Thursday, July 11, 2024

Without limits

THE EQUITY is what you might call a hyper-local newspaper. We try to keep our focus on the news and community activities of people living here in the Pontiac and on issues that directly affect their lives. And we leave the rest to the thousands of publications elsewhere in the world that are better-positioned to cover national and international affairs.
But sometimes an issue emerges from which we simply cannot avert our gaze. Israel’s massacre of thousands of civilians in Gaza is one such issue.
There is, of course, undisputed legitimacy to the claim that Jewish people have experienced relentless discrimination and horrific misery over the past century, and that they have been abandoned at times of greatest need by the global community, including Canada which turned away Jewish refugees trying to escape fascist Europe.
The holocaust of World War II, in particular, engendered enormous sympathy and support from most parts of the world and led to delivery, once and for all, on the longstanding international commitment to establish a national home for the Jewish people with the creation of Israel in 1948, and has served to bolster support for Israel’s determination to protect itself ever since.
It has even created a certain acceptance of Israel’s tendency to go further than other countries in responding to threats to its citizens, even when the level of retaliation seems disproportionate to the transgression, as if to say, “Don’t ever even think about doing that again.”
The atrocities to which Jewish people have been subjected have understandably earned the state of Israel a certain political capital with which to conduct its affairs. There is a strong case to be made for solid backing of the small Jewish state by powerful western countries. And, no doubt, there are many influential people in the US and the UK constantly reminding the powers-that-be of those arguments.
But a question for all of us is whether that goodwill towards Israel, that acceptance, that tolerance, is without limits.
Immediately following the horrors of October 7, it seemed reasonable that the US would endorse Netanyahu’s determination to root out the Hamas terrorists that perpetrated the attack. But even as it became clear that Israel’s response was claiming thousands of lives of innocent Palestinian civilians, US support remained unwavering. In fact, it was the US that vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, South Africa said it was applying lessons from its own troubled history of apartheid when it took Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague under charges of genocide, arguing that the war in Gaza is part of decades of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
While it is impossible to know exactly why it was perpetrated, the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas militants, now over 100 days ago, must have anticipated what Israel’s response would be. Only retroactively can we see that it provoked Israel to respond in a way that would break the status quo irretrievably. It does seem as though the world can’t help but go back to the table and negotiate a two-state solution as a result of this situation.
While the assault by Hamas on Israeli civilians is an entirely unacceptable act of terrorism, so, too, is Israel’s attack on Palestinian civilians, with death tolls now breaching 25,000 people.
If injustices committed against the Jewish minority populations over the past century are fundamental to Israel’s moral authority in how it conducts itself in the world, to what extent can that moral authority now justify its oppression of other minorities?

Charles Dickson


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