On Oct. 7, while gathering with my family for Thanksgiving dinner, I saw the news from Israel. Like all decent people, I viewed the aftermath of Hamas’ massacre with horror.
As a Ukrainian-Canadian with family still in “the old country,” I know the specific fear, anger and sorrow that comes with an event like this. The fear for the safety of loved ones. The particular diasporic sorrow that comes from seeing an attack on your people. And the futile anger that comes from the powerlessness of watching from a world away.
My heart ached, and still aches, for my Jewish friends and community members who spent Thanksgiving in terror, frantically trying to reach their family members, not knowing if they were alive. I read in disgust the tweets from local “progressive” activists celebrating the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
But I also feared the inevitable response from Israel’s government. Its long and brutal occupation of Palestine, its inhumane blockade of Gaza and displacement of its people have only accelerated under the maniacal far-right rule of Benjamin Netanyahu. I hoped, foolishly, that this massive security failure on his part would be the final nail in the coffin of his long, undemocratic hold on power. That we wouldn’t see a repeat of the events that followed Sept. 11, 2001.
Instead, Netanyahu has used this as an excuse to engage in a horrific massacre of the people of Gaza. When I look at the images of people and homes destroyed by Israeli missiles, I don’t see justice. I see Mariupol, the Ukrainian city destroyed by Russia in a months-long siege that killed 25,000 civilians and saw 50,000 Ukrainians kidnapped and deported to Russia. I see Bucha, the occupied Ukrainian city where Russian forces engaged in mass murder of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians.
But unlike Ukraine, the Palestinian people do not have the support of western governments. The US has pledged “unconditional” support for Israel as Netanyahu wages a genocidal campaign against all of Gaza. The Canadian government has yet to break the party line.
All Canadians must call on our government to push for a ceasefire as soon as possible. The senseless bloodshed must end.
Published in Volume 78, Number 06 of The Uniter (October 19, 2023)