The Conservative government of Stephen Harper and his lackey John Baird ought to be ashamed of themselves as indeed the country should be ashamed of them. Their position with respect to Israel and Gaza is so short sighted as to be a national disgrace and should be condemned by all Canadians.
It would be idle in the extreme to try to trace the history of Israel and Palestine. It goes back into the mists of time. What one can deal with, however, is the use of the word “terrorist “ which seems to be governing the position of the Government of Canada. In short, Hamas is a terrorist organization that is shooting missiles into Israel and thereby is bringing Gaza’s problems on itself and thus is responsible for the hundreds of innocent deaths caused by Israel in that territory. That Hamas is doing minimal damage while Israel is slaughtering hundreds of innocent Gaza citizens is, apparently, beside the point. I, frankly, find it hard to believe that even a Canadian government could take such a shortsighted view of what is a part of an enormous ongoing problem that’s lasted nearly 70 years.
I have no doubt that Hamas is a terrorist organization by the usual definition of that word. What is conveniently overlooked is that the state of Israel was founded with substantial help by Jewish terrorist groups such as Irgun. In fact the first refugees from Palestinian villages left because of Israeli terrorism, not, as claimed, by armies. Irgun spawned later Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.
That’s why by almost any reasonable definition of the word terrorism, the state of Israel for most of its history can be so defined. That it has used terror in Lebanon, Syria, and in Palestinian territories is a matter of historical record. I would state unequivocally that building on occupied lands and the defending of the settlers is an act of terrorism. I believe that the way Palestinian Arabs are treated within the state of Israel is, whether mild or not by comparison, nevertheless terrorism.
It is not my purpose here to try judge which terrorism is worse then another nor whether at any particular time one side was more guilty than another. My point is simply this – terrorism has been part of the 70-year-old struggle right from the very beginning and is no less practiced now by the state of Israel than by Hamas.
What Canada should be doing is adopting a helpful position as it has in difficult contests in the past. Instead of allying itself with the United States and I might say the Jewish population in Canada (you can be sure I’ll be getting the mail from the Canadian Jewish Congress for that statement), it should be reverting to its traditional position as a peacemaker.
There are two very distinct sides to the question but on the humanitarian side of things, Palestinian citizens are suffering immeasurably more. Gaza, still in large part, living in refugee camps, is hostage to Israel for such basic things as drinking water and medicines. In every away from tiny little things on a daily basis to the major issues, Palestinians are made to feel like second-class citizens at best. They have no national dignity because they have not been allowed any. This has gone on for almost 70 years.
Canada seems to have forgotten that at one time, the entire land in question was Palestinian. The state of Israel was created by the persistence of the Zionist movement and the extraordinary and quite illegal help it got from Great Britain when she held the area as a mandate after World War I. We are not talking as if this was old Yugoslavia where “nations” had lived side-by-side for centuries.
Do not take from this that I do not support the existence of the state of Israel. It is too late for that debate; it was over a long time ago. As a state, Israel also is entitled to the security of its borders. I don’t deny that.
What I do say is that the Palestinians have been very badly dealt with by the rest of the world since Israel was formed. To think that it has not yet got a state of its own is unbelievable. It can be said as the Israelis are fond of saying, “Palestine never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. That statement, however, is arrogant as hell implying that Israel has the right to make beneficent concessions from time to time, as it deems it appropriate, at which moment, Palestinians are expected to say “yes sir, yes sir”.
There is nothing easier to do than scupper a peace conference and neither side can escape blame for that. What Israel must be blamed for is refusal to accept Palestine as a High Contracting Party, as a nation, until its borders are settled to the satisfaction of Israel.
Back to Canada. Canada cannot help matters if it simply adopts the US side and pursues that side uncritically. It can only help if it tries to be a an honest broker. This we have decided not to be and the world is much worse for it.
The Harper myopia points out again that a large “C” conservative government is unbending and right wing in the worst sense of that word. There is no debate on this issue in Canada sponsored by the government and participated in by the opposition parties. No Canadian consensus has been sought.
By no means do all Canadians support the Harper government. But it is more than just lack of support that’s the problem. Canadians have not come together, debated the issue, and formulated a policy in the Canadian tradition that will be a help rather than a hindrance to the process.
It is that right wing, obdurate, hard line which has made Stephen Harper into an elected dictator and deprived his fellow citizens of expressing their views and, as should happen in a democracy, having those views formulate national policy.