On October 7 Hamas fighters broke out of the Israel-controlled Gaza concentration camp and breached the security barrier separating Gaza from Israel. They attacked army outposts, villages, an outdoor concert venue and Kibutzim. Some 1,300 Israelis, many of them civilians, were killed. They kidnapped some 200 Israelis, including women, children and the elderly, and took them as hostages back to Gaza. Israel says it killed 1,500 Hamas militants who carried out the attack.
The story was reported by Canada and the Western nations without context, thereby allowing them to condemn Hamas, which is the armed wing of the Gazan people, as terrorists and worthy of annihilation.
Israel’s armed wing, the Israel Defence Force, has been bombing Gaza every day since then.
Context: Between 1967 and 2005 Israel formally occupied Gaza. Soon after withdrawing, Israel imposed a blockade, which restricted food and medicine entering the tiny coastal territory.
Israel has bombed Gaza three times in the past – 2008, 2012 and 2014. In this current bombardment – the fourth – over 6,000 Gazans have been killed so far.
Bearing in mind that Israel has illegally occupied Palestine since1948, they also drove 750,00 of the native Palestinians out of their own country. The United Nations described the occupation as illegal and according to international law, Palestinians have the legal right to armed resistance. The recent Hamas incursion into Israel is an example of that.
Official Canada supports the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Every day the Canadian government and the media report the bombardment as legitimate based on Israel’s right to defend itself. Every day CBC et al lead off their coverage with a retrospective of the carnage wrought by Hamas, which occurred more than three weeks ago, thereby providing context for Israel’s “legitimate” war on Gazans. Since then, Canada has virtually outlawed any statement in support of the Palestinians.
It’s in this context that Sarah Jama, Member of the Ontario provincial parliament, said in a tweet that “the news coming out of Israel and Palestine is deeply concerning.” She called for an immediate ceasefire and “an end to all occupation of Palestinian land.”
She was attacked in the Ontario legislature and by the New Democratic Party (NDP), the party of which she is a member, for not condemning the Hamas attack and failing to show sympathy for the 1,300 Israelis killed.
Her original statement focused on the Palestinian territories, saying “violence and retaliation rooted in settler colonialism have taken the lives of far too many innocent people.” The sanctimonious parliamentarians demanded an apology because she failed to condemn Hamas and show empathy for the murdered Israelis. She then made the following statement: “I heard many voices yesterday raising concern about my post…I hear them – and above all, I understand the pain that many Jewish and Israeli Canadians, including my own constituents, must be feeling. I apologize.”
That gave the NDP an opening to oppose the motion to censure Jama. But the brave Parliamentarian later added: “I restate my call for an immediate ceasefire by Israeli forces, and for the immediate restoration of food, water, fuel, and electricity to Gaza…I applaud the many elected officials in Canada who have joined this call in recent days, and I hope even more of you will speak out.” The NDP took fright, changed its mind and supported the motion to censure Jama; they then went on to expel her from the NDP caucus. She now sits as an independent MPP.
Sarah Jama traces her roots to Somalia, a country that was colonized by Britain, France and Italy. Somalia won its independence in 1960 after multiple armed rebellions. Jama knows the context of the Hamas attacked on Israel as do most of our readers, our South African brethren, and other Canadians who trace their history to enslavement and colonization.
Sara Jama was right, and had a right to voice her support for the colonized people of Palestine. She has nothing to apologize for; but the NDP and official Canada do.