Friday, January 09, 2009

On "Listening To Canadians"

While my leader is touring the country, conducting a "listening" tour to gauge public opinion, he might want to consider the following finding, because I think it presents the need for an even-handed Liberal position. Most people would agree, that Hamas shares the bulk of the blame for inciting Israel, with their despicable rocket attacks on civilians. On that starting point:
But a plurality of those following the events blame the Palestinians and Hamas (43%) for the current conflict in the region compared with only two in ten (18%) who think Israel is to blame. Still, four in ten (39%) believe neither side is to blame, or don't know who is at fault.

A considerable portion don't assert blame, but those that do lay it at the feet of Hamas. That's reasonable, and I have no qualms with my party parroting this feeling, because it's warranted. However, and this is where people need to separate impetus from response, when asked if the Israeli reaction is justified, the numbers change. Canadians seem to understand the rationale, but that doesn't preclude them denoting concern regarding the reaction:
Thinking about the Israeli response, Canadians following the events are split: while four in ten (39%) believe it has been 'appropriate', one half (49%) thinks it has been 'excessive'. One in ten (13%) doesn't know.

And, there it is, and really it's all I'm asking from our leadership. Yes, defend Israel's right to defend herself, blame Hamas, decry the rocket attacks, but don't just stop there, because the omission is maddening. If you're "listening" to Canadians, then surely you're getting some feedback, outside of the Israel lobby, that something has gone horribly amiss in Gaza, the response is "excessive". To my mind, that means the Liberal Party should be DEMANDING(beyond the timid words) an immediate ceasefire, support and PUSH the UN resolution and address the humanitarian angle, beyond secondary considerations. The Liberal position can be unequivocal in its support for Israeli rights and justifications, while at the same time demonstrating a nimbleness that allows it to react to events on the ground, events that represent a human tragedy. If average Canadians can demonstrate a capacity for complex views, pretty disappointing that the Liberal Party can't articulate a position that doesn't sound like Condi or Stephen. I would categorize the current Liberal position as "wimpy", trying to be so politically correct in conveying support for Israel that it lacks any courage to stand up for innocents in the immediate. I'm curious to see if the Liberal Party is "listening", or are we merely "listening" to a vocal subset at the exclusion of overall opinion?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

"outside of the Jewish lobby"

I'd refer to this as the Israel lobby, not the Jewish lobby. The views of Jews are very diverse, whether they live in Israel, Canada or elsewhere. Groups outside of Israel which lobby on behalf of Israel do not show much diversity, as far as I can see.

Steve V said...

Done, you're right.

LeDaro said...

Lot more people will be opposed to Israeli actions if proper information was available. Unfortunately we are biased here in favour of Israel.

Anonymous said...

Both Liberals and Conservatives compete for the "who loves Israel the most" title. Conservatives have a good lead but it looks like Liberals don't want to be left too far behind. It would be most enlightening to follow the money trail.

and Ignatief's spin doctors are in overdrive.

Anonymous said...

LeDaro, you are right, if the media here in the west actually showed what life for completely innocent people in Gaza is like, there would be a move towards resolving this based on public outcry.

But the reality in Gaza, is what the Israel biased media does not want you to see.(NSFW)

janfromthebruce said...

Anon, that "with no words to speak this truth" of the Gaza children snapshots should be front and centre on every MSM. Picture postcards to the liberal leader and his "won't lose any sleep over" careless and uncaring attitude.
Is getting more money in the liberal coffers worth trading any social justice principles?
I can say that in the future, when Iggy tries to speak of liberal social justice, it will be a joke. Only sj for the chosen few.

LeDaro said...

Thank you, Anon. I will try and make a composite of these pictures tomorrow and post it. People must know.

janfromthebruce, I think I will be losing sleep over it tonight.

Anonymous said...

Even from a purely political self-interest perspective Ignatieff must know his stance will go down HORRIBLY in Quebec where we have a real chane for a breakthrough. Even some of his staunchest supporters there like Antonio have said he's wrong on this. I'd be surprised if we see even ONE Liberal from Quebec echoing Iggy's view publicly.

