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News & Analysis

Harper rejects appeal to treat wounded Gaza children

Khadijah Ali

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected appeals from doctors and politicians to allow Palestinian children wounded in Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza, to get treatment in Canada. Harper is a staunch ally of Israel.

While Western regimes have fully backed Israeli aggression against the people of Gaza, the Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has hit a new low. Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, a Palestinian doctor who lost three of his daughters on January 16, 2009 when Israeli tanks fired two shells into his apartment, published an appeal in the Toronto Star early last month to bring at least 100 wounded Gazan children to Canada for treatment. Dr. Abu al-Aish is currently working at the University of Toronto.

The appeal was immediately endorsed by Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital as well as a number of other hospitals across Canada. Many doctors also offered help, some even offering their services for free. Other doctors said their clinical facilities would also be available for free. Dr. Abu al-Aish’s appeal received a boost when the NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who is also leader of the opposition in parliament, endorsed it and called upon Harper to do the same. The government’s position was outlined in a blunt statement from Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. He said it was all Hamas’ fault and it is a “terrorist” organization. End of story. Gaza’s kids would not be allowed into Canada even to receive treatment for their broken limbs.

A number of organizations including doctors offered to pay for their travel costs. The Canadian government was asked merely to allow their entry into Canada. Harper’s rightwing government is not interested in such talk. His is the most pro-Zionist regime Canada has seen in its entire history. Federal ministers travel to Israel and gleefully announce to their Zionist hosts that they have cut off funding to charitable organizations including Kairos, a Church-linked group doing relief work among Palestinians. As far as Harper and his ministers are concerned, Palestinians including children deserve no sympathy.

Canadian policy has taken a sharp turn to the right, especially toward a rabidly pro-Zionist position even though the vast majority of Canadians do not support such policy. The Harper regime’s stand is now being emulated by the two other federal parties, the NDP and Liberals. Leaders of all parties have parroted the same line Israel has the right to defend itself. Both Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have repeated this mantra emulating Harper’s stand. While Canadians are aware of Harper’s rightwing policies, they have been shocked at the position of the two opposition leaders. Both are trying to be more Zionist than Harper!

These have led to protests both against the NDP and the Liberals. The Ottawa office of NDP Foreign Affairs critic, Paul Dewar was occupied by protesters for several days. Angry letters condemning the NDP’s position on Gaza and Palestine were also sent to Dewar and Mulcair. In rallies across Canada, labour leaders that traditionally support the NDP, warned that the party was losing their support and its current position was contrary to long-established NDP policy. Mulcair could clearly feel the heat. He penned an op-ed piece in the Toronto Star asserting that his party wanted “balance” in Middle East policy and supported a “two-state” solution.

This evoked further ridicule from NDP supporters. How could there be “balance” between the aggressor and the victim? Israel is the occupying power that is brutalizing the people of Gaza of whom more than 2,100 have been murdered in cold blood so far. As for the two-state solution, it is a non-starter since Zionist settlements have rendered it inoperable. The West Bank has been turned into a patchwork of Bantustans and is separated from Gaza by hostile Zionist territory.

On August 10, when Justin Trudeau came to attend Eid dinner in Mississauga (west of Toronto), arranged mainly by Pakistani Canadians, he was greeted by a protest rally. Inside the hall, there were more than 800 people fawning over him. Aware that there was much anger about his “Israel has the right to defend itself” position, he tried to soft peddle his message, saying he wanted peace in Palestine. Who can oppose peace but how is this to be achieved is the big question especially when the Zionists are not prepared to concede anything. “Peace talks” between the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas and his bunch of opportunist thugs, have gone on for decades. What have they achieved? In fact, Israel’s latest blood-letting in Gaza was launched precisely because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not prepared to implement what he had already agreed to with the US and the PA. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State was furious; the Zionists unleashed their attacks on him dubbing him as being hostile to Israel.

After Eid dinner and while mingling with the guests, a young Muslim girl confronted Trudeau. She asked him whether he supported the Palestinians’ right to exist and to self-defence? Trudeau repeated the same line: he wanted peace in the Middle East. When the young girl persisted and asked what he would do if an intruder came into his house with a gun and threw him and his family out? Trudeau just kept smiling and repeated the line that he wanted “peace.”

