Stella Leventoyannis Harvey


Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighbouring lands killing thousands and pillaging the very hills. Khalil Gibran, essayist, novelist, poet

I’ve never been an armchair anything, preferring instead to get my hands dirty to make positive change happen. As I write these words and start to form my thoughts for this blog, I can’t help but wonder, isn’t that exactly what I’m doing by writing this blog. Pontificating? Yes, of course I am.

As a private citizen engaged in life and what is happening in the world, I have opinions about what is happening in Gaza. It’s impossible not to.

I am outraged by the incredible loss of civilian life, the lack of leadership on both sides, the horrible conditions Palestinians must endure in Gaza and the inability of Netanyahu to stop the building of Israeli settlements in the territories set aside for Palestinians. How can anyone with even the tiniest shred of decency let the suffering in Gaza go on? To allow it to continue makes Netanyahu and Hamas, for me, no better than your common garden-variety bullies who must win at any cost, consequences to human life be damned.

I am also irritated when someone defending the Israeli government’s actions says, “well wouldn’t you do the same thing if Canada were attacked?” Don’t we have enough examples of how foolhardy this sort of eye-for-an-eye mentality can be?

No, I hope I wouldn’t do the same thing. I hope a cooler head would prevail. I don’t know for sure what I would do, but I hope I can do better.

The Americans went into Iraq after September 11th ostensibly to defend themselves after that attack. We now know they falsified information to rationalize their actions. They were seeking retribution for those killed in the World Trade Center and felt justified in doing whatever they felt necessary. But to what end? Tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, hundreds of dead American soldiers and Iraq left in ruin. That is what the American offensive accomplished. Period. That and it made the world a more dangerous place. And the battle continues to rage. The Americans have moved on. The Iraqis have not.

If Canada were attacked, and given that we had the same defence mechanisms and firepower that Israel has (one of the largest in the world), I would hope to find a better solution than the one the Israelis are currently engaged in. I would use my defence systems to protect civilian life and I would engage in discussion and get support from my allies in the world. I would not wield my power, but use it to engage in positive discourse. I would try to understand the obligations that come with power and I would strive as a leader for a solution that worked for everyone.

Is this easy? Absolutely not. If talking and discussion were simple things we wouldn’t have divorce and lawsuits and aggression and war.

And since I’m on my soapbox, I might as well tell you I’m not happy at all with our own government’s reaction to the Gaza conflict. Our leaders, who are supposed to be impartial, have chosen with their words to incite an already explosive situation. For Pete’s sake, we are Canadians. We are meant to offer help and sober second thought. We believe in the two-state solution. This conservative government talks as though this is a long-gone dream. If they keep talking this way, peace has no chance.

As I said in the beginning, it’s hard not to have an opinion when it comes to Gaza. Leaders are human beings too and of course they’ll have private viewpoints. But because they are leaders, their opinions should be kept to themselves. Unfortunately, our current government has chosen a different tact.

Foreign Minister Baird has flexed his muscles in this conflict. He has taken sides. Like an errant schoolboy he’s been called to task for this.

Thank goodness for Human Rights Watch. At least they are paying attention, insisting our leaders stop their vitriolic rhetoric. Minister Baird and his boss can’t seem to do the right thing on their own.

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