Friday, August 01, 2014
Scotland, Gaza, and the Shameful Silence of So Many Canadians
I spent my last day in Scotland in this beautiful highland forest with Sébastien and a group of friends, taking turns leaping into the icy waters of a deep gorge.
Celebrating life, trying to forget for a moment the nightmarish state of this world.
And for a while it worked.
But tonight I found myself writing about Gaza. Again.
For how could I ignore that horror when so many in Canada have been so silent?
And not just the foul Con regime, but also the Liberals, the NDP, the media, and so many others who should know better.
All trying to pretend that what is happening there is just another war, a contest of equals, instead of a crime against humanity.
All trying to pretend that one can be objective, when as Giles Fraser writes, being calmly rational about Gaza feels like another form of madness.
I know that traditional journalism prides itself on maintaining a strict firewall between objective and subjective, between news and comment.
But isn’t this just a convenient fiction? I want the paper to write, in big bold capital letters: we hate this fucking stupid pointless war.
For how can one be objective about the slaughter of so many children?
All this being cool about it didn’t work for me. I think of the remains of that two-year-old boy that our Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont was presented with in a plastic bag. And the kids packed into that UN school, sleeping on mattresses, expecting that a blue flag would keep them safe. My focal point wouldn’t extend past that horror. I see it up close and personal.
And still remain fully human...
And how could so many people in a country like Canada allow themselves to be so blind or so cowardly?
Why couldn't a single Canadian media outlet write an editorial like this one?
Wars kill people, including teachers in their classrooms, nurses in their hospitals, and farmers in their fields. But when children die in the hail of steel soldiers direct at one another there is a special kind of obscenity.
They know nothing of propaganda, they did not cheer in angry rallies, they did not send off their menfolk to fight with a blessing, they did not sit at meetings where the pros and cons of making war were gravely discussed by middle- aged men. No, they just die. Or lose their little legs, their arms, their eyes.
Why can't those who claim they are friends of Israel understand that the truth is the truth even when it HURTS?
The more fundamental reason why Israel went in is not related to what Hamas or Israel has done, but to what Israel has left undone. The distinguished Israeli writer David Grossman, addressing himself to Israeli leaders, asks: “How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality?
The outside world must help devise a ceasefire which stops the killing and puts in place arrangements on access, a degree of demilitarisation and the return of the Palestinian Authority. But that will not last long if Israel simply sinks back into the limbo land most of its politicians have come to prefer, a land where peace can be constantly postponed, and Israelis, although occasionally surprised by bouts of nastiness, can go off to the supermarket as if they were in Denmark.
When it alone can save the Palestinians AND the Israelis.
For if Hamas must understand that they will NEVER drive the Jews into the sea, the Israelis must understand that all their military might will NEVER crush the Palestinians desire to be free.
And then there is the question that haunts me the most. How can Canada that was once known for its precious peacekeeping skills have fallen so low?
Why can I be so proud of this small country?.
And so ashamed of the big beautiful country I love so much.
And of course you know who I blame...
For even from this side of the Atlantic tonight, it seems clear to me that eight years of his brutish rule, have corrupted this country's very soul.
Corrupted the media, corrupted the opposition.
And all I can say is thank goodness for this small act of resistance.
For us, the past 21 days have been deeply disheartening, as we now see that we are also destined to inherit a more violent world. And it isn't only because Stephen Harper has proven himself (yet again) to be incompetent at representing Canada on the world stage but rather, also due to the hesitation from our Official Opposition when it comes to standing up for New Democratic values on this issue.
For it is time to call a spade a spade.
The assault on Gaza is a crime against humanity.
The silence of so many Canadians is shameful.
First we must save the children.
And then we must save ourselves...
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