True, Trudeau’s late mother Margaret was part of the flower generation of the 1980s but talking about “peace” without going to the root of the problem is not going to bring peace. Trudeau won the Liberal party leadership race partly with the support of Pakistani Canadians that joined the party in droves. There are several ridings in Mississauga where the Pakistani-Canadian vote is crucial. If these people leverage their voting power properly, they can bring about significant change in party policy but regrettably, those that have got closer to Trudeau and even invite him to their house for dinner are busy justifying his position.

Let us, however, return to the plight of Gaza’s children of whom more than 550 have been murdered by the Zionists since their latest onslaught was launched on July 8. According to medical professionals, at least 400,000 children suffer from trauma. The number of children that have suffered serious injuries — loss of limbs and other parts of the body — also runs into tens of thousands.

Kosar Khwaja, Director of Acute Care Surgery and Associate Director of Trauma Program and Critical Care Medicine at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal sent the following message from al-Maqassed Hospital in East Jerusalem where complicated cases are transferred from Gaza, “The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross and Crescent) of which I am a member, has a large presence here in the West Bank and in Gaza, and being here on the ground, I can tell you that at the present time, Gaza and the West Bank really don’t need more general doctors, but only very specific highly specialized surgeons…

“The cases I am seeing myself, and the stories that I am hearing are devastating and brutal. No Canadian or US civilian surgeon has seen the types of cases that they are seeing here due to the everyday explosions and air strikes.

“The areas of need are medical supplies and consumables (but even that is hard to get into Gaza, and would have to go through the ICRC as they are one of the only agencies allowed to cross the borders) and there is a huge need for orthotic and prosthesis for the hundreds and thousands of amputees here, for children, women and men, of all ages, even 2-year olds!; some with one and some up to three limbs amputated. They also need people with the expertise to fit them.

“There will be need to rebuild the many hospitals that were destroyed, and finally there will be a number of orphans who have no home to go back to. I just saw a 3-year old, whose house was hit by an Israeli rocket. He was thrown out of the house through the window, suffering many injuries and fractures and amputation — every other member of his family died in the rocket attack on the house. His grandfather buried 18 people in that family including his own children, and then brought his only surviving grandson to Al-Maqassed Hospital. We really have no idea where this child will go after his wounds are healed.”

Canadian doctors, especially Muslims were stirred into action by the moving appeal of Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish. In fact, people of conscience — Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other faiths or no faith — have been moved by the suffering of the Palestinians, especially the children of Gaza. Some have joined protest rallies to condemn Zionist crimes; others have made donations to charities to help the people there. Others, like doctors are trying to offer their professional services.

The Zionist onslaught on Gaza has also exposed the true nature of the political system in Western countries. It is a myth to claim that the political system is responsive to the wishes of the people. They are used merely as voting fodder and once politicians are elected their advisors draw an iron curtain around them. True, MPs may help with getting approval for a visitor’s visa for a relative from some third world country but that is the limit of their help to constituents. When it comes to policy matters, lobbies dictate the terms.

Even a party like the NDP that has traditionally claimed to be supportive of the labor movement is now firmly in the pocket of the Zionists.

We also need to know a little more about Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish. He is a long-time advocate for peace between the Palestinians and Jews and even provided regular dispatches on the Gaza bombardment during the 2008–2009 war via his cell phone to Israeli media. He had an apartment in Gaza and on January 16, 2009 while speaking to an Israeli channel, two Israeli tank shells smashed into his apartment. When the first missile hit, one of his six daughters, Mayar, 15, as well as her cousin, Nour, 14, were instantly killed. Another daughter, Shatha, 16, was badly injured in the right hand and right eye. Only a few minutes earlier, the Palestinian gynecologist and his daughters had been discussing the prospects of their moving to Canada where he was offered a teaching fellowship at the University of Toronto.

The thought of relocating to Canada was smashed when the first shell struck. Total chaos ensued punctuated by screams and panicked calls for help. That was not the end of their ordeal. The Zionists fired a second shell into the apartment from the south. This one killed both Bisan, 20, and Aya, 13. All of this in its gory fury was being broadcast live on an Israeli radio as Dr. Abu al-Aish’s cell phone was still on.

Even after losing three daughters to Israeli crimes — and there could be no mistake about the deliberate intent of the attack because two shells were fired at the same location — Dr. Abu al-Aish still wants peace with the Zionists and to live in harmony with them. He says he does not want revenge and wants these killings to stop. He can make any number of appeals but as far as the Zionists are concerned, they do not wish to accept the presence of Palestinians in the Holy Land. This was made abundantly clear by the Zionist fathers at the time of implanting the Zionist entity in Palestine.

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