Friday, October 13, 2006

Forget Flying Under The Radar

This is certainly a rather unconventional strategy.

Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff says he'll travel to the Middle East next month in the wake of comments that have enraged Canada's Jewish community and members of his own party.

"We will be meeting with the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian leaders to discuss peace, long-term solutions and how Canada can help the parties get back on the path to peace," Ignatieff said today during a speech at the University of Toronto.


I know Joe Clark lost his luggage there, but I'm not sure this is the best way to ditch the Qana baggage a few weeks before the convention.

45 Comments:

  • When attempting to ditch his baggage in Israel, Mi (aka the "travelling man") might want to want to be careful to avoid the sharp pointy knives which soldiers have on the tips of their rifles.

    As I recall, Joe Clark stumbled during and inspection and almost became the first prime minister in recent memory to die in office.

    Perhaps Liberals can persuade the Canada Israel Committee to provide a one way ticket.

    By Blogger yyclaw, at 6:42 PM  

  • Well, it's certainly gutsy. We'll see how it pans out.

    By Blogger JP, at 6:51 PM  

  • His campaign team took my advice to send him on vacation until the convention.

    By Blogger Peter, at 6:55 PM  

  • Anyone who has travelled in this region will know this is a non-win, high risk strategy.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 7:17 PM  

  • a one way ticket? lol. well put YYCLAW. I'll chip in $20.

    By Blogger ktr, at 7:17 PM  

  • Oh man, why - WHY - didn't he just leave it alone after "not losing sleep"? It's like he wants to keep the story going, and going bigger.

    I feel bad for the guy. In life, you gotta choose your words carefully - not in politics, but in a coffeeshop or at a cottage. I know people who just keep stumbling and watching Mi is like watching them.

    Say - anyone know which-all PMs did die in office?

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:41 PM  

  • Ever helpful, google and yahoo.answers inform me that Trudeau died in office at age 80. Thanks, yahoo.answers!

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:43 PM  

  • MacDonald, Sir John Thompson (whom I guess I'd forgot all about), and that's it.

    Incidentally, here's news to me:

    While there is a long standard tradition of considering John A. Macdonald Canada's first Prime Minister, since he was prime minister after Canadian Confederation, a number of modern scholars, foremost among them John Ralston Saul, argue that Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine is truly Canada's first Prime Minister. He and his joint premier Robert Baldwin were the first to govern the United Province of Canada as democratically elected leaders.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:45 PM  

  • I agree. It's a strange way of trying to reach out to Jewish Liberals.

    There's two reasons he's doing it:

    a) A full retraction of the "war crime" comment would be an admission of foot-in-mouth disease. He probably can't afford to take that kind of direct hit.

    b)He refuses to offer up a retraction because he's courting some of the anti-Israel sentiment within the Liberal party.

    It actually might be a bit of both. It's pretty clear that his intention was to start getting tougher on Israel. Yet to do it in the way he did might have just made things worse.

    Ready to be PM? Never thought so before. This just offers up further proof, thaz all. ;)

    By Blogger Dennis (Second Thoughts), at 7:45 PM  

  • Here's interesting stuff that I'm importing...

    Over at Zac-a-roni's new site, "Liberal Supporter" says this:

    liberal supporter said...

    No, I think it is an excellent idea. Best news I've heard all week. He's likely to pull this one out of the fire and demonstrate his true political mettle.

    Those "Cons" who have been spinning his statements as pandering to anti-semites in Quebec, will now have to content themselves with calling him jew-lover or something. Or point out that he did manage to get the invite out of this.

    Has PMSH (pbuh) ever even been to Israel? I don't know, but I could find no reference that he has. Iggy lived and taught in Israel.

    There will be photo-ops of where he lived when he was there, probably some of his former students being interviewed.

    You will see Israelis on camera more or less agreeing with his war crime statement, or at least having the dialogue with him. You will see the hysterical response of Cotler and others being viewed as non-violent versions of cartoon riots, foolish and unthinking.

    The "jewish community" in Canada may see the differences between themselves and Israeli jews. I may be misinformed on this, but I have been told that jews outside of Israel heavily support the religious parties there, which helps give them disproportionate power. Like we expect Italy and Rome to be more Roman Catholic than anyone else, yet Italy itself has for years had legal contraception, divorce and abortion.

