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Israel, Racism, and the Canadian Media
In the Canadian media, Israel is provoked, and then responds. For the military attacks on the Gaza Strip in late June and early July, we are told that the provocation was the June 25 operation by Palestinian resistance fighters against a military outpost near Gaza, and specifically the capture of an Israeli tank gunner.
The Palestinian operation, according to most Canadian media, was unprovoked – it could not have been provoked by the Israeli attacks leading up to the operation, though in June alone these had already killed 49 Palestinians. Nor could it have been provoked by the imprisonment of 359 Palestinian children, 105 Palestinian female adults and another 9000+ Arab males (mostly Palestinians) in Israeli jails, or by the mass starvation of Gaza. As a June 30 editorial in the Globe and Mail put it, “the onus for resolving the confrontation lies with Hamas,” and while Palestinians must quietly endure tank shelling, air strikes and starvation, “Israel is within its right to respond to terrorism and violence.”
Without pause, Israel has since gone on to invade Lebanon, killing hundreds of Lebanese, while Gaza continues to starve. In the Canadian media, Israel was provoked to do so, in this case by the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah.
Hizbollah has not been provoked in the same way the Palestinians have been. So what prompted their action? An obvious possibility is that they were moved to action by the Israeli assault on Gaza. By the time Hizbollah carried out its July 12 attack, the Israeli escalation following June 25 had already claimed another 67 Palestinian lives. More direct grievances with Israel include the continued Israeli imprisonment of many Lebanese, particularly Hizbollah supporters, and the Israeli live ammunition training on the Lebanese border which recently killed several Lebanese villagers. But one could barely begin to consider this on the basis of information provided by Canadian media. No attacks on Israel can have been provoked. All of Israel’s attacks must be provoked and defensive.
On July 13, Prime Minister Stephen Harper revealed the extent to which this logic has come to dominate Canadian diplomacy. With the Israeli military intensifying its assault on the Lebanese population and on critical civilian infrastructure, Harper described the massive attack as a “measured” exercise of Israel’s “right to defend itself.” Mainstream media joined in the chorus: “Faced with such aggression, Israel had no choice but to strike back,” a July 15 Globe and Mail editorial declared. The next day, several Canadians were added to the sky-rocketing death count from Israeli massacres.
Israel’s massacres in Gaza and southern Lebanon coincide with a shift in Canadian foreign policy. Under the past two regimes (Martin’s Liberals and now Harper’s Conservatives), Canada has rapidly shed any pretense of having an independent foreign policy and has aligned itself completely with the United States, Israel’s chief financial backer and arms dealer. Where past Canadian regimes would have settled for silent complicity in war crimes, Harper actively cheers and participates in them. This drastic realignment of Canadian policy happens at a time when the U.S. and Israel are embarking on aggressive, criminal wars involving major human rights violations.
For Canadians to accept this, they will have to consume an equally drastic dose of racism, dehumanization, and distorted understanding. Getting them to do so may be somewhat of a challenge. The Canadian media have taken up the task with gusto.
Aggression and defense
“No nation would stand by while its enemies bombarded its towns and cities.”
–Globe and Mail Editorial, July 15
Of course, the Globe’s editors were not talking about the Palestinian nation. The Palestinians are expected to stand by while Israel bombards its towns and cities, as it has been doing continuously for the past six years, with a sharp escalation in June – well before June 25, by which time of the month 49 Palestinians had already been killed. But when Palestinians resist through armed struggle, we read on the Globe and Mail’s editorial pages that Israel’s “right to respond to the latest Palestinian provocations is beyond question.” We cannot expect “superhuman effort” from Israel, the editors explain, and this is what would be required “to resist retaliating.”
Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon captured two Israeli soldiers along their southern border. Provocations had been running high for some time. The Israeli Defense Forces response was to start a murderous campaign by employing their generously supplied US aircraft to bomb civilian targets, resulting in rising death toll of the innocent.
Meanwhile, Israel’s biggest cheerleader George Bush, between letting out a few4 -word expletives at the G- 8Summit and attempting to manipulate some neck therapy on the German chancellor, stated that Israel had two of their soldiers captured and they were justified in their response.
And while the rest of the civilized world calls for restraint and introduction of a UN peacekeeping force in view of the rise of human casualties, this person in charge of a democratic nation that has lost most of its credibility in the region and around the world, vetoes such a move, and continues to shoot off his mouth by first trying to involve Syria and then Iran in this round of the conflict.
Saaduddin Hariri, son of the late Rafik Hariri and a rising star in Lebanese politics, said it best when he stated that the Israeli attack on Lebanon was a crime against all Lebanese.
With their incursions on Lebanese soil and their message of death and destruction delivered by air, particularly against civilians, the Israelis are the enemy. There are no rebellious factions within Lebanese society running their own agenda as some in the West are trying so eagerly to portray. And we couldn’t agree more.
The Lebanese today stand helpless but united against this onslaught by a rogue state called Israel. Fueled by Bush’s encouragement and armed with America’s armaments, Israel has been daily targeting the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon, resulting in tragic human losses.
They will continue as long as their cheerleader is rapidly replenishing their missiles and weapons of mass destruction
And if the Israelis are under any delusions that they can force a government favorable to Israel on Lebanon then they couldn’t have been more mistaken. This sadistic aggression, which has united the various Lebanese ethnic factions against a common enemy, has also hardened realization in many in the region that the government of Israel is one of violence against Arabs, and fueled by murderous intent. The faces and pictures of those dismembered and killed by Israeli bombs may not appear in Western media, but the people across the Middle East cannot forget the images of those young Lebanese bodies strewn and mutilated by Israeli bombs and missiles, courtesy of George Bush. Babies and children were not spared. Nor the images of old men and women whose very survival has been threatened by Israeli destruction of their food and water sources.