Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently caught heat from his silence on matters in Gaza. In the fall of 2014, Trudeau expressed support on Twitter for a popular humanitarian campaign, “Heal100Kids,” headed by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish.
Heal100Kids stemmed out of a two-month-long assault by Israeli forces. The attack left over three thousand minors injured without proper medical care. Abuelaish, a Palestinian practicing in Canada, aimed to bring 100 children to Canada for care and refuge from the harsh conditions.
At the time, Trudeau declared the necessity for Canada to act in support of Abuelaish’s initiative. His activism was clear on the matter, suggesting the injustice in Gaza must be acted on by government officials.
After Trudeau’s election, he held strong on a two-state solution to the crisis. The Prime Minister condemned U.S. President Donald Trump for regarding NATO as an “obsolete” force, CTV reports.
For Canadians, this is not enough. Abuelaish expressed criticism for Trudeau’s handling of refugee efforts in Gaza. He told Al Jazeera, “Now that he’s in power, when he’s able to translate the words into action and to walk the talk, I didn’t receive a word from his office … this is not the person that people elected.”
Trudeau holds a humble character, seemingly supportive of diversity, inclusion, and progression. Canadians and Abuelaish note they elected him as their representing official for his candid authenticity and down-to-earth demeanour.
The controversy over their silence on harsh conditions in Gaza sparked debate of his character and left supporters with a sour taste for the Prime Minister. Many Canadians took to the streets in mid-May after 60 palestinians were shot and killed to demand a response to the violence in Israel. The attack injured thousands of Palestinians.
One spokesperson attending the rally in Halifax noted to Global News, “What we’re encouraging is for citizens to ask the government to break their silence and say, ‘This is not happening.’ If this happened in many other countries, we’d hear from our government.”
After the massive attack and backlash in May, the Canadian government broke their silence on the matter when a government official was injured in the attack. They noted their grievance with Tarek Loubani, a Canadian emergency physician, and Trudeau personally called for an immediate independent investigation into the matter.
On May 24th, Trudeau and officials voted against an initiative presented by the World Health Organization’s General Assembly for more efforts to aid Palestinians. The assembly requested the government send officials to report on the health conditions in Gaza and the West Bank.
In June, Basem Naim, head of the Council on International Relations in Gaza and former Palestinian Minister of Health, wrote directly to the Prime Minister via Al Jazeera in response to the government’s decision. The heartbreaking letter pleaded for empathy from Trudeau and Canadian officials.
Naim stated in his letter that Trudeau was, “perhaps unaware of the tragic circumstances in which the people of Gaza have been trapped in.” He went on to regard that, “distinguished Hebrew University professor Baruch Kimmerling described Gaza as ‘the largest concentration camp ever to exist.’”
He pointed out Trudeau’s vigilance for justice and freedom, while going as far as to remind him that, “The consensus among humanitarian and human rights organisations is that Israel’s blockade constitutes a form of collective punishment and therefore is a flagrant violation of international law.”
Naim regarded that Trudeau’s efforts with Loubani were praised by the people of Gaza. But, in turn, asked for his same attention on those who live that nightmare everyday. He went on to describe his own humanity and pleaded for Trudeau to find and use his.
He wrote, “We do not desire death or foment war. We are not attacking anyone. We are not violating the borders of anyone.”
On July 5th, the Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs demanded to meet with Trudeau on the controversy. Shimon Koffler Fogel, the CIJA’s Chief Executive Officer, reported Trudeau’s trust in the Israeli military to advocate safety.
Trudeau took to twitter the next day stating Canada’s “steadfast” support for Israel and yearning for peace, keeping his stance on the matter neutral.
Efforts from Canadians did not cease with this news. Over 300 academics signed a petition pleading for aid, which is still awaiting response.
Canada is holding a neutral stance that seems to counter Trudeau’s original support on the efforts for Palestinians. Though this may seem practical, the Canadian government cannot cease to ignore the uproar of disdain from their citizens.
It is clear that the people of Canada are in support of further efforts in Gaza. Palestinian people are consistently neglected of proper healthcare, necessities, and safety, while being subject to mass attacks that injure innocent civilians, including children.
With the U.S. President’s clear disregard for any humanitarian efforts and NATO, it is up to Trudeau to stand by his decree towards Trump’s actions. The president focused on economic development in Gaza, but threatened to pull U.S. efforts because, “no foreign investors are willing to pour money into Gaza,” Haaretz reported.
It is important that Canadian officials continue to operate on the basis they campaigned upon. Trudeau’s altruistic nature should not be lost to power, it should be inspired by the selfless efforts his people continue to make for Palestinians facing hardship.
Though the government continues to argue their need for factual evidence, it is almost blindingly apparent that Palestinians are not only being mistreated, but abused and disregarded as people. Trudeau must stand with them, work to become more direct with his cause, and disregard political agenda in the face of massive adversity.
Naim regarded in his letter, “[Palestinians] hope and trust that your love for freedom, justice, equality and decency will prompt you to reconsider… and take a position that is consistent with the values you uphold.”
The effort against Israel is not something history finds unfamiliar. It is a fight for justice, a call for identity, and a cry for help. Trudeau cannot put apparent oppression of human beings to the back burner when he harps on inclusivity, peace, and truth.
Despite the flip-flopping nature of Canadian officials, the “White Helmets” present in Hammas, who dig children out of rubble and run first into blasted buildings, found refuge from the Gaza strife in Canada. The citizens were taken to safety by buses and Trudeau called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act when White Helmets were killed in crossfire.
Trudeau and his government ought to find influence in their roots, in the efforts of their citizens, and in the selfless humanity of the White Helmets. They must stand with the right side of history.
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