By James Miles
How much ignorance can one man spread? Harper, in recent interviews with local Canadian media to preach his gospel (yes, those words apply both figuratively and literally to Harper’s extreme right wing views), says that his “tough words” have not “compromised Canada’s ability to be seen as a neutral, honest broker in the search for Middle East peace”. Canada lost its ability as a neutral honest broker the moment Harper took office and cuddled up to the Bush-Cheney team that rules empirically in Washington.
Harper sees Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon as one solely dedicated to violence. He views Hamas in the same light, as an organization totally dedicated to the “genocide” of Israel. On both accounts he displays a vast ignorance of the historical precedents of the situation as well as the reality of the current situation currently in place. Both Hezbollah and Hamas rose out of the destruction, murder, occupation and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
Hezbollah provided services that the Lebanese government was unable to provide during the long Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. They reacted to Israeli occupation as any occupied people would by organizing a successful insurgency that eventually forced the Israeli’s to withdraw. When Israel decided to try another land grab in the summer of 2006, the Hezbollah successfully held back the invading IDF, but were left with a legacy of destroyed infrastructure and millions of cluster bombs spread throughout the area, remaining to murder for years to come. Harper’s response to all this was that Israel’s invasion was “appropriate”, supposedly for the kidnapping attack against an IDF force, one in series of ongoing attacks and counter-attacks of which he is apparently ignorant.
As for Hamas being a group dedicated to “genocide”, Harper obviously does not think that the IDF occupation of Palestine – or what remains of it, Gaza and the Westbank – has never had any terrorist genocidal attacks on the Palestinian people. The IDF – and its precursor, the Haganah – used flame throwers, biological weapons (typhoid), chemical weapons and pure military brute force in order to ethnically cleanse hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns. Many incidences of massacres of Palestinian citizens are recorded, there purpose was to spread terror into the remaining population to drive them off their land.
Hamas, as with Hezbollah, is one of the Palestinian responses to these brutal actions, and ironically was supported by the Israeli government as a force to be used as a balance against the PLO and Yassar Arafat. Hamas, similarly to Hezbollah, provided a civic structure where none other existed, giving the Palestinians some semblance of civilized society while the Israelis continued with their ethnic cleansing. That Hamas turned to violence and that Hezbollah remain a strong non-conventional military force is not surprising. Violence breeds violence, and especially in Hamas’ case, when the leaders are continually targeted and assassinated, it is no surprise there is no one to “dialogue” with.
Harper recognizes that “dialogue is ultimately necessary to have peace in the long term.” So why not give it a try Steve? You were one of the first to tell the world that you would not negotiate with Hamas after they had won the Palestinian elections, one of the more democratic elections held in the Middle East in recent memory (unlike the fiasco of ‘democracy’ that is the grand illusion of both Iraq and Afghanistan). What transpired as democracy in Lebanon also included Hezbollah having democratically elected representatives sitting within the Lebanese government. Again, Mr. Harper it appears that it is you that does not want dialogue because your ignorance of what has and is happening would not allow for an intelligent discussion. Or do you simply remain unstated in your Christian Zionist approach to Israel?
Harper says, “"I think all of the civilised world is agreed, and it’s not just Canada, we can’t deal with organisations whose principle and only objective is terrorism and the eradication of the other side." Whose civilized world are you talking about Steve? Is it the American civilization with its half trillion dollar military budget (not including the money separately allocated to the current wars), its use of conventional and non-conventional weapons (including herbicides, nerve gases, and phosphorous), its own terror campaigns in many areas of the world from Vietnam to Guatemala, its now legal use of torture, and detention without habeas corpus; its lack of social conscience that gives the world its largest prison population, racial intolerance, its huge population of people that have no medical insurance, its declining school achievement, the highest disparity between the have and the have nots with an ever-increasing tax burden that favours the rich and bleeds the poor and sidesteps the corporations that make huge profits from the wars? Is that the kind of civilized world you are working towards, Steve?
Or perhaps, Steve, you emulate Israel, a country that says of itself that it is a Jewish state, which leads directly to the conclusion that it cannot be democratic, but is truly theocratic. Is it this country – with its ongoing campaign of murder, occupation, terror, illegal settlements, illegal obstructions (to wit, the wall or ‘security’ fence) and its proportionally larger military that also uses conventional and non-conventional weapons against the people whose country it occupies and against neighbouring sovereign states – that you wish to emulate? Is that the kind of civilized world you are working towards, Steve?
I have never been so disgusted with being a Canadian, represented by a such an ignorant person, wilfully so as there is plenty of information available to support all the views and statements made above. Hopefully Canadians will have the moral intelligence to make sure that Harper does not repeat as the leader of the Canadian government. If Canadians are losing respect across the globe, it is deserved. Harper’s tough guy approach deserves all the anger and disgust that truly civilized people can direct towards it.
-Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.