    The jews of Israel (again, so I have been told) are as secular, if not more so than the jews outside Israel. Yet the government is always a coalition with religious parties due to the proportionate representation system.

    Eventually it will be pointed out that "not losing sleep" was a statement made during the conflict, and we should not give comfort to Hezbollah during the conflict. Afterwards, things like Qana should be examined. I think the difference between "war crime" and "atrocity" will be reiterated. I believe that within Israel, the IDF is under a lot of fire for their handling of the war. Air force chiefs convinced they can win by air power alone.

    As the Sun called him today "the smartest guy in the room", though they used it as a putdown, I think the smartest guy in the room should be visiting the middle east. It's at the centre of the most important problems we face today. Making even an inch of progress there would certainly clinch him "looking prime ministerial".

    4:05 PM

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:52 PM  

  • Well Irwin Cotler's wife has quit the party.

    As a very involved member of the Montreal Jewish community, she will take a lot of support with her.

    I just wonder what Irwin is waiting for.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 8:08 PM  

  • Someone has told Mr. Ignatieff that bad publicity is better than no publicity.

    Unfortunately, it has begun to hurt the party.

    There is a point when the interest of the party must take precedence over his ambition to be leader.

    Next week, the Conservatives will announce their Clean Air policy.

    I certainly hope that we aren't still dwelling on Mr Ignatieff's perceived competence or lack thereof.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 8:13 PM  

  • Should Iggy be spending more time out of the country?

    When the going gets hot and/or tough, like this summer, and now, and well, most of his life, there he is, anywhere but here.

    By Blogger godot10, at 9:08 PM  

  • Has PMSH (pbuh) ever even been to Israel? I don't know, but I could find no reference that he has. Iggy lived and taught in Israel.

    To answer the first part, this interview with Peter Mansbridge on Your Turn , last January should speak volumes:

    Peter Mansbridge: Have you travelled extensively?

    Stephen Harper: I actually haven't travelled that extensively, Peter. I've travelled a lot in Canada. I've travelled a lot in Canada – not so much around the world. I've been in North America and Mexico and parts of Europe, but not large – there are large parts of the world I haven't been. My wife's different. My wife has travelled virtually everywhere in the world. I tell people she made quite a pilgrimage, drove from Johannesburg to Cairo for six months. I get a much more accurate read on the realities of life in other parts of the world from Laureen.

    Also, even if Iggy had lived and taught in Israel, somehow, I doubt one would have run into him in King David Hotel in Jerusalem, or kibbutzing. Something leads me to believe his upbringing and chosen social circles give him a narrow view of most societies. I doubt he has a good handle on this region apart from academic research.

    Kinda like saying Conrad Black knows Israel well because he once owned the Jerusalem Post.

    He probably knows more about Israel from wife, Babs,- beyond the pleasures she introduced to him late in life.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 9:25 PM  

  • You make flying under the radar sound like good strategy; like the preferred strategy. I'd like to think we've done our time as the party of parlor games.

    I think it's an excellent plan. Not because of how it plays in the media ( although I think that will work out fine too ) but because he's out there doing something and not fretting about the need for something to be done.

    I can understand how his direction might make some people uneasy but it seems to me he is the only leader among the candidates.

    By Blogger KevinG, at 9:59 PM  

  • He's going at the invitation of some local heavyweights for some serious talks. This isn't a photo-op electoral decision. This is real stuff.

    I'd go. I think Michael's got the right idea.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 10:01 PM  

  • Oh no he might as well give up now as walk into that mine field. It will be quite interesting to watch though. All the pundits on politics with Don Newman today thought it was a bad idea.

    By Blogger s.b., at 10:17 PM  

  • Oh James, he was invited a month ago with about 100 other MP's. The pudits were all over that today. It's a bad idea and makes him look desperate. Karygiannis has vbeen overseas on these junkets too. Was he having special high profile meetings? me thinks not. This is a standard invitation that should have been accepted a month ago if he were genuine about it at all.

    By Blogger s.b., at 10:21 PM  

  • As the National pointed out tonight, this visit guarantees we will re-hash this issue and Ignatieff's problems again. If you ask me, that's the last thing Ignatieff needs.

    By Blogger Steve V, at 10:37 PM  

  • The only leader?

    At least Rae was bright enough to come out and say, "Hold on now". Ignatieff's shifted his opinion from "slept great!" to "i'm an expert in warcrimes and this was one" to "okay, not REALLY a warcrime". What kind of leadership is that?

