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‘Forge a new approach in this increasingly volatile world’: The best comments from Hub Forum this week

Commentary

The ongoing Israel-Hamas war was still the main focus at The Hub this week, with Hub writers taking the media to task, exploring the reaction in our country to the war and analyzing the best path forward for Canada on foreign policy.

The goal of Hub Forum is to bring the impressive knowledge and experience of The Hub community into one place and with that in mind, here are some of the most interesting comments this week.

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The media’s reporting on the war risks going from bad to worse

Monday, Oct. 16, 2023

Just as it is “important to report how civilians are impacted when a state takes action against terrorists” it is equally important for that same media to be truthful. Calling Hamas “militants” is a gross misrepresentation of what they truly are: terrorists. Reporting part of the story is as much a lie as reporting untruths. This is where our MSM fails us all. I find more and more that the same media editorialize and report their insight. Report the news and leave your personal opinions out of it.

— Greg K

“The intermingling, and often misleading use of terms like Arab, Israeli, Palestinian, Jew, Muslim, Colonizer, Indigenous, and Settler, contribute to the confusion and help create the animosity both in the region and across the western world. A Jewish refuge who emigrated to Israel in the 1950s to escape persecution in Iran could be called an Arab Jew Israeli settler colonizing the region once referred to as Palestine! Many of the Jewish and most of the Muslim people living in the region in 1946 had indigenous roots in Palestine. The Jews became Israelis in 1947 and Muslims living in Gaza and the West Bank became Palestinians in 1964 when Ahmad Shuqayrī helped launch the Palestine Liberation Organization.

No world body has ever acknowledged a state of Palestine, it was simply a name accorded to the region derived from the Philistines (think Goliath) – a people and culture that flourished three millennia ago and died out around 700BCE. Nearly 60 years of referring to the situation as the Arab-Israeli conflict has ingrained that false dichotomy. In reality it a Jewish-Muslim conflict.” 

Lorne Matheson

Our reaction to terror in Israel shows Canada isn’t that divided

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023

“The MSM news broadcasts that I saw – CTV Toronto and CP24 – and the same stories reported on my local CBC Radio One station didn’t show the same story you talked about. They focused on what they called those ‘supporting Hamas militants’ doing their flag-waving and generally disrupting traffic at a major intersection in Toronto. I didn’t see anything about the PM and our leader of the opposition or Ms. Chow and Mr. Singh denouncing anything about Hamas. I saw nothing of the media calling Hamas what it is – TERRORISTS. So if we don’t insist on truth and fairness in reporting the news, how will we ever know?”

Greg K.

‘Urban warfare is absolute hell’: The Takeaway: Three key insights from Robert D. Kaplan’s Hub Dialogue

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023

“Open warfare should be an anachronism. Urban combat is a chaotic nightmare for the combatants and more so for the hapless civilians caught in the crossfire. The geopolitical fallout, assessment of the ‘winner and losers’, and identifying new negative global risks from this tragedy may be immediately relevant in each of the world’s nation’s various ‘state departments’, but the unacceptable human cost of this should be the primary focus, despite our near powerlessness, of every other feeling human being.”

— Rob Tyrrell

“The IDF will not win a conventional military victory in Gaza. A protracted invasion will only foment the conditions to bolster the ranks of Hamas.”

— Michael F.

As rates rise, old people are doing better and young people are doing worse

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023

“In total, the youngest households paid nearly $1 billion more per month in interest. And net of higher interest earnings, those under 45 collectively paid over $1.6 billion more. Those over 65, meanwhile, received $1.6 billion per month more.”

This perfectly encapsulates the way of interest rates tend to younger demographics vs. how older demographics are not feeling the pinch as much, if at all. It also further encapsulates the divide between demographics, especially when older demographics just blatantly claim that younger demographics are “just lazy and want everything handed to them” or “eating too much avocado toast,” not fully realizing that the current economic conditions we’re in are so drastically different when they were our age or younger.”

Amal Attar-Guzman (Content Editor, The Hub)

“Young people are being unfairly squeezed, are justifiably unhappy about it, and this feeling is dangerous if permitted to fester, especially if nothing happens to address the situation after a likely federal government change.”

— Rob Tyrrell

Canada needs to pick its lanes in an increasingly turbulent world

Friday, Oct. 20, 2023

“I agree with the priorities set in this article with the exception of defense spending. I think what we need to do is find better ways of creating and maintaining peace, better to spend money on foreign aid which will build the ability of a people to fend for themselves than on arms to destroy. If the amount of money used for arms was put into development, if only a fraction was put into development, the cause of peace would be much further ahead. I know some people will say this is a Pollyanna view of life but without dreams, nothing is accomplished.”

