Soon after the resistance broke through their cage in Gaza, the leaders of Canada’s four main federal parties condemned the Palestinians. The same politicians who cheer on resistance to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine denounce Palestinian fighters who captured Israeli tanks, soldiers and bases, all instruments of an illegal ongoing occupation of United Nations recognized Palestinian territory and the colonial blockade of Gaza.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared “we stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself”. For his part, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre tweeted, “I unequivocally condemn the invasion of Israel by Hamas terrorists and the sadistic violence they have subsequently carried out against innocent civilians.”
Noting the unanimity of opinion among federal politicians, Davide Mastracci opined that “there is really only one Canadian political party when it comes to Palestine, and the only debate it has is whether to watch Palestinians be killed or take part in it.”
Canada has long taken part in Israel’s brutal treatment of those living in Gaza. Royal Military College of Canada graduate Charles Macpherson Dobell commanded Britain’s 1917 Second Battle of Gaza and hundreds of Canadians fought in the General Allenby-led Third Battle of Gaza. Canada played a central role in drafting and promoting the 1947 UN partition plan, which legitimated the Zionist movement’s ethnic cleansing. Most of those currently living in Gaza are descendants of Palestinians driven from their homes in 1947/48.
In recent years Canada has enabled Israel’s siege of the 360 square kilometre strip of land. After Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 Canada was the first country to impose sanctions against the Palestinians. Ottawa’s aid cut-off and refusal to recognize a Palestinian unity government was designed to sow division within Palestinian society. It helped spur fighting between Hamas and Fatah. When Hamas took control of Gaza Israel used that to justify its siege of the coastal territory.
Canada has refused to criticize Israel’s blockade and has opposed resolutions critical of the siege. Ottawa has also legitimized Israel’s siege by directly participating in it. In 2009, Canada joined the Gaza Counter-Arms Smuggling Initiative “to stop the flow of arms, ammunition and related material into the Gaza Strip.”
It wasn’t only federal politicians that joined Saturday’s pro-apartheid chorus. Canada’s ambassador to the UN Bob Rae denounced a Doctors Without Borders tweet about Israel blowing up an Indonesian hospital in Gaza and an ambulance, killing a nurse. Rae demanded they call the Palestinian resistance’s operation “unprovoked” (Israel regularly kills Palestinians in Gaza and has instigated multiple wars over the past 14 years that have left about 5,000 Palestinians dead. In 2018-19, 200 Palestinians were killed and another 5,000 injured by live fire in peaceful March of Return protests in Gaza.)
The premiers of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba (as well as opposition party leaders) condemned Palestinians on the Saturday of a long weekend. So did the mayors of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal and other cities. In maybe the most odious tweet, Olivia Chow suggested Palestinians were coming for Toronto Jews. “I unequivocally condemn Hamas’ horrific attacks on Israeli civilians”, noted the mayor of Canada’s biggest city. “At this time, Toronto Police are not aware of threats to Jewish communities in Toronto and are working to ensure the safety of Jewish communities in the city.”
After an outpouring of criticism Chow deleted her tweet just before midnight. She replaced it with “I unequivocally condemn Hamas’ horrific terrorist attacks on Israel. I mourn the loss of all innocent civilians, both Israeli and Palestinians. My thoughts are with Torontonians who have loved ones who may be in danger.”
In a rare foray into geopolitics the RCMP and police departments in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto also tweeted. They hyped the threat to Jews while subtly criminalizing planned Palestine solidarity protests. In a sign of what may be coming, Toronto cops tried to stop a small group of Palestinians and supporters from waving flags on the Roncesvalles bridge, which is often the site of similar actions.
None of the Canadian politicians’ statements mentioned the 17-year siege of Gaza. Nor the 56-year Israeli occupation and 75 years of ethnic cleansing. Nor the internationally recognized right to resist colonial repression. Nor did they mention that all of the main human rights groups have concluded that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid.
Over the past 24 hours at least 370 Palestinians and 600 Israelis have reportedly been killed. Expect many more Palestinians to be killed as the colonial power seeks revenge after an embarrassing security lapse. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli TV “We will take mighty vengeance for this black day…We will target all of Hamas’s positions. We will turn Gaza into a deserted island. To the citizens of Gaza, I say. You must leave now. We will target each and every corner of the strip.”
As Palestinians are slaughtered expect Canadians politicians to largely stay mum or even applaud it. They will reveal what their self-proclaimed commitment to an international rules-based world order really is: Support for the US Empire.
For them Israeli Jewish suffering matters. Palestinian suffering is, at best, an afterthought.