Don't be surprised if the Nanos numbers in Quebec take a dive next time if Iggy holds to his stance. And the thing is he must know this, why else would have gone on "Tout le Monde en Parle" last time to say the Israel military committed war crimes in Lebanon? (ironically the accusation holds more weight this time)

Maybe it's that he's got fewer Francophone advisors this time around. (Hebert noted there are none that have hired to his office so far)

Anonymous said...

its all about getting more money in the coffers. Israel survives via a gigantic kickback scheme. Congress sends billions of US tax dollars to Israel. Part of the money gets sent back to private Israeli supporters in the US (members of AIPAC) who donate to Congress with the implicit understanding that yet more tax money will be sent to Israel.

exactly why Obama named the co-founder of AIPAC as Mideast envoy. Paybacks are what have made politics the miasma it is today.

Cherniak_WTF said...

I would categorize the current Liberal position as "wimpy", trying to be so politically correct in conveying support for Israel that it lacks any courage to stand up for innocents in the immediate.

With spin doctors such as Special K what is to be expected? He's an Israeli apologist and work closely with the Israeli lobby group - this will certainly backfire in Quebec where the news is more neutral when it comes to the region.

Beijing York said...

Here is what I think of Ignatieff's response on Gaza:

http://resettlethis.blogspot.com/2009/01/bang-zoom-straight-to-moon-in-michael.html

It's quite interesting to see Canada move further to the right by our political players while the US is finally waking up and demanding a shift to the centre. I was shocked to hear that the US abstained rather than veto the UN Security Council's vote on demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Frankly Canadian said...

Do any of the people writing and commenting on these Liblogs truly think any statement made by an interim leader of an opposition party will make any difference in the horrible things going on in the Middle East. Many countries have had their leaders denounce or condemn the actions taken from either side and even the United Nations leader as well, all of these statements have had absolutely no results! With the exception of a brief reprise, the Israeli army had continued their onslaught against the Arab nations who neighbour their borders. If I recall the last time Mr. Ignatieff made a comment about the hornets nest of activity there, he was condemned and had to retract statements that were made. One thing a very wise man had said to me once was that you get more bees with honey rather than vinegar, the context of that conversation was how to deal with an increasingly difficult media, whose vary reporting can have mass influence on what and how the main issues facing our society will be resolved. If I ever was given an opportunity to resolve matters of the Middle East, I would surely want to have a dialogue with all the parties involved, and the best way I would imagine would be not to have taken any sides prior to any mediation. You would have to be completely brainless to not find what is going on there tragically horrifying. This is the first comment I have made during this ordeal, as I feel stirring the pot will only fan the flames. I have been reading the ongoing mud slinging throughout the last few weeks among the bloggers of this site, and I find I frequently have to check which site I am on to make sure I am not on a right wing Conservative blog site. Many of the comments have been disturbingly similar to the various ones I have seen made by Conservatives, there is more than one opinion to have and more than one perspective to an issue. The biggest problem I have with Neo Conservatives are that they have their view point and all others are absolutely wrong. If the Liberals that frequent this blog site really want to vent their frustrations about what going on in Gaza, and I don’t blame them, focus your anger on the over all cause and effect of what got us here to begin with. After reading Al Gore’s book “An Assault on Reason” I have a better understanding of how what one nation does effects what the next nation will do. An example of this is the United States retaliating for the extremely tragic events of September Eleventh, by declaring war on the entire nation of Iraq, thousands of lives lost as apposed to hundreds of thousands lives lost. Where were all those comments about picking sides and putting a stop to the atrocities in Iraq? Where was all the pressure to uphold international law for the safety of Iraqi civilians? Yes I would love to solve world peace, however my mere comments will do nothing in the grand scope of things. I would never want to criticize or stifle free speech but show considerations to the people who have to deal with these matters more directly or moderate the forums so they are not so one sided or bias. Thank you for your consideration and I hope I have not offended anyone here.

Joseph said...

Very good post, Steve.

I am really upset at some of the libloggers (Mound of Sound, for one) who have been "banished" for posts I read and found to be quite acceptable expressions of honest and discussion-worthy opinions. Apparently the only thing "unacceptable" about them was that they did not conform with the administrator's expectations. That is a pretty sad state of affairs if you are trying to host a forum for discussion instead of a blind party chorus.

And I say that as someone who was furious at the blogger who had suggested the Liberal party was responsible for the deaths at the school, which I found a sad and stupid thought (though still not worthy of banishment).

It is a very troubling situation. I'm really not quite sure what to make of it.

Joseph said...

That should read that I was upset "that" some libloggers had been banished - I'm not mad "at" them, as I typed.

