by Steve da Silva Basics Issue #12 (Jan/Feb 2009)
As Basics Issue #12 was going to print, nearly a 1000 Palestinians in Gaza had already been slaughtered by Israel, with well over four thousand injured and some 25,000 displaced. Three hundred counted among the dead were innocent children.
Israel - one of today’s most barbaric states, second only to the United States - would not last long in the international system without the ongoing diplomatic and military support of Western imperialist powers. And it’s for this reason that Canadians, should be turning their attention to where they live if they want to help bring an end to the carnage in Gaza.
The Canadian government has been one of the most staunch supporters of Israel’s onslaught in Gaza to date. On January 6, 2009, former Global Television news anchor and current Thornhill Member of Parliament and minister of state for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent said that ““Hamas bears a terrible responsibility for this and for the wider deepening humanitarian tragedy”, thus blaming the Palestinians for Israel’s attacks against them. Canadians may recall how back in 2006 Stephen Harper himself expressed the same degree of support for Israeli state terrorism when he referred to Israel’s 33-day rampage against Lebanon as a “measured response” to the alleged kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.
Then, on January 12, 2009, as the 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted 33-to-1 in favour of condemning Israel’s illegal and barbaric war on Gaza (with 13 abstentions – all by European Union countries), Canada was the lone voice opposing the condemnation of Israel.
Meanwhile, the new federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has been trumpeting the same degree of support for Israel: “Canada has to support the right of a democratic country [Israel] to defend itself.” Evidently, the only rights Ignatieff is concerned with is the right of one of the most militarized countries in the world to obliterate the existence of a people to whom democracy has been completely denied. The fact that Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinian people in 2006 and that Canada was the first country in the world to refuse recognition to Hamas appears to Ignatieff to be no contradiction in his thinking.
Meanwhile, the NDP’s Jack Layton has opportunistically played both sides by stating that “The continuing airstrikes by Israel on civilians in the Gaza strip and the ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are serving to compound the existing civilian disaster and further harm chances for a negotiated peace.” Such a position is a cop-out because it completely ignores the fact that Israel has maintained a life-crippling blockade on Gaza since the election of Hamas in 2006, and that calls for Hamas to end missile strikes into Israel need to also address the economic warfare against Gaza.
Canadians who want to help the people of Gaza – in addition to appealing to the direct calls for solidarity and aid that are coming directly from the Palestinians – need to begin seriously challenging Canadian imperialism from here at home. The apartheid state of Israel would not be able to survive without the support of countries like U.S., Canada, and EU members. If we really want to make a difference for the people of Gaza, Canadians need to start finding ways to mobilize themselves independent of these forces for real structural changes in Canada’s domestic and foreign policies.