Justice for Gaza: why we cry out
The Israeli government strangles and plans an attack on Gaza for months, times its provocation for the biggest of US election days, then launches an audaciously brutal bombardment upon a people trapped in the most densely populated land in the world. It bombs infrastructure, schools, mosques, homes and aid depots, leaving hundreds of thousands without power, clean water, adequate food and access to medical care.
It calls its own cease fire on its own terms, content with battering a defenceless people until they submit, cognizant of the need to stop just before Obama’s inauguration. There is outrage all over the world, but in Canada the mainstream media largely laps up and regurgitates the propaganda of the powerful, and the federal government applauds enthusiastically.
It is easy to feel powerless in the antiwar movement, especially in these “war on terror”, “support ‘our’ troops”, “democratic states must have the right to defend themselves” days. We live in a country where we have next to no power between elections; and during these charades of democracy our collective pulse is taken several times a day to determine the best course of manipulation. Our cries in the streets against the bombing and strangling of Palestinians into submission seem irrelevant in this context. In some ways they are. But only if we are unrealistic about what they can accomplish, unwise about what these tactics can do.
Our demonstrations are not ways to pressure or convince Canadian politicians into changing their minds. Why would the administrators of a middle power state (Canada) that is fully integrated with a falling empire (the US) interested in supporting their bully (Israel) on the block (the Middle East) lose sleep over 1400 dead Palestinians and a few thousand muslims, peaceniks and radicals yelling in the streets? Let’s face it: our political system is pathetically unresponsive to demands for justice.
So why should we put parts of our lives on hold to ramp up political activities if they’re not going to save any lives on the ground? What are all the protests and marches and forums and other efforts for?
They are reactive displays of outrage we simply must let out – especially those of us who are connected to the bombings and ongoing seige through family and other experiences. They are refusals to follow the logic of isolation and self-interest inherent in media questions like “why are you steelworkers protesting?” They are tangible, active manifestations of opposition that mean far more than a poll. They are opportunities to connect our resistance with our communities directly. Most importantly, they are ways to build a more powerful movement.
It is becoming more powerful. It is more difficult now for far right ideologues like Benjamin Netanyahu to come to Canadian communities and spread hate. Major unions like the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees have signed on to the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and are holding fast against the usual stinging accusations of anti-semitism. We must support these and other efforts to resist, and we must work hard to counter propaganda for Israeli apartheid, especially when the spotlight is on.
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: