Response: Encouraging Open Dialogue on Guelph’s campus

Monday, November 26, 2012

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This is a letter in response to Peter Miller's article, "Canada Must be condemned for its support of Israel" found here. The Cannon would like to remind readers and the writer of this article that The Cannon is an open source for the opinions of all students and those opinions do not reflect that of The Cannon's. Our decision to run a student opinion piece is rarely based on content (unless blantantly hurtful). --Editor-in-Cheif of The Cannon.ca



We are disappointed with the Cannon’s decision to print Peter Miller’s article titled, “Canada must be condemned for its support of Israel.”  This article, which appeared on the Cannon website on November 18, was a glaringly one sided perspective of a particularly complicated situation. It was biased in the way it presented facts and omitted others with regards to this conflict. This type of presentation does nothing to help people understand the full history and background of the conflict, nor does this type of manipulation benefit those who are truly suffering.  Most importantly this one sidedness undermines the culture here at Guelph where we appreciate the importance of debate and differing opinions while maintaining a strong friendly community.

One of the most important issues regarding the current conflict in Israel is the omission of any mention of the situation for the Israeli civilian population. For the last 12 years, Israeli cities and people have been the target of a relentless onslaught of over 12,000 rockets and missiles being fired indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. Hamas’ tactics should be deplored by all civilized people, as they are firing lethal projectiles at civilian areas, not military targets, for the sole purpose of killing Israelis, disrupting daily life, and terrorizing an entire country.  On top of that, they are not only hurting Israeli civilians, but they commit a double war-crime by firing rockets and missiles arbitrarily at Israeli population centers from populated streets, mosques, schools and hospitals using Palestinian civilians as human shields against Israeli reprisals. 

         In the article, Miller refers to the Israeli Naval blockade and military checkpoints as part of an illegal apartheid policy.  While these drastic measures are unfortunate, it is important to understand the larger context of this policy.  These policies have proven to save lives and prevent terror operations on Israeli soil.  In addition, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which is presented in the aforementioned article is grossly exaggerated.  According to Mathilde Redmatn of the International Red Cross in the Gaza strip, there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip.  Furthermore, to ensure that this remains the case, the Israeli government transports hundreds of tons of food and medical supplies into the Gaza strip on a daily basis. 

We encourage the students at Guelph look at both sides of the issue and evaluate the facts with an open mind.  There is clearly a lot more to this issue than what was portrayed by Peter Miller’s article and it is beyond the scope of this response.  We encourage debate when it is done in the spirit of intellectual honesty and sensitivity to both sides.  We hope that the readers of the Cannon will recognize the danger in the demonization of one side of a particularly complicated issue.  

By Tanya Werger

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  1. Posted by: Brendan C on Nov 26, 2012 @ 8:24pm

    If you really believe in encouraging open dialogue, you shouldn't be disappointed in the Cannon for publishing something you disagree with-but I digress.

    More importantly, the fact is that the situation is not too complicated to understand, and it's not 'balanced.' One side has most of the power, and the other endures most of the suffering. Between 2001 and 2008 3,004 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli actions, 635 of whom were children. During that same period 16 Israelis were killed by rocket fire from Gaza. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, 1400 Gazans, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed. 13 Israelis were killed, several of them soldiers killed in 'friendly fire' incidents. Between Cast Lead and the most recent attack on Gaza, 271 people in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces. Three Israelis were killed by rocket fire during that time.

    The killing of civilians on both sides is obviously deplorable, but the stark asymmetry of the death toll cannot be ignored. Neither can the fact that the Israeli military has the technological capability to target its attacks precisely, while Palestinian armed groups do not. If the Israeli military chooses to attack civilian areas in one of the most densely populated territories in the world, the consequences are entirely predictable. The scale and nature of the violence committed against civilians by either side is simply not comparable.

    Peter's article also rightly places the recent violence in the context of the ongoing siege of Gaza, imposed in 2007 as punishment for electing the wrong government. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is very real, to the point that a UN report has stated that Gaza will be 'unlivable' by 2020 if the blockade continues. Between 2007 and 2010, Israel even calculated the amount of food needed on a daily basis to provide for basis nutrition , and then let less food into Gaza.

    The cry for 'balance' and recognition of complexity in this case is simply a way of obscuring an increasingly obvious injustice.




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