Irwin Cotler Blind to Palestinian Suffering

March 16th, 2007 | Posted in Palestine

    Nafez Zouk of Tadamon!, Published in the McGill Daily.


    Palestinian Refugees Displaced in 1948. Photo: Palestine Remembered

In a low profile lecture at the Faculty of Law at McGill University last Thursday, Irwin Cotler articulated a biased, view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and presented a vision for its future that not only fails to address the root causes of the conflict, but intentionally distorts them.

The core of the problem is not the refusal of the Arab states to recognize Israel-as Cotler claimed-since it was the Arab states that proposed, at the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut, to recognize Israel in order to establish peace and normal relations with it, in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. Cotler fails to acknowledge that what constitutes the core of the conflict is the undisputable fact that Israel continues to deny the right of return for the 750,000 Palestinians that were expelled when Israel was created, while allowing any Jew worldwide to “return”.

Even more outrageous was how close Cotler came to justifying the existence of the wall-ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice-by explaining how even the Israeli “Left” agreed that caging the Palestinians through its construction was necessary to protect Israeli lives. Of course, the sanctity of human life should be upheld, but how is the wall’s true purpose the protection of Israeli citizens when it violates the Green Line, confiscates Palestinian land, and encircles whole Palestinian villages?

Finally, Cotler calls for a boycott of Iran to punish its leadership of inciting hatred against Jews, and of Sudan for the killing fields of Darfur, but not of Israel for its for its continued illegal occupation and apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.

If Cotler really claims to want peace in the Middle East, he must advocate a morally consistent political perspective, not one that is blind toward Palestinian human rights and suffering.

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