Earlier this week, shortly before news that the Israeli Armed Forced had bombed a UN shelter full fo sleeping refugees, I had gone searching for information on writing to my government representatives about their abhorrent stance on the current horror in Gaza. Unfortunately, Amnesty International (a great site!) only had information on how to write to Secretary of State, John Kerry about the issue, and nothing for Canadians. (Americans, you can find that here.)
A few emails to a colleague pointed me towards John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, with a copy of the letter addressed to Stephen Harper. You can find John Baird’s contact info here, and Stephen Harper’s here. I encourage everyone who can to do the same! It’s not much. It feels like painfully little. Nonetheless, every extra bit of pressure is needed. I’ve included a copy of my letter below as a possible template.
[Your address and contact information]
Dear Mr. Baird:
I am writing to express my unhappiness over Canada’s continued and vocal support of Israel’s military excursions into Gaza over the past weeks. I strongly encourage you, and all leaders in Parliament, to step forward and speak loudly against the deaths of over a thousand civilians in Palestine.
Canada has long enjoyed a reputation in the world as peacekeepers. Indeed, this reputation has come at the hands of former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, such as Lester B. Pearson’s efforts in established the UN Peacekeeping Forces, and Joe Clark’s opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Is this is a tradition we wish to maintain? For if so, the same values espoused by Pearson and Clark must be upheld by all Canadians against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and indiscriminate killing of sovereign Palestinians.
I understand that leaders such as yourself and Prime Minister Harper have been careful to lay the blame at Hamas’ feet, and not those of all Palestinians. I understand that this can be a thorny issue for many of us. However one might feel about the actions of Hamas, the question of proportion cannot be avoided. Can you truly say to yourself that the death of 1,100 Palestinian civilians, some of whom were sheltering in UN spaces that the IDF had directed them to, is a proportional response to the death of 3 Israeli civilians? Can we truly stomach ourselves as a country who championed a war in which children were bombed in UN sanctuaries while they slept? I cannot.
Countries such as Bolivia, Ireland and South Africa, as well as the European Union have issued various sanctions and bans in protest of Israel’s continued occupation and growing list of war crimes. If you could consider this plea urging Canada to do the same, and show the world it is committed to peace by withdrawing support from Israel, it would mean a great deal to me, and no doubt, to the Palestinians who continue to die in Gaza.
If you wish to discuss this in more depth, my contact info is attached. I welcome a discussion with you, and a chance to open your eyes and heart.
P.S.: Hard copies will follow by post and facsimile.
cc: Prime Minister Stephen Harper