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(photo credit: )
How ironic. Just days after one group of Canadians took sides in the Mideast conflict by publicly and sweepingly backing Israel's enemies, the rest of Canada learned that another set of anti-Canadian Canadians had taken the next logical step and targeted Canada itself.
Granted, the membership, leadership and pompous resolutions of the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) interest the average Israeli about as much as the World Cup interests the average grandmother. However, the 17-man terror ring arrested last weekend for plotting to detonate Canada's parliament, storm its Broadcast Corporation and behead, among others, Prime Minister Stephen Harper - they do interest us Israelis, because we know that those kinds of characters, unlike that union's armchair mutineers, know what they believe in, and will readily die for it.
MIDDLE ISRAELIS generally follow old Ben-Gurion's advice to think less about what the gentiles will say and more about what the Jews will do, and these days even if they had wanted to they could scarcely deal with situations as distant and bizarre as that created by one Sid Ryan, the unionist who led the call to boycott Israel "until it recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination."
Ryan will have to excuse us for spending less time thinking of him and more fending off rocket attacks from Gaza in the South and dueling with Hizbullah troops up North while also seeking more national funding for cancer treatments and plowing our way through massive traffic jams caused by the early summer's sudden pressure on an inept Electric Corporation.
Ryan's outfit, which apparently has already addressed its 200,000 members' more immediate problems and can therefore get down to the business of mending the rest of the world, also condemned our anti-terror barrier and promised to launch an education campaign about our conflict with our neighbors. In addition, that new statesman intimated that "they" - you know who - "say they are creating an independent state, but they're not giving them the tools to do that."
To cap its pontification, the CUPE's Katherine Nastoski intimated that "boycott, divestment and sanction worked to end apartheid in South Africa," and that "the same strategy will work to enforce the rights of Palestinian people, including the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties."
Even when they finally pay some attention to a guy like Ryan, Israelis see in him an oddity rather than a threat. Who knows what his real problem is? Maybe he is an impressionable ignoramus, maybe he is an obsessed ideologue, and maybe there is something in all this for him, nothing substantive, God forbid, only liquid. Either way, the CUPE conveniently ignored some glaring basics.
For instance, the fence was only built after Israel had offered, in the presence of the president of the US, the very state and lands Ryan now demands it deliver, but was turned down, and in fact attacked by a Palestinian leadership that violated its commitments in the Oslo Accords to never again resort to violence in its dealings with Israel. Not only did it attack, it targeted the civilian population.
Even more basically, Israel has actually recognized the Palestinian right for self-determination, and, if anything, it is the current Palestinian government that does not recognize Israel, a fact of public record with which the CUPE is either unfamiliar or happy.
Most ominously, admitting Palestinian refugees to Israel - which of course would reward their rejection of the UN's two-state resolution in 1947 and the pan-Arab attack on the young and internationally recognized Jewish state - would mean also opening numerous other Pandora's boxes worldwide, including the potential restoration of 12 million Germans to the many European lands from which they were removed in the aftermath of World War II. This, of course, is besides the fact that such a move would destroy the Jewish state, an obvious prospect which to the CUPE is either unknown or agreeable.
Ryan and Nastoski also don't realize what they are getting into when they resort to the South African analogy; not only because the fence project, for better or worse, is a response to an external enemy rather than a part of the local society, but also because their insinuation, that the Jews do not belong in Israel more than the whites belonged in South Africa, raises the perplexing question of how firmly, actually, they themselves belong in Canada. After all, their ancestors arrived in the New World only several generations ago, while Jews have been living in the Promised Land continuously for millennia, including a good 2,000 years before Islam's emergence.
Now Ryan of course insisted his effort did not constitute "an attack on the Jewish people," only objection to Israeli policies. Yet the fact is that his preaching and bullying are seen, reflexively, by all Jews who hear of them, as attacks on them, not only because of their substance, but also because of their context. When Ryan launches a boycott of China for its brutal occupation of Tibet, or of Russia for its razing of Grozny by aerial and artillery bombardment, we will reconsider our current impression that his and his organization's agenda, in their failure to demand of others what they demand of the Jews, are not anti-Israeli but anti-Semitic.
WHILE TRAVELING last year through eastern Canada from Halifax to Moncton, my Israeli mind could hardly digest the vastness, greenery, emptiness, tranquility and endlessness of that land. Maybe the flipside of that indigestion is the CUPE's failure to comprehend just how arid, minuscule, vicious, besieged and beleaguered Israel and its inhabitants are.
Similarly, it is very tempting to delude oneself, the way Ryan and Nastoski are misleading their flock, that what currently separates the West and its enemies is just some more time-honored Jewish stubbornness. Throw the Islamists those few Israeli bones they so much crave and all will be fine between Ottawa and Vancouver. Well, that's basically what so many in the West said back when Fascism demanded its own few Jewish bones.
Now, with last week's arrests in Ontario, the 30 million Canadians who do not belong to Ryan's and Nastoski's outfit were served a stark reminder concerning who is at play, what is at stake and where their national interest lies.
At play are the world's most obscurantist, reactionary and subhuman forces, and on the other hand those who still prefer to deny that from London and Madrid to Tel Aviv and Ottawa, Western civilization is under attack; at stake are the West's very flesh and soul, its sanctification of life, freedom, self-fulfillment, equality, justice, law and order; and Canada's interest is to join rather than flee the battle for the values with which it so much likes to be identified.
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