[R-G] Shielded from reality? Anti-peace perspectives editorial.
mstainsby at tao.ca
Fri Jan 10 20:18:57 MST 2003
If you have a minute, please send a note to the Citizen
(mailto:letters at thecitizen.southam.ca) about this biased editorial.
Shielded from reality?
The Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Why are some western idealists rushing to Iraq to serve as "human
shields" for the tyrant Saddam Hussein? Among them was Canadian George
Weber, the Christian Peacemaker Team member tragically killed in a
recent traffic accident on the highway between Basra and Baghdad.
Another "human shield" is David Swann, who made news in Canada when he
was fired as a medical officer of health in Alberta for his advocacy of
the Kyoto Protocol. In other words, people from many areas of life
believe in putting themselves directly in harm's way.
Why? Is it because whenever force is threatened, advocates of
non-violence are willing to risk their very existence? Unfortunately,
not always. We detect some double standards.
When western governments or their allies use or threaten to use force,
well-meaning activists do place themselves in harm's way -- be it at
Burnt Church in New Brunswick, in the West Bank, in Colombia or in
Baghdad. But in Tibet? Too dangerous. In Afghanistan? Not during the
Soviet war or the Taliban rule. They only showed up there after the
attack on the World Trade Center, when an American strike was imminent.
Or, take North Korea, the epitome of belligerence. It promised to scrap
its nuclear-weapons program in return for aid from the democracies. It
got aid but kept building weapons. Where are the well-meaning pacifists
rushing to Seoul to serve as shields for 10 million South Korean civilians?
We suggest many "human shields" are selective about who gets their
protection. Not all, to be sure: The Christian Peacemaker Teams had
people ride a #18 bus in Jerusalem for several weeks after Palestinian
terrorists targeted that bus on two consecutive Sundays. Doug Pritchard,
their Canadian co-ordinator, says they only go where they're invited by
local people committed to non-violence. But apparently that includes The
International Solidarity Movement, whose Web site says, "we recognize
the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via
legitimate armed struggle" (though they themselves choose non-violence).
"Human shields" show great personal conviction. But siding with enemies
of the West does not usually promote peace or justice. We hope these
brave but sometimes misguided people in places like Iraq learn this,
without losing their lives.
A worthy project Glebe seniors' building deserves support. Please see
City Editorial Page, D4.
© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
My response below:
Dear Ottawa Citizen:
I am a member, albeit out in Vancouver, of the International Solidairty
Movement. Your newspaper probably better than many understands the difficulty
there is in getting the true nature of the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian
people some major news coverage, and what dangers are frought with making just
such a statement. The reason that the ISM supports the right of the Palestinians
to armed struggle comes from two basic reasons: One, it is recognised in
International Law that military measures to resist illegal occupations are
legitimate and just, two that the very occupation of Palestine is the cause of
military resistance from Palestinians, not the other way around.
People who go are indeed going because they are well-meaning. However, after men
like Vancouverites Drew Penland and Jaggi Singh go to Israel and later to
Palestine, they come back more convinced than ever before of the wholly criminal
nature of the Israeli forces and the Occupation of Palestine.
If people want to save these valiant souls for the efforts they put in, two
things need to happen: One, so that the isolated actions of good people aren't
needed to focus attention on the suffereing of Palestinians, the media must give
full-exposure to the on the ground daily conditions in Palestine. Also, the
occupation must be ended immediately and Canadians who want to protect their
citizens on these missions should pressure their government to speak out firmly
against the occupation.
This, and this alone, will protect the lives of the committed who struggle for
Palestinian (and human) rights.
In the contradiction lies the hope.
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