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:57 PM  

  • This is right up there with "Let's call a judicial inquiry and give Quebec voters a daily TV show about the sponsorship scandal."

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 11:29 PM  

  • It is totally unbelievable.

    Please Mr. Ignatieff. . . . Withdraw from the race
    before you do any more damage.

    The focus must be on what is best for the Liberal party as a viable choice for Canadian voters.

    For the last three days, all I have seen is

    Ignatieff, damage control

    Ignatieff, damage control

    Ignatieff, damage control

    You're ego is not that important to the future of our country.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 12:56 AM  

  • You just know that once Iggy gets over there, here's going to get the question "was Qana a war crime?" thirty eight times a day. And they're not going to let him off the hook with a wishy washy answer.

    I don't care how good he is on foreign policy, I can't see this ending well for him.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:02 AM  

  • THIS IS HILARIOUS! LIBS DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THEMSELVES...PMSH IS BRILLIANT!

    By Blogger Rav, at 1:17 AM  

  • As the distance between Michael Ignatieff and Israel decreases, the probability of a gaffe approaches 1.

    By Blogger Darrell, at 1:42 AM  

  • What I find funniest is that after commiting such an inexcusable gaffe, this Liberal "hopeful" has the gall to accuse our Prime Minister of enflaming tensions when he correctly accuses the majority (not all, as various biased media have been lying to the Canadian populace) of the Liberal aspirants of having expressed an anti-Israel stance.

    And so many of them have expressed an unequivocally anti-Israel stance, as clearly documented by Mr. Kinsella.

    By Blogger Paul, at 6:22 AM  

  • when Iggy goes to Israel, he was no choice, as a friend, to accuse them of war crimes. he must take his war crimes message to Israel. they deserve to hear it face-to-face from a friend.

    anything less than telling Israel it committed war crimes would be a complete betrayal of that friendship.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 9:37 AM  

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    By Blogger yyclaw, at 10:48 AM  

  • Its somes hard to understand Mr. Ignatieff. First, he starts off without losing any sleep over Qana. Then he admits that it was a war crime and that he did shouldn't have said he didn't loose any sleep when he heard about a war crime. And now he's on the road to Damascus, .... I mean Jerusalem ... or rather Tel Aviv.

    But last night, in the midst of the euphoria of a provincial Liberal dinner, I managed finally discern his strategy: Go to the middle east; bring together Palistinians and Israelis; broken a comprehensive peace deal; and then jetset back to Canada just in time for the leadership convention just in time to win the leadership with the Nobel Peace Prize in his back pocket.

    Its a high risk strategy, but not one beyound the great man. Hey, if he pulls it off, I will vote for him on the 1st ballot!

    If not, well then maybe he should give it up. Liberals needed his expertise in July when he was MiA(tm).

    He should think about avoiding embarrassment on the 2nd ballot as his committed support bleeds away. Perhaps he will endorse Gerrard!

    By Blogger yyclaw, at 10:50 AM  

  • Perhaps Ignatieff can take some time between now and his visit to lay out the fact on which he based his grave charge that Israel committed war crimes at Qana.

    If he has no facts, I am sure Iraelies would appreciate him setting the record straight today, rather than letting his perhaps baseless charge hang in the air for months.

    His accusation was a very serious one, for a man who wishes to be Prime Minister of Canada. Before he is voted in as leader of the Liberal Party, Ignatieff owes Canadians clarity on this issue: What did Ignatieff know about war crimes committed by Israel, and what will he do with that explosive knowledge?

    Come clean, or get out of the race. He has put Canada's honour on the line.

    By Blogger CuriosityCat, at 11:02 AM  

  • Wow, I like this CuriosityCat!!

    Agreed 100% - why doesn't he just explain *why* he accuses? You can't just throw around accusations - they become meaningless.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:22 AM  

  • Tempest in a Teapot.

    And self inflicted casualties for Liberals.

    Harper actually did score political points thanks to Iggy.

    There is an article today in the National Post which explains it.

    Caanadian Jewish voters used to be 75% supportive of the Liberals.

    Well not anymore . . . .

    It has switched completely the other way around.

    Harper's comments this week were to cement in the minds of that segment of voters the view that the Conservatives are the true friends of Israel and the Liberals can not be relied upon.

