Hope for a troubled region

Under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act 2000, Israel’s settlements in territories taken in the June 1967 war constitute war crimes punishable in Canada.
Under the Geneva Convention, signed after World War II, it became unlawful for an occupying force to forcibly displace people and build settlements in occupied territories.
The International Court of Justice, the UN Assembly and the UN Security Council all regard Israel as the Occupying Power of the Palestinian Territory (Gaza Strip, West Bank) which the Israelis captured in the 1967 seven-day war.
Recently the European Union has stopped the flow of millions of Euros into Israel from their Horizon 2020 Programme because they don’t want it used to fund illegal settlements.
And now Prime Minister Stephen Harper has labelled me and many others as anti-Semitic because we have publicly criticized Israel’s re-settlement activities in the Occupied Territories, which ironically is Canada’s official position.
In the occupied territories there are Jewish-only settlements, an ID system for Palestinians, separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens, military checkpoints, discriminating marriage laws, the security wall with limited Palestinian access to Jerusalem, the use of Palestinians as cheap labour, inequity in infrastructure, criminal laws and forcible removable of Palestinians from lands that have been in their families for thousands of years.
As I struggle with the new label assigned to me by my Prime Minister, “anti-Semitic,” I muse whether he has chosen to vilify and label me as racist for mere political posturing or even worse, is he attempting to promote hatred towards Palestinians?
Quoting from a well-known Christian author Beth Moore; “Any time we seek to use, oppress, abuse or remove others, we first invariably disconnect from their individuality (name, personal rights).  For instance, Hitler systematically brainwashed his government leaders to view the Jews as animals and to assign them numbers, instead of names.  The majority of the German public, most being of the same Christian faith that built Britain, Canada and the United States, eventually saw them as animals. We are far more successful in nursing our prejudices if we can avoid knowing our target groups personally or seeing them as individuals with value.”
The defeated Germans after World War I were handled so poorly, that World War II was inevitable.  The Geneva Convention came after World War II to prevent World War III.  It set standards on how to treat peoples captured or defeated in wars and conflicts. What Israel is doing in the West Bank is contrary to the Geneva Convention, International law and Canadian law.
Why then is speaking out against Israel’s flaunting of these laws and conventions not the right thing to do?  By calling me a racist does that not only attempt to demean my person, deflect the truth and promote hatred?
Today’s discourse should be about human rights for the captive people of Palestine and security for the country of Israel.  It’s about colonialism and power.  It’s a fight for land; one side fighting for more land and one side fighting for some land to call their own.
Given Jewish history, it’s ironic that Israelis don’t have any compassion for the plight of the Palestine people. How quickly they forgot. Their State of Israel was carved out of Palestine in 1948 by the United Nations with the understanding that Palestine would be divided into a Jewish State and an Arab State.
Neither side is lily white in this 40-year conflict. Both sides need to compromise and respect the rights of the other. But unlike Harper or Russia’s Putin who believe one side is 100 per cent right, albeit opposite sides, the United States, France and Britain are and must continue to diplomatically work towards a compromise solution.
That’s the only hope for any semblance of possible peace in this troubled region. Uncompromising positions and hard attitudes cause war and keep them going forever!

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  • Dear editor: On the letter about ( given to them on a Covenant) on your last issue, I,d say most citizens of Israel are opposed to the. West Bank and Gaza occupation; Palestinians and Israelites are brothers and sisters, are not we all? History is a funny thing, it,s usually written from the side of the ‘winner’ . Israel must fight for its survival every day, true. Antisemitism is alive and well everywhere , Arab nations don’t accept it’s nationhood. With the same token prime minister Mr Netanyahu keeps building Jewish settlements in Palestinian Territories , breaking Peace agreement rules. I have friends of both backgrounds . In 1985 I lived on a Kibbutz (a farm) for 6 months, so close to the Gaza Strip that a group of volunteers took a taxi there on the spur of the moment. We encountered no check points , so we got in and visited the narrow streets and got into some shops, friendly folks surrendered us with smiles , no doubt attracted by our blonde haired boys and girls from Scandinavia,. The streets were dirty, most people were unemployed , still are. We left soon, taking another taxi home. Many Palestinians work in Israel , farms mainly , there are those who hold double citizenship .It is unfortunate a very sad historic conflict that will outlive me and many generations after me. What both nations want is to live in peace ,the politicians on both sides, disagree. Thank you, Maria Rojo-Checkel.d


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