Harper's False Choice for Middle East Peace
As published in the Ottawa Sun and Toronto Star: February 10, 2014
Inspired perhaps by the fading echoes of George W. Bush; Stephen Harper has presented Canadians with a false choice on Middle East peace: either voice “absolute, non-negotiable belief in Israel” or be declared an anti-Semite. Stephen Harper refuses to be a real friend to the Israelis in the sense that he excuses their more objectionable behaviour for the sake of political support, business deals and misplaced guilt.
Much like medieval witchcraft charges; the anti-Semitic accusation is impossible to refute because the concept of anti-Semitism is subject to infinitely flexible and subjective definitions. Even the most reasoned defense can somehow be twisted into a fresh offense and thus, many Canadians have been falsely branded for even daring to examine this volatile concept. According to Stephen Harper’s definition; both Israel and Canada’s Jewish community are crowded with anti-Semites who experience “self-loathing.” It was recently reported by the Canadian Press that the offices of Harper and foreign minister John Baird were flooded with over one thousand letters from Canadians highly-critical of the government’s rigid pro-Israeli bias.
According to rabble.ca, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) is a publicly-funded pseudo-parliamentary committee dedicated to convincing the federal government to adopt a sweeping new definition of anti-Semitism that would criminalize any criticism of the Israeli state as a hate crime. Current immigration minister Jason Kenney and former Liberal justice minister Irwin Colter have been the most public voices of this bizarrely Orwellian program.
It is disappointing to hear Harper and Baird presenting the red herring of Palestinian homophobia in their attempt to deflect attention from reasoned opposition to Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Perhaps we are to believe that the Netanyahu regime will remove the illegal settlements if the Palestinian Authority starts flying the rainbow flag. The fact that the Israeli state treats gays with greater kindness than Palestinian Arabs further undermines the flawed logic of Harper and Baird, who have no interest in open-ended dialogue on the illegality of these expanding settlements.
Those who wonder why a “terrorist” organization like Hamas continues to flourish among the Palestinians probably doesn’t know the sordid details of the struggle between Palestine’s Arab inhabitants and those European Jews who supplanted them in the first half of the 20th century. Europe’s Zionistic Jews approached the territory of Palestine and its Arab inhabitants with the same arrogant attitude that the Spanish, French and British brought to North America 400 years ago. They considered Palestine to be virgin land free of “civilized” people. This neo-colonial influx has been likened to a man, who; in the act of jumping from a burning building, lands on a passerby and declares himself safe.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have utterly destroyed any hope of a separate state for the Palestinians because no Israeli leader will dare to use the army in to oust the settlers. Ironically; this is good news for Palestinian and Israeli peace activists who desire a secular bi-national state where Arabs and Jews live together as equals with the same laws and rights for everyone.
The state of Israel is strongly critiqued precisely because it is a liberal democracy and should know better than to abuse its Palestinian subject population.