Lopsided message

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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?

Organizations: Hamas, United Nations

Geographic location: Israel, Gaza, Canada United States

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Recent comments

  • Dolf
    August 11, 2014 - 08:16

    Regardless of who you support or condemn in the Middle East, for God's sake leave it there. The last thing we need in Canada is the importation of their never ending hatred of each other. The so called "peace process" has been ongoing for 65 years and to this day they can't keep a cease fire for 3 days.

  • !
    August 05, 2014 - 09:32

    In the same week that the Tely's biggest columnist calls out anonymous comments the editors decide to continue with a tact they were recently admonished for - unsigned content. Time to break with time-honored tradition maybe and put a name on it? What does a no-name editorial commented on by John Q. Public really contribute to society? You can't just manipulate and moderate the comment section arbitrarily and blame gutless 'trolls' while the editorial staff behave like plain-clothes trolls. Why not address natural gas and fishing rights in Gaza and actually spur debate relevant to our situation within Canada? If not you are just inviting bigotry with your click-baiting. I am fairly certain your readership does not pay you to mimic buzzfeed. I dunno, maybe it does! Maybe I should just leave you alon go contribute to society?

  • John Q Public
    August 05, 2014 - 08:21

    Some interesting statements but when they are combined you really said nothing! Sometimes a politicians statements represents the views of his/her party and or country. Sometimes the statements of an Islamic extremist leader represents the views of his/her country men/women. Sometimes they do not. As for Canada, it is still a democracy and our leadership is elected in a reasonably fair and legitimate election. When our elected leaders represent us and our views we reelect them and when they do not we vote for someone else. As is the case with the Gaza conflict, some Canadians are siding with Israel and some are siding with Hamas. It is their democratic right to choose and its up to them to base their decision on fact or fiction. You may disagree with Harpers position and you may question on which side (Israel or Hamas) most Canadians are and that is your right! I personally feel that Israel is doing what it must to fight an enemy. An enemy that has made its sworn objective to rid the earth of Jews. An enemy that continues to instigate wars by firing the first shorts or invading from underground. An enemy that clothes its soldier in civilian clothes with their faces covered and when they are injured or killed they are counted as a "civilian" casualty. Some people condemn Israel for "civilian" casualties but ignore the Hamas suicide bombers who intentionally target civilian busses carrying women and children. By the way, I do not support Harper and I surely will not be voting for him/his party in the next election!

    • John Q Public
      August 05, 2014 - 08:32

      I wish to correct an error in my comment above. I committed the error when I said, "Sometimes the statements of an Islamic extremist leader represents the views of his/her country..." Clearly there are no (Hamas) Islamic Extremists leaders of the female gender. They believe women should never be able to go to school, they believe that female genitalia should be mutilated to a point where there can be no pleasure derived from sex. they believe the female gender is far inferior to the male gender and they should never be in positions of authority.

    • Chantal
      August 05, 2014 - 09:41

      ... and then there are those who side neither with Hamas (which, contrary to fact, does not call for the murder of all Jews, but actually accepted a two-state solution) or Israel (which makes it clear that it will never accept a sovereign Palestinian state and continues, in the face of negotiations, provocative and illegal settlement-building) , but desire a peaceful solution that respects international law and basic human rights. Sorry to negate your simplistic either/or through process.

    • Jeff
      August 05, 2014 - 09:51

      So not all Canadians back Harper, but all Gazians support Hamas (and are somehow legitimate targets under the war crime of collective punishment)? And do all Israelis back Netanyahu? Your reasoning is confounding and/or hypocritical.

    • John Q Public
      August 05, 2014 - 11:20

      @ Jeff....... you imply that my reasoning is possibly hypocritical however, your comment possibly demonstrates your lack of ability to absorb multiple sentences without maintaining the proper context. Read it again boy and maybe you will clearly see that what I said was sometimes the views of politicians and Hamas are reflective of their countrymen and (I quote) ..."Sometimes they are not."

  • Too Funny
    August 05, 2014 - 07:26

    "One-sided support of Israel may well represent the personal views of the leaders of our current government"... and certain columnists at the Telegram.