We all have a role to play in ending the carnage in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Israel chooses violence again

As the horrific carnage continues in Gaza, the following headlines tell the story:

Peter Beinart, in his commentary, provides a scathing criticism of the role the Biden administration has played in this ongoing nightmare as it continues significant military aid to Israel and acts to shield it from Security Council sanction:

Biden is avoiding the issue of Israel-Palestine in roughly the same way Donald Trump avoided the issue of climate change. He’s ignoring the problem and fueling it at the same time.

He continues:

the Biden administration spent its first few months pumping the political equivalent of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere with its unconditional support for Israel while hoping those gasses wouldn’t create a disaster.

Now they have.

For a thoughtful, informed discussion on the situation, listen to a podcast with Arab Digest editor William Law in conversation with HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. Click here. (Podcast access is free upon registration.)

Another important conversation, entitled Israel Chooses Violence Once Again (rethinkingsecurity.org.uk, 14 May 2021), reminds us of how horribly Israel has diminished itself as a nation through its decades-long repression of Palestinian human rights. Andrew Rigby recalls the following excerpt from Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation (2020), p. 155:

The country that occupied us half a century ago bears little resemblance to the Israel of today. By forcing them to justify the unjustifiable, that which is patently illegal, we have helped them destroy their legal system and, through their open discrimination, the rule of law and respect for international law.

We have certainly not won, but neither have they.

The Canadian response

The statement by Canada’s Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, can be found here.

It professes “deep” concern over “continued expansion of settlements, and … the demolitions and evictions” without actually connecting those Israeli actions to the current horrific violence. It also condemns the “indiscriminate” bombing by Hamas but is utterly silent on repeated and ongoing Israeli tank and fighter jet bombardment of densely crowded civilian residential areas in Gaza.

However, that lack of balance pales in comparison with the statement by Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, released on twitter and reproduced in its entirety here:

Apparently the Conservatives believe that the only party responsible for the current carnage, and the only impediment to non-existent peace negotiations, is Hamas.

They also seem oblivious to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s outright rejection of Hamas requests to negotiate a ceasefire, not to mention the UN warning that forced evictions in East Jerusalem could amount to war crimes.

NDP: Stop Selling Arms Until Illegal Occupation Ends

In sharp and welcome contrast to the Liberals and Conservatives, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has not only condemned the escalating violence, but called for concrete and immediate action by Canada to help “ratchet down” the spiralling conflict in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank by ending all Canadian arms sales to Israel. He explains:

By arming one side of the conflict it is undermining the peace process and it is supporting illegal occupation….

For more information on Canada’s arms exports to Israel, see Canada’s  2019 Exports of Military Goods together with an explanation of the categories of munitions and an Israel-specific excerpt from the overall report.

Commentators arguing that a Canadian embargo would have “limited leverage” given our modest defence trade with Israel are entirely missing the point. Such a tangible and long-overdue gesture of disapproval by a self-described “close friend and ally” of Israel would have huge political and symbolic impact.

RI President Peggy Mason adds:

The UN warned back on 7 May that the forced evictions in East Jerusalem could amount to war crimes. That means Canada’s clear obligation, under international law and our national regulation of arms exports, is to cease arming Israel immediately.

Whither Canada?

We call on the Government of Canada to immediately suspend all arms exports to Israel, whether under existing or new permits, until the illegal occupation of Palestine ends.


The NDP has set up a petition here calling for Canadians to Prioritize Peace by stopping Canadian arms sales to Israel.

The petition states in part:

Canada can play an active role in helping build a just and sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

Join Jagmeet Singh in calling on Justin Trudeau to stop the selling of arms to Israel until the end of the illegal occupation.

We need better CBC reporting on Israel-Palestine

For another important angle on this story, see Peter Larson’s 10 May 2021 Canada Talks Israel Palestine blog entitled OFIP Calls on CBC to Better Inform Canadians about Current Events in Israel/Palestine. The introduction to this blog reads:

OFIP Chair Peter Larson and OFIP Advisory Council member (and former senior CBC correspondent) David Halton, have written an open letter to CBC Chair Michael Goldbloom and CBC President Catherine Tait, questioning CBC’s reluctance to report on credible investigations critical of Israel. They argue that the national public broadcaster is not fulfilling its mandate to “inform” Canadians.

The text of the Open Letter is contained in the blog and can also be read here.

Since the publication of the blog, the CBC has responded to the Open Letter, and Peter Larson in turn has replied. The CBC response can be found here and Peter Larson’s reply here.

Update on the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee study on Canada’s Arms Exports

Members of the Canadian Civil Society Coalition on Canada’s arms trade policy, including the Rideau Institute and Project Ploughshares, testified for a second time before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on 27 April. The transcript of those hearings can be found here, and the proceedings viewed here.

A copy of the written submission by RI President Peggy Mason can be found here. A copy of the Civil Society Coalition recommendations to the Standing Committee can be accessed here. The Committee has finished hearing testimony and is now in the report-writing stage.

Don’t miss this extremely timely Middle East Security Forum from the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy. Click HERE for more information

Photo credit: Wikimedia images (war on Gaza)


Tags: Canadian arms sales to Israel, Israeli bombing of Gaza, Israeli war crimes, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, NDP petition add, Peter Beinart