Two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to my MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament), Michael Gravelle (Liberal) to voice my concern about Ontario Premier McGuinty's trip to Israel May 23-27. I asked my MPP to condemn this trip. What I got back was a letter saying that (my paraphrasing) No, he won't condemn this because he supports the increasing economic connections between the Thunder Bay region and Israel for two reasons: it is in line with Ontario's plan to increase trade relations with Israel, and because there are local groups who are looking with interest at this trip. Basically, Gravelle's response to me was if it's good for business for us here in northwestern Ontario, we support it. Here is an excerpt from his letter:
"As MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, I welcome opportunities for our rapidly-growing 'life sciences' sector here in Northwestern Ontario, and will note that local representatives in the bio-science community are paying close attention to the trade mission. While I sincerely hope that equitable and friendly relations will eventually be achieved between Israel and Palestine, as MPP I cannot support your approach, as it would reduce or eliminate these significant opportunities for our local business and research and development community."
Of course, I was dismayed with this response. In fact, I couldn't believe it. Opportunities above human rights? Is this what I'm reading? To hell with all those deaths and injuries during Operation Cast Lead as there are dollars to be made in northern Ontario? Is that what I can read from this? That it's too bad but business takes the upper hand? I wondered to myself, did we also support the Apartheid government of South Africa because there were business opportunities to be gained? or did we have second thoughts about the ethics of doing business with death machines, where clearly some people were paying disproportionately for just wearing their skin? I was so sobered by MPP Gravelle's response, I couldn't respond.
Then, on top of that, Netanyahu has come to Canada. Too much bad news to digest. Turn off the tv. More bad news. What else but that Netanyahu backs the attack on Gaza aid? Indeed, in his version the soldier commandos ARE THE VICTIMS. IN that same article, Harper regrets the loss of life but is happy he had some time with Netanyahu. Seriously.
The attack that I am referring to is the killing by Israeli commandos of unarmed civilians and activists from the relief flotilla; Salon reports 19 dead 60 injured. There is a call for all concerned people to contact their government representatives to demand they take action:
"The coalition is calling on governments everywhere to immediately recall their ambassadors to Israel; demand that the Israeli ambassadors in their countries reveal the names, nationalities, whereabouts and condition of all flotilla participants, including those detained, injured and killed; and halt all arms sales or other military aid to Israel. The coalition is also calling for civil society everywhere to push for these actions through demonstrations, calls and emails targeting the Israeli embassy in their countries or, if one is not present, the U.S. consulate (which provides the majority of Israel's military support) or their own foreign ministry."
I will send another letter to my MPP. Will the provincial government also support this killing of people bringing much need humanitarian supplies to the Palestinians of Gaza? The Salon article reports that this Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla occurred in international waters, but that Israel is claiming it "owns" these waters (read the Update at the end). Further, it is reported that some of the people on board the ships were sleeping when they were shot.
What will be the Canadian government's statement on this horrific attack? What will my MPP say about this?
A Canadian man, Kevin Neish, is missing; he was asked by the Canadian embassy not to go on the mission; however, "He told them instead, they should be asking Israel not to attack the aid convoy."