[Erratum: In this post I erroneously made the claim that Israel had built nuclear power plants to supply electricity to the nation and support its industrialization strategy including powering its desalination plants. This was incorrect. While Israel has two nuclear research sites, it’s electricity grid has historically been generated primarily by fossil fuels: originally coal, but now more than 50% by natural gas from offshore Israel natural gas deposits; renewables, mostly solar, provide only about 3% of the electricity generated.]
can no longer stand on the sidelines and let apologists for terrorism go unopposed. Too many of us look the other way when unacceptable political acts, that don’t seemingly affect us directly, have occurred. We claim, this is not our fight. (Not my circus, not my monkey!) This (Palestine, Crimea, Taiwan) is a problem they [the protagonists) have to sort out themselves. But when terrorists resort to acts of barbarism to advance their goals, civilized people cannot look the other way. And when hyphenated Canadians or confused social justice warriors give throat and disruption to innocent daily lives in Canada in support of terrorists, this cannot stand.
The recent unprovoked and barbaric attack on unsuspecting Israeli citizens by Palestinian Hamas terrorists is a case in point, especially when it is bizarrely supported by ‘progressive’ demonstrators around the world. It is not enough to shake one’s head and wring one’s hands, impotently. I have to speak up. And I have to disagree with those who equivocate and ‘contextualize’. Barbarism is barbarism. There can be no tolerance for terrorism.
The old statement, ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’, is a fraud. Nothing can justify the wanton killing and maiming and desecration and kidnapping of innocent people to advance some political goal. Nothing.
And when the political goal is the absolute annihilation of a people, this is beyond comprehension for civilized people. World-wide Jewry, especially European Jews after WWII, have said, ‘Never again’. Israel, symbolically, represents this right to say so, and back the sentiment with real force, not meek submission.
Palestinians may have a case for having a homeland of their own, to make of it what they can, but their case is completely lost when they choose to elect a terrorist organization as their head, and cheer and chant at the atrocities committed by the terrorists on their behalf.
Canadians can have an opinion about the complex issues that are the Middle East, and more particularly the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but to justify, not to mention celebrate, the terrorist acts of Hamas (or Hezbollah for that matter) is ethically, morally and even intellectually wrong.
I was sickened by the abject evil that was the Hamas and its agents’ acts against Israeli civilians on October 7. I was even more troubled, in a way, by the gleeful celebrations in Canada of supporters of these evil actors. And now, a month later, seeing this anti-Israel sentiment escalating to actual aggression against Jewish people and property in Canada, is very alarming.
Tolerating terrorism to this degree in Canada is very disturbing to me. Becoming aggressively intolerant of Jews and Israel is dismaying and distressful. It must stop.
What an empty exhortation. How do peaceful tolerant people persuade intolerant others to stop. How do we impress upon our fellow Canadians the Canadian value of tolerance, but the willingness to insist that terrorism cannot be tolerated?
For reasons beyond my comprehension, Jews have been scapegoats of European and Middle East peoples for years, decades, centuries. And more than scapegoats, hounded, persecuted, expelled and murdered. People today, if they know anything about it at all, shake their heads in horror and incomprehension at the Nazi extermination of Jews in the 1940s, as if this was a peculiarly German evil. But it hasn’t just been Germans who shunned and discriminated against Jews over the centuries: pogroms in Russia, assignations in Poland, exclusion in France, expulsions from England, going back hundreds of years. Even Canada is not unblemished by anti-Jewish sentiment: active barring of Jewish immigrants to Canada in the 1920s and 30s (‘None is too many’), the turning away of 900 German-Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis in 1939, and our own maverick Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King with his strange prejudice against Jews. In Christian Canada the common rationale for this anti-semitism was a religious animus: The Jews were responsible for having Jesus crucified by the Romans. But this hardly explains the forced diasporas of Jews by the Romans in AD 135, or by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, or even the enslavement of Hebrews in Egypt 14th Century BCE. It’s a long and astounding history. But the question remains, why? Why the Jews?
The answer of course is that Hebrews were not the only people in human history to be displaced, enslaved and exterminated. But they are a people who for millennia have refused to be integrated.
And the ancient Hebrews and Israelites were not always innocent victims. They were often employed as mercenaries in ruling empires (Egyptian, Hellenic, Roman) but the ruling classes eventually worried about these soldiers for hire turning on them. The great forced diaspora of Hebrews by the Romans came about because of impatience with the early rebellious Zionists. Modern Zionists agitated for a Jewish homeland in the early part of the 20th Century up to the final creation of Israel by the United Nations in 1947. It came about largely because Britain tired of the intractable problem of displaced European Jewry and the terrorism of modern-day Zionists.
