Same old song
Apologies for light posting. I wrote a column for Wednesday's paper that resulted in an avalanche of email, hate and love, just about all of which I answered.
The topic? Gaza.
It was an interview with Kim Elliott, publisher of the online periodical Rabble.ca who, along with Code Pink peace activists and others, traveled through the blockaded area to assess the destruction and impact on the people after Israel's Cast Lead bombing and invasion. I was glad to see that Common Dreams reprinted it.
Here's a snip, with some links:
The group had freedom to tour at will, Elliott insists. "We didn't have anything to do with Hamas other than that they stamped our passports. We wandered around by ourselves all night. We were safe because, as we'd heard, Hamas had so cracked down on the gangs that had started to take over."
Elliott, whose interest in the Palestinians began long ago and who has visited the Middle East many times, went to Gaza so she could bear witness to the effect of the attack and Israel's long-running siege, which strangles the movement of food, medical supplies and other necessities into Gaza.
The media emphasize that the tunnels are used to smuggle rockets and weapons into Gaza – true – but everything from zoo animals to seedlings also move underground. Just this week, Egypt seized 560 sheep that were being herded through.
"The inhumanity of the border is, oddly enough, what left the most striking impression – more than the incredible destruction of homes," Elliott explains. "The Red Crescent Society said they need at least about 1,000 trucks a day to go through every day to properly sustain the people. On average since the siege, it's about 100 trucks. Some days, there are none. Most of what is feeding the people is going through the tunnels."
So, with all the injustices around the world, why focus on Palestinians?
"I got my human rights background at Amnesty International and, up until very recently, they wouldn't touch this issue, in Canada especially. People felt so threatened!" she says.
"So, not only were the Palestinians suffering enormous human rights abuses...but the focus of the media in disenfranchising them and the way people are attacked for working this issue motivated me."
Needless to say, all the usual suspects, the ones who used to harangue me back in my media columnist days, dropped back into my inbox to let me know they think I am as anti-Semitic as ever.
What was heartening however was the even greater number of supportive emails thanking me for having ''the courage'' to say what too many others in the media won't touch. And who can blame them, considering the inevitable reaction?
Why do I bother? Because the prime minister of Canada finds no sympathy at all in his heart for the plight of the Palestinians. He does not speak for me here, nor does he speak for millions of other Canadians who were appalled by the bombing of Gaza.
What's more, Canada sells arms to Israel, arms that have been used on civilians.
But hey, I have been dealing with anti-choicers for the past year or so, and the Zygote Zealots have toughened me up.
I can handle it.