Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ottawa Citizen, November 24, 2010

... before I was so rudely interrupted by Jason Kenney: I hate terrorism, whether committed by a man in a turban or a politician in a suit

Excerpt 1:
Rumbling towards us is a major crisis in Lebanon with Canada's fingerprints all over the casus belli. The head of the inquiry into the assassination of Rafik Hariri and most of the "investigation" muscle is Canadian.(1)

But it is the full-on over-identification of Canada with the most extreme Israeli government in history (2) which is utterly mystifying. This is a government busily humiliating U.S. President Barack Obama over settlements (3), burying the hopes of peace under the concrete of spreading and illegal construction, and an apartheid wall on Palestinian land declared illegal by the international courts (4). The courts are treated with the same contempt as the will of the United Nations has been for more than 40 years (5).
Canada under Harper supports Israel on all of the above, as it did in the brutal massacre of more than 1,000 civilians during the attack on Gaza (6), with the entire territory rendered as basically an open-air prison camp, as British prime minister David Cameron described it. And as it did when Israel attacked a humanitarian aid ship (7) in international waters (8), killing nine, wounding scores, and kidnapping hundreds (8) whom they took in shackles to a jail in the desert, robbing many of their possessions (9). Substitute Iran for Israel in that last sentence and ask yourself what the Harper response would have been. You'd have been wearing tin hats in Toronto.
Excerpt 2:

Let me say this for the ten-thousandth time, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of, or a supporter of, any terrorist organization(10). I hate terrorism, whether it is carried out by a man in a turban with a beard in the Tora Bora, or a statesman in a suit in the White House, in Whitehall or Tel Aviv.
I witnessed the results of it in my own east London constituency on 7/7, as I had previously in the aftermath of Israeli massacres in Lebanon and in Palestine. I am trying to bring about an end to all of this, to bring peace to the Holy Land. And the price of peace is justice for the Palestinians, as the Prince of Peace would surely have recognized.

What's missing:
(1) While the current head of the UN inquiry is Canadian, Lebanon specifically requested that the tribunal have "an international character". As for the "investigation muscle", it seems that Mr. Galloway is here referring to the fact that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in an investigative journalism coup, revealed information gathered by a Lebanese policeman.  What is most interesting, however, is that Mr. Galloway appears to be blaming Canada for a crisis that may or may or not occur, simply because a Canadian TV network has apparently exposed the guilty parties - parties who have been issuing threats should anyone accuse them. In effect, he's blaming the police investigator for finding the criminal.

(2) While Mr. Galloway may have his own feelings about the "extremism" of the current Israeli government, it is worth noting that Israel's current prime minister has recognized the two-state solution and was the the first to ever offer a freeze in settlement construction. What's more, if Mr. Galloway studied a little history, he would find that Menachem Begin, in a speech that was considerably more hardline than anything Netanyahu has ever said, told Ronald Reagan that Israel is neither a "vassal state" of the US, nor a "banana republic".

(3) Mr. Obama was the first US President to link peace talks to settlement construction. All previous negotiations had continued without any freeze whatsoever. In this way, Mr. Obama made it impossible for the Palestinians to come to the table as long as construction continued. Mr. Obama backed the Palestinians and the Israelis into opposite corners and, arguably, was therefore the architect of his own humiliation.

(4) Calling Israel's separation barrier an "apartheid wall" is blatant political rhetoric. Most of it is a fence, not a wall, and the sole reason for its construction was to prevent the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel. The fact that suicide bombers now rarely detonate themselves within Israel is proof of its effectiveness.

(5) The International Court of Justice did not issue a ruling on the legality of the separation barrier. It issued an advisory opinion. As such, it is not international law. In addition, the United Nations General Assembly recognizes that  it"... is empowered to make only non-binding recommendations to States on international issues...". In other words, its resolutions are not international law either. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, with its automatic, built-in anti-Israel bias, it's hardly surprising that it has passed so many resolutions critical of Israel.

(6) More rhetoric from Mr. Galloway. The Hamas Minister of the Interior has admitted that the majority of those killed in Israel's actions in Gaza were fighters (English report here).

(7) Far from being simply a "humanitarian aid ship", the Maavi Marmara was found to be carrying members of a militant organization, bent on confrontation with Israeli soldiers. As for Mr. Galloway's complaint about this happening in international waters, the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994 reads:
Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;

(8) Using the word "Kidnapping" is highly inflammatory. These people were arrested. However, within days, Israel had released all of the passengers from all the ships prevented from reaching Gaza.

(9) Mr. Galloway here repeats accusations made by flotilla passengers. These accusations are under investigation by Israel - and IDF officers have demanded that anyone found guilty of theft be prosecuted.

(10) Mr. Galloway has personally handed funds to leaders of Hamas. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Canada, the US and the European Union.

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