A fall from grace: A Canadian perspective

As the cluster bombs illegally dropped by Israel in civilian areas continue to kill and maim Lebanese children, the apathetic silence of our government forces us to review its’ foreign Middle East policy these past few weeks.

From the onset, Harper stated that Israel was acting in “self-defense” against an “unprovoked” attack.

Firstly, it should be of great concern to Canadians that our prime minister’s memory only goes back a few weeks, particularly in a conflict that extends back decades.

The capture by Hezbollah of 2 Israeli soldiers can be described as many things, yet “unprovoked” certainly isn’t one of them. The government has completely ignored the previous Israeli occupation of Lebanese lands for 18 years, the continued occupation of the Shebaa farms, the Lebanese abducted and held hostage in Israeli dungeons, the hundreds of mines left by Israel after the year 2000 which continue to kill Lebanese civilians, the first Qana massacre in 1996 and the almost daily Israeli border violations for the past 6 years. These are some of Israel’s pre-July 12th crimes.

Second, what exactly constitutes self-defense per the Harper government? The situation was analogous to a little boy kicking a bully in the shin. Consequently, the bully beats the little boy to near death or death, bombs his home, and destroys the entire neighborhood all under the pretext of defending himself, and all legitimate actions per PM and company.

This is what Harper first described as a “measured” response. This so-called measured response, this implicit green light and tacit approval from Canada to Israel to continue the rampage of death and destruction, killed 8 Canadians within a couple of days. And the reaction of our government to this? No protest, no demand for an investigation, continued approval for Israeli aggression and a complete acceptance of Israel’s version of events.

As the bombings of Lebanese infrastructure continued and hundreds of civilians, a third of them children, lost their lives, Harper incredibly stated “..it’s hard to say whether a response is proportional.”

Third, and as if the protests from all around the world, and from Canadians at home weren’t enough to make our government change its’ stance, reports from Human Rights Watch and other groups all indicated Israel’s bombings of civilians were blatantly deliberate. These reports fell on deaf ears in Ottawa. [See “For Israel, Innocent Civilians Are Fair Game” published in the International Herald Tribune on August 3rd, 2006. [1]

Fourth, there was the Israeli murder of one Canadian peacekeeper and his 3 colleagues at the UN station. As the peacekeeping station had been there for years, Israel knew of its’ exact location, and the reports indicated that the UN force had called the Israelis numerous times to warn them how close the shelling was. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan himself stated that the attack seemed deliberate. In an outrageous and absolutely despicable remark, Harper effectively blamed the victims, effectively asking what were they doing there in the first place.

Fifth, the Israeli obstruction of both the relief efforts and the evacuation of Canadian citizens via the naval and air blockade, also didn’t arouse any objections from our spineless politicians in Ottawa.

The reports that emerged after the war started all showed that this war was planned well in advance [See for example the San Francisco Chronicle, [See “Israel set war plan more than a year ago” by Matthew Kalman, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, July 21, 2006,[2] with the capture of the 2 soldiers providing the pretext. To the best of this author’s knowledge, the government had remained conspicuously silent on this issue as well.

In occupied Palestine, little children collect the spent tear-gas canisters, bullet casings and other munitions shot at them by the Israeli forces. And on many of these, it says “Made in the USA”. My suspicion is that when these children are old enough to understand it all, they will start to resent the USA that supplied all this. The Harper government seems to be supplying “resentment fodder” of a different kind, against Canada, in its’ words and actions. What a far cry from our standing in the world in the days of Lester Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and father of modern peacekeeping, to our PM aching to becoming the next poodle for the US president.

What a shame, what a disgrace. He has he abandoned the ideals of Canada and Canadians, and failed us miserably.


[1]. http://www.commondreams.org/cgi- bin/print.cgi?file=/views06/0803-28.htm

[2]. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/