Nov 192012
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Context shows negotiation, not bombardment, only way to peace.

by Ish Theilheimer

Many Canadian progressives (like me) are confused about the Middle East — like the current exchange of missiles between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza.  News accounts vary wildly, according to the tilt of the news organization. Major media in Canada tend to be pro-Israel, while the biases of other international sources are difficult to discern. And, frankly, language complicates keeping track of all the strange names, place names and complex histories involved in every story.

If you watch the news, you know Hamas missiles are getting closer than ever to Israel's big cities. You might even know that Israel’s retaliatory bombing is killing far more Gazans than Israelis killed by Hamas’ missiles. But media concentration on detail tends to obscure the overall context.

To provide this badly-needed context, Straight Goods News regularly presents the important voice of Israeli peace activist, journalist and writer Uri Avnery. A founder of Israel, former member of the Knesset and a founding member of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Avnery clearly cuts through the propoganda and confusion. This week, Straight Goods News carries his description of the origins of the current bombardment.

"This particular event 'started' with the firing from Gaza of an anti-tank weapon at a partially armored jeep on the Israeli side of the border fence," Avnery wrote. "It was described as retaliation for the killing of a boy in an air attack some days earlier. But probably the timing of the action was accidental. The opportunity just presented itself." As Hamas loyalists prematurely celebrated victory, Israel seized the opportunity to assassinate Hamas' top military commander, Ahmad Ja'abari. Events have escalated since then.

Avnery dismisses the notion that Israel cannot talk with Hamas as the de facto government of Gaza.

Ironically, Avnery also informs us via Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin — a contact of Ja'abari's until the last moment — that Ja'abari had been interested in a long-term cease-fire and that Israeli authorities knew this. You don't learn these details on The National.

Another Straight Goods News article, by Charles Recknagle, who writes for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, informed our readers that Hamas is vastly better armed than it was in the Gaza War of 2008-09, thanks to arms obtained in the aftermath of Arab Spring revolutions and election of an Islamist government in Egypt. Hamas is now in a position to escalate Israel’s costs sharply — which just might be a strong negotiating position.

We can expect Stephen Harper to declare unequivocal support for Israel in the current bombardment. Other politicians will be under pressure to do the same. That's why it is so important that voices like Uri Avnery's be heard and circulated widely.

Avnery dismisses the notion that Israel cannot talk with Hamas as the de facto government of Gaza. "You did, actually, when negotiating the release of Shalit. So why not look for a permanent modus vivendi, with the involvement of Egypt?" he asks. And he recommends a "hudna", an ancient Arab form of truce, used at least since the days of the Crusaders.

"The real remedy," Avnery concludes, "is peace. Peace with the Palestinian people. Hamas has already solemnly declared that it would respect a peace agreement concluded by the PLO (ie Mahmoud Abbas)  that would establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, provided this agreement were confirmed in a Palestinian referendum. Without it, the bloodletting will just go on, round after round. Forever."

Six decades of history have disproven the notion that either siide can solve the conflict militarily. Canadians should be wary of calls for anything but unequivocal support for peace.

About Ish Theilheimer

Ish Theilheimer is founder and president of Straight Goods News and has been Publisher of the leading, and oldest, independent Canadian online newsmagazine,, since September 1999. He is also Managing Editor of He lives wth his wife Kathy in Golden Lake, ON, in the Ottawa Valley.


© Copyright 2012 Ish Theilheimer, All rights Reserved. Written For:

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