Tarkovsky (re: Canadian public opinion):
I think the reason lies in 4 inter-related and simple aspects:
(A) Institutional power
US institutional power supports Israel since their interests converge. The Canadian establishment is subordinate to US power and as such, institutional power within this country, media, commentators, the parameters of debate, influences public opinion.
(B) The Shoah and Anti-Semitism
The Shoah has had a huge impact on all Western countries. It is part of our psychological makeup. Therefore, as a society we immediately identify with Jewish suffering under Eureopean anti-Semitism, progroms and finally genocide. And we should, it is a European story. By extension, we identify with Israel as the safe haven of the Jewish people so that never again will they be victims. In our psyche we have equated everything Jewish with victim and hence, we cannot see Israel as anything but a victim and by no means a criminal. Also any critical analysis of Israel then becomes an attack on the haven of the Jewish people and by extension on attack on the Jewish nation intself which means that the critic has somewhat anti-semitic feelings. Therefore, we have very little knowledge of how Israel was created. We do not believe for a minute, that European colonizers ethnically cleansed the indigenous population of what became Israel. We more easily accept the Land without a People for a People withhout a Land story even though, Israeli historians are all very honest about how Israel was creatted. (see right-winger Benny Morris, he uses the word ethnic cleansing, in fact he agrees with it. Morris says there is no way two naitons can live on the same land. One has to remove the other. The problem for him was that Israel did not complete the exercise and today it has this problem of 4 million Palestians in the territories and another 1 million + Palestinians in Israel itself. ( say Palestinian and not Arab, there are 1.375 million Arabs in Israel including the Palestinians, Bedouins and Druze.
(C) Western cultural prejudice
As North-Americans, we identify much more culturally with Israel that its neighbours. Israel has european style instiutions that we understand. Israelis are a western meditaranean country with parliamentary democracy and courts etc. and they are trying to live within a sea of fundamentalist, backward eastern dictatorships. So it has to do with our own deep subtle misconceptions and prejudice vis-a-vis middle eastern, Arabic and Muslim cultrure (see Orientalism by Edward Said). We should also include western Christian biases in this. Israel in the Christian religion belongs to the Jews not the Philistines (the David and Golliath paradigm). Its in our western psyche.
(D) Concealing the story
Due to A+B+C, the simple story of Israel occupying Palestine against international law and international consensus never gets told in simple, straightforward terms. The subject is always changes. Example: Hamas' charter, Arafat, what this or that person said, security, terrorism, Islamism, the Shoah, etc. etc. etc. All these other subjects are decoys which don't allow the simple, straightforward story that Israel militarily subordinates and ingores the border and sovereignty of another country Palestine and its 4 million inhabitants against unambigously clear international law that provides for unambigiously clear borders between the two states.
All these things have worked together to produce the bias in Canada.
Yet, the bias has been weakened and is becoming weaker everyday. More and more people are learning about this simple story and once its explained, there's really only one sensible position in favour of international law and freedom for Palestine. That's it, no one can really defend occupationa and subjugation. So the pro-occupation side is really panicking right now. In fact, polls in the US are quite telling about Jewish youth's opinion on this issue. There is only a small percentage of occupation supporters, the majority either don't care (because they don't identify with Israel, they see themselves as Americans) or are opposed. This is really panicking the pro-occupation side.
Given these changes in public opinion, there now ia a real opportunity for resolving this matter and freeing the Palestinians from military enslavement. I just came back from the Gaza Solidarity march in Montreal and it was bigger, louder and better organized than last week's.
The march should not be about Gaza only and it should not end when Israel stops bombing. It should continue and become a solidarity movement to liberate Palestine and its people in accordance with international law and consensus.