No issue is more controversial than Israel-Palestine, and none is more representative of Western hypocrisy.
The recent Parliamentary motion to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement would have Canadians believe that Canada is standing up to anti-Semitism and those who seek to single out Israel. Whereas activists who are acting in solidarity with Palestinians seek to boycott and call attention to the corporations that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Tony Clement, MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, who brought forward the motion, fallaciously equates criticism of the State of Israel as anti-Semitism. The assertion is both grossly dismissive of the wide spectrum of opinion within the Jewish community, while also ignoring that Palestinians have the right to be heard.
“The activists who are involved in this movement push for a complete worldwide boycott of the only Liberal democracy in the Middle East, while simultaneously exempting some of the worst human rights offenders in the world from equivalent attention,” Clement said. “It is clear that the intent of those in favour of this movement is not to resolve the conflict but to single out Israel and contest the Jewish state’s right to be treated with fairness.”
To hear Clement lob accusations of racism and selectively care about human rights is simply jaw dropping given the trade deal the Conservative party made with human rights abusers, Saudi Arabia, and rumors Clement defended Apartheid South Africa during his time at the University of Toronto. Not to mention the Islamophobic and anti-Arab rhetoric that was thrown around during the last election.
MP for Mount Royal, Que., Anthony Housefather, asked why activists aren’t instead calling for sanctions on Iran. Perhaps, as Buzzfeed’s politics editor Paul McLeod notes, it’s because Canada already has sanctions against Iran.
Housefather and MPs from both sides of the aisle would have us believe that we ought to be looking elsewhere to engage in critique about human rights, but in essence they’re pointing off to an indistinguishable point in the distance, perhaps where a straw man is having its rights abused.
They’re certainly not calling upon us to question our own contributions to global suffering, otherwise Canada’s unconditional support for Israel may actually be worth examining. After all it is because of Western support, through votes at the United Nations and free trade deals, that Israel can continue to build separation walls, annex territory, break international laws and commit war crimes with impunity.
Canada, under the direction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, recently voted against several non-binding agreements at the UN including those to: recognize Palestinian statehood, to condemn Israel’s unilateral control of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and to investigate war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza War.
Because of this unwavering support for the State of Israel, Palestinians continue to live with the occupation and ongoing ethnic cleansing. Palestinians have been effectively erased from the conversation. Their lives do not matter in the context of Western discourse and attempts to stand in solidarity with them must be discredited.
Though the blame is being placed on supporters of BDS, Western powers are actually the biggest obstacle to peace in Israel-Palestine. We may not all agree on the tactics, but it should not be up to politicians to establish the scope of acceptable resistance.
Greg Gallinger is a freelance photographer, vegan food enthusiast, purveyor of half-witted commentary and reluctant citizen of the global technocracy.