Canadian Arab News
June 9, 2005
The 60th anniversary of the end of World War II ought to be a time for momentous reflection, but for those with a sense of history, such a commemoration is disturbingly perverse.
Sixty years ago this week, Allied forces defeated a fascistic regime dedicated to militarism, persecution of select peoples, hypernationalism, and contempt for international law. Today, the U.S. and U.K., two of the leading Allied forces, espouse these odious principles in the name of democracy.
In fact, the U.S. has so thoroughly betrayed its own republican traditions that it can no longer be called a democracy. Just as the Nazis did in Germany, the Jewish/Christian zionist movement in the U.S. has dogmatized the government, compromised the judiciary, and made persecution of critics acceptable.
Is there any point to celebrating an event that has become irrelevant? On the one hand, to commemorate the war allows the U.S. and other “allies” to milk their now-defunct image as champions of democracy.
On the other hand, those who died defending the world against fascism deserve to be remembered, but surely, our soldiers, seamen and airmen did not die so that George W. Bush could torture Muslims and become the next Hitler.
The best thing to do is bury the false optimism of the post-war world along with our dead and allow ourselves to recognize that the dark time is again upon us—only this time, we are willingly on the side of the fascists against their victims.
An example is this year’s version of “Maple Flag,” Canada’s spring air combat exercise at the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. It provides training for junior Canadian and allied fighter aircrews, as well as transport, electronic warfare, air refueling, air defence, and airborne early warning and control assets from various nations.
In total, more than 5,000 military personnel from 11 nations and a NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) contingent will participate. A record seven nations will observe as part of the International Observer Program. This year, Israel is participating for the first time. It’s sending 10 F-16s and 150 air crew.
The fact that Canada would help train pilots for a criminal state shows that this country has lost its moral perspective. Israel uses F-16s to bomb Palestinian neighbourhoods, as happened in July 2002 when a pilot dropped a one-tonne bomb on the home of Hamas leader Salah Shehade in a crowded Gaza neighbourhood. The bomb killed Shehade, but also 14 other civilians, most of them children.
Indiscriminate killing of civilians, to say nothing of collective punishment, are war crimes and expressly forbidden by the Geneva conventions, but then these belong to the post-WWII world order.
Israel violates the conventions as a matter of national policy, and the current U.S. attorney-general went out of his way to deny Muslim detainees protection under the conventions so that they could be tortured.
Lt. Sonia Connock, Maple Flag Public Affairs Officer, said the invitations were not based on political considerations but disseminated generally to embassies and military attachés. She said the intent is to find more full-time partners among the larger, established air-forces. She added that the presence of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as observers showed that Canada was not playing favourites.
David Rudd, executive director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies also said the presence of the two Arab states may help deflect criticism over inviting the Israelis.†
Notice how glibly Connock and Rudd equate the two Arab states with Israel, as if to say the presence of Qatar and the UAE somehow made Israel respectable.
Colleen Beaumier, MP for Brampton West wrote a pointed letter to Defence Minister Bill Graham in which she condemned the perversity of inviting Israel:
“In the past Canada has taken clear and diplomatically sound steps when dealing with countries which are in contravention of international law or whose human rights records are poor. The South African Apartheid regime was dealt with in Canada with economic bans and with strained diplomatic ties. Why, then, is the Apartheid regime of Israel rewarded with invitations?”
The answer, of course, is that the Israel Lobby in government runs foreign policy, which brings me back to the alleged apolitical nature of the invitations to join Maple Flag. If South Africa could be banned then so could Israel, but given the clout of the Lobby, this would not be possible. Therefore, it’s easier to hide behind the “it’s not political” excuse rather than explain why a fascist state gets to train in a democracy.
When the Israeli air crews go home, where will they fly their missions, I wonder. If one of these crews should participate in another mass murder of a Gaza neighbourhood, could Canada be held partly responsible? Unlikely, since the U.S. now commits torture as a matter of policy and none of the higher-ups in the Bush imperium is going on trial anytime soon.
The old world mythology had a simple moral certainty: Nazis were bad; Allies (read: American GIs) were good; and everyone felt sorry for the Jews. That moral certainty is gone forever. The Nazis were just a negative version of ourselves.
When the U.S. empire is broken and Israel is consumed by Palestine we will be able to explain to future generations how the “good guys,” permitted the very depravity they waged war against.
We can begin by teaching them Lord Acton’s famous aphorism: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
* “Hamas a principled defender of palestine,” (http://www.mediamonitors.net/gregfelton9.html)
† John Ward, “Israeli air force to take part in Alberta war games; Palestinians opposed,” Canadian Press, May 12, 2005.