Letter to PM Trudeau

I sent this message by e-mail to some of our Canadian politicians today (in particular, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Global Affairs, and the Minister of International Development and Assistance). I would encourage everyone to send a similar message, if you agree with the intent. Feel free to copy or adapt mine, if that makes it easy!

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen

I am writing to you to call for the immediate reinstatement Canada’s commitment to support the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA).

The suspension of support was made on the basis of claims made by Israel that staff members of UNWRA were involved in the October 7, 2023 terrorist attacks by Hamas militants against citizens of Israel. UNWRA responded by terminating the employment of individuals named by Israel as implicated in the attacks.

Since then, various agencies have sought further information about the allegations. The state of Israel has not cooperated with these investigations, and has refused to provide any evidence to substantiate their claim. Given the failure of Israel to demonstrate any collective or centralized involvement of UNWRA in the October 7 attack, and the direct response UNWRA took in severing ties with individuals that were alleged to have been involved, it is inappropriate for the Canadian Government to continue to hold the Agency responsible.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has reached a crisis point. UNWRA has the strongest infrastructure, the largest on-the-ground deployment, and the most experience in delivering aid within Gaza. To avoid the death of hundreds of thousands, the Canadian Government must show leadership within the international community by restoring and even increasing the flow of funds to UNWRA.

I look forward to your response to this request.

I would also encourage you to carefully assess whether Canada’s historic support for the State of Israel necessarily requires unwavering support for the policies and actions of the current leadership of the State of Israel. Certain statements made by President Netanyahu and his Ministers seem to fall outside the bounds of Canada’s longstanding commitment to a “two state solution”. Further, actions such as the allegations against UNWRA and refusal to provide corroborating information would suggest that these politicians are using methods of war-time progpaganda to manipulate the historical alliances between nations. At what point does the behaviour of the current political leadership of the State of Israel go beyond the bounds of the tolerance of the Canadian Government?

While Canada should be cautious not to give credence to those that would wish for the eradication of Israel, we should also be forceful in asserting that the behaviour of all sovereign governments needs to remain within standards of the Geneva Convention. In practice, the possibility that the Geneva Convention has been violated should never even need to be brought to question. Unfortunately, this is not the current situation. The Netanyahu government appears to be using collective punishment against the residents of Gaza, and, as the International Court of Justice has indicated, is nearing the appearance of committing genocide.

As a nation that has, itself, admitted to committing genocide and is continuing to seek means of reparation and reconciliation, Canada should stand against any possibility of genocide taking place — even if that means disrupting historic alliances in disagreement with another nation’s current political leadership.

We must find a way to stand with the people of Israel without justifying or permitting violence being committed by the current political leadership of the State of Israel, even as we must find a way to stand with the people of Gaza without justifying or permitting violence being committed by Hamas.

I recognize that these are difficult nuances to articulate, and a challenging position for a democratic government to hold. However, I believe that Canada has a role to play, and have confidence in your ability to lead when you take a decision to do so.

Thank you

Martin Settle, CPA

P.S. Please reinstate Canada’s support to UNWRA immediately.


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