The NDP from here to (t)here: the politics of Palestine by Janice Williamson

jerry-natanine
Mayor Jerry Natanine

“I often side with the Palestinians because of all the hardship they are facing and because nothing is being re-built over there,” said Clyde River Mayor Jerry Natanine. And he mused about the NDP drumming him out of his candidacy: “[it] turns out whatever was in my social media was questionable, and didn’t fall well with the headquarters.”

The conversation about the marginalization of those candidates who criticize Israel and identify with Palestine sounds with the passions of diverse voices but only some of them count. Some are silenced and deemed irrelevant in the urgent sluice called “getting elected.”

To some Canadians the Palestinian issues register as “ours” versus “theirs”. To say this is here and that is (t)here is difficult if you are interconnected with familial, historical, religious, or regional ties both here and (t)here – the threads trace the rich histories of our lives. This conversation about whether the issue resonates with a Canadian voter invites us to think through ethnicity, identity, and racialization – and empathy. And we must  think through “all my relations” – an Indigenous concept that informs Mayor Natanine’s philosophy about Palestine. To decide to prioritize issues relevant to “here” in an election year is to cut off and exile those with strong ties to “here” as well as a particular elsewhere brought close through actual relations, blood or adopted, or through the imagined relations of knowledge, analysis and empathy.

Where there is no “diversity with equity” the shadow of racism falls. And we must speak out.

You don’t slice and dice justice in the interests of expediency. Why the silence on this ongoing purge of NDPs who have a conscience about Palestine. Not an important election issue? Tell that to the Muslim and Arab Canadians who have been exiled and demonized for the past decade and beyond. Or to anyone who works in solidarity with Indigenous issues and identifies with the Palestinians. Tell that to those concerned about Canada’s extremist foreign policy and uncritical support of Netanyahu’s Israel. Harper just bought Israeli Iron Dome missiles for Canada that were test driven in Gaza massacres last summer. Would a different government order more? 

Visiting my beautiful 86-year-old ailing mother a few days ago, she reminded me why we must speak out: “I gave birth to my voice in giving birth to you,” she said. And it is true. My birthdate in 1951 meant I grew up in an era informed by the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements where change informed actions. The ongoing efforts of the Women’s Liberation Movement made it possible for some women to struggle to speak out about injustice. And over the decades, it is clear that only some women benefitted from this noisy conversation. Many Indigenous peoples have been left behind as the 2012 report on NunavutHuman Development Index indicates.

Jerry Natanine’s words should be our own: “I often side with the Palestinians because of all the hardship they are facing and because nothing is being re-built over there.” Translate his sentence and you find yourself writing about “(t)here.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 7.01.28 AM

— for a look at the telling 2012 Human Development Index report on Nunavut, look here: http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2012-02.pdf

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nunavut-ranks-below-estonia-on-human-development-index-1.1157776

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