Thursday, June 3, 2010

The time is now to push for democracy in the Middle East

This is my column for 24 hours this week:

Once more lives have been needlessly lost in the Middle East This is happening while people in the Canada express strong opinions about Israel in this conflict without condemning the much worse behaviors of the Arabic countries.

The whole approach of using the flotilla to try and goad the Israeli state into a reaction worked, but this publicity stunt only pours gas on the Arab – Israeli conflict. What did people think would happen if you sail towards Israel when you are told by the government not to approach?

As a nation Israel has no margin for error. It is the only democratic country in the region and the only one that allows freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion. The Israeli military is under civilian control and the government is answerable to the courts. These standards and human rights values are not shared with any of its neighbours and seems to have become the primary reason for opposition to the state of Israel.

Whatever anyone thinks of Israel, it does not excuse the actions of Hamas. Hamas is an islamo-fascist organization that is doing more oppress Palestinian people than anything Israel has ever done. They still call for an end to Israel. Its leaders are not unhappy at the idea of exterminating all the Jews.

The blockade is not a random thing, it is in place because Hamas will not renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept the agreements the Palestinian government had signed. This is not only an Israeli blockade but Egyptian as well. No matter what international law experts say about the blockade, for Israel there is a fundamental fear of survival.

Life under in Gaza under Hamas is a horror and not primarily because of the blockade. It is hard to get real first hand reports from Gaza because Hamas will not allow a free media. Gaza is one of the worst places on earth for basic human rights freedom. Anyone that disagrees with Hamas, or their invented version of Islam, has been either killed or forced to flee.

While all this goes on, there are ongoing rockets being launched at Israel from Gaza resulting in air strikes by Israel trying to stop the rockets. No one seems to calling for an international investigation of why Hamas will not stop launching rockets into Israel.

Ultimately holding Israel to account for their actions this week is right, but at the same time as Syria, Egypt, Hamas, Saudi Arabia and other countries and groups in the Middle East have to be held to account for their ongoing actions. For too long there has been a double standard in the Middle East conflict with only Israel expected to respect human rights, this needs to come to an end. We need an era where the focus is on the basic human rights of democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion in all Arabic countries. Once the Arabic people are freed from tyranny, the conflict in the Middle East will end.

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Added a few hours later.

Here is a link to what Terry Glavin has to say on the situation
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