    Cleverly done.

    And you can expect ridings with a large Jewish population in urban areas of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver will be much more closely contested in the Federal election that is coming next spring.

    The smartest thing Liberal candidates can do now is express strong support for Israel and drop the subject.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 11:26 AM  

  • iggy choosing to go to Israel now tells me one thing very clearly:

    He is taking his own counsel and his on counsel only.
    Any experienced political staffer/MP- and Iggy has some on his team (Senator Smith, Denis Coderre, Tenio, others) - knows that when a negative story hits you try to change the channel fast. and you never, NEVER, do anything to drag the story out.

    Iggy going on a junket to Israel now will make this a three week story instead of a three day story on a break week and will make his foreign policy risks and judgement THE talk on the campaign floor. SO dumb.

    If he just went to ground on this now and took his medicine, the House returning next week would mean the focus would go back on Harper and his shit environment plan and Rona he ridiculous environment Minister and her Neo-con chief of staff. The spotlight on Inept management of a major file and the Ekos poll that shows Harper's negatives on the direction he is taking the country way up.

    Instead, Iggy thinks that his tour of Israel will make him look prime ministerial. Possibily but it also might and probably will explode on him. CBC, CTV and others are probably making arrangments right now to send their middle eastern reporters to follow him everywhere. No slips will go unreported.

    By Blogger Put the Party first, at 12:39 PM  

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    By Blogger yyclaw, at 2:43 PM  

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    By Blogger yyclaw, at 2:44 PM  

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    By Blogger yyclaw, at 2:47 PM  

  • The reasons why people consider that many war crimes were committed by both parties to the conflict are pretty well documented.

    Those who believe that war crimes were committed believe that international humanitarian law requires that belligerents act in such a war as to minimize civilian casualties and that they do not target civilians.

    Warnings are required, but that alone does not absolve the belligerents from their duties. They say that even after a warning, belligerents are only allowed to target military forces and that a warning does not turn an area into a free fire zone.

    Those who believe that serious breaches of international humanitarian law occurred do not accept that the breaches of the law by the other party changes the obligation of other belligerents to civilians.

    The events at Qana indicate that a warning was given about 10 days prior to a civilian area being bombarded. Civilians were killed. There is no evidence of any recent use of the area by Hezbollah forces, it is pretty clear that no Hezbollah forces were hit in the bombing, it is pretty clear that the building was deliberately targetted, it is absolutely clear that Israeli politicians indicated that in their humble opinion anyone in S. Lebanon was fair game after the warning, etc. If this is added up, it adds up to a war crime and is pretty clear cut, if you accept the view of the law by those in favour of a
    robust interpretation of international humanitarian law
    (and one would expect Mi is one of them).

    Israel and Hezbellah defend themselves thus: (1) International humanitarian law does not apply to them. Hezbellah says it is a state and thus the law does not apply to them at all. They are free to do what they like. Israel says that portions of what I have said are contained the in 1977 1st optional protocol, that they do not accept it and thus it does not apply to them. Human rights groups say that while it is true that Israel has not accepted the 1st optional protocol, this protocol is nothing more than the codification of customary international law. With respect the the Hezbollah argument, Human rights groups say that the laws of war apply to non state actors in a state such as Lebanon which has accepted the Geneva conventions (but not the 1st optional protocol). Hezbollah says that this only applies to civil wars and not to attacks from outside the country. Human rights groups say this is nonsense.

    Israel says essentially that a warning is enough, and that everyone left is fair game. They say they try to limit civilian causualties, but blame it on Hezbollah for being in the area of civilians. Human rights groups agree that belligerents are not permitted to hide behind civilians, but that this does not make all civilians fair game once the belligerents fail in their duty. Instead, belligerents still have a duty to limit civilian causualties and to only attack military targets when the military nececessity outweighs the cost in civilian causualties.

    Curiously, Hezbollah makes the same argument in its rocket attacks on Israel. They warned Israeli's of the forthcoming attaks. They point to the attack on the Israeli town where 12 reserve troops where killed. It points to the close relationship between Israeli civilian infrastructure and its military one. They say that they targetted ports, and other military targets.