— A. Chezzi

“Lloyd Axworthy’s adoption of ‘soft power’ as the foundation for Canada’s foreign policy in the 1990’s has led us to the state we find ourselves in today on the world stage. With little to offer other than words – and even less of substance with which to back them up – it should come as no surprise that our allies are now moving on or working around us to achieve their goals, and our adversaries seek to weaken us by exploiting our institutions.

Kim Richard Nossal accurately summed up soft power in 1998 by saying “it… encourages the view that we can do foreign policy on the cheap,” but when we are “confronted by those who damage Canadian interests in a narrower sense… in such circumstances, a squishy notion such as soft power is next to useless.” Time to cast off that whimsical concept and forge a new approach in this increasingly volatile world around us.”

— RJKWells

“We need to increase our defense spending to at least 2%, immediately. Given the timelines for acquisition of military equipment, those purchases should come on line just about the same time the Arctic waters completely thaw and we face the rude awakening that Russia is our neighbour, and they can reach us.”

Bill

Liron Libman: Moral judgments on the war should focus on motives, not numbers

Commentary

As the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas persists, numerous media reports fixate on the grim “body count” of both sides.

At the moment, more than 1,300 Israelis have lost their lives, primarily civilians executed by Hamas’s death squads, and some 200 Israelis have been taken captive. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, 3,300 Palestinians have perished with roughly half of them being women and children.

The suffering of each innocent human being is a catastrophe and should not be weighed according to their nationality, ethnicity or religion. However, when assessing the complete situation, one cannot relieve oneself from taking a careful look at the direct cause of the death and suffering.

Both legal and moral assessments should focus less on numbers and more on the intentions and motives behind the violence.

It is important to begin by asking: What was the objective of Hamas’s orchestrated attack on Israel on October 7th?

When considering the broader context, it is clear that while military installations and observation cameras were targeted at the outset of the assault, these were merely means to achieve a more sinister end—gaining unrestricted access to undefended civilian towns and kibbutzim near the Gaza border.

Once this access was achieved, Hamas forces made no effort to locate and engage Israeli military forces positioned farther from the border. Instead, death squads infiltrated these communities, moving from house to house, to slaughter entire families. In many cases, this violence was accompanied by torture and rape, with children bound together and, horrifyingly, burned alive. Elderly individuals and children were kidnapped and taken to Gaza.

This was no covert operation. On the contrary, live videos were uploaded in real-time to social media, sometimes even on the victim’s own smartphone. Such horrifying scenes recurred in various kibbutzim that were raided. From an international law perspective, these attacks leave no room for doubt about intentions: the leaders of Hamas executed a widespread and systematic strategy that directly targeted the civilian population with the aim of terrorizing not only the victims but also their surviving family members, neighbours, and the Israeli population to discourage them from returning to their homes. In other words, this was an act of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a crime against humanity. But don’t take my word for it: the evidence is available on your phone, TV and iPad.

Now let’s turn to what causes civilian casualties among Palestinians. The Israeli Air Force conducts airstrikes in Gaza with the goal of achieving military objectives and targeting the military infrastructure of Hamas, often situated within civilian neighborhoods. Attacking such targets is legally acceptable unless the expected loss to civilians is excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. The more vital the military necessity to neutralize the target, the narrower the scope for taking precautions to protect civilians in the vicinity. Assessing this balance is challenging from an external perspective since the military commander’s judgment relies on classified intelligence and real-time developments on the ground. The unfortunate harm to civilians, while regrettable, cannot, in and of itself, serve as an indicator of wrongdoing.

When we scrutinize intentions after this analysis, the contrast becomes stark: Hamas targeted military sites as a means to an end, namely, attacking the Israeli civilian population. Meanwhile, Palestinian civilians are unintentionally harmed as a consequence of efforts to neutralize Hamas’s military infrastructure.

Contrary to media coverage, war should not be viewed as a sporting event, and the relative “score” of civilian casualties should never be used as a moral yardstick. The media must also be cautious about being quick to lay blame. We have already seen a modern blood libel following the explosion at al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza that was the result of an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and verified by U.S. intelligence.

In this challenging time for the Israeli people as our military seeks to restore our security and safety in a very dangerous region, we ask Canadians and citizens of all liberal democracies for their support and to focus on intentions. There are times when a clear and unequivocal legal and moral judgment is imperative. A quotation that has often been attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (drawing from Dante) says it best: “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

Do not remain silent; stand with liberal democracies; support Israel.