Monday, October 16, 2006

Cherniak in the Globe

Jason Cherniak has had a letter published in the Globe and Mail re. Ignatieff and his remarks on alleged Israeli war crimes. Congratulations Jason, but the content of the letter is more than a little disturbing:

Toronto -- I am a Jewish delegate to the Liberal convention and I was very disappointed to see Michael Ignatieff accuse Israel of a war crime (Ignatieff: In Deep And Digging -- Oct. 14). My disappointment goes beyond my personal support for Israel, though. Mr. Ignatieff is running to be the leader of a G8 country. We cannot have a leader who would accuse an ally of committing war crimes.

If Mr. Ignatieff wants to remain an academic, then he can continue giving such "frank" opinions. However, if he wants to be prime minister, then he will have to learn how to speak like one.

The natural interpretation of this is that Canada should, through silence, effectively cover up war crimes of its "allies". However, just who the allies are supposed to be in this case is unclear. One suspects that Jason means we should cover up Israeli war crimes (should Israel commit them) but, since Israel is not part of the G8, this cannot be determined for certain.

In any case, I think this is terrible advice for a brave nation like Canada. Our leaders should be willing to call a spade a spade. Becoming prime minister should not mean putting your balls in a jar for four years.

By the way, Jason's comments on this letter at his blog do not clarify any of its obscure points.


agitfact said...

Actually, it's easy: a war crime is not a war crime if it is committed by the side of the angels. Only the dark side commits war crimes.

Jeff said...

i don't get the whole 'cherniak' thing. he doesn't strike me as all that bright or even as a gifted politician...heh. as for the issue itself, i think iggy was right, it was a war crime.

Jason Cherniak said...

There's nothing obscure about it. Politicians should not make legal judgements. Period.

Anonymous said...

That's fair enough, Jason, but that's not what you wrote, which is this: We cannot have a leader who would accuse an ally of committing war crimes. So does that mean it would have been OK to criticize, say, North Korea or Iran of war crimes even in the absence of legal judgments?

Stephen said...

Jason's principle that 'Politicians shouldn't make legal judgments' will, of course, never be applied equally to friends and to foes.

I've lost track of how many of our politicians have no problem pronouncing the harshest judgments possible on the crimes of official enemies: 'genocide,' 'terrorism,' 'war crimes,' 'violation of international law': all these and more are regularly levelled at official villains without anything like the kind of detailed investigation by competent bodies everyone says must be carried out before we dare use the phrase 'war crimes' to talk about anything Israel did in Lebanon.

Despite what Jason says, politicians should be making these judgments--and more besides--and refusing to ignore our friends' crimes is just the beginning.

By the way, speaking of the G8, what about G8 leaders' general policy of silence towards the war crimes (indiscriminate bombings, torture) G8 partner Russia has carried out in Chechnya? Is it a sign of their 'leadership' that they've kept so silent?

Gavin Magrath said...

Politicians shouldn't make legal judgments?? Like, when they make laws, or when they talk about how we should enforce them? Half of the politicians in this country are lawyers, and that's true for a reason (other than ego and money). Saying they shouldn't make legal judgments period seems to me like the dumbest thing I've ever seen you write.

Anonymous said...

Jason, you'd have no problem calling Hezbollah war criminals.
Another weak moment by JC - but what's really stupid is that you try to nuance what you say. The truth is that you are "pro-Israel" above anything else. I'd have more respect for you if you actually wrote what you are thinking instead of tip-toeing around what you feel.

I hate politicians that don't speak their minds and coming from a wannabe like you, it's just pedantic.