Friday, May 08, 2015

Canadian Politician Defends Apartheid System, While Ignoring Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Dear Mr. Lynn

by Andrew Weaver



Andrew Weaver, M.L.A.
Oak Bay-Gordon Head
Constituency Office:
219 - 3930 Shelbourne Street
Victoria, BC V8P 5P6
Phone: 250 472-8528
Fax: 250 472-6123
e-mail: Andrew.Weaver.MLA@ leg.bc.ca


Province of British Columbia
Legislative Assembly
Legislative Office:
Room 027
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
7 May 2015



Robert Lynn
Direct Marketing Group
3020 Douglas St
Victoria,
BC
V8T 4N4
Email: Bob@DMGSales.com


Dear Mr. Lynn, I was contacted today by a constituent who was profoundly troubled by the nature of the advertising displayed on a billboard that I understand your company leases on the Pat Bay Highway between Mount Newton Cross Road and Island View Road.

I share my constituent’s concerns and I attach a picture of the billboard below.




In my view, the message displayed on this billboard is offensive as it promotes hatred of a people.

The accusation of apartheid is a very serious allegation. It suggests the existence of a systemic policy of segregation and/or discrimination on grounds of race. It further promotes the disdain and hatred towards those accused of supposedly practicing apartheid.

As I am sure you are aware, 21% of Israelis are Arabic and Israeli law does not distinguish between race, sex, or creed. As I am sure you are also aware, the history of conflict and tension in the Middle East is extremely complex. Inflammatory messages, like those presented in your billboard, do nothing to address the complexity of Middle East policy. Rather, they further promote intolerance and hatred of one people over another.

Andrew Weaver, M.L.A.
Oak Bay-Gordon Head
Constituency Office:
219 - 3930 Shelbourne Street
Victoria, BC V8P 5P6
Phone: 250 472-8528
Fax: 250 472-6123
e-mail: Andrew.Weaver.MLA@ leg.bc.ca

Province of British Columbia
Legislative Assembly
Legislative Office:
Room 027
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Thank you in advance for considering the removal of this offensive advertising. I very much look forward to your further correspondence on this important matter.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Andrew Weaver,
OBC, FRSC

Answering Andrew

by Victoria Friends of Cuba/Victoria Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid


Dear Dr. Andrew Weaver
MLA, Oak Bay-Gordon Head
219 - 3930 Shellbourne Street
Victoria, BC V8P 5P6

On Thursday, May 7 we received a call from Robert Lynn from the Direct Marketing Group. He had received a letter from you in regards to the anti Racist anti Apartheid Billboard that our Victoria Friends of Cuba along with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid committee erected on Sunday, May 3 on the Pat Bay highway. Mr. Lynn told us that your letter demanded that he require our billboard be removed because it was "offensive and hateful". So, I asked him to send us a copy of your letter.

After receiving and reading a copy of your letter we now ask you; on what basis did you send your letter of complaint about the content of our billboard to Mr. Lynn?  Mr. Lynn had nothing to do with the content of the billboard. He simply rents billboard spaces to anyone who wants to erect a billboard and makes a living from it.

It is very clear to us that your letter was meant for our committees which designed it, paid for it and erected it and not Mr. Lynn. We believe that the reason you sent it to Mr. Lynn was that you as an MLA thought you could pressure or sway Mr. Lynn to tell us to remove the billboard.  If this is the case (if it isn't please explain), we can only say that your action is entirely inappropriate in an open and democratic society. To use your office and position as an MLA to bully someone to silence debate and quash our freedom of speech is abusive to say the least. Why could you not simply have contacted us to discuss it? We are the ones fully responsible for the billboard and its content. Our name and contact are clearly visible on the billboard. We hid nothing. So why use this sneaky unprofessional manner to try to silence us?

We urge that you retract your accusation about Mr. Lynn and apologize to him since you insinuated that it was he who was responsible for the billboard and its content.

In your letter you state that you were contacted "by a constituent who was profoundly troubled by the nature of the advertising displayed on the billboard" and that you share your "constituent’s concerns". We can only wonder why you acted so abruptly about something outside of your constituency based on one complaint. If you are acting on behalf of that one person in your constituency have you forgotten all the others? Our support also comes from many in your constituency.

Your letter continues with "this billboard is offensive as it promotes hatred of a people." Can you please explain to us how it is offensive and promotes hatred of a people?

Our billboard concerns the state of Israel and NOT a people. The Israeli state is not sacrosanct. Criticism of any state for its wrongful actions or discriminatory laws is the right of each of us. As it is our right to criticize actions and policies of the Canadian government or the Liberal government in BC, so it is our right to criticize the actions and policies of foreign governments, including Israel or the USA. Jewish people in our group are in full support of our billboard and are opposed to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and the apartheid system Israel has imposed.

You also state in your letter "The accusation of apartheid is a very serious allegation. It suggests the existence of a systemic policy of segregation and/or discrimination on grounds of race. It further promotes the disdain and hatred towards those accused of supposedly practicing apartheid."

We agree, but if, ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948-9, a more than 400 mile long illegal separation wall, the oppression under military law of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the illegal imposition of 600,000 Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, the fact that all Palestinians - unlike Israelis - have to carry and show ID cards when they pass through endless check points, ongoing destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes and villages, Israeli only highways, the illegal blockade of Gaza starving nearly 2 million people, the repeated attacks on Gaza with massacres of thousands including women and children, the breaking of over 70 UN resolutions, the racist plan to make Israel a state of the Jewish people, do not constitute Apartheid? Please explain why? Indeed the list of these kinds of discriminatory laws from the state of Israel are too long to list here. These policies and laws constitute apartheid and are based on racism and hatred? Is this not offensive to you?

We will continue to work for an end to the illegal occupation and apartheid system that Israel has imposed against Palestinians. We will continue along with thousands of other organization, NGOs, churches, unions, universities, and people from around the globe to boycott, divest and sanction Israel until all human rights and equality are insured in Palestine for all people.

In trying to muzzle our freedom of speech, asking us to remove our billboard, you abused your power as an MLA. By attempting to obstruct debate on the issue and prevent the truth from coming out, you betrayed your constituents and Canada. We hope that you will retract the statements of your letter and send Mr. Lynn and our committees your apologies for such unacceptable behaviour. This is the least you can do.

Sincerely,
Randy Caravaggio
For Victoria Friends of Cuba
250-743-2994
1584 Strathcona Heights
Shawnigan Lake, BC V0R 2W2

Edwin E. Daniel
For Victoria Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
778 433 3535
#601 2910 Cook St.
Victoria, BC V8T 3S7

1 comment:

Walter McGinnis said...

Dr. Weaver seems somewhat confused not only regarding the discriminatory actions that the Israeli government perpetrates against Palestinians but also regarding what is entailed in hate speech. Both Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu have made several statements declaring Israel as an apartheid state. This is not hate speech it is a generally accepted fact worldwide.
Also freedom of expression is a fundamental right in this country and it should be encouraged by our elected officials not discouraged.