Missing the balance
Re: Another Middle East cock-up (Nov. 20). Gwynne Dyer's argument that this recent flare-up is retaliation for Gaza's firing of an anti-tank rocket into Israel on Nov. 10 ignores the real timeline. The New York Times reported on Nov. 5 that the Israeli Defence Force killed a 23-year-old Palestinian from Gaza whose family has stated he was mentally handicapped. CNN reported on Nov. 11 that the IDF responded on Nov. 8 to a border-sabotage incident by moving a tank convoy into Gaza, firing weapons, including two tank rounds, and killing a 13-year-old boy.
Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin wrote in the Israeli paper Haaretz on Nov. 15 that Israeli officials chose to assassinate a Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari, only hours after he had received a draft for a permanent truce agreement with Israel. This agreement included mechanisms for maintaining a ceasefire during these difficult situations and had been written up by Egyptian and Hamas officials with the knowledge and support of Israeli officials.
I understand tensions are perpetually high there, and Israel needs to be allowed to defend itself. But it is important that we, as international observers, are given the full story. Regardless of who started it, those making peace more difficult now need to be held accountable.
Gwynne Dyer would have us admire Hamas for "trying to maintain calm in Gaza and extend a ceasefire agreement with Israel." He would have us feel sorry for poor Hamas because they are afraid of jihadis more extremist than they are.
It's not Hamas that launches rocket attacks on Israel, he explains; it's those awful jihadi factions that Hamas can't control and can't afford to antagonize.
I worry about Dyer's mathematical abilities and word choice. A million lives disrupted by a constant barrage of more than 8,000 missiles from Gaza into southern Israel over 12 years he calls "pinprick attacks." The present war, which now affects everyone and threatens more than half of Israel's population, he variously calls "a little war with the Palestinians," "a mini war," "off to the races," and "this idiocy."
Most of all, I am concerned for the state of Dyer's memory. He does not even mention centuries of hatred and revenge-seeking by Muslims for Jews and Christians. He forgets 64-plus years of Middle Eastern Arab countries refusing to accept a Jewish state in their midst. He ignores many wars waged in the region because of Arab and Muslim hatred and racism toward Jews.
He does not seem to recall Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist. He does not remember public vows by Hamas leaders to destroy Israel, no matter how long it takes.
I'm glad about one thing: With his column running in 45 countries, his retirement is secure. I wish him good health, and may he live to 120.
The Hamas and Fatah leadership should know the Palestinians are not comparable to Israel in military strength. They cannot sustain a long-term strategy in continuing the war. Hamas should strive hard to establish a truce in order to save lives and put an end to rockets firing toward Israel to avoid retaliation. Israel, being a major power, should honour truce terms and conditions and avoid military actions by air or ground forces.
If the truce is not implemented, this crisis may turn very dangerous, because of unstable conditions in the Middle East, specifically Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iran. It is incumbent upon both the Israeli and Hamas leadership to stop the aggression and retaliation against each other. All pending issues should be solved by mediation and mutual dialogue.
My good friend was speaking with his mother in Ashdod, Israel, yesterday. During the call, a rocket from Gaza exploded by her house. While compelling, more so was his next statement, "Luckily for them their windows face north," away from the explosion. Of all the things to be lucky about.
I am lucky. I live in Canada. Terrorists do not lob rockets at my home. The value of my home is not diminished because of terrorism. I do not need to stay within 15 seconds of a rocket shelter. I do not need a reinforced concrete slab as a roof.
What's more, my government can defend its citizens without most of the world condemning its actions. I am very lucky -- and grateful.
Re: Symbols, totems should get some respect (Nov. 16) Don Marks needs to get a life. A model sports an Indian headdress at a rehearsal for the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York. Big deal.
If the beautiful young woman in question would have been wearing a Scottish tam, would people of Scottish descent have been upset? No, they wouldn't have. If she had been wearing an English bobby's hat and nothing much more, a Viking's garb, an Irish leprechaun's outfit, a German's leather hosiery, a Hawaiian straw skirt, or any number of outfits that would have made her pleasing to look at, would people of those ethnic origins reacted as you have reacted? No.
I am sure many aboriginal people would not have reacted as Marks did. They would either not have reacted at all or would have said, "What a good-looking girl wearing the headdress. She can come to my rez any old time."
The eagle-feathered Indian headdress has its sartorial origins with the central and Prairie aboriginal nations, not with Canada's diverse East and West Coast bands, who have their own proud history of traditional head coverings.
For it to be showcased as the singular emblem of all First Nations is as much an affront to the coastal communities as a Victoria's Secret model expropriating its significance on the catwalk.
Cultural imperialism is apparently not the sole realm of its usual target.
The day that aboriginal people stop selling those imitation headdresses at their souvenir shops is the day they can make a stand.