Saturday, October 14, 2006

It appears here that I may have been a bit harsh yesterday in my letter to Mr. Ignatieff. He seems to be in agreement with the main arguments of my expostulation to him:

"This is a serious matter precisely because Israel has a record of compliance, concern and respect for the laws of war and human rights.

"I'm going to Israel precisely because those reports are contested by the state of Israel, and because I want to be a responsible commentator, I owe it to myself and my constituents and the Jewish community to go to Israel and learn first-hand their own view on the situation."

Someone suggested that Ignatieff "[i]s trying for a balanced position on the ME and that's what surveys show most Canadians want" . This is a representative view of the classical fence-straddlers, the staunch by-standers who want to be nice to both Jews and anti-semites. This kind of view, that a leader shows leadership by doing what the current Public opinion polls show, is the most irresponsible type of moral leadership. It means that the central raison d'etre of a leader is to please and appease as many people as possible, to be lead by the people instead of doing the leading. Moral, strong leadership is about doing what is just and decent, not what is convenient and popular.

Canadians have become enfeebled and irrelevant in their quest for "balance" when it comes to US versus "the World" or Israel versus the Arab world. The easiest thing for a politician is to follow the mood in the street and treat Israel as Arab minorities in Canada and all Arab and Muslim countries, want it treated, like a pariah country, which is the coded intention of what "balance" in this context means. There is no escaping the truth that emanated from the mass demonstrations in Montreal last summer where huge crowds chanted anti-Israel slogans and carried banners declaring "We are all Hizzballa" now.

"We are all Hizzballas" is what people mean when they call for more "balance" in Canadian approach to the Middle East. Is this really the kind of sentiment and principle that a moral, ethical leader ought to cater to, when he seeks to lead Canadians?

In true leadership, a man stands out from the noise and bluster, and pulls the madding crowds over the horizon, into other types of considerations than just the immediately desirable. We know a great leader when he is presented to us by circumstance. Michael Ignatieff has that potential. Will he become just another politician, instead?

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