Friday, January 9, 2009

Gaza.

I don't get this. Then again, who does? I have read everything I can on the subject. I have tried, for years, to understand the situation in the Middle East. The one guy I keep returning to, simply because he speaks clearly and makes the most sense to me, is Jimmy Carter. Perhaps more than anyone alive, he still, to this day, has a better handle on the Israel-Palestine conflict than anyone else. I have given up trying to fully understand the rationale behind the hatred on both sides. Jerusalem, the holy land, all the religious stuff - I will never understand that, because I can't understand being so fanatical about anything religious. There is no way I can commisserate with someone in that situation. Newsweek has a terrific series of articles this week, some of which propose what seem to be reasonable solutions to what is a totally unreasonable situation.


However, I still found the Newsweek solution to favour Israel a lot more than I expected. And that's what's baffling me about this whole thing. That just about everyone in the U.S. government appears to favour Israel over Palestine in the crisis. George Bush, as we all likely know, is all about sucking up to Israel. I don't know how many of us know why, but that's how it stands. What I think is entirely plausible is the theory that has been brought up several times in several areas that suggests that Israel took this heinous action now, knowing that as long as Bush was president, they could pretty much do as they pleased. So what they've managed to do is fan the flames of anti-Israeli sentiment around the world, while simultaneously (thanks to Bush's support) fanning the flames of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Arab community, all in the two weeks before the new guy comes in. And who knows how Obama would respond?

Really. Who knows? Where is he on this? I saw him on TV yesterday, giving a speech on the economy. OK, fine. The economy is a monster issue. But what about Gaza? I get saying there is only one president at a time, but he's ducking the issue. He has the team in place that is right for that situation - his secretary of state, whether she actively participated in the talks or not - was present at the Camp David meetings where Bill Clinton tried (and came close) to forge a peace between Israel and the PLO under Yasser Arafat. At the very least, she can bring ol' Bill along with her when she starts to tackle this mess. But he has said nothing, and Isreal continues to kill civilians. Where is he?

This was my thinking yesterday, as I was reading that Newsweek article. Then, as I went to bed, another thought started gnawing at me. Forget Obama. He has an excuse - he is not yet the President. It's weak, but it's an excuse. That one will work for the next eleven days. So forget him. What about Stephen Harper? Where is Stephen Harper on this? What has he said? Where does he stand? I can only imagine he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with George Bush, since this is a foreign policy issue. Andhe really likes the view from Bush's shoulder. So I searched, for the last half hour, for his comments on Gaza. I looked up dozens of stories. I googled and I yahooed...yahood? Whatever. And I came up with...nothing.

You know what I got? I got stories about the 56 Canadians that are being taken out of Palestine and Gaza. So, this is what our government is doing. Removing the people with Canadian citizenship from the war zone. And therein lies the snapshot of this conflict. Hamas, yes, was sending rockets into Israel during the truce, for months. But no Canadians were ever airlifted out of Israel, because there was no fear for their life. The Hamas rockets posed almost no threat. But clearly, Israel's response poses a threat to everyone who lives in that area, whether they are part of Hamas, or just innocent Palestinians, or innocent Canadians. There is no one airlifting innocent Palestinians out of Palestine. They have no chance. They are imprisoned, in the Gaza strip, and have been for some time. By Israel. And now, because there are some terrorists in their midst, Israel is firing into their country. Killing the innocent people along with the guilty ones, because they happen to be imprisoned there, by the country that is now attacking them.

Is that the textbook definition of shooting fish in a barrel? Or is there just an eerie simliarity to the conditions in which "shooting fish in a barrel" apply? These aren't fish. These are people. And they are being shot. And there is a president in the States who is an idiot, a president-elect who is silent, and our Prime Minister, who is AWOL. Obama's excuse of "one president at a time" is weak, but it makes some sense because even if he had a serious, strong plan, it couldn't be implemented until he is sworn in anyway. What's Harper's excuse? That he can't comment because parliament is prorogued? That is not a good enough reason, and it is a much weaker excuse. I'd almost rather he didn't say anything, because I'm pretty sure I know what he's going to say. "We love Israel. We're behind them 100 percent. What else did Bush say?" But at this point I don't care. For God's sake, Harper. Say something.

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