Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Rabbi McKay

Sadly, the Canadian prime minister standing by mutely while a Vancouver rabbi spewed words of hatred wasn't enough for the Conservative government. Peter McKay, Canada's ignorant minister of Foreign Affairs, a man who obviously knows nothing about the complexities of the Levant, adopted the rabbi's dehumanizing language and repeated the unforgivable reference to Hezbollah as "a cancer," this time a cancer that's eating away at Lebanon. Furthermore, by arguing that the group of "cold-blooded killers" is a threat to Lebanon's democracy, he fails to take into consideration the fact that Hezbollah members were elected, by the Lebanese people, into government last year.

Unlike some critics of the Harper administration, I do not think that Canada should necessarily always do its utmost to maintain a neutral stance in the world. Even though I believe (as does the majority of Canadians, especially in the Province of Quebec) that the Conservatives are gravely mistaken in their staunch support for Israel, they have a right to propose and sustain a policy. But for the government to adopt the language of hatred—and thereby make it its official position—is unconscionable and reveals a lack of imagination. Does Mr. McKay's cancer eating away at Lebanon include whoever opposes Israel's murderous onslaught, or supports, in one way or another, Hezbollah's resistance to the invasion of their country? Where do we draw the line? Hezbollah is not this entity you can clearly point at; it is a symbol of resistance and the only successful representative of a much weakened and impoverished part of the Lebanese population, the Shiites.

If Mr. McKay knew his stuff, if he could be bothered, as I have, to read the documentation on which the listing of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity is founded, he would see two things. First, he would realize that the affidavit fails to distinguish between, on the one hand, the governmental and social aspects of the organization, and on the other hand the branch that engages in resistance to Israel (the part of Hezbollah's activities that is referred to as "terrorism"). According to the documentation (and to CSIS), everything Hezbollah is "terrorism." Even attacks against Israel's military within Lebanon are catalogued as terrorism—a total lie and a sheer disfigurement of the laws of war. Secondly, if Mr. McKay were to compare the supposed ills of Hezbollah with what Israel has done to the region in the past thirty-nine years, he would see that the latter has all the attributes of a terrorist organization, with support from a state (the United States, and now Canada). It has broken all the nonproliferation treaties in developing an illegal nuclear weapons program (even Iran has yet to achieve that); it has indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians; used illegal weapons (and still does in Lebanon, what with cluster bombs and perhaps phosphorus); disappeared people without due process; committed torture; broken dozens of UN resolutions; invaded neighboring countries; struck alliances with death squads (think Sabra and Shatila); terrorized whole populations; conducted mass punishment, and the list goes on. McKay, if he had any understanding of the realities in the region, would soon realize that Israel represents the greatest current threat to regional—and perhaps world—security.

Harper and McKay have proven themselves to be ignoramuses and sell-outs, but we elected them. If I were in the opposition, or in the Senate, though, I would be screaming for justice standing on my desk. Where are the Romeo Dallaires? Why is our Canada turning into a blown-up version of Israel, where the enemy is dehumanized and dissent disregarded? A relative of the Montreal Lebanese family that was exterminated by Israel last month tried to share his views at the House of Commons today. Despite his being uninvited, the least that the government could have done was to listen to what he had to say. Instead, he was escorted outside. Thanks to their ignorance and racism, Harper and McKay, along with everybody who backs them, are destroying the very fabric of Canada and its image abroad.

This is the language of Hitler's propagandists, of Pol Pot, of Slobodan Milosevic. This is the language of hatred, of nihilism, of the failure of humanity. No one, and even less a Canadian minister, should ever be allowed to say such things. I know Mr. Ignatieff wouldn't.

How long are we, as a people, going to tolerate a government that clearly doesn't represent, and in fact shows total disregard for, what we believe in? Let us hope that the 40,000-strong chorus of booing that greeted the representative of the Conservative government at the Outgames in Montreal over the weekend will echo across the country.

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