By Tracy Glynn
People continue to march and rally across Canada to demand that the Harper government take all efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire and an end to the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza. These attacks in July and early August 2006 alone have claimed hundreds of innocent lives, and caused catastrophic destruction of civilian infrastructures in acts that violate international law. For nearly four decades, Palestine has lived through a notoriously brutal occupation by Israel. This occupation contravenes UN Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for the immediate withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza. However, the Canadian government continues to back Israel while the Palestinian and now the Lebanese are forced to live in war and under oppression. Mild rebukes occasionally issued by the Canadian government towards Israel have yet to address the depth of the suffering of the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Canada’s sanctions and embargo on Gaza, including food and medical supplies, is only adding to the suffering.
Canada’s sanctions and embargo on Gaza, including food and medical supplies, is only adding to the suffering.
April 16, 2002 - Canada votes against the April 15, 2002 UN Human Rights Commission Resolution condemning Israeli actions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The Human Rights Commission Resolution states that the Commission “strongly condemns the war launched by the Israeli army against Palestinian towns and (refugee) camps, which has resulted so far in the death of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children.” Canada opposed the resolution using the justification that it contained no outright condemnation of terrorism or mention of human rights abuses of the Palestinians (AP and CP, April 15, 2002. Canada and Guatemala casted the only two negative votes against empowering the U.N. to investigate human rights violations in the occupied territories (Canada Palestine Support Network).
July 9, 2004 - The International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest judicial body, ruled 14-1 that the wall being built by Israel inside Palestinian occupied territory is “contrary to international law”, and that Israel should “dismantle… the structure” and “make reparation for all damage caused”. In the subsequent UN vote that called on Israel to abide by the court decision, Canada abstained, when 150 countries voted in favour (Canada Palestine Support Network).
May 2005 - Ten Israeli F-16s warplanes took part in Exercise Maple Flag 2005 in Cold Lake, Alberta. Canadian forces extended an invitation to the Israeli Air Force for the first time in thirty-eight meetings of the Maple Flag war games. According to military planners, it signalled a marked shift in Canadian military and political policy. Defence Minister Bill Graham stated that the emerging military/political agenda for Canadian Forces is about “enforcing peace” and in order to accomplish such enforcement upon an entire population, the population in question “must perceive the use of force in their neighbourhood, and the civilian casualties that are suffered, as being for their greater good and not just the repressive measures of a foreign occupying force” (Elmer, 2005, Good Night Battle of Britain, Good Morning Gaza, Briarpatch Magazine).
July 2005 - In a briefing, General Rick Hillier, Chief of Defence Staff, explained “We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.” Gen. Hillier launched Canada Command, which is similarly structured to the U.S. nine Central Commands. The Canadian military will employ the U.S. concept of the “three blockwar” with combat in the first block, stabilization operations in the second, humanitarian relief in the third (Lorincz, 2005, Charting a dangerous course: Canada’s new International Policy Statement, Chronicle Herald).
July 14, 2006 “Israel pounds Lebanon, destroying Hezbollah’s headquarters in Beirut and smashing city roads and runways. Reports surface that a Hezbollah rocket in the northern Israeli town of Meron has killed an Israeli woman and a four year-old girl. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada is concerned about the `escalation of violence in the Middle East,’ adding that it is essential that Hezbollah release two captured Israeli soldiers and Hamas do the same with two others. On his way to the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Harper indirectly appealed to the governments of Syria, Iran and Lebanon, asking them to `encourage the recognition of Israel’s right to exist.’ Harper says Israel is simply defending itself against Hezbollah and he describes Israel’s response to the kidnapping of its soldiers as `measured’.” (cbc.ca)
July 17, 2006 - “The hapless Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay is on vacation in Nova Scotia; MacKay comically suggested in a TV interview today that Canadians in Lebanon get to the nearest Internet connection to contact the Canadian embassy on how to leave Lebanon! Such incompetence in administering the basic machinery of the state from neoliberals is hardly new, but this is beyond the pale.” Greg Albo, The Israeli Military Assaults, the Crisis in Lebanon and Canada, The Bullet.
July 20, 2006 - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour says that war crimes charges may be warranted against Israel and Hezbollah if steps are not taken to protect civilians. France and Russia condemn the Israeli air strikes, calling them an overreaction. The U.N. says humanitarian groups cannot reach more than half a million people in Lebanon displaced or affected by the bombing. (cbc.ca)
July 21, 2006 - Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, rejects warnings of possible war crimes charges, saying Israel is attacking legitimate Hezbollah military targets. (cbc.ca) On August 4, 2006, Venezuela withdraws its Israel Ambassador.
July 25, 2006 - The U.S. says it won’t pressure Israel for a quick end to its military campaign against Hezbollah. Israel air strikes hit a UN post in Lebanon, killing three UN observers, including a Canadian. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the UN post was clearly marked and Israel promised it would not be targeted by their forces. Annan called the attack “apparently deliberate”. (cbc.ca)
July 26, 2006 - A preliminary UN report says UN peacekeepers called the Israeli military 10 times in six hours asking them to stop bombing in the area, before the UN post was hit with an Israeli bomb. Prime Minister Harper said he doubted the attack was deliberate. (cbc.ca)
Canada’s War Profiteers
“Many of Israel’s most-deadly, US-made weapons systems–now being used in air strikes against Lebanon–would not be able to function without hundreds of crucial, high-tech, electronic components supplied by Canadian war industries, and subsidized by Canadian taxpayers. Both the Liberal and Conservative Party (and its predecessors) have received millions in political donations from war industries. Included are about 15 corporations that have exported parts and services for US AH-64s, F-15s and/or F-16s: AlliedSignal Aerospace, Atlantis Aerospace, Bristol Aerospace, CAE, CMC, Devtek, DRS Flight Safefty and Communications, DY4, Elcan, Heroux, Litton, Magellan and Rockwell International of Canada. Over the last three decades, Canadian war industries have received about $5 billion in grants and unrepaid loans from the Canadian government, thanks to such programs as Industry Canada’s Technology Partnerships Canada (formerly known as the Defence Industry Productivity Program). These 25 companies have exported parts and/or services for US AH-64s, F15s and/or F-16s: AlliedSignal Aerospace, Atlantis Systems, AWSM Enterprises, BAE Systems, Bristol Aerospace, Cercast, CMC Electronics, Derlan Aerospace, Devtek, DRS Flight Safety and Communications, Fag Bearings, Fleet Industries, Garrett Canada, Haley Industries, Heroux-Devtek, Honeywell ASCA, Hypernetics, IMP Group, Litton Systems Canada, Magellan Aerospace, Menasco, Rockwell International of Canada, Virtual Prototypes and West Heights Manufacturing. The Canada Pension Plan has invested billions of dollars in hundreds of war industries, including many of the world’s top weapons makers.” Richard Sanders of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade on “Canadian Military Components used in Israel’s War Against Lebanon.”
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