[Boycott - Zionist Lobby]
Jewish group wants Outremont Liberal pulled from byelection
24 July 2007
B'Nai Brith Canada has asked Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion to remove new star candidate Jocelyn Coulon from an upcoming byelection in Montreal's Outremont riding because of his past stance on Israel.
The Jewish organization says Coulon, a political scientist and former journalist, has a "well-documented anti-Israel bias," including sympathy for Hamas, that is "out of step with current Liberal policy," according to a statement released by the group.
Coulon, who was officially declared the Liberal candidate in Outremont last week, is vigorously defending his past articles, arguing he's a proponent of healthy debate, not of anti-Israel sentiment.
He has been a frequent commentator on international affairs, penning opinion pieces in various Montreal newspapers since he left journalism for an academic position at the Université de Montréal.
Coulon's analysis of Hamas's rise to power in the Palestinian Territories 18 months ago is what concerns B'Nai Brith Canada, said Moïse Moghrabi, a lawyer for the organization.
In one opinion piece, dated Feb. 22, 2006, Coulon writes that Hamas isn't just a terrorist organization, but a social and political movement that won the Palestinian elections because of its commitment to fight corruption and help people — and the international community should not isolate it.
That opinion reflects anti-Israel sentiment and violates Liberal policy in the Middle East, Moghrabi told CBC News.
Coulon should not represent the federal Liberals, Moghrabi said, because he "doesn't see [Hamas] as a terrorist organization with whom we should not be talking to, as established by the previous government."
The B'nai Brith lawyer said Coulon's nomination in Outremont — a Liberal stronghold — could mean he will eventually bring his opinions to the federal Liberal caucus, and possibly influence Grit foreign policy.
Coulon said he has no anti-Israel bias, but strongly believes in criticism and debate. "I am a true ally of Israel," he said on Monday. "Sometimes I'm very critical, that's for sure, but I think that makes good allies."
B'nai Brith hopes Coulon's documented position on Israel will disqualify him from the byelection.
The Liberal party defended Coulon, saying it is proud to have him as a candidate.
"He has consistently asserted Israel's right to defend itself," said Yves Lemire, who spoke on behalf of the party. "Mr. Coulon supports the Liberal party policy, which calls for a permament two-state solution in the Middle East."
Outremont is a multi-ethnic riding nestled along Mont Royal's northern slope, and is home to a significant Jewish population, including a large portion of Montreal's Hasidic community.
A byelection in the riding is expected this fall, though the federal Conservative government has not yet picked a date.
It is widely seen as a two-way race between the Liberals and the NDP, who recruited the popular Thomas Mulcair, a lawyer and former environment minister under Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
Liberals urged to reject 'anti-Israel' Outremont candidate Coulon
Martin C. Barry, The Chronicle West End Edition
24 July 2007
Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is being asked to reconsider his choice of Jocelyn Coulon — an international affairs expert selected by the Liberals to run in a coming byelection in Outremont. B'nai Brith Canada claims Coulon is biased against Israel.
"At a time when Canada's foreign policy is headed in the wrong direction because of the current Conservative government's Republican-style approach, I am confident that the people of Outremont will be proud to elect Jocelyn Coulon," Dion said last Friday in Côte des Neiges, announcing the candidacy.
Rumours have been circulating that the Liberals plan on making Coulon a senior foreign affairs advisor. Dion acknowledged that if elected, Coulon's future position will be "helping to re-establish Canada's role in the world."
Coulon, 50, who teaches political science at the University of Montreal, is well-known among francophone media watchers as one of Quebec's most frequently-cited academic commentators on international affairs. His most recent book, l'Agression, published three years ago, analyzes the implications of the United States's military intervention in Iraq.
In a statement explaining his reasons for running, Coulon defended Canada's current military role in Afghanistan, while attacking the Conservative government's approach to the mission.
"The intervention in Afghanistan, unlike the one in Iraq, in which Stephen Harper would have wanted to drag us into, is in no way immoral," he said. "It is perfectly consistent with what Canada has always advocated internationally."
However, Canada has other international priorities, he added. "The Afghan obsession is keeping us from our honourable peacekeeping tradition," he said. "It is urgent for us to reorganize our priorities and to make what is happening around us in the world a focus of our action."
In a message e-mailed to the B'nai Brith leadership last Thursday, Moïse Moghrabi, the organization's legal counsel for Quebec, warned that Coulon "is a subtle individual with very pro-Arab/pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel/anti-American/anti-West views …
"We definitely need to inform all the communities in Outremont of his background and beliefs, before the upcoming by-election, as the Liberals intend for him to be their point man on international issues if he is elected."
Moghrabi had previously taken Coulon to task over the words he used in an article, Le Massacre des musulmans, published in La Presse in 2004. In that piece, which lists a range of military atrocities committed against Muslims all over the Middle East (and which Coulon attributes to American and Israeli forces), he states, "The massacre of the muslims is premeditated." However, later in the article Coulon adds, "I know Israel has to right to defend itself."
While acknowledging Coulon's knowledge of Middle East politics, Steven Slimovitch, B'nai Brith Canada's national legal counsel, said the organization remains preoccupied by the potential impact of his views. "There's obviously a grave concern to the Jewish people," he said.
NDG-Lachine Liberal MP Marlene Jennings, who attended the campaign launch, said that while B'nai Brith may suspect him of having a "severe attitude" towards Israel in more recent works, "it's clear that he's open to dialogue and that the Jewish community welcomes sitting down and discussing with him."
Mount Royal Liberal Irwin Cotler, who was also at last Friday's launch, said he had known Coulon for years as a fellow academic and respected him as a political scientist. But he didn't necessarily agree with all Coulon's views. "I've read some of the articles that he's written and we would have a different view and perspective on some of those issues," he said. "But that is not the basis upon which I would make a judgement."
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