By Marion Kawas
Six weeks after Israeli snipers started killing and maiming Palestinians, including children, journalists, and medical workers, Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau finally released a carefully worded statement regarding the situation. The statement came only after the wounding of a Canadian doctor on the ground in Gaza, Tarek Loubani.
Activists familiar with the long history of complicity and duplicity of successive Canadian governments cautioned that the statement missed the mark on two main points.
Firstly, it studiously avoided any mention of the culpability of the Israeli government by name, anywhere in the statement.
Secondly, although there was a call for an independent investigation, it was worded this way:
“Canada calls for an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground – including any incitement, violence, and the excessive use of force…We will work closely with our international partners and through international institutions to address this serious situation.”
Calling for investigations is usually diplomatic code for stalling and not taking action. But note also the wording and the ordering of possible facts on the ground, “including any incitement, violence and the excessive use of force”.
However, no-one had to wait long to have the hypocrisy of the Canadian government revealed. Two days after the statement, on May 18, Canada stated it would not support the resolution that was then passed by an overwhelming majority at the UN Human Rights Council. This is what Canada had to say:
“Canada was gravely concerned about the numerous deaths and countless injuries in the Gaza Strip over the past several weeks. However, it could not support the draft resolution because it prejudged the outcome of an international investigation. The resolution was one-sided and did not advance the prospects for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution singled out Israel, without making reference to other actors.”
So, there we have it. Either the UNHRC is not an “international institution” that the Trudeau government wants to work closely with or the resolution made the serious error of actually naming who was firing the shots and dropping the tear gas on unarmed protestors.
Or the Trudeau government was just playing politics from the beginning, and after realizing that the issue of Israel slaughtering Palestinians was becoming very unpopular and the Liberal Party was losing support for its deafening silence, decided to issue a statement that said little and achieved less.
This way, they (and their supporters) could claim they have indeed responded and stood up to the pro-Israel lobby. Actually, it is a sad tradition in Canada that most of the major political parties play “political football” with the lives and struggles of Palestinians. One eye always on the win/loss column to decide when and how to speak out.
We say enough, over 100 Palestinians have not died in the last 6 weeks just so the Canadian government can shed crocodile tears while still defending Israel. We need to focus less of our resources and time on what politicians have to say and more on developing concrete and grassroots work, like BDS campaigns, that have a long-term benefit to the Palestinian people.
– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.cpavancouver.org.