This article originally appeared in the National Post.
By Aurel Braun and Avi Benlolo, November 17, 2023
The images of premature babies outside incubators in a Hamas-controlled hospital and the tragic deaths of women and children in Gaza evoke deep emotions, emphasizing the equal preciousness of all life. Israel makes every effort to preserve life, while Hamas uses its population as human shields, sacrificing them for gullible western sympathy.
By now we know that these hospitals housed and covered up Hamas’ terrorism against Israel.
But Prime Minister Trudeau, known for his empathetic communication, went overboard against Israel again by declaring “The world is witnessing this killing of women, of children, of babies. This has to stop.” It made Canadians wonder just whose side Trudeau is on — Canada’s democratic ally or the jihadists?
His statement was so over the top hurtful it sent a shudder through the Jewish community in Canada and it provoked an immediate reply from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said: “It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust … The forces of civilization must back Israel in defeating Hamas barbarism.”
Ever since our prime minister wrongfully implied Israel was to blame for an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket that hit Al-Ahli hospital, that sent thousands of antisemitic rioters to our city streets — in truth, the rocket didn’t even hit the hospital, only the parking lot) — Canadians have been puzzled about Trudeau’s moral clarity, and ability to differentiate between terrorists and a democratic state defending itself.
After the horrifying brutality of the Hamas Oct. 7 massacre in which 1,200 Israelis were murdered (the vast majority civilians) and 239 hostages taken, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy, issued a joint statement condemning the attack with moral clarity and a clear strategy.
Trudeau initially appeared to be in agreement, acknowledging Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against Hamas. Western nations emphasized that Hamas, as a terrorist organization, did not represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
However, concerns arise as Trudeau seems to have shifted away from both moral clarity and a viable strategy in this war against terrorism. His concern about human life lacks proper assignment of responsibility for civilian deaths in Gaza. International law is not a suicide pact; rights come with responsibilities, and intent in war is seminal.
Senior Hamas member Ghazi Hamad’s statement, that Oct. 7 should be repeated, underscores the proud commitment to atrocities and the intention to repeat them until Israel is eliminated. In such a scenario, what actions would Canada take when faced with an existential threat?
Trudeau’s declaration that Israel’s defence is unacceptable due to civilian casualties implies a demand for Israel to fight with both hands tied behind its back. Imposing such conditions on a defending ally seems impractical and potentially detrimental to their survival.
But Israel’s survival may not be atop of Trudeau’s list, it seems. Recently, Canada announced an increase in funding to the infamous United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). It’s the same organization that has said more about Israel in this war than about Hamas hiding its munitions in its schools.
Despite our incessant warnings that money is fungible and therefore the organization is indirectly subsidizing antisemitic curriculum in its schools and worse, helping incentivize terrorism (through payments to martyrs), our prime minister turned a blind eye. We even published a comprehensive report on funding of Palestinian terrorism on the matter that was signed by Judea Pearl, whose son Daniel was beheaded by Pakistani Jihadis, and by Stuart Force, whose son Taylor was murdered by Palestinian Jihadis.
Leading up to the Hamas massacre, the murder of dozens of Israelis was partly and indirectly funded by UNRWA, which receives funding from Canada. When one Canadian diplomat called our reaction to Canada’s $100 million allocation “harsh” we wondered just how out of touch with its own complicity in driving Palestinian terrorism our government is. Does this response still seem harsh in the face of such brutal massacres of Jews? Or is it still okay because local politics trumps morality?
The money we and other western democracies give the Palestinians went to building the tunnel system in Gaza, rather than to improving Palestinian lives. The Hamas rockets fired at Israeli citizens are made possible by our aid money. And the massacre itself, quantified by the sadistic hatred of the jihadists, can be linked to the school textbooks that teach hate in UNRWA schools.
How is it possible that Hamas leaders who are basking in the sun in Qatar are worth $5 billion? Most were once labourers on construction sites. Its because they have taxed our aid money and siphoned it into their personal bank accounts, instead of helping and uplifting Gazans. They want them to live in squalor and misery.
Trudeau’s inversion of truth is not dissimilar to the leftists moral bankruptcy of blaming the Hamas massacre of Jews on Israel. Even UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had the audacity of alluding that the killing of Jews was brought on by themselves. It’s the post-colonialist, woke, perversion of reality. It’s like saying the horrific murder and treatment of our indigenous population by colonizers was their own fault.
Our tax dollars continue to perpetuate Palestinian animosity against Israel by keeping them in a refugee holding pattern, unlike any other refugee group on earth.
Trudeau owes Israel and the Jewish community an apology for putting the blame on them, rather than on where it truly belongs — on Hamas. Hamas is centrally responsible for the deaths of civilians on both sides, but Canada and the West need to recognize that by funding UNRWA we unwittingly or irresponsibly have contributed to this disaster.
Avi Benlolo is the Founder and Chairman of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative.
Aurel Braun is a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Toronto, an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center, and an advisory council member at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.