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NDP MPs block anti-free speech resolution

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On Thursday, a number of NDP MPs denied the unanimous consent of the House of Commons required to hear a motion from a Conservative back-bencher which would have condemned Israeli Apartheid Week. Risking the wrath of the vicious and well-funded Zionist lobby in Canada took courage as that lobby has managed to cow Michael Ignatieff and Liberals who run for cover whenever they are called upon to act with integrity on the Palestinian issue. No Liberals denied unanimous consent.

Members of the Bloc also denied consent -- but then put forward their own motion condemning the use of the word apartheid to describe Israeli policy. It was also denied consent by NDP members. It was not clear whether the ‘No's' coming from the NDP bench reflected the party's position or just individual MPs as the NDP is divided on the issue.

The motion was part of the international effort to silence the voices exposing the racist nature of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. Many suspect that these resolutions will gradually lead to laws making it illegal to refer to Israel as an apartheid state. The denial of unanimous consent is a real victory in this fight and a set-back for Harper and his pro-Zionist policies.

There has been a victory on another front in this fight. Some weeks ago I wrote a column on the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA), an informal group dedicated to redefining criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. As I wrote then, the CPCCA revealed its extreme bias towards Israel by refusing to issue any invitations to groups that had ever criticized Israel and by refusing to accept any requests from such groups to testify.

On Thursday, the two members of the Bloc Quebecois on the Coalition stepped down, denouncing the Coalition and its process. The story in Le Devoir reads as follows:

"We found that the list of the proposed witnesses presented a single side of the same coin," explains the whip of the Bloc Quebecois, Michel Guimond. "We wanted this to be a lot more reasonable." They asked to hear the Canadian-Arab Federation, that had submitted testimony and asked for an audience, as well as the Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. The committee, presided by the conservative Scott Reid, did not grant this request.

Michel Guimond asserts that the withdrawal of the Bloc must be understood as a "repudiation." The party wants to distance itself while the Coalition prepares its report. "We consider that the Coalition is tainted, partisan and presents a single side of the coin. We desired a much more moderate approach, more consensual, and still with the outlook to find peace."

So far, the NDP members of the Coalition, Winnipeg MPs Pat Martin and Judy Wasylycia-Leis, both long time apologists of Israel, have not stepped down. Presumably, they are happy with the decisions of the Coalition to deny all but Zionist voices to present evidence to their Coalition.

In the meantime, in the real world of geo-politics, Barack Obama's policy of appeasing Israel is playing out exactly as anyone familiar with Israel and is extreme right wing Prime Minister would expect. Exactly at the time that Vice President Joe Biden was on a state visit to kick-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would be building 1,600 more housing units on illegally seized land in East Jerusalem. Biden, who should have cut his visit short by way of protesting this insult, only managed the mildest of rebukes. Netanyahu's move, and the U.S.'s pathetic response, revealed once again that the U.S. (let alone Israel) is not seriously committed to Mideast peace. The only real card the Americans hold is the billions in military and domestic aid they give Israel every year. But that card is not in the deck -- tossed aside by Obama before he even became president.

In an unusual move, the Harper government actually criticized Israel's decision to construct more housing units -- a move interpreted as supporting the U.S. in its time of acute humiliation.

Obama's abject failure to stand up to Israel has even graver consequences for the whole region. Israel is determined to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, something the U.S. opposes. But each time Obama acquiesces to another Israeli outrage, the message is clear: in the crunch the U.S. will do nothing. An attack on Iran by Israel, unopposed by the U.S., is widely expected to result in Iranian attacks on the U.S. in Iraq, just at the time when there is already a political crisis (a hotly contested and flawed election) which threatens to re-ignite sectarian violence. Add to that the massive spike in oil prices that would follow such an attack (and the possible Iranian intervention in Afghanistan) and Obama's failure to act seems inexplicable.

These latest developments reinforce the claim by many analysts that U.S. foreign policy is driven not by American interests but by Israel's.

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