We want to speak today about privilege; the privilege that we and many of you have. The Community Edition is a relatively small publication. We strive to represent our community, but also to provide a platform for community members to share their thoughts and opinions.
Moreover, we attempt to share stories and experiences within the region. One of those stories is that of the Palestinian community members. While we cannot foretell the future, we are privileged in that we can help share some of their experiences, provide a platform for their stories, without fear of professional retaliation.
The centre-spread this month covers some of the rallies Kitchener has seen in support of Palestine over the last month. We are not educated enough in the history of Israel and Palestine to make much comment on the current situation. What we can say is that there seems to be a disproportionate amount of violence against the Palestinians in Gaza.
There is no comparing to the pain of a lost loved one, a broken home, a scattered life. However, when retaliation is so complete and collective punishment spreads such quantifiably disproportionate pain. It’s difficult to regard this infliction of violence as anything other than cruelty.
People of any group can be oppressive. People can be cruel, power hungry and a great many other things that cause them to harm others. It is the oppression which we must no longer accept. Condemning the Israeli collective punishment of Palestinians is not anti-semitic—just as condemning residential schools is not anti-Christian or condemning increasing fascism in India is not Hinduphobic. No doubt Jewish folks have suffered tremendously throughout history, and the search for a homeland is a complicated one. But it is not the Jewish faith of Israeli officials that draws them to cruelty, and it is not the Jewish faith critics of Israel are condemning.
We have also severely limited our democracy by refusing to have a conversation that is critical, honest and nuanced.
In Canada, this debate is tangled with even more racism—as we saw with Sarah Jama being removed not only from caucus but from the NDP party for her pro-Palestine comments. We can no longer have a conversation, Queen’s Park has effectively disenfranchised Hamilton Centre, and yet another person of colour is being punished for having a point of view that is different from the majority. We have attacked our own democracy.
We do not understand enough of the geopolitical relationship between Canada and Israel, so we cannot tell you why Canada is desperate to support Israel. But our MPPS have the responsibility to represent us and to be critical of all facts and opinions. Canadians have a right to express their positions.
Why is freedom of expression vital to support when we have straight-up bigots hurting communities but not when people—especially people of colour—are doing their jobs or criticizing their governments?
So we have provided space in our own publication for Palestinian community members.
This is a politically charged action but our goal is not necessarily to make a statement. Our goal is not necassarily to make a statement. Our goal is to provide a platform for our community memebrs and that includes Palestinians folks as well.
This does not mean that we or even the folks who are represented are anti-semitic.
As you read, remember that is is the state of Israel, the political entity consisting of mostly but not all Jewish residents and enacting military and political strategies of collective punishment that is being criticized.