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Friday, September 25, 2015

Punishing the good Doctor.... to what end???

Dr. Abuelaish may not be “old-stock” — but he certainly wants to be a ‘new’ Canadian. He has been waging another, much more private battle with Ottawa for years now — to become a Canadian citizen. And Harper and his faithful handpuppet, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, have basically told him to take a seat at the back of the bus.

A hero of peace meets a wall of indifference in Ottawa

I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is not an “old-stock Canadian” — to borrow the phrase our oh-so-classy Conservative leader tossed out during last week’s debate.
Not done, Stephen Harper’s people also announced last week — at the urging, I’m sure, of his new campaign Merlin, Lynton Crosby —that Ottawa would seek a stay of a Federal Court of Appeal decisionallowing a Muslim woman to wear a niqab while swearing the oath of citizenship. What’s the point of campaigning if you can’t shake loose a few thousand votes by ginning up a few tired old racist tropes?
Harper is ‘old stock’, while Dr. Abuelaish is not. But that’s not the real difference between them. Dr. Abuelaish is a healer and uniter; Harper is a divider.
I’ve written a lot this past year about Dr. Abuelaish, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and his noble (and ultimately futile) efforts to bring 100 children wounded in last year’s bloody Gaza war to Canada for medical treatment. Harper wouldn’t meet with him to discuss the humanitarian initiative. His government ended up refusing to grant these children visas — using the pathetic excuse that they’d be better off receiving care in Gaza’s overwhelmed and under-equipped hospitals.
Here’s the irony: Dr. Abuelaish could have turned into someone like Harper — paranoid, spiteful, vindictive. He certainly had a better excuse, having lost three daughters and a niece to Israeli tank shells in 2009. Instead, this Palestinian gynecologist who once delivered babies in an Israeli hospital — and who, along with his five surviving children, now calls Canada home — has devoted his life to fighting the kind of hate and division that Harper cynically exploits.

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