In his infamous tome The Prince, Machiavelli could have been presaging Lord Balfour’s Declaration when he wrote: ”You can be much more generous with what does not belong to you or your subjects, as Cyrus, Caesar and Alexander were. This is because giving away what belongs to others in no way damages your reputation; rather, it enhances it. It is only giving away what belongs to yourself that harms you.”
… Something to think about as you read this letter that CUSJ President Margaret Rao sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 2, 2017.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you once again on behalf of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ), a faith-based organization that advocates for peace and justice in our world. Today marks the 100th anniversary of Britain’s Balfour Declaration, which supported the establishment of ‘a national home for the Jewish people’, with little regard for the local indigenous Arab population. The Balfour Declaration led to the founding of an Israeli State, resulting in mass expulsions and displacement of the Palestinian population, which continues unabated to this very day.
Six million Palestinians live in exile; 1.75 million live within a system of institutionalised discrimination in the State of Israel; 2.9 million live in the West Bank under an oppressive military occupation; 300,000 native inhabitants live in east Jerusalem where dispossession and home demolitions occur on a regular basis; 2 million live in the Gaza Strip, deemed a deteriorating humanitarian disaster as a result of Israel’s 2008-09 bombardment of its towns and essential infrastructure.
CUSJ supports the grassroots Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement to put pressure on Israel to cease its expansion of Jewish settlements and to stop violating international law and Palestinians’ human rights. We were deeply disappointed in your government’s anti-BDS motion in 2016. Anti-BDS legislation in Israel, also on the rise in a number of American states, is a disturbing trend, reminiscent of authoritarian regimes, not democracies that purport to uphold free speech. Democratic dissent against discriminatory laws and policies is a cornerstone of democracy. The majority of Canadians have a negative view of the Israeli government, according to a 2017 Ekos poll.
Michael Lynk, Canadian law professor, the current UN rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories has just released a damning report. In it he urges the international community to ‘raise the stakes’ against the occupation and change international opinion of Israel. He insists that if the international community were to take ‘unified actions on an escalating basis’ to declare the occupation without precedent and illegal, and demand Israel’s withdrawal, Israel would respond. Turning a blind eye to Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and human decency cannot continue.
Canada’s failure to condemn Israel’s aggressive legislation and actions implies tacit acceptance and therefore complicity in this travesty of justice against the Palestinian people.
The real tragedy, if we fail to stand up to this rogue State, is our own loss of humanity. Canada, in concert with the United Nations, must stand up for equality, security, and justice for Palestinians, Israelis, and all people of the world to achieve a lasting peace among the nations.
Standing on the Side of Love and Justice!!
President, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice