We deplore the response of the Government of Canada to events in Gaza and Israel. While the Government has rightly criticized the shelling of Israel by Hamas militants, it has failed to condemn the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza, which is a clear form of collective punishment that has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 Palestinians,[*] mostly civilians, and is destroying much of the infrastructure of Gaza.
In all of its commentary on the events in the Middle East, the Canadian Government has refused to acknowledge the underlying basis of the problems—the seizure of Palestinian lands by Israel and the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, contrary to UN Resolutions and international law. Israeli actions have effectively imprisoned 1.8 million people in 140 square miles of Gaza, less than half the area of St. John’s, Newfoundland, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen (three out of the twenty kilometres allowed by the Oslo accords), no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day, which, coupled with an economic and territorial blockade, has turned Gaza effectively into the world’s largest prison.
Even the Israeli bombing and shelling of hospitals, the only power plant in Gaza, and UN schools housing Palestinians whose houses have been destroyed has not prompted a critical response from the Harper Government. Far from promoting peace, the Government of Canada is stoking the fires of war. It was the first country to withdraw recognition of the democratic Palestinian elections in 2006 and support the shift of humanitarian aid for Gaza to military aid for Israel. It has encouraged the extensive military and surveillance contracts by public pension funds; the manufacture of critical arms components for F-16s, Apaches; and joint military and police exercises. It remains silent about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, and it gives charitable status to the Jewish National Fund, which facilitates the takeover of Palestinian land. More than any other government in the world, it seeks to provide legitimacy to every action and decision of the Israeli Government.
If there is ever to be peace in Israel and Palestine, Canada, although an increasingly marginalized player in international affairs, must change its approach to one of speaking the truth and taking steps that will eventually lead to peace. The first step is supporting the brokering of a ceasefire that ends the bombing and invasion of Gaza, the rocket attacks by both sides, and the economic and territorial blockade of Gaza.
The Executive Committee of Science for Peace:, 6 August 2014
James Turk, President
Metta Spencer, Vice President
Margrit Eichler, Secretary
Francisco Wulff, Treasurer
David Burman, Member-at-Large
Judith Deutsch, Member-at-Large
Emma Hansen, Member-at-Large
fn*. As of the August 26 ceasefire, Palestinian deaths had reached 2,131 (UN figures).