Thursday, July 20, 2006

Seventeen plus Eight plus 3.8 Million

The seventeen refer to the individuals who were arrested in early June on suspicion that they were planning a terror attack in Canada. The eight are the members of the Montreal family who were wiped out by Israeli missiles in Lebanon. The 3.8 million are the people of Lebanon, about one-eighth of whom are now internally-displaced or refugees within the region. To these we could add the great majority of Muslims world-wide.

What do all these people have in common? They're all seeing a Canadian foreign (and in many respects domestic) policy that is increasingly aligned with those of Israel and the United States. Which means, in simplified terms, that more than ever, the Canada they are looking at is a willing, conscious participant in the modern U.S.- and Israel-led anti-Muslim witch hunt. They see a Canada that raises a media storm when it arrests Muslim suspects in and around Toronto, only to impose a publication ban, a week later, that for all intents and purposes serves as a smokescreen behind which all pretenses of due process and fairness can safely hide, leaving in its wake little more than speculation and suspicion that we were all taken by the well-orchestrated play. Meanwhile, they see Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan who are no longer acting as nation builders but who are waging war and killing people. And as recent days have clearly demonstrated, they see a government that is fully behind Israel, that seems aloof of its own citizens of Arab heritage, and that cannot even find enough breath for a modicum of criticism.

What this ultimately means in a world where perceptions carry as much weight as a guided missile screaming towards its "terrorist" target, is that increasingly Canada's image of honesty and fairness is being eroded. Gradually, the well-liked and respected face of friendliness, justice, and compassion is being darkened by the mask of western neo-colonialism. An unwitting servant at times, perhaps, but a minion Canada nonetheless is, and one that is slowly piling up tasks at the behest of its masters.

So far, Canada has been spared by the al-Qaedas, Hamas and Hezbollahs of this world, mostly because it has historically chosen to be modest in its actions and fair in its positions. But all that is changing. And therein lies the great danger. As I have argued before, no one hates Canada for its values and democracy. The foregoing groups are about policies; and increasingly, Canada's policies are starting to resemble those of the countries that have been the target of so-called terrorists. If this policy slide is allowed to continue, the doomsayers in Ottawa might yet see their predictions come true. But should this come to pass, we'll only have ourselves to blame for the ammonium-nitrate present, as we'll have fallen into the trap of making the avoidable inevitable. Nothing is more dangerous to the security of Canada today than the image that it is broadcasting abroad. Someday, somehow, someone will have had enough and will tell us, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough, that there's a cost to playing plug-in to colonialism in the Muslim world.

As an aside, isn't it ironic that since 9/11 Canada has struck alliances with allies, including Israel, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars in intelligence and defense to defend itself against the shadow of terrorism—only to have its citizens killed not by Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah, but by an ally's bombs?

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