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Tell the world: 'Let my people go'

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Let my people go!

In civilized society we do not punish people for the sins of their neighbours. Collective oppression, starvation and denial of basic human rights is a war crime. 

While a small group of desperate people lob crude rockets out of Gaza to bring attention to the loss of their homeland the vast majority of Palestinian people, 1.4 million people, tenaciously hang on to their lives, their families and what is left of their civil society. To equate the people of Gaza with terrorism is to suggest that all people in Toronto traffic in drugs or that all the people in Vancouver are heroin addicts. Some are, but it is simply the truth not all are. Even to suggest such a thing through a cunning use of words is unprincipled. For the Canadian government and mainstream media to "educate" Canadians to such a fallacy about who Palestinians are is unconscionable.

What is happening today in Palestine is not a "point of view." It has nothing to do with religion, ideology or ethnic differences. It has nothing to do with "left" or "right" politics. It is a planned and manipulated humanitarian disaster that most of the Western world view merely as a spectacle. 

Almost no one knows anything about how Palestinians have found themselves without a homeland and become the targets of State sponsored isolation and extermination. There are facts, there is information and there are legitimate differences of opinion but all of these have been muted by stereotypes, labelling and fear. 

When humanitarian activists reach out to challenge Palestinian isolation they are detained and deported. The Canadian Boat to Gaza, Tahrir, was stopped yesterday. It was taken over by the Israeli navy and the crew and delegates have been arrested. That is a fact. 

They carried only medical supplies to the people of Gaza and the Israeli government knew that. That is a fact. The blockade of Gaza does not stop the flow of weapons to militants in Gaza. That is a fact. The blockade of Gaza and the repression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank undermine the development and maintenance of civil society. That is a fact. 

The oppression of people through colonialism breeds terrorism as a response to personal and collective suffering and grief. That is a fact. 

The images of Palestinians created by Canadian politicians and the mainstream media: that is a lie. That beating people into the ground will lead to a just resolution sometime down the road: that is a lie.

Sometimes history can make me cry. Almost all peoples, at one time or another, have been guilty of unimaginable brutality toward their neighbours. This is neither an excuse nor reason to permit a continuation of a world of terror. 

It is easy to blame the extremists as they hold the scary masks and instruments of fear. But it is the complacent who watch and listen silently, those who occupy themselves with gimmicks and gadgets to avoid interaction with the ones who suffer for them, they perpetuate this paradigm of hate. They are the spectators. Their compliance is the will that energizes human tyranny. 

We must ask ourselves: is this who I am, a silent one? Can I watch and listen to others suffer and still listen to my iPod? Can I go to Cancun and lie on the beach before going to Gaza with the Freedom Flotilla? Can I be a Canadian and ignore the rape of indigenous environments and extermination of Aboriginal peoples? Can I live with myself and trust in my government while the facts tell me something else?

It is time to reach for the tipping point. The brave humanitarian activists who have asked themselves those same questions are now in the hands of the Israeli government which maintains an illegal blockade of 1.4 million people. 

Take action for them because they can no longer take action for themselves. Tell the world around you: "Let my people go."

Take care, take notice, take action,

Robert Lovelace

November 5, 2011

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