Israel and Palestine

I understand that the Palestinian people are suffering enormous deprivation partly because the international embargo is crippling their economy.

It is bad enough that Israel is taking over much of the most valuable Palestinian property through the illegal “settlements”, is preventing the Palestinians from taking advantage of employment opportunities by building walls, and is lowering the water level in the Jordan by its industrial enterprises. While all this is going on, the governments of the world have cut off financial support to the Palestinian Authority, so that the Authority has not been able to pay its employees their salaries, garbage has been piling up in the streets of Gaza, and other normal government services are disrupted.

In the meantime the Western nations continue their support of Israel, put the blame for unrest on the Palestinians and call on them to cease their violence.

It is not surprising that some of the Palestinian people give way to anger, that mobs lash out at perceived enemies, that blood flows and bombs explode, and peace becomes elusive in the Near East.

I would urge the Canadian Government to resume its financial support of the Unity Government and to use its diplomatic clout to persuade Israel to treat the Palestinians fairly.

From the time of Joshua – about 1300 B.C. – to about 135 A.D. (some 1400 years later), the Hebrew people were predominant in the land. From Roman times until about a century ago (some 1900 years) the ancestors of the present Palestinians were predominant. On the basis of this view of history, then, each party has a long standing claim to the land – perhaps an equal claim. But some Jews, and some Christians, would hold that the biblical position of “ Chosen People” extends to the present time, entitles Israel to be pre-eminent today and excused from treating the Palestinians fairly. And some would even say that the sooner Armageddon breaks out the sooner Christ will return – so, bring on the Third World War!

In 1917 the British Government, as the occupying power, and under the pressure of the War, issued the Balfour Declaration, stating that the Jewish people had a right to return to the Holy Land and live there. Since there were many Jews living in Western Europe and in America, the Declaration received much approval and support in those parts of the world. And certainly the suffering of the Jews at the hands of “Christian” people through many centuries (culminating in the Holocaust) made the establishment of a Jewish homeland all the more appropriate. But apparently those whose ancestors had occupied the area for many centuries were not consulted.

I am not saying that Zionism is wrong. I am saying that the Palestinians have suffered much because of Zionism, and that they also have rights to the land. And I am saying that if we expect them to respect the rights of the Jews and to keep the peace, then we must also expect Israel to observe the same high principles. And Canada too must be even handed in its approach to the two parties.

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