The war in Gaza can’t help but generate huge amounts of discussion and debate, with thousands of civilian deaths and injuries and the use of sophisticated long-range weapons against neighborhoods that essentially lie defenceless.
Letters to the editor spark more letters and more comments, and even the way the media covers the war seems to super-charge opinion: Canadians clearly are divided on the issue.
Cite the vastly larger number of dead and injured civilians, compared to limited Israeli civilian casualties, and you are likely to be roundly criticized by those who support Israel for failing to include the long-running terrorist attacks, tunnels and rockets used to terrorize Israeli citizens.
Talk only about Hamas and terrorism and you’ll find yourself being chastised by the other side for failing to recognize the totality of the term of displacement of Palestinian citizens by Israel, including ongoing growth in Israeli settlements, not to mention the seemingly endless blockade of Gaza. It’s an endlessly complex issue that defies easy description.
We are far from the battle geographically, but not far from the strong opinions that arise when war happens on our televisions, literally in front of our eyes. So it’s not surprising that there are such different points of view, and that they are so strongly held. Those views also change and are modified by what happens in the conflict — especially as the death toll for Palestinians, mostly civilians surpasses 1,650 and 8,000 injured, while the tally in Israeli is 64 soldiers and three civilians.
Unless, of course, you’re talking to our federal government instead of to average Canadians.
For our government, apparently, there’s only one side to the conflict.
No matter what happens, no matter how horrendous the outrage, our government supports Israel’s actions.
The hard line has been presented repeatedly by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
At this point, the United Nations and the United States — long a strong supporter of Israel — have condemned things like the shelling of UN-operated schools where Gaza residents had gathered for safety. In fact, many nations questioned Israel over the actions of its military. The UN called the shelling “shameful.” Canada, meanwhile, at least as far as our federal government is concerned, remains steadfastly in favour of one side in the conflict.
Harper’s response to reporters following the school shelling? “Obviously no one likes to see the suffering and loss of life that has occurred,” he said. “That said, we hold the terrorist organization Hamas responsible for this. They have initiated and continue this conflict and continue to seek the destruction of the state of Israel.”
For those watching from outside Canada, it may well appear that all of this country has made up its mind.
But it’s not that simple.
One-sided support of Israel may well represent the personal views of the leaders of our current government.
But is there a point where it no longer represents the views of Canadians?