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Opinion

Lascaris offers context to his criticisms of Grit MPs Levitt, Housefather

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Re: “Party leaders rally around Liberal MPs accused of being more loyal to Israel than Canada,” (The Hill Times, Sept. 12, p. 2). In the annals of racism, few have suffered as grievously as the Jewish people. That’s why accusations of anti-Semitism can be devastating, and ought never to be levelled lightly or with disregard for the truth.

As The Hill Times reported, the prime minister and other MPs accused me of subjecting Liberal MPs Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather to “vile anti-Semitic smears” because I suggested they are more devoted to Israel than to the prime minister and their Liberal colleagues.

What is the context in which I criticized Mr. Levitt and Mr. Housefather?

They are Israel’s most outspoken defenders in the governing party and have declared their commitment to defend Israel’s interests.

Mr. Housefather recently boasted that the Trudeau government “would work tirelessly to have Israel’s back” and that it had voted against UN resolutions condemning Israel even more often than the Harper government. Mr. Housefather took credit for this, stating “there is nothing more upsetting to me than when the UN unfairly singles out Israel for condemnation.” Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s extreme commitment to Israel, now surpassed by the Trudeau government, contributed to Canada’s failure to secure a seat on the UN Security Council.

Mr. Levitt chairs the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. Both he and Mr. Housefather relentlessly praise Israel and denounce its critics, even though Mr. Trudeau’s own government acknowledges that Israel’s West Bank settlements “are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention” and “constitute a serious obstacle to… just and lasting peace.”

This is the context in which I suggested that Mr. Levitt and Mr. Housefather prioritize Israel’s interests over Canada’s. Whether one agrees with my assessment of their priorities, any objective observer would understand that my criticism was based on their extensive record of unqualified support for Israel, and had nothing to do with their ethnicity or religion.

Dimitri Lascaris

Montreal, Que. 

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