Echoes of Israel in the graveyard of broken dreams

Israël - Élection, mardi le 10 février 2009 - la montée aux extrêmes

British MP George Galloway is a windbag, a polemicist, a self-promoter of the first order, a defender of all far-left causes, a nuisance, a self-described crusader for those he considers the oppressed of the Earth and, in many instances, a nutbar.
Mr. Galloway, who was kicked out of the Labour Party in 2003 and now represents a fringe party he created with a handful of others, may be all of these things, but he is no more a "security" danger to Canada than any other member of the British House of Commons. He does not pose any threat to anybody.
It is spurious for Stephen Harper's government to ban Mr. Galloway's entry into Canada on "security" grounds, even if the original recommendation came from the Canadian Border Security Agency. Rejection is also unwise, since it gives Mr. Galloway more attention than if had be been allowed to speak. The decision also offends the principle of free speech, which ought to be defended to the hilt here.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Galloway would have given offence in Canada, because he always does. His pro-Palestinian views would have offended some. His participation in a "Viva Palestina" convoy of aid delivered to the elected government of Gaza - that is, Hamas - had already riled a number of people. And that is the real reason the Harper government didn't want him in Canada: He supports Hamas.

The larger lesson of this rather insignificant saga is how far the Harper government has moved to align Canada with Israel and its staunchest supporters. Canada is now the most "Israel, right or wrong" government in the world, except for the Israeli government itself.
Even Barack Obama's new administration, itself obviously pro-Israel, has uttered a few mild criticisms about settlements in East Jerusalem and the banning of certain trade with Gaza. But not the Harper government. Mum's been the word.
The big pro-Israel organizations in Canada hailed the decision to ban Mr. Galloway. But do Canadians, while of course being supportive of Israel's existence and security, really want their country to be the most completely aligned with Israel, especially now that it is to be led by a very right-wing coalition that doesn't believe in a two-state "solution" to the Palestinian problem?
Benjamin Netanyahu, the incoming prime minister, is a hardliner. While not exactly ruling out the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, he doesn't fundamentally believe in one, preferring little enclaves of self-rule, a kind of Palestinian Bantustan. Worse, it would appear his foreign minister will be Avigdor Lieberman, leader of a far-right party who wants loyalty oaths from Arab citizens of Israel and is uninterested in the usual concept of a Palestinian state.
Canada has very little influence in the Middle East, truth be told, but for years, under both previous Conservative and Liberal governments, it did support a two-state "solution" to the problem of the co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians.
Presumably, the Harper government does, too, but it takes almost all of its cues from Israel's latest positions. This positioning might have been at least defensible under previous Israeli governments, but it's hard to imagine the same being said for the forthcoming one.
Israel and its staunchest supporters don't like the United Nations, but a lot of Canadians do. The Harper government's "ready-aye-ready" support for Israel isn't helping Canada's campaign there for a seat on the Security Council, since a whole lot of countries (and not just Arab ones) don't want an Israeli echo on the Security Council. A pro-Israel, but more nuanced voice, perhaps; an echo, no.
Favourable opinion for an eventual two-state solution appears to have faded in Israel. A settlement with the Palestinians seems either impossible or undesirable, given their internal disarray and the Hamas rockets launched into Israel.
The recent pounding of Gaza, which brought so much misery there, was supposed to halt the rocket attacks that caused such fear in parts of Israel. Predictably, the rockets keep coming.
This prolonged, miserable dispute seems further from resolution than ever, although members of Barack Obama's administration will make a concerted and balanced attempt to get some talks going. Good luck to them in the graveyard of broken dreams.

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