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Americas | Palestine | International | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Canadian government indifferent to Israel’s murder of eight of its citizens
Canada’s Conservative government has responded to the murder of eight Canadian citizens in an Israeli air strike with a shrug of its shoulders.
The Canadians, four adults and four children aged from 1 to 7, were among eleven members of the Al-Akhrass family who were killed as the result of Israeli strafing of the south Lebanese village of Aitaroun last Sunday. All four of the family’s houses in Aitaroun were destroyed by Israeli bombs.
In the past such an event would have triggered a strong Canadian protest, with Ottawa likely calling in the Israeli ambassador for an official dressing down. All the more so, since it is indisputable that the Israeli action against Lebanon, ostensibly launched in response to the kidnapping of two soldiers by Hezbollah, has taken the form of a punitive mission, with the Israeli military besieging the country and targeting Lebanese infrastructure and civilians
Of the three hundred people killed in the past eight days of fighting, the overwhelming majority have been, like Montreal pharmacist Ali Al-Akhrass and his family, innocent civilians.
The Conservative government, however, is callously indifferent to this loss of life, even when the dead are those whom it purportedly represents.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper caused a shiver of uneasiness the other day when he talked about "the initial attack" that sparked the current violence between Israel and Lebanon. It was the statement of a new boy, a neophyte in the unhappy world of the Middle East.
It was not wrong that the prime minister felt he should make some kind of statement about the violence that had then cost dozens of lives and has now cost hundreds. Politically and morally it is never a bad thing to deplore violence.
But in the Middle East there is no longer any "initial attack." The history of the past 60 years has been an unbroken continuum of attack and counter-attack, and it is impossible to say how it began, when who did what to whom.
Whether he intended it or not, Harper was taking sides. He was putting himself firmly in the camp of Israel, where the only other presence of note is George W. Bush and the United States. The rest of the world has by now taken note.
About this dispute, one point must be clear. This is not about the right of Israel to exist. That is not debatable and has not been since the United Nations decreed that Israel should exist. But this dispute is about what can be done to ensure that existence.
For half a century Canada has taken some considerable satisfaction in its credibility as an international good fellow on matters relating to the Middle East. That status flowed directly from Lester Pearson's volunteering of Canada for a peacekeeping role after the disastrous 1956 Suez invasion.