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Premier Selinger
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


Rhonda Spivak, October 20,2010

Those who claim Israel is an “apartheid state” and advocate the campaign of  boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS]against Israel have been criticizing Premier Selinger and Manitoba government for  deepening ties with Israel through a series of agreements in  the areas of  transfer technology, agriculture, and water issues, and ecotourism that were recently signed in a ceremony in the Knesset in Jerusalem.

In article entitled “Manitoba Government Ignores Palestinian Oppression” that was published by Paul Graham, a member of Peace Alliance Winnipeg, in (click here to see the complete article), Krishna Lalbiharie of Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg) is quoted as saying,  “We remain unreservedly disappointed with the Manitoba government’s ever-deepening ties with  reprobate Israel — especially as Premier Selinger’s visit falls upon the heels of Israel’s universally condemned attack and wanton killing of civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid flotilla.” 

Lalbiharie continues, “As ever, we will lobby the Manitoba NDP to disengage from all relations with Israel, and will continue to coordinate actions and campaigns in support of national and international BDS efforts and humanitarian aid fund raising.”

Peace Alliance Winnipeg chairman Glenn Michalchuk is quoted in the article as saying, “Peace Alliance Winnipeg is asking Premier Selinger to consider the impact his visit has in terms of legitimizing Israel's denial of Palestinian rights and the extremely harsh conditions it imposes on the daily life of the people of Gaza and the West Bank.” 

“We are asking people to write to Selinger and make known their opposition,” says Michalchuk. At the end of the article, an email address to Premier Selinger is given.

Graham further writes in the article:

Unfortunately, the NDP's uncritical support for Israel extends tragically beyond farce. Last year, in the midst of Operation Cast Lead, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg organized a Stand with Israel rally that was attended by 800 pro-Israel supporters (inside) and 30 protestors (outside). Among the insiders was the NDP's Dave Chomiak who, along with other politicians, showed support by speaking to the crowd.

"The enemy and the fear are terrorists who know no limits," said Chomiak, placing all of the blame for the invasion of Gaza on Hamas, which he considers a terrorist organization.

When applied to Israel, the word “apartheid” strikes terror in the hearts of New Democrats. In March, 2010, former federal Member of Parliament and now Winnipeg mayoralty candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis, commenting after a Conservative resolution condemning Israeli Apartheid Week failed procedurally to make it onto the floor for discussion, said “I have always taken the position that the use of the word 'apartheid' in the context of Israel is hateful and hurtful.”
Speaking in the debate of a similar motion, this time in the Manitoba Provincial Legislature in April, Minister Chomiak went a lot farther, declaring:

“Firstly, the A-word, which I won't even use in this Legislature, to talk about Israel is inaccurate. Notwithstanding the–in fact, Jimmy, when Jimmy Carter used that A-word I was disgusted. It's the wrong word. It applies inaccurately. It does not apply to Israel in no shape or form. It diminishes what happened in South Africa and all the efforts the Canadian and other governments did to get rid of the A-process. And the problem with the A-word is it's inflammatory, and it causes difficulty. So I won't even state that word in this Chamber.”

Graham  has also penned an open letter to Premier Selinger, in which he calls on Selinger to support those who advocate the campaign boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Click here to see the full letter.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.