As you may have heard, the ship The Estelle, sailing in international waters, was illegally boarded by the Israeli navy, and its occupants taken into custody. Among those being held are Jim Manley, a Canadian, and a former New Democrat MP.
The Estelle is part of the Freedom Flotilla movement, which seeks to draw attention to the illegal blockade of Gaza, to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. The 30 activists on board The Estelle hailed from Israel, the US, Canada, Israel, Norway, and Sweden.
In a story about the incident, the Calgary Herald describes Gaza as "the seaside strip ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas group".
This "seaside strip" is home to 1.7 million people, and Hamas is recognized by those people as their legitimate government.
Of course, Hamas is an officially designated terrorist organization as defined by the US, Israel, and the EU, and since Canada takes its marching orders from the US, by Canada as well. According to much of the world, including many citizens of those same countries, that is one very large, powerful pot name-calling a small, freedom-fighting kettle.
Labelling Hamas a terrorist group allows Israel to engage in all manner of repression, destruction, torture, and murder.
Elsewhere, that same label provides a cover for suppressing free speech and freedom of assembly. For example, that official terrorist designation gave Jason Kenney's office an excuse to bar the British activist and (then former) MP George Galloway from Canada. The Canadian courts correctly reversed that decision.
Examples of this censorship are everywhere. The City of Toronto wants to change its anti-discrimination policies so that the words "Israeli apartheid" will be a violation of rights. So calling Hamas a terrorist organization is not an insult to Palestinians, but calling Israel an apartheid state is discrimination against... who exactly? No one.
The boycott-divest-sanction movement and the mere words "Israeli apartheid" are instantly and constantly equated with anti-Semitism, often by people who equate everything Muslim with terrorism. At this point, the knee-jerk reaction is so swift and shallow, it's become almost comical. Write something defending Palestinian autonomy human rights, get labelled an anti-Semite. It's amazing how everyone cares so much about Jews all of a sudden. Too bad Canada and the US didn't care when it really mattered.
More on the Toronto so-called anti-discrimination policy in a future post.