Monthly Archives: August 2006

Hot and Steamy

Don’t have enough strength to write…..Hot. Very hot.  I thought I was going to die today.  Would it look very bad if I whipped off my hijab at the bus stop and started fanning myself with it?  I think beyond 33 degrees C. all the rules are out.  It’s every woman for herself.

Anyways someone sent me this the other day.  So instead of actually having to write something original about how the world is enveloped in a strange sort of madness, I figure I’d let someone way more eloquent say it instead…..

Questions for Canadians

Where are the in-depth interviews of moderate, peace-loving Jews, the ones who have struggled for non-violent resolutions to this conflict?    

by Rahat Kurd
July 24, 2006

What are Canadian Arabs and Muslims supposed to think? How are we supposed to feel? The message I’m getting from our government’s refusal to condemn the Israeli bombardment of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza is that we are supposed to feel like barely tolerated scum in the country of our birth.

We are supposed to clutch our passports, weeping and praying over them every night, keeping our mouths shut, and feeling cravenly grateful to be allowed to continue our fear-stunted lives. Already the letters pages of The Globe and Mail and the message boards on its web site are full of hosers snarling resentfully about the waste of tax dollars on rescuing irresponsible whiners who should know better than to holiday in a war zone.

That their own government is complicit in the creation of that war zone in a sovereign country that, until two weeks ago, was an emerging democracy whose citizens had every right to hope for growing peace and prosperity within its borders somehow escapes them completely.

That Canada refuses to demand that Israel stop dropping bombs on civilians in Lebanon so that the Canadians and everyone else who happens to be there can stay safely put is somehow not a problem.

In the past five years there has been a steadily growing clamour in this country about Muslims, suspicions about our origins, harsh questions about our lives and loyalties, increased profiling by police, relentless scrutiny about our religion and its supposed violent teachings.

Politicians and public commentators have demanded that Muslims in Canada perform continual and vigorous acts of disavowal and condemnation whenever innocent people have been deliberately targeted by their alleged co-religionists anywhere else in the world. Muslim groups and community leaders have agreed, obediently and promptly issuing clear denunciations of bombs that have been set off in the name of some pathological version of Islam.

Now Israel is deliberately targeting civilians; hundreds are already dead. I know that many members of the Jewish community abhor this violence.  I have stood with them at anti-war rallies in the past. Why do our mainstream media ignore their voices in favour of the intractable hardliners who have nothing original to say? Where are the in-depth interviews of moderate, peace-loving Jews, the ones who have struggled for non-violent resolutions to this conflict? Where are the front-page quotes of their shame and outrage at the collective punishment inflicted on Lebanon and Palestine?

Where, furthermore, are the profiles of Jewish peace activists who have faced threats and censorship and accusations of being self-hating Arab-lovers from within their own religious community? Why won’t our national newspaper support their courage and vision, publish their writings, report extensively on the genuine peace-building work they have done with Canadians of various denominations who want a just peace for all people?

How long are we to go on tolerating this culture of fear that surrounds the topic of Israel? Israel is not a god or a religion. It is a nation-state. Therefore, it is made up of fallible human beings who make stupid and awful decisions with specific, horrible and real consequences. I insist on my right to say this out loud in Canada, as rigorously as I decry the sickening human rights abuses committed by the regimes of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The case of Israel is not special. Its oppression of Palestinians and theft of their land are not complicated. Rhetorical fights about land and resources and who gets to live on them ought to happen on level ground in this country, in the open air.

Our politicians and public commentators have become very fond of reminding Canadian Muslims that secularism and freedom of expression are inviolable governing principles of this country. These same individuals are so afraid of invoking secularism and freedom of expression when they talk about Israel that, since the bombardment of Lebanon began, my anger at their hypocrisy has turned into pity.

I feel sorry for these influential men and women, enjoying privileged access to public opinion in one of the most fortunate nations on earth, who debase their own moral sovereignty suppressing their own ability to speak plainly about what is right and wrong  in order to be seen and approved among those who stand with Israel.

No woman ever submitted to the smothering burka of a tyrannical theocracy as meekly and willingly as these free and democratic Canadians censor themselves. It must be awful to be so oppressed.

Rahat Kurd is a writer in Vancouver.



Filed under Global Issues, Uncategorized