Rallies for Gaza took place this past weekend in cities and towns across Canada. Meg Borthwick reports on the gathering in London, Ontario. The Canadian Peace Alliance has called for a pan-Canadian weekend of action for Gaza Nov. 23-25.
You wouldn’t think of London, Ontario as a hotbed of civil unrest. It is, after all, home to the Labatt brewery, the London Knights,and General Dynamics (part of Canada’s modest military industrial complex). If you’re thinking that London is a tidy, by-lawed-to-death city, you’d be wrong.
This past Saturday a group of dedicated activists — many of whom were at the forefront of the Occupy London movement — gathered in Victoria Park to rally for Gaza. Their mission? To focus attention on the continued occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel and to condemn the recent escalation of violence in the region.
Mike Roy, a London activist who has participated in the Occupy London movement since its inception, sees the rally as an act of solidarity. “From a Canadian perspective, I don’t like seeing war, but I don’t like seeing oppression either, and that’s what Gaza is under constantly. It’s basically David vs Goliath there.”
The David and Goliath metaphor is an apt one. With each act of aggression, we see a disproportionate number of casualties on the Palestinian side. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, since the year 2000 the conflicts have resulted in the deaths of some 120 Israeli children and nearly 1,500 Palestinian children. Neither number is acceptable, but the fact remains that Israel has had the military hardware and the support of powerful Western allies to effectively destroy both the fragile economy and the infrastructure of Gaza.
“It seems like déjà vu from 2009,” said one London activist. The 2009 Israeli government’s position was that they declared that they were retaliating against so-called Palestinian aggression when they bombed not just Gaza, but refugee camps as well.
Where does the truth lie?
The long history of animosity between Israel and Palestinians contributes to the current hostility, but it’s more than that. You have to go back to 1948 to get to the beginning of the problem, which is rooted in colonialism. A negotiated peace orchestrated by the West has never been anything but disastrous.
“It’s called a war,” the London activist told me, “but it’s not war when you have such unequal sides. Who’s got the Palestinians’ back?”
Meg Borthwick is a freelance writer and moderator for rabble’s discussion forum, babble. Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Littlejohn.
Photo: Kevin Jones.