Democracy and Western Values

Arab SpringThe current tragic conflict between Palestine and Israel has its historic roots in western values. The values of colonialism and capitalism. Basically, we support democracy in North Africa and the Middle East as long as the democratically elected government is one of which we approve. For example, we were in full support of the Arab Spring until they democratically elected the Muslim Brotherhood. So, we quietly stood by while a military coup replaced those Islamic fundamentalists. Or, we loudly supported democratic elections in Palestine until the people in Gaza elected Hamas. Then we loudly turned all of our support to our friend, Israel, so they could defeat those Islamic terrorists.

My son, fourteen, wanted to know more about the current conflict in Gaza and did some historical research. He discovered that the western values of Britain during World War I gave them the chutzpah to offer the Arabs their independent land in Palestine while at the same time promising diasporic Jews a "National Homeland."

UrusalimHe discovered that it was a Canaanite group, the semitic Jebusites, who founded Urusalim and settled there in 4000 BCE. Around 2000 BCE, Abraham passed through briefly when he wandered south from Ur. Moses, years later, wandered north from Egypt, but still couldn't displace the Jebusites. Four centuries later, King David finally defeated the original inhabitants of the area and briefly united the Jewish people there. After his son Solomon's death, they split into two states, Israel and Judah, and the area was subsequently conquered by the Assyrians, the Chaldeans (when Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews to slavery in Babylon), Alexander the Great, and the Romans, who gave Palestine its present name.

The Arabs and the evolution of Islam arrived in 634 CE. Several conquering and occupying dynasties later, Britain, at the end of World War II, handed the "Palestinian Problem" to the newly formed United Nations. The UN created two territories, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. There were 750,000 Arabs and only 9000 Jews in the Arab territory, whereas the Jewish territory had a 50/50 split of about 500,000 each.deir yassin The Jewish terrorist organization, the Irgun, didn't like this ratio, slaughtered over 250 civilians in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 and, without any standing under international law, Israel declared itself to be a independent country as 10,000 terrified Palestinians fled the territory.

The United Nations assisted in this process by considering the displaced Palestinians to be not a "people" but only "refugees" and things have been going downhill for the Palestinians ever since. Egypt, my son discovered, bears equal responsiblity with Israel and western democracy for the crippling blockades against the Palestinian people. Held hostage by holocaust guilt and election cycles, western democracy has permitted the steady erosion of Palestinan lands and human rights for the last 100 years under the banner, "Israel has the right to defend itself."

Ah, democracy and western values. He discovered they are like the quest for world peace. Ideals at the end of the rainbow. And just as elusive.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

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Harper and Hamas

PICRising over Palestine is the djinni of war. A vengeful djinni unleashed by the State of Israel and the occupied Territory of Palestine, specifically the Palestinian Gaza Strip. While Israel justly claims the right to self-defense, the Palestinians justly claim that Israel get out of their lands, stop their blockades, and dismantle and stop building illegal settlements for Jewish settlers on lands that belong to Palestine in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

A simple request, really, from Palestine and the democratically elected Hamas: Stop violating International law, and we will stop launching rockets into Israel. Now, almost every country of standing has asked for a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution to bring peace to this Goliath and David battle. On the one side is the first rogue nuclear country in the Middle East with a formidable army, air force, and nuclear arsenal; on the other side sticks and stones, and a few clandestine rockets. It is no longer an eye for an eye. One Israeli eye is worth a hundred Palestinian eyes. And counting.

In Canada, if you are attacked, you are legally entitled to defend yourself with appropriate response to the level of the attack. You are not allowed to continue to punish, subdue, injure, permanently disable, or kill your attacker. Nor are you allowed to retaliate against your attacker's family, neighbours, or neighbourhood. However, on the international stage, our current Prime Minister has violated this basic premise of Canadian justice. He has declared unequivical support for Israei's attacks on Palestine, and complete condemnation of Hamas. His pit bull "diplomacy" mouthpiece, John Baird, amplifies that message over the international media.

While the international Court of Justice, The United Nations General Assembly, and The United Nations Security Council all declare Israel to be an "Occupying Power" in violation of international law, Harper et al, on their way to more honorary degrees, condemn the UN and the U.S.A. for criticizing Israel and for attempting to negotiate a ceasefire. This confirms "Our Government's" current disdain for the rule of law, fitting in perfectly with their attacks on the Supreme Court of Canada, Elections Canada, and any other institution that disagrees with their far-right conservative myopic perspective.

This position has little to do with securing a lasting peace in the Middle East. This position is all about securing the Canadian Jewish vote in 2015. While the NDP and the Liberals and the Greens talk middle ground consensus, daring to hint that perhaps the Palestinian voice should be heard, the Conservative Reform Alliance Party trumpets a one state solution where the best armed winner takes all. And maybe one more CRAP majority government in Canada.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

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