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By Sid Ryan

After more then a month of bloody fighting and destruction in the Middle East, the guns and bombs are almost silenced. The lessons from this conflict are only now beginning to emerge.

A debate is finally taking place in Israel over the strategies of occupations and settlements. The so-called “convergence plan” of unilateral withdrawals from Gaza and parts of the West Bank have proven to be useless in terms of providing security for Israeli citizens. Likewise, building an apartheid wall that cuts deep into Palestinian lands is now viewed through the lens of Katushya rockets and Quassam missiles.  It is not lost on the civilian population in northern Israel that no wall is going to stop rockets and missiles from slaughtering innocent people.

Danny Rubinstein, editorial board member for Israel’s most influential newspaper Haaretz, had this to say about the war: “What use is there for a wall when the war is fought with Katyushas, Quassams and kidnappings? When the wall’s path followed the Green Line, it was one thing, but when it started to penetrate into the West Bank and particularly into the Jerusalem area – it became a delusional annexation plan that is nearly impossible to carry out, other than with suffering, discrimination and exploitation that cannot last in the long run.”

Rubinstein and many other influential Israelis understand that the only way forward in the Middle East is through dialogue with Hamas and Hezbollah. Already discussions are underway within Palestine between Fatah and Hamas with a view to forming a coalition government, which hopefully will forge the beginnings of an agreement to formally recognize Israel’s right to exist. This is turn should pave the way for the U.S. , Canada and their allies to lift their punishing boycott and provide desperately needed humanitarian funds to the Palestinian Authority. Eventually, the discussions will involve an exchange of prisoners, including the release of the captured Israeli soldier in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners and elected members of Parliament.

It is encouraging to see this type of dialogue and debate take place within Israel. If only the same could be said about the debate in Canada. Instead of an open and healthy exchange of viewpoints, we have organizations like B’nai Brith that launch senseless attacks on individuals and organizations whose crime is merely showing up at public demonstrations.

Following an August 12 anti-war demonstration in Toronto, Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, launched into one of his all too familiar fits of fury and accused Ali Mallah, vice-president of the Canadian Arab Federation, of supporting terrorism.  Apparently Mallah committed the heinous crime of expressing his opinion on a radio talk show about the federal government listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. 

Dimant fumed in a press release that he was going to meet with Ontario’s Attorney General Michael Bryant and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to request that anti-terrorism laws be strengthened. In other words, he was going to ask Bryant and Blair to turn the Ontario police force into an authoritarian political organization that would crack down on B’nai Brith’s perceived political enemies for what he termed “the glorification of terrorism.”

Ironically, the target of Dimant’s intemperate remarks is a well-respected member of the Arab community. From the podium at the anti-war rally on August 12, Mr. Mallah publicly condemned the burning of an Israeli flag. He did this, I’m sure, with a very heavy heart because, as he spoke, his wife Saada and two children, Hussein and Nour, were in southern Lebanon being bombed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

When the Jewish community in North Toronto was subjected to horrific anti-
Semitic attacks a couple of years ago, it was Ali Mallah who phoned me and suggested I go to a public event and stand in solidarity with the community.

Ali Mallah deserves to be commended and not pilloried for his leadership during these very trying days for all Canadians. Mr.Dimant, who supports the bombings of innocent civilians in Lebanon and the subjugation of Palestinians in Gaza, is now demanding the police be granted powers to curtail Canadian civil liberties. Is it any wonder the left in Canada has abandoned Israel and its surrogate organizations in the Diaspora?