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Friday, December 16, 2016

An open letter from Ryan Bellerose: On Canada, Israel and Indigenous Peoples - the hypocrisy of anti-Israel activists leeching on the aboriginal rights movement

On Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, the Toronto Star published an editorial written by Dr. Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, with the headline "What Israel Can Learn From Canada." The following is a response to Dr. Jabareen from Ryan Bellerose, B'nai Brith Canada's Advocacy Coordinator of Western Canada.

Dear Dr. Jabareen,

I recently read your op-ed in the Toronto Star, and while I appreciate your admiration for our country, I feel like there were several inaccuracies that can be pointed out.

Firstly, I find it paradoxical that you start by admitting you’re an “Arab-Palestinian citizen of Israel,” a state that pays your bills as a paid member of Parliament, before essentially denouncing its democratic nature as it pertains to Palestinian rights.

You can’t have it both ways.

You say Canada's record of recognizing and overcoming discrimination and inequality is commendable, but I’m having a tough time believing that you, as a descendent of actual colonialists, even understand Canada’s history.

For starters, you're a participating member of a government that allows you to supposedly represent the Arab population of Israel, but you instead use that position to spread libel about it. Rather than trying to make the lives of Arab Israelis better, you waste your time attacking the only state in the Middle East that actually treats its non-majority population like human beings.

You complain that Israel has many “features” of a democracy (in a bid, I assume, to suggest that it is not), yet Arabs are not only allowed to vote in Israel but actually participate in the governance of the country. Furthermore, Israeli Arabs are not forced to worship God in a Jewish manner nor are they forced to speak Hebrew. In your "Arab and democratic" neighbouring countries, how many churches have been built in the past five years? How many synagogues?

Now for your least truthful statement. You claim you’re an "Arab-Palestinian" but also say you're a remnant of the "indigenous Palestinian people." Which one is it? Because to claim indigenous status, while admitting you are the descendant of Arabs who occupied the entire Middle East in the seventh century, is offensive to actual indigenous people like myself. By claiming that you have such status because your people stole an indigenous people’s land a long time ago only shows you don't actually know where indigenous status stems from.

In your op-ed, you give the ludicrous example of why Canada is inclusive because our government must give services in both of our official languages, English and French. But actually, both are colonialist languages, and neither of the official languages are the three-thousand-year-old indigenous language...

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