Peter Leibovitch supporting the complaint against the Police Chiefs’ visit to Israel

I am pleased to support the complaint against the Police Chiefs’ visit to Israel on my own behalf and on behalf of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council. I regret that I cannot appear in person, but as many are aware, I am currently engaged in Stelco negotiations. Our Union, the United Steelworkers, is an international organization composed of members of many nationalities and of many faiths: including Muslims, Christians, and Jews. I am of the Jewish faith myself. My Union and I are committed to fight racism and to unite people of all nationalities and faiths in the fight for justice. That is why we oppose the visit of Ontario Police Chiefs to Israel.

Israeli police practices do not furnish a safe example for our policemen and women. Canada’s police forces must be a bulwark of the principles of justice and democracy. Israel is a state which practices racial discrimination; it is a state which has breached UN resolutions and the Geneva Conventions. Our police should not learn methods of law enforcement from such practices.

Israel is led by a man who organized commando raids against innocent civilians in the 1950s in Qibya and who was found, by an Israeli inquiry to bear responsibility for the massacre of innocents at Sabra and Shatila in 1982. Israel is one of the few states in the world to have authorized the use of torture by its police and armed forces. Israel has a plethora of weapons of mass destruction, including at least 200 nuclear weapons. Israel practices collective punishment and maintains settlements on the West Bank contrary to the Geneva Conventions. It has behaved brutally towards Palestinians, practicing detention without trial, martial law, housing demolitions and the like. The policy of housing demolitions led to the murder of courageous activist Rachel Corrie. Israel does not permit Palestinians basic labour rights and freedoms, such as the right to organize.

Our Police Chiefs should not be following the example of the Israeli police and should not accept junkets to Israel. Our Police have a duty to protect all Canadians. Canada’s Arab and Muslim communities face particular problems of racial discrimination and must have confidence in the ability of our police forces to serve their needs without discrimination or racial profiling. The ill-considered visit to Israel must undermine this confidence and the confidence of all who seek justice. We trust it will not be repeated.

Peter Leibovitch
Political Action Committee
Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council