It is a myth that all Jews were dispelled from Palestine by the Romans. Many stayed. And it is also not true that modern Israel is populated almost exclusively by ‘right of return’ European Jews. Ashkenazi Jews make up only about one third of the current Jewish population in Israel; Mizrahi Jews, essentially the middle eastern Jews who never really were dispersed, make up another third, and others (Sephardic and African) the remainder. Roman Palestine evolved into a set of occupied provinces under the Byzantine Empire in the centuries following the fall of Rome. With the rise of Islam the region became dominated by a series of Arab caliphates, with a brief period of the Kingdom of Jerusalem established by the Christian Crusades in the 12thcentury, but reverted to another Sultanate in the 13th century and finally became part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire from 1516 to the end of World War I. France and Britain took administrative control of the region by the Treaty of Paris 1919 with France managing Lebanon and Syria and Britain over Palestine, Trans-Jordan and Iraq. Following WWII, displaced Jews from Europe and elsewhere migrated there by the thousands in 1946-48. The newly formed United Nations struck a Commission to recommend a solution to Palestine question. Led by Canadian Supreme Court Justice Ivan Rand this Commission proposed to establish a two nations solution to the territory: Israel for the Jews and Palestine for the Arabic Muslim population there, and an internationally administered City of Jerusalem but the Arab states never accepted this solution. Britain declared the end of the British Protectorate by 1948 May 15 and began to withdraw its forces in 1947. Ben-Gurion declared the state of Israel on May 14th and the next day
“the armies of four Arab countries – Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq – entered into parts of what had been British Mandatory Palestine, launching the 1948 Arab–Israeli War; contingents from Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan joined the war. The apparent purpose of the invasion was to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state at inception, and some Arab leaders talked about “driving the Jews into the sea”. After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders were established. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. The UN estimated that more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled from advancing Israeli forces during the conflict—what would become known in Arabic as the Nakba (“catastrophe”). Some 156,000 remained and became Arab citizens of Israel.”(Wikipaedia)
Desperate Israeli Jews refused to succumb to a conglomeration of Arab nations and surprised the world by successfully resisting the aligned Arab armies; victorious Israel assumed authority over large areas of land beyond the initial assigned areas by the UN Charter. The Palestinian Arabs never took up the opportunity to form the state they were offered by the United Nations, relying instead on their Arab neighbours to destroy the fledgling Israeli nation.
In effect, there never has been a recognized official Arabic Palestinian state.
The Suez Crisis of 1956 marked the ‘second’ Arab-Israeli War; in 1967 the three counties surrounding Israel (Syria, Jordan and Egypt) declared war on Israel and spectacularly lost, in this Third Arab-Israeli Six Day War, even more territory including the ‘West Bank’ of Jordan and the Sinai of Egypt. The Yom Kippur War of 1973 saw Israel consolidate their gains, following which Jordan and Egypt sued for lasting peace with Israel, finally recognizing Israel as a legitimate country.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (which curiously has the same national flag as the State of Palestine except the Jordan version has a single star in the centre of its red triangle), has held some two million Palestinian refugees in camps in Jordan since the 1967 war and has never admitted them to become citizens of Jordan. Similarly, Egypt steadfastly refuses to accept immigrants or refugees from Palestine; with the 1978 treaty with Israel in which Egypt accepted the right of Israel to exist, Israel returned captured Sinai to Egypt but Egypt declined to take back Gaza.
Much is made today of Gaza being a fenced and embargoed country, implicitly blaming Israel for this. Forgotten is the fact that the wall separating Gaza from Egypt is controlled by Egypt. The slow exodus of Palestinians with foreign passports (such as Canadian) from Gaza is because the Egyptians are scrutinizing very carefully any claimant seeking entry to Egypt that they are legitimate transit migrants – they don’t want any Hamas or sympathizers in Egypt. The two million Palestinians in Gaza, potentially two million refugee migrants, are not wanted in any Arab country. Don’t blame Israel for this.
Prior to October 7, thousands and thousands of Gazans commuted daily to jobs in Israel, even while Hamas sent periodic rockets to Israel without reply, for years.
Israel built nuclear plants to generate a secure electricity grid because they lacked any native reserve of fossil fuels and they couldn’t rely on secure supply from their prolific oil producing neighbours. With nuclear power, they built major desalination plants to turn Israel from an arid country to a garden, almost self-sufficient in food production and even exporting produce to Europe and the world. Gaza is fully reliant on Israel for power and water.
Israel is now a modern democratic country, industrialized high technology economy, prosperous society, ranking amongst the highest standard of living in the world. Gaza instead has spent its human energy and international beneficence on tunnels and armaments with the goal of destroying Israel.
Which of these should we admire and preserve?
And yet, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in countries all over the world march in the name of Palestine, and ‘contextualize’ the horrors Hamas has visited upon innocent Israeli citizens. Weekend after weekend. Many, admittedly, may be marching because they abhor the loss of innocent Palestinian lives, and this sympathy is understandable. (It was gratifying to see this past weekend 100,000 people peacefully marching in Paris in support of Israel.) Many hundreds of thousands more see Palestine only as a victim, but of Israel, not of their own misguided actions. But insisting on Israeli ceasefire and withdrawal with no other solutions for the Hamas problem shows only shallow thinking and no regard for the existential crisis this represents for Israel. What is not understandable is the lack of anger towards Hamas who hide as cowards amongst the civilian Palestinian population. What is hard to understand is the chanting, ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free’! This can only mean the complete displacement of Israelis from their legal homeland. And for many, this means more than mere displacement, it means genocide. This is unthinkable. The irony is, under Hamas, Palestinians will never be free.
I stand with Israel and condemn Hamas, and anyone who supports the goals of intolerant Muslims.
Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata, Canada
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