Is there a contest going on in Ottawa about who can write the most despicable statement on Israel's current assault on Gaza? If so, the Green Party just put this one to bed. More on that in a moment.
I won't mention the statement of Bibi Netanyahu's aspirant BFF and occasional serenader Stephen Harper, who has perfected the use of that insidious euphemism for state-sanctioned terror, "the right to defend itself." But I will mention the nearly indistinguishable statement of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada. "Israel has the right to defend itself and its people," the statement reads. "Hamas is a terrorist organization and must cease its rocket attacks immediately." There are mortar blasts less impressive than the gaps and holes nesting in that statement.
In an open letter published today, Independent Jewish Voices of Canada (IJV) took Trudeau to task for failing to mention that Israel instigated the latest aggression, that Israel has a history of violating its ceasefires, that Egypt is no neutral third party or, most critically, that more than 80 per cent of the victims have been Palestinian civilians including more than 200 children. It is particularly depressing that I have to add: at time of writing.
But surely Canada's progressive alternative, Thomas Mulcair's NDP, will offer Canadians concerned about bombing hospitals and schools in a blockaded and besieged population. "Millions of innocent civilians have been caught in the line of fire in the Middle East," Mulcair's statement read. "And hundreds have been killed in recent days." Any enthusiast of the English language has got to marvel at the treacheries of the passive voice in that statement. Have been caught. Hundreds have been killed. Who killed them, Thomas? Who?
It's true that Quebec MP Alexandre Boulerice released a petition in which he calls for an end of the occupation in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, but the words coming from Mulcair and Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar have very little light between those coming from Harper and Trudeau. Israel has a right to defend itself. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Some people are reportedly dying but we have no idea how.
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada gave Canadians vying for a brokered peace process through international pressure on Israel a glimmer of hope two weeks ago when she endorsed a policy resolution that would see the GPC "fully condemn all illegal Israeli settlement expansions." But the Green Party has not yet issued a statement on the siege of Gaza or the current military campaign against its people.
It's impossible to summarize the ignorance, the sheer falsehoods and the malice contained in Estrin's meandering statement, bereft of any effort at composition or even the barest of proofreads. First, in a baffling display of logic, Estrin claims that Palestinians living in Gaza "have been in control of their own destiny" since 2005, when the siege began. He then goes on to blame them for their own besiegement, of giving children grenades (!), and of embracing martyrdom.
It's important to point out here that Estrin is not talking about Hamas -- he specifically accuses everyone living in Gaza of these crimes.
Such venom can usually only be found in the most far-right reaches of the Knesset -- along the same lines of Israeli MP Ayelet Shaked, who recently called for the deaths of Palestinian mothers, because they give birth to "little snakes." Even in the halls of Parliament Hill, where the three major parties march in lockstep with unconditional support of Israel, words like the above are rarely, if ever, uttered.
If there was any doubt, Barbara Kay cited this post with approval on Twitter: "Congrats to Canada's Green Party," she wrote. "They really 'get' it about Gaza." As long as the sun sets, if Barbara Kay says you "get" something, you definitely, definitely don't.
But Estrin is not done:
In our culture, often activists are against colonialism, yet forget that their ancestors only a handful of generations ago partook in just that, enabling them to live the secure lives they currently enjoy, and the lives the live (sic) is at the benefit (sic) of economic colonialism.
Emphasis mine. Yes, our brave ancestors who "partook" in colonialism should now be proud of the "secure lives" we now enjoy, now that generations of Aboriginal people have been fractured, damaged, dispossessed, starved, murdered, ignored, exploited and oppressed. At the time of writing.
Colonialism. I do not think that word means what you think it means.
The post, well over 2000 words, goes on to laud Israel's "pinpoint attacks" and the fact that "Israel is doing all it can with an untenable situation." It continues with the same bewildering logic, tortuous structure and grammatical errors that raise questions of mental well-being. It now includes two disclaimers, one from the Green Party and one from Estrin, emphasizing that this post is only the "opinion" of Estrin's "personal perspective." Estrin had also originally signed the piece using his full title as president -- his title has now been removed from the piece.
This piece was written by the president of one of Canada's five elected political parties -- while not one of them has come out to condemn attacks from a nuclear power with one of the world's biggest arsenals against an imprisoned and impoverished population with no infrastructure, no standing army and nowhere to run. The only dissenting example comes from a provincial party, Québec Solidaire, who unambiguously denounces Israeli aggression in Gaza, calling for economic sanctions against Israel and for an end to the Gaza blockade and West Bank illegal settlements.
This is the state of our pluralist, representative, federalist democracy: where a just and compassionate statement rightly condemning what even Labour and LibDem MPs in Britain condemn can't exist even in a marginalized position in Parliament.
Israeli air strikes have made craters even out of Canadian political discourse.
UPDATE, August 6: Paul Estrin, President of the Green Party of Canada has now resigned.