked by a pro-Israel activist posing as a neutral – if not pro-Palestinian – blogger. After a rally for the Palestinians criticizing Israel’s deadly assault on the aid flotilla, a man approached Libby asking for an interview. As she always does, because she never hides her views, she complied. He immediately set her up with what he called a “background question.” He asked when the occupation began, 1948 or 1967.

Libby hesitated then said 1948. She made the point that the date was not important – that whatever the date the occupation was the longest in the world – and far too long.

The next day the interview appeared on YouTube. But in 24 hours it had gone nowhere – just 28 views. Then the most vociferous supporter of Israel in the NDP caucus, Thomas Mulcair, got wind of it and it escalated out of control. He went on a relentless campaign to punish Libby. The spin he helped create was that if Libby believed the occupation began in 1948 then she, ipso facto, believes that Israel has no right to exist. Libby has always gone to great lengths to make it clear that she supports Israel’s right to exist and the two-state solution endorsed by the NDP. But suddenly Jack Layton was in full-panic mode. He apologized to the Israeli ambassador. He hung Libby out to dry. He forced her to issue a public apology.

Apology? For what?

Some have criticized Libby’s statement as evidence that she does not know the history of the occupation which most mainstream commentators date from 1967 – when Israel militarily occupied the West bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. But Libby’s problem was not that she didn’t know enough. She knew too much.

On Davies' website, she writes:
My reference to the year 1948 as the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory was a serious and completely inadvertent error; I apologize for this and regret any confusion it has caused.

I have always supported a two-state solution to the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have never questioned Israel's right to exist and the Palestinian’s right to a viable state.

New Democrats have long called for a peaceful, negotiated end to the conflict where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side with secure borders. This is a policy I fully support.

I reject the allegation that I hate Israel, and I reject the assertion that I said that Israel is illegitimate or an abomination. Neither are true.

Libby Davies has always supported women and working people, and has stood up for the weakest among us - the unemployed, homeless people, people battling substance abuse. Now she needs our visible and vocal support.

If this New McCarthyism bothers you, I urge you to take action to make your views known. Here are a few ideas.

  • Write a letter to your local newspaper supporting Libby Davies. Keep it short and very focused, no more than a few sentences, and it will stand a better chance of being published.

  • Email the NDP. Activist Rick Telfer very kindly provides us with the addresses. Tell Layton and the NDP caucus that you support Libby Davies and you want the party to support her, too.

  • Call Davies' office to express your thanks for her statement and your support for her: 613.992.6030. In Vancouver, you can also call her constituency office: 604.775.5800.

  • Call Jack Layton's Parliament office to say you support Davies and are very disappointed in his criticism of Libby: 613.947.0867.

  • Call NDP MP Thomas Mulcair's Parliament office to say that you are disappointed and disgusted by his attack his colleague Davies, and by his decision to side with the Israel Lobby, the Liberals, and the Conservatives. As Rick said in his recent message to a Facebook group, Mulcair's actions are absolutely shameful and an embarrassment to New Democrats: 613.995.7691.

  • "Like" Davies' page on Facebook and post a supportive message there.

  • Forward this post to anyone you know who will support Davies against this shameful McCarthyism.

    I again repeat what I always say. We should never be afraid of words. We should never be afraid of ideas. When those who oppose our ideas attempt to ban our words, they show their weakness. You can ban a word but you cannot suppress the truth.
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