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Commentary Last Updated: Jan 16th, 2009 - 01:38:55

Canada complicit in Israeli war crimes
By Jim Miles
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jan 16, 2009, 00:18

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Canada lives in the unfortunate position of being under the thrall of U.S. media for most of its information and cultural relevance. At the same time, its own media, apart from the national broadcast company, CBC, is highly centralized under the influence of two media empires (Canwest Global and CTV GlobeMedia) who support the same kind of biased coverage that is provided by the U.S.

In sum, Canadians who wish to receive a balanced view of events in the Middle East, Gaza in particular, have to rely on alternate or external media. Canwest Global (Israel Aspers� media empire) provides nightly updates with little context and �balanced� reporting of showing deaths in Israel from the Qassam rockets as being equally as devastating as the IDF attacks in Gaza.

The current Canadian Conservative government under Stephen Harper is very much a shadow of U.S. conservatism: right wing Christian moralism; a hawkish if small military projection to give the world what it needs (whether it asks for it or not); and an unquestioning support of �neoliberal� free trade practices. As such it echoes/mimics/supports the all too familiar U.S. perspective that Israel is the victim and Hamas the perpetrator of events in Gaza.

This leads to a Canadian government position no different than the U.S. government position -- Israel is the victim of Hamas terrorist aggression.

Earlier this month, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent said, �The government of Canada has been very clear since the beginning of this crisis that it believes that the Hamas rocketing was responsible for the initial development of this crisis and for the continuing deepening humanitarian tragedy.�

When asked about the bombing of UN schools that resulted in the deaths of more than 40 civilians Kent replied, �Great responsibility rests with Hamas overall for triggering this incident and by their continued terrorist belligerence. . . .� [1] He added another platitude excusing war crimes, �It is a tragedy and Canada is concerned about the loss of civilian life.� [2]

I would have to challenge Mr. Kent on his lack of knowledge that Israel knew the UN schools contained a civilian refugee population, that Israel had been informed they were refugee centres, and that Israel had dropped leaflets telling the local population to leave their homes or suffer bombing attacks. Attempts by Israel to show photos of insurgents with rockets on the school grounds were quickly proven false.

Combined with his personal lack of knowledge is his personal lack of humanitarian concern and understanding of the overall context of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the ongoing crimes against humanity involved with that.

Kent repeats other lines used by the U.S., Israel and other Western governments to defend Israel. The oft-repeated servile response to Israeli actions is the line, �Canada continues to fully support Israel�s right to defend itself.� [1] It is, to sum up the U.S./Canadian view, all Hamas� fault: �The burden of responsibility is on Hamas to stop its terrorist rocketing of Israel.� There is no recognition of the democratic election of Hamas denied, of the intention to strengthen Fatah militarily against Hamas, there is no recognition of the broader context of Israel as an occupying force that should be subject to the UN Charter of rights, international war law, and international human rights conventions. Israel only recognizes these conventions in the extremely narrow perspective of being attacked by some unreliable and ineffective homemade rockets. The broader context does not exist for its Western audiences.

Kent adds another rhetorical statement that fully demonstrates his ignorance, bias, and his buy-in to the U.S./Israeli viewpoint, �Hamas�s [sic] record is to use civilians -- the population and civilian infrastructure -- as shields and it would seem quite possible that this is yet another tragic instance.� It is difficult to argue with this kind of ignorance as it is born out of a deep cultural prejudice, a deeper ignorance of the full context of the war, and an acceptance of a falsely stated position conceived under conditions of urban warfare where not just the fighting forces but the whole population is against the occupation of their homeland.

This attitude came to the fore Tuesday when the Canadian representative to the UN Human Right�s Council voted against the resolution condemning Israeli actions because it �failed to recognize that Israel had acted to stop rocket attacks on its territory from the Hamas-controlled Gaza,� an ignorant sound bite when the motion clearly �called for an end to �launching of the crude rockets against Israeli civilians that resulted in the loss of 4 civilian lives.�� Perhaps what Kent objected to was the continuation that also �noted that Israeli attacks had brought some 900 Palestinian deaths and injured around 4,000.� [3]

Canada is complicit in the war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza and the Palestinian territories. I truly cannot understand the government�s ignorance of the history of the area, the lack of intelligent thought and humanitarian reaction to the mass murder of so many civilians. How can so many people be ignorant of the overall picture in the Middle East and the U.S. position to control the Middle East for resources and containment of China and Russia? How can they be so subservient to the Zionist rhetoric and propaganda against the Palestinians, and at the same time so ignorant of the history of ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestinian territories? Can they not read? How can they simplify their responses to rhetorical lies of Israel as the victim, denying all the history and context of Israeli aggression in Palestine (recalling also at one time the Irgun and Haganah forces were considered terrorist groups by the British)?

My best answer is that it is a wilful ignorance, one guided by positions that look for explanations suited to the preconceived beliefs of the holder, rather than an intelligent and inquiring intellect that can adapt and change perspectives to new knowledge. More importantly in this case, I would have to say it defies common sense, given that the knowledge is available if one really wanted to know the full history and context of the story. Unfortunately that knowledge of history and the common sense attributes of knowing that the true aggressor has vastly superior weapons systems and has complete control of the territory in all facets are wilfully ignored, as it does not fit the preconceived right-wing agenda of the Canadian government.

To reiterate, through wilful ignorance or simply lacking intelligence, Canada is then complicit in the war crimes committed against Palestine.


[1] �Canada blames Hamas for civilian casualties in Gaza

[2] �Hamas responsible for deadly Gaza attack -- Canada

[3] �UN Human Rights Council condemns Israel over Gaza op

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles� work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

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