Gazonto: Imagining Toronto Being Bombed Like Gaza (Video)
In the absence of a real national conversation on Canada’s unequivocal support of Israel during the ongoing Gaza conflict, one can only appreciate Canadian filmmaker John Greyson’s newest film project, Gazonto.
Greyson, a York University professor and activist, re-imagines Toronto as Gaza during the ongoing conflict, which began on July 8. Gazonto as an “open air prison” bordered by the Credit and Rouge rivers. It stretches from Eglinton Avenue in the north down to Lake Ontario. Gazonto also inherits Gaza’s problems, including overcrowding and 60% unemployment. The bombing targets well-known communities, including East York, Parkdale, Rosedale, Morningside, Kensington Market and Queensway. F-16 fighter jets, 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs and surgical strikes obliterates a number of iconic structures and establishments, including the University of Toronto, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Scarborough Injury Rehab Centre, a CBC TV building, public libraries, Bluffers Point Beach, Portlands Energy Centre, hospitals and popular cafes.
In Gazonto, Greyson brings home the horror of Israeli violence against Palestinian women and children. Palestinian health officials say 2,125 people, an overwhelming majority of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict started. That includes nearly 500 children. Homes, schools, mosques, hospitals and United Nations establishments have also been target leveled to the ground.
These atrocities offend our common humanity. Gazonto provokes us to imagine how we would feel if we were Gazans. Wouldn’t we demand an end to the genocidal violence? Wouldn’t we call for everlasting peace, protection of human rights, and the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes? We would.
If we were Palestinians, we would be offended that Harper told the Israelis that “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.” We would be offended that he blamed Hamas for the deadly Israeli airstrikes which killed at least 110 Palestinians, including 17 killed at a UN school. We would agree with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who labeled the Israel Defense Forces shelling of a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Gaza, which killed 10 Palestinians, a “moral outrage and a criminal act.”
This is not the first time Greyson has used his art to criticize Israel and its policies and actions in Occupied Palestine. In 2009, he withdrew his documentary, Covered, from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) festival to protest the festival’s inaugural City to City Spotlight on the city of Tel Aviv. In a letter to the TIFF organizers, Greyson explained that he disagreed with TIFF’s decision “to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel.” He also characterized the then just-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as someone “accused of war crimes.”
In Gazonto, Greyson challenges us to imagine what we would ask our leaders to do if another country bombed Toronto the way Israel is bombing Gaza. The leaders of the three main parties represented in Canada’s House of Commons are not only enabling the ongoing carnage in Gaza. Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the ruling Conservatives, Justin Trudeau, the leader of the third-place Liberals, and Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the official opposition New Democrats (NDP), are also deliberately stifling Canadians’ freedom of political expression on the Gaza conflict.
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