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Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say Canada will continue to speak out on human-rights abuses.

REINHARD KRAUSE/Reuters

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Israel’s ambassador replies

Re Up Against The Wall (Opinion, Aug. 3): I deeply regret the distortions regarding the nature and purpose of Israel’s security barrier as presented in Tim Marshall’s article. The barrier between Israel and the West Bank is not a concrete wall, but 95 per cent fence. It was not erected for the purpose of controlling migration (as was inferred by the article), but rather as a means of preventing the wave of suicide bombings and sniper fire perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists during the Second Intifada (2000-2006).

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In September, 2000, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat betrayed the Israeli peace initiative. In an effort to pressure Israel, Mr. Arafat believed that a terror campaign against Israelis would force Jerusalem to give up more ground during negotiations, which were then taking place in Taba, Egypt.

What ensued were five years of terrorism and suicide bombings that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians – women, men, and children – as well as more than 40 foreign civilians. From the population centres in the West Bank, terrorists only had to walk a dozen kilometres to reach Israeli cities and towns, blowing themselves up in cafés, buses, shopping malls, and even private homes.

The barrier should be lauded for successfully reducing terrorism (specifically suicide bombings). It has saved the lives of Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike, and should not be misconstrued in order to fit a preconceived concept or narrative as was done by the author. Mr. Marshall would be well served by looking into the nature and purpose of Israel’s security barrier with the West Bank.

Nimrod Barkan, Israeli ambassador to Canada

Canadians take sides

Re Trudeau Stands Firm As Dispute With Saudis Intensifies (Aug. 9): I have never had anything good to say about Justin Trudeau. But today I am fiercely proud of him and Chrystia Freeland.

Saudi society is the antithesis of the values and basic principles of Canada. The less we have to do with the country and its juvenile leader, the better it reflects on us. The other Western nations who have failed to support Canada in this dispute should be ashamed.

Canadians who have suggested that our leaders backtrack on their principled comments in order to avoid economic damage – especially some of our universities – well, they should be ashamed of themselves, too.

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Stand proud, Mr. Trudeau.

Richard Ross, Toronto

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I had the privilege of working as a specialist consultant in the Saudi medical system in the early 2000s. Although there was much I might disagree with viewed through the lens of my Western experience, values and education, I developed a real admiration for the populace and the progress they were making in what was essentially still a feudal society at the turn of the century.

I resolved to keep an open mind, and keep my opinions to myself. It was their country, I was a guest with no real understanding of the complexity of the various societal influences that had shaped so much of their policy. I soon concluded that no one from the West who had not lived in a Mideast country could ever really understand the “realpolitik” of the situation there.

Based on these experiences, I cannot understand the seemingly pseudo-intellectual arrogance of elected officials who presume to publicly tell other nations how to run their affairs; any possible explanation seems to vary from at best a very naive understanding of diplomacy, to political grandstanding at worst. Can you imagine the reaction if the Saudi foreign minister suddenly announced Canada’s government must immediately supply all its disenfranchised First Nations people with potable water, appropriate educational opportunities and housing?

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Malcolm Brigden, Lethbridge

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Justin Trudeau has said sorry to just about everybody for just about everything, so with all that practice, why not pick up the phone to Riyadh? If the lines are busy, Twitter might work.

Simon Farrow, Kelowna, B.C.

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If the federal Liberals want to address human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, they should have done so with greater respect and intelligence. Why didn’t Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland call the Saudi Ambassador directly?

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To publicly tweet a demand that another state should “immediately” free any individuals jailed under its jurisdiction is a big mistake. If this is really a matter of voicing Canadian values to the world, then why is our government not advocating for the human rights of Palestinians in Israeli jails, or confined to Occupied Territories? Please, enough with the double standards.

Justice, unfortunately, takes time to prevail; it took Canada years to redress the wrongs done to Maher Arar, for example. The Liberals’ social media response to Saudi human rights issues will not achieve anyone’s freedom – and some sectors of the Canadian economy are already paying the price.

Mohamed Elmasry, Waterloo, Ont.

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Kudos to Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland. Human rights, transparency and standing up to bullies is the new currency.

Joan Hedstrom, Creston, B.C.

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We are right to stand up for justice and basic human rights. We are right to speak up for the oppressed.

We are right to take the moral high road. We are right to put our principles above commercial interests. That’s who we are.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is having a tantrum, no different than the one he had when the Lebanese prime minister was held under house arrest during an official visit to Riyadh … no different than when he savaged Qatar for reasons unknown.

We won’t be bullied or silenced by the likes of His Majesty, regardless of the consequences. We wear those consequences as a badge of honour. I have never been prouder to be a Canadian.

Nabil Tabet, Montreal

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We have been Qatared and feathered.

Elizabeth Swift, Victoria

Flawed but great

Re Victoria Plans To Remove Sir John A. Statue (Aug. 9): Without the work Sir John A. Macdonald did to unify and strengthen the British colonies, what is now Canada would likely have been absorbed into the United States. We would be talking about our President Donald Trump, fake news and wondering how to pay for our medical care. The U.S. does not have a better historical record in its dealings with its Indigenous people. We need to remember both the good and the bad of historical figures.

We must, however, keep the memory, and the monuments to this great but flawed man. He was a product of his time as much as we are a product of ours.

Michael Gertler, Ajax, Ont.

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You report that the city of Victoria will remove the statue of Canada’s first prime minister because of his colonialist behaviour.

Perhaps the city should consider changing its name, considering Queen Victoria’s arch colonialism, and her agreeing to the practice of child labour.

Michael Feld, Vancouver