From: Ismail Zayid
To: Halifax Herald
March 8,2006
The Editor,
The Halifax Herald.
Dear Editor:
Your editorial:{"Hedging on Hamas" March 8} displays the height of hypocrisy and double standards. You call on Hamas to stop violence and recognise the state of Israel.
Hamas has declared a ceasefire since Feb. last year, and acted accordingly. Yet Israel has maintained its acts of murder and killing continuously, including the air strike two days ago on an ice cream truck, in Gaza, killing five, including two children aged 8 and 14, and injuring 8 bystanders.
You call on Hamas to recognise the state of Israel. Which Israel is Hamas required to recognise. Israel, since its inception, has refused to define its borders, and continues its acts of expansionism in Palestinian and Syrian territory? Only last week Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, stated that Israel will annex East Jerusalem, all the big illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, leaving the Palestinians with few disjointed bantustans in about 50% of the West Bank, i.e.less than 10% of the Palestinians' home land, historic Palestine.
Are you aware that Israel has maintained an illegal occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory for over 38 years, in defiance of international law and repeated Security Council resolutions? Are you aware that throughout this illegal occupation Israel has been committing atrocities in violation of virtually every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention? These violations are defined by international law as war crimes, and have been condemned by all international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights organisation, B'Tselem.
Surely, you and our Canadian government should be calling on Israel to comply with international law and UN resolutions and terminate completely iand unconditionally its brutal and illegal occupation, so that peace can be secured for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.
Yours sincerely,
Ismail Zayid, MD.
Hedging on Hamas                   The Halifax Herald            March 8,2006

SINCE WHEN is Canada outsourcing its foreign policy judgment to Russia?

Apparently since the Russian foreign minister blew into Ottawa this week. Sergei Lavrov arrived full of reassuring noises, fresh from meetings in Moscow with leaders of the terrorist group Hamas, who, of course, were full of reassuring noises themselves.

The blandishments of Hamas, which Palestinians entrusted with a parliamentary majority in January, should not be taken at face value. They claim that international aid to the Palestinian people wonít be siphoned off for terrorist purposes. And, according to Mr. Lavrov, they will allow foreign aid programs to be audited by some unspecified "international monitoring mechanism."

Russiaís say-so seemed to satisfy our own foreign affairs minister, Peter MacKay Ė enough to pledge that "some Canadian aid will continue." The amount of that aid remains unspecified, too, although the previous Liberal government had committed $25 million a year to projects in the West Bank and Gaza, and was contemplating hiking that amount.

Frankly, the Conservative governmentís first instincts about the election of Hamas were the right ones. Itís not just a matter of whether you can track every dime to its intended destination, which is doubtful. We canít even do that right in Canada. Itís not even a matter of whether you think Hamas would be stupid enough to jeopardize the entire international aid program by diverting funds to finance suicide bombings.

Primarily, itís a matter of principle.

Last month, in a conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted that continued Canadian aid was contingent on Hamas renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and living up to previous Israeli-Palestinian peace deals. Hamas has pointedly refused to budge on any of these issues, not even during its talks with Russian officials.

So why are we making life easier for them now?

It should not be up to Western governments, by far the biggest donors in humanitarian and other aid to the Palestinians, to bend over backwards to suit Hamas. If Hamas wants to retain this vital funding for the good of the Palestinian people, then it should jump through the hoops of civilized behaviour to do so. If not, let it seek sympathy elsewhere.

We fear Mr. MacKay has reset the bar too low.