Jennifer Smith said...

For me, the litmus test in judging Israel's actions or anyone else's attitude towards them is this: If we were talking about any other country, ___?

I think the thing I find most disgraceful about Ignatieff's mindless rhetoric is that he is probably better qualified than any other political leader in Canada to articulate a wise, nuanced and balanced position on the situation in Gaza.

That, and the fact that he has himself been the victim of pressure tactics like this.

Joseph said...

That is a very good measure, Jennifer. I'll have to remember that.

Anonymous said...

Is Israel like any other country? which one(s)?

One has people like Heather Riseman who publicly left the Liberals because they were not pro-Israel enough and now others leaving because they are too pro-Israel. Even people with no particular ties to Israel or Gaza are passionately involved and may base their political affiliations on this conflict.

What other conflicts where Canada is not involved induce such passionate feelings among Canadians with no particular ties to the country? Sudan? No, that gets some attention, but nowhere near the same. Sri Lanka? No one outside the National Post and people with ties seems too concerned. Others?

To those on the pro-Israel side, every conflict is tied up in Israel's right to exist (because they are fighting people who deny that right) and that is a complex issue, much too complex to summarize in a few paragraphs. I'll just mention that many experts think Israel's future is by no means certain (within any boundaries) even assuming enormous well-intentioned efforts.

So when you talk about Israel, what other country do you find it useful to imagine you are talking about?

Steve V said...

Politicially, if you break down the numbers, the Liberal position doesn't address the electoral "sweet spot". The kneejerk "hawk" crowd is conservative, which is why you see universal support at places like BT's. Those voters are never really available for the Liberals, and on the other side, the far left view is equally unattainable. The largest portion, the "shared" blame crowd is the mainstream view, and the Liberals are best served when they speak from here. There is nothing to be gained from parroting the Harper position, which is why our present view is even more perplexing.

Steve V said...

"Do any of the people writing and commenting on these Liblogs truly think any statement made by an interim leader of an opposition party will make any difference in the horrible things going on in the Middle East."

A valid point, and one I've made recently as well. The trouble now, isn't practicalities, it's a statement on our foreign policy vision, you want some sense that the leadership represents, or acknowledges, something beyond a black and white presentation.

Anonymous said...

Looking at this strictly from a political gain point of view, Walkom argues that there are a few ridings in Canada where this issue actually swings the vote and those are ones where the pro-Israel side wins (e.g. Thornhill). Not sure this argument is correct, although some comments which came out about the Ignatieff-Chanukah affair (about the CPC demonizing Liberals to the Jewish community) lends a bit of weight to this argument, as the CPC thinks they can win some ridings by doing that.

Steve V said...

I don't doubt that is part of the calculation, but it seems to miss the bigger picture. There are other parts of the country, namely Quebec, where parroting Harper's right wing line won't help the Liberals.

Anonymous said...

This is getting out of control. It's not just a differenc of opinion - it's anger and personal attacks regarding countries that aren't even ours.

Some are getting rather stupid in fact. LeDaro - you make an issue of pulling a picture of the Vatican, but do not point out your title, which is obscene.

Cherniak_WFT - all over the blogosphere with anger and attacks.

People need to grow up and debate like adults.

There are and will be different points of view on this and face it, most don't even have the expertise and "good" info to decide anything. The media, unfortunately, have been blocked.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:45 - you sparked my interest so I checked out LeDaro's sight that he's trying to make so innocent about the Vatican and you are right. Here's the caption folks:

Gaza: "Big Concentration Camp"
over a picture of the Vatican.

Steve V said...

"People need to grow up and debate like adults."

I believe that is what I'm doing.

Steve V said...

anon

It's not like he made that up.

Anonymous said...

Steve V - I wasn't talking about you. In fact, I think you're a very fair blogger - pros and cons even if it is your own party and leader.

It's some of the other stuff I've been reading. It's about how a blog sets out his blog - he didn't say Vatican says........

Steve V said...

anon

I would argue that emotions are high on all sides, and silliness isn't confined to one point of view.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, I think you're a very fair blogger - pros and cons even if it is your own party and leader."

I agree, Steve V is reasonably fair and that is why I have now removed Kinsella from my list of RSS feeds. While he is entertaining, he is far from "balanced" on this issue, to the point that I no longer wish to listen to him.