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By Rhonda Spivak, May 27, 2010

Last month Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp to celebrate Canada's strong bilateral relationship with Israel-a friendship that spans six decades, is marked by shared values and strong political, economic, cultural and social ties.

It's a nice looking stamp. The design features groups of human figures formed in the shapes of Canada's Maple Leaf and Israel's Star of David. These "people" come together to meet in the middle, a meeting that symbolizes the 60 years of friendship between the two countries.

Some Canadians have been taking issue with the fact that the stamp was issued, which  unfortunately is yet another attempt to delegitimize Israel. That’s not to say that there are not valid differences of opinion regarding how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  But, there is no question  that many of those  hurling insults at the  stamp and asking to have it withdrawn are attempting to undermine the legitimacy of Israel altogether as a  state in the  region, whatever its size.

Here’s a n excerpt of what one detractor, Alan Rimmer, from Kitchener wrote in  a letter to the editor in the Waterloo Record on May 05, 2010.”:

“If Canada and Canadians support the theft of land, the killing of defenceless civilians, the killing of United Nations observers of the Middle East, the use of illegal weapons against civilians…. then I guess that the stamp is OK.”

It seems to me that Rimmer’s  remarks about ‘ killing of defenceless civilians’ and ‘the use of illegal weapons against civilians” would certainly apply to Hamas, in its attacks on Israel as well as its killings of Fatah rivals.

Rimmer went on to call  Israel “rogue” state---again, something that would better characterize the  State of  Hamas in Gaza.

Rimmer ends his letter by calling on  Canada Post to “withdraw these new stamps.”
Meanwhile, another letter was published in the Telegraph-Journal on May 13 under the headline: "Canada, Israel share racist values." The letter written by Fredericton's Julie Michaued claimed that Israel is an “apartheid state.”

Canadian Stamp News published a letter on April 13 by Charles Verge, the past-president of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada who expressed mystification "by the totally political nature of the stamp." Verge baselessly implied that there might have been political interference in the Canada-Israel friendship stamp's release.

Denis Lemelin, national president of  Canada’s Union of Postal Workers [CUPW] criticized the release of the stamp. He wrote in a recent letter to the head of the Canada Post Corp, that “we are puzzled about the concept of shared values with a country that has consistently ignored United Nations and World Court decisions in regards to the ongoing Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.”

In fact, some  Canadian postal workers were found hiding the stamps. Columnist Sheila Trestan related her experience to readers of The Montreal Gazette when she tried to purchase the stamp at a local postal branch on the fourth floor of Ogilvy's department store.

“The woman behind the counter scowled and said she had no idea what I was talking about,” Trestan wrote. The clerk then went and found a co-worker, who admitted that the stamp did indeed exist. “We didn't want to display it in our cabinet; after all, we were concerned how people would feel about that,” the woman told the writer.

One week later, an article written by Arabic translator Adib Kawar appeared in the Arabic Al Jazeera news service, reporting that “Canadian postal workers are protesting against the 'common values stamp' that celebrates the relationship of Canada with the Zionist entity.'

What’s interesting about all of this is that for many years, Canada has been celebrating Chinese New Year with beautiful stamps. (Canada began issuing stamps for the Chinese Lunar New Year in 1997).  No one seems to have asked that the stamps be withdrawn given well documented serious human rights abuses by the  Chinese regime.

Winnipeg’s David Matas, an international human rights lawyer, who has investigated the issue of illicit organ harvesting in China with former Canadian Minister of State David Kilgour ["Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China"]  concluded that between 2001 and 2006 China killed Falun Gong practitioners in the tens of thousands so that their organs could be sold to foreign transplant tourists. The two men have since been nominated for the Nobel peace prize for their work.

So ask yourselves, isn’t there a double standard here when it comes to the Canada-Israel stamp? Did anyone from Canada’s Postal Union ask to withdraw Canada’s stamps about Chinese New Year, notwithstanding the ongoing forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China?

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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.