By Joe Adam George, October 20, 2023
On October 7, Canadians woke up to images of grisly war crimes committed by Hamas, a listed terrorist entity in Canada, halfway across the world in Israel. Following their deadly and barbaric incursion into the Jewish nation from across the Gaza border, an estimated 1,000 Hamas terrorists methodically mutilated, raped, burned and murdered at least 1,300 Israelis in horrific ways not witnessed since the Holocaust. Still reeling from the surprise attack, Israel formally declared war on Hamas the next day, vowing to ‘wipe them off the face of the Earth’.
With the conflict now into its third week, the events unravelling in the Middle East and, indeed, across the globe, since the deadly morning of October 7 spell grim news for Canada. Still facing global ridicule and isolation after a crisis-laden September during which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to get into a diplomatic spat with India and, inexplicably, honoured a former Nazi unit soldier in the Parliament in the presence of visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Israel-Hamas conflict is a headache he could have done without; especially given the complex nature of Jewish and Muslim vote bank politics at home.
As Canada turned inwards amidst culture wars and socio-economic crises in recent years, the threats posed by the ‘new axis of evil’ comprising Russia, China and Iran have now mushroomed into two major conflicts involving our allies, Ukraine and Israel. A third conflict, involving Taiwan, may be on the horizon. These conflicts have once again proven that rogue state and non-state actors cannot be reasoned or negotiated with. Any delusions of grandeur or signs of weakness will only lead to more violence, inevitably targeting innocent civilians.
Regrettably, a large (and stubborn) segment of the Western foreign policy elite continues to believe funding or coddling our ideological foes will somehow make them allies and acquiescent to change. On the contrary, they only hold us in further contempt by using our funds and credulity against us and our national interests. Take Pakistan as an example. Despite showering the terrorist haven with billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in international aid, it continued to commit multiple transgressions, including allegedly harboring America’s Enemy No.1 and the late Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden (who, of course, was shot dead in his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound in 2011).
Fast forward to the Israel-Hamas conflict, it is clear the West hasn’t learned from its past follies. With reports confirming Iran’s role in Hamas’ attacks on Israel, one only needs to look at the deluded Iran nuclear deal and other appeasement policies of the Biden administration and fellow Western democracies to ascertain why Israel now finds itself in the fight of its life. It is also precisely why, this time around, the decades-long conflict feels different; not only because of the unspeakable violence Hamas unleashed on innocent Israelis but because of the Israelis’ resolve to wipe out the terror group. The West, including Canada, are culpable for having played down the existential threat posed the Hamas ‘death cult’ and even funding extremism through donations to controversial entities like the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine and the Near East (UNRWA). We’ve also been far too lax in our own back yards, failing to exercise proper oversight over domestic charities and allowing university campuses to become hotbeds of vicious anti-Western and antisemitic sentiment.
Needless to say, the chickens have finally come home to roost. With five Canadians confirmed killed and another three held hostage by Hamas, it is bewildering and despicable to see fellow Canadians, sympathetic to the pro-Palestine cause, openly celebrate the death and destruction caused by the Hamas attacks.
Never one to disappoint when it comes to diaspora politics, the first inclination of the Trudeau government, faced with a deep fear of confronting an angry Arab mob or jeopardizing the Muslim vote bank, has been to appease and take no action against unauthorized pro-Hamas rallies promoting antisemitism and glorifying terrorism, even going so far as to disrupt antisemitism conferences. But this is the wrong instinct. Enabling support for a proscribed terror group guilty of heinous war crimes cannot be allowed in a country where all members of society are considered equally subject to the rule of law. The inaction of the West is what emboldened Hamas in the first place. It must end now.
Laws banning such rallies, similar to the one imposed by France, and canceling visas of foreign nationals participating in them must be seriously contemplated here in Canada. Also, in the interest of national security, amendments to the Citizenship Act ought to be made to revoke citizenship of individuals linked to terrorist groups even if it would render them stateless, as is practiced by the UK.
With Canada-based individuals and groups allegedly laundering money on behalf of Hamas and Hezbollah, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) must be directed to conduct regular and independent forensic audits of these entities in partnership with the Five Eyes and other global law enforcement agencies.
The Trudeau government’s awful record of accountability and vetting when it comes to disbursing funds to vile antisemites is a key reason why the $10 million Canadian aid promised to Palestinian civilians must be frozen to prevent it ending up in Hamas’ hands.
Other time-critical countermeasures to support Israel and prevent this war from spilling over would be to list the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization and reimpose the UN sanctions to kneecap Iran’s capability to purchase and supply missiles to its regional terror proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
The West needs to understand that Israel is doing them a favour by eliminating Hamas. Fueled by the widespread (and deplorable) global support for their attacks, we can expect an emboldened Hamas, which recently called for a global ‘Day of Jihad’, to encourage lone-wolf attacks like the ones that took place in Beijing and Paris. The complete and total destruction of Hamas isn’t just a matter of Israeli security; it’s a matter of global security.
Make no mistake. Just as Hamas took advantage of the distraction created by the political infighting in Israel, the West is highly susceptible to similar attacks given the domestic turbulence in many countries, including Canada. Moreover, as FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Americans, the success of the Hamas attacks is likely to inspire other terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS to call for similar attacks in Western democracies, as seen from this week’s attack in the Belgian capital of Brussels.
Yet, the Trudeau government remains sheltered from the ugly realities of the rest of the world, especially the Global South, and woefully unprepared to protect Canadians from the emerging threats, as seen from the recent blocking of the Conservative opposition’s Bill C-350 to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity in Canada.
While Canada remains a safe haven for terrorists and transnational criminal organizations, Canadian values, interests and national security continue to be severely undermined by vote bank politics, foreign interference, criminal impunity, poor intelligence sharing and defence budget cuts. With the Liberal government prone to sleepwalking into one political disaster after another, the Israel-Hamas conflict ought to serve as a much needed wake-up call for PM Trudeau to prioritize Canada’s foreign policy and national security interests over self-serving vote bank politics. It may already be too late for Canada to avoid Europe’s fate as a hotbed for jihadist terrorism.
If the Liberal government isn’t up for this fight, it’d be in Canadians’ best interests for them to step aside and allow more serious people to take charge.
Joe Adam George is a former foreign policy and national security research intern with the Washington, D.C.-based policy think tank, Hudson Institute, and a communications strategist. He lives in Ottawa