It's Friedman, not the Palestinians, who needs to learn Canadian values

Canada is a role model and was the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism almost 50 years ago.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on as he speaks during a briefing at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in Jerusalem February 9, 2020. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on as he speaks during a briefing at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in Jerusalem February 9, 2020.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
The world is afflicted with an unpredictable and capricious pandemic where we all are bound by dread and anxiety. The “COVID-19 War.” We need to wage war against the silent enemy and the coronavirus, which is killing with indiscriminate efficiency. War has invaded every home without permission, and all are experiencing hardship, uncertainty, pain and fear.
This invisible killer has gripped the world and it will not let go.
Meanwhile, the US is afflicted with more than a quarter of the world’s deaths and about a third of the world’s cases.
But yet, from time to time, the US ambassador to Israel comes out with hostile statements. Lately, David Friedman said that a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza will only exist “if Palestinians become Canadian and when the Palestinians become Canadians all your issues [for the Israeli Right, worried about the Palestinian state becoming a terrorist state] should go away.”
Honesty is vital and the most fundamental requirement of successful diplomacy.
Abraham Lincoln said: You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
I’m a proud Palestinian Canadian living in Canada with my children for 11 years.
Canada welcomes people with a smile. Canadian identity has traditionally been shaped by its multiculturalism. Canada is a beacon of tolerance, friendly relationships and community.
I never felt like a stranger in Canada. From our first day in Toronto. My neighbor asked me to take down the wooden fence in our backyard to enable our children to have free movement and to share the backyards. It’s about building bridges and smashing barriers, not building walls of separation.
Mr. Friedman: I know how Palestinians are welcomed at Israeli borders and checkpoints. I live in a neighborhood of mixed white Christians and Jewish Canadians. We are highly welcomed, and a welcome reception was even organized for us. My sons’ best friends are Canadian Jews. Have you ever thought of or do you allow your son to sleep over at a Palestinian’s house? My son’s friend stays at our home and we treat him as one of our own. This is what gives me hope in the future when we take responsibility and walk the talk.
Canada is a role model and was the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism almost 50 years ago, which has imbued a long and proud tradition of inclusion and diversity in society. Canada has shown time and time again that a country can be stronger not in spite of its differences, but because of them.
Inclusiveness not exclusiveness; equalization not discrimination; stabilization not destabilization; and peacefulness not fearfulness.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “As Canadians, we appreciate the immense freedom we have to show pride in our individual identities and ancestries. No matter our religion, where we were born, what color our skin, or what language we speak, we are equal members of this great country.”
Our roots in Canada reach out to every corner of the globe. We are from far and wide and speak more than 200 languages. In the Holy Land we speak two languages and we have many commonalities and share one destiny.
Canada is for all Canadians, its streets, land, sky, water, present and future. Canada gives people the right to choose, and Canada protects the rights of all its people. Canada is built from all corners of the world who worship every faith, who belong to every culture, who speak every language. Leadership is about bringing people of all different perspectives together.
Canadians have acknowledged the First Nations and are now cultivating strong relationships with the indigenous peoples. Canadian leadership took responsibility, apologized to them and started a truth and reconciliation process. There are now more than half a dozen ministers of visible minority in the cabinet.
Mr. Friedman introduced himself as a preacher. Life is about learning and it’s not too late. I advise him to learn and practice Canadian values. He must reconcile and come to terms with himself. Mr. Friedman, you were close to Canada and Canadian moral values. I am surprised that you did not become Canadian.
Then you can offer guidance to others based on your being an example. I invite you to Canada to learn, practice and defend Canadian principles. Then when you preach and advise people, you will find someone who listens to you.
Change begins with you and within you. If you cannot change yourself and reconcile with yourself, do not try to change others and you will not be able to reconcile with others.
Now is the time to accept responsibility for the man-made suffering caused by politicians who are triggering the Israeli-Palestinian divide. They are always guilty, and we are always innocent. We value and deserve life and they do not. We are civilized and they are not.
The antidotes for incitement, fear, hatred, smugness, insolence and voracious are freedom, kindness, justice, equality and humanity. Let wisdom prevail over discrimination, incitement, fear and hatred.
The highest ranked people are the ones who advocate and practice ethical, moral and human principles and avoid unethical immoral actions. It’s time for all to stand together, not just to be among the audience or on the sidelines. We must confront, not sit back and watch, those attacking tolerance and understanding and reject incitement, hatred and bigotry.
Every big idea starts off small. It starts with hateful discriminative words that spread everywhere. Palestinians are not your enemy or the enemy of the Israelis. Palestinians are Israelis’ neighbors and they want to live free and equal to other nations. Palestinians and Israelis can be Canadians in their coexistence, support, mercy, solidarity and equality. Relationships are based on understanding, equality, mutual respect of everyone’s rights and inclusiveness.
Seek the irrefutable truth that comes out of children’s mouths. You can see the truth in the eyes of innocent children and mothers and their belief in their right to life and freedom and to live in peace. The Palestinians were able to make hope out of pain, suffering and blockade and create life from death.
The Palestinians are a living experience and have proven that they are a living people and will remain alive, sticking to their inalienable rights recognized by all international laws.
“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.” – Mahatma Gandhi
What legacy are you going to leave behind?
The author is a Palestinian Canadian physician and an internationally recognized humanitarian, human rights and inspirational peace activist.