    Human rights groups acknowledge that military targets were hit by Hezbollah. But they point out that this was more or less accidental, and that the weapons used by Hezbollah were too indiscriminate to be used in civilian areas. They say that such weapons should have been used against Israeli firebases and against Israeli troops which were invading Lebanon (which they were), but not against civilians or civilian infrastructure (which they also were). The latter are breaches of international humanitarian law.

    That's a brief summary of the argument from both sides.

    No one will ever get to argue this in a court. There is a court which deals with these things: the International Criminal Court. However, neither Lebanon or Israel accept the jurisdiction of the Court. You can guess why.

    By Blogger yyclaw, at 2:50 PM  

  • RE: down and out in l a's comment,

    "And you can expect ridings with a large Jewish population in urban areas of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver will be much more closely contested in the Federal election that is coming next spring."

    PLEASE! There are not Jewish ghettos in Vancouver. But, interestingly, there are ethnic Sikh and Chinese neighbourhoods, much more politically savvy to aim at those.

    Harper needs an "urban in" which does not require Israeli nonsense. He's just stirring the pot, poking the hive. Let's just hope the bees go after his poker!

    By Blogger petroom, at 5:43 PM  

  • Michael Ignatieff's position isn't hypocritical at all. It is that he won't lose sleep over war-crimes! Canada needs a super-villain prime minister (John A and Chretien were great, after all).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:32 PM  

  • No one said there were Jewish ghettos, just that some ridings do have a higher proportion of Jewish familes and they tend to be in the large urban centres.

    Admittedly, perhaps Vancouver less so, but certainly in Toronto and Montreal.

    Ask Susan Kadis.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 7:19 PM  

  • Ignatieff's new motto:

    War crimes if necessary, but not necessarily war crimes -- depending on the audience.

    By Blogger Simon Pole, at 7:56 PM  

  • Does anyone know if elected delegates are compelled to vote?

    For example, if you were elected as an Ignatieff delegate and were now having second thoughts,
    are you obliged to cast the ballot in the first round of voting?

    Or can you just sit the first round out ?

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 8:33 PM  

  • As of the 2001 Census, the Jewish population of Vancouver was 22 thousand (people answering under ethnic origin) and 17 thousand answering under religion.

    This compares to 53 thousand Muslims, 75 thousans Buddhists, 27 thousand Hindus and 99 thousand Sikhs. There were also 499 Protestants and 364 thousand Catholics.

    The largest group however, was 692 thouand people reporting no religious affiliation.

    Vancouver is unique among large Canadian cities in this regard, although Montreal has more unaffiliated people (258 K) than Protestant (208 K).

    This pattern holds true in many smaller BC cities like Victoria, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Terrace, Quesnel, Nanaimo, Squamish, Kamloops and the province as a whole, with 1.388 million no affiliation, 1.2 million Protestant and 675,000 Catholics.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 10:30 PM  

  • Actually the onus is to prove that civillians were deliberatly targeted, hwich they were not. Also it wasn't a war, so war crimes could not have been committed by definition. Crimes against humanity could have but they have even more serious definitions. Israel was targeting insurgents that were firing on it from inside another sovereign state that refused to stop them. This is perfectly within international lay. There were no war crimes. There was no war.
    Israel deas not go out of its way to kill twnety odd women children and old people. it jhust doesn't unlike suicide bombers and terrorist who specifically target civillians. But even they are not guilty of war crimes, because as I have said, there was no war.

    I would maintain that this is one of the reasons many PAlestinains in power have rejected statehood several times. Not being a state allows them to continue to attack Israeli civillains with impunity from international laws because "terrorists' or insurgents aren't accoutnable to international laws. I have said this for quite some time. anyways Israel was not fighting Lebanon.

    Dr. Ignatieff knows all of this, so his staements are really just pandering and bad politics. The Israeli's will not let up on him and he cannot take them on with his baseless acusations, I assure you. His leadership aspirations are probably done with this trip.

    By Blogger s.b., at 1:52 PM  

  • Scott Feschuk got it right when he wrote this on Monday.


    "By the way, Ignatieff says he will travel to Israel next month to learn more about the missile attack that he first said he wasn't losing sleep over, then declared a war crime.

    Why Israel? Why now? Because the first rule of damage control is to dwell on your mistake, use every opportunity to remind people of it, ensure that your gaffe gets the widest possible publicity - and then, and only then, put yourself in a no-win situation in which you compound your misstep with further dodging and equivocation."

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 6:32 PM  

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