In Ottawa today, hundreds of pro-Palestine supporters denounced Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “steadfast” support of Israel and its ongoing war crimes in Gaza.
The protesters demonstrated at the prime minister’s official Langevin Block office before marching to the Israeli embassy on nearby O’Connor Street. The protest was organized by several groups, including the Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians and Independent Jewish Voices.
Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza, code-named Operation Protective Edge, has so far killed more than 600 Palestinians. The UN says 75 per cent of the Palestinian deaths are civilians. Among the dead are more than 100 children. Israel has lost 27 soldiers and two civilians.
The protesters called on Harper to immediately denounce Israel and support an immediate ceasefire. According to the CBC News U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon are coordinating international efforts to broker an immediate ceasefire.
None of the recent statements I’ve received from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) indicate that Harper and his Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird are interested in a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East. Instead, both Harper and Baird have repeatedly reiterated the Conservative government’s uncompromising support of Israel.
In in a recent statement “in response to the situation in Israel,” Harper blamed Hamas, Palestinians and Iran for the current war.
“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel,” said Harper. “We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.”
The other party leaders in Canada uncompromisingly support Harper’s position.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leads in the polls and is expected to dethrone Harper during the 2015 federal election. In a recent statement, Trudeau addressed the “situation in Israel and Gaza,” blamed Hamas, and lauded Israel’s “commitment to peace.”
The Official Opposition New Democrats have also blamed Hamas for the conflict. However, they seem to support ceasefire efforts.
In a statement, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar called on the Conservatives to “work in support of restraint, de-escalation and civilian protection within a framework of international humanitarian law.”
“The Canadian government must work diplomatically, together with our allies, to help de-escalate the situation, work towards an immediate ceasefire and support a negotiated settlement to the conflict,” said Dewar, the MP for Ottawa Centre.
The Ottawa protesters demanded an end to Canada’s complicity in Israel’s genocidal Gaza massacres.
“For 66 years this illegitimate state has brought death and suffering to Arab and Jew alike,” Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of New York, told the protesters. “We must rally together and condemn this current attack against the Palestinian nation.”
In an earlier Facebook page posting, the organizers stated:
“Even before the arrival of the ground assault on Thursday, the casualties have been growing by the hour, with Israeli strikes on civilian homes, clearly-marked press vehicles, hospitals and homes for the elderly and people with disabilities.
There is nowhere for people in Gaza to hide. The cruel blockade imposed on Gaza denies them medical supplies necessary to save lives.
With repeated attacks on helpless civilian targets, with the number of dead Palestinian women, children and elderly growing rapidly, this aggression can only be called one thing: a massacre.
The mainstream media has largely regurgitated Canada’s counterproductive official line while ignoring the growing progressive voice of pro-Palestine protesters across the country. At the time of writing, only CTV News and the Ottawa Citizen had covered the Ottawa protest. Both made no reference to casualties.
The next pro-Palestine protest is scheduled for Saturday, July 26, at 1pm. Details coming soon.