Skip to comments.Canada is Israel's 'most stalwart' friend: Consul-general
Posted on 07/17/2014 8:49:10 AM PDT by rickmichaels
TORONTO - The Stephen Harper government stands out today as the most stalwart and most clear-minded friend Israel has internationally, says Israels consul-general to Toronto and Western Canada.
DJ Schneeweiss told the Toronto Sun in a candid interview Wednesday the Canadian governments full-throatedly clear view that Israel has no choice but to respond to the indiscriminate violent attacks by Hamas is the kind of position many Israelis wish theyd see emulated by other countries around the world.
The story is a lot simpler than a lot of people would like to think ... by those who think they have to play both sides, he said.
I spoke with the 49-year-old native Australian, who moved to Israel at age 22 and has been at his Toronto post for two years, on the ninth day of a conflict that has seen more than 1,300 Hamas rockets fired from Gaza at Israels heavily populated areas, most especially Tel Aviv.
A day earlier Hamas had rejected a ceasefire brokered by Egypt and to which Israel had agreed. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned Hamas, claiming they have no interest in peace and that in addition to putting Israeli lives in jeopardy, the terrorist group has no problem using Palestinians as human shields (by placing their rocket launchers in civilian areas).
Israel has now agreed to a UN-brokered five-hour ceasefire starting at 10 a.m. their time Thursday.
Schneeweiss said there is a very clear dichotomy between those who exist solely to perpetrate violence and those people who want to put a stop to the conflict but sadly far too many people in the international community dont make that distinction and dont understand that the terrorists are against western democracies as much as they are anti-Israel.
They (the international community) end up empowering those anti-peace forces, he said, noting the Canadian government has no problem calling a spade a spade.
Although he was away in Australia during the initial week of the conflict, his sense is that Israels story is doing OK in the Canadian media this time around and that is in large part because Hamas has succeeded in convincing more people than ever before how completely and utterly unacceptable it is to rain rockets on Israels largest cities several times a day.
In fact, to put it all in perspective, lets imagine the equivalent of a theoretical Gaza somewhere near Niagara Falls, 130 km from Toronto.
Imagine if Niagara decided it was hostile, that it was Islamist and bent on destruction of everyone else and started lobbing rockets into Toronto, he said.
I dont think we always get a fair shake ... but at this point in the conflict, Israels position is better understood this time around than before.
Israel is also doing a much better job telling its story, he conceded, and their use of social media has also improved and expanded.
Schneeweiss insisted there not a single army in the world that takes the kind of precautions the Israeli army does to avoid hurting civilians in any and all attempts to destroy Hamas rocket launchers. He notes that they warn civilians with leaflets and radio messages and if they believe there are terrorists in specific buildings that they intend to strike, they warn civilians with whats called the pre-bombing knock on the roof and text messages to specific phone numbers.
He said not only do the Palestinians have no bomb shelters but in their experience, Hamas has been encouraging civilians to stay where they are and ignore the Israeli warnings.
There is no doubt that there is civilian casualties that are regrettable and shouldnt happen but we hold Hamas responsible for those casualties, he said.
Hamas is the one that is using its own civilian areas as staging grounds for its military operations. Hamas is the one that spends its money not on shelters but on rockets and uses its tunnels to protect its leaders and hide its rockets.
I asked him what its like to be in Israel at the moment and whether the current conflict has affected tourism from Canada.
As I write this, my 19-year-old niece is on her way home from a 10-day Birthright program that carried on during the conflict.
Schneeweiss said because of what theyve done to protect their citizens with the Iron Dome (that explodes the rockets in the air), its still pretty safe.
The best response to the Hamas terrorism is not to be cowed by it, he said. Thats what the state of Israel has done throughout and will continue to do.
His own wife and two children are there and despite having been through seven or eight air raid sirens so far during which they are given 15 seconds to find cover either in the standard safe room of their own home, another bomb shelter, in stairwells, or at the side of the road theyve been busy going about their normal lives.
The beaches are full, the theatre houses are full, the coffee shops are full, he said. Its difficult to go out and live a normal life when you know theres a threat of bombing but we are so experienced with this that people do keep on living their daily lives.
Besides the nearness of the terrorist threat, Schneeweiss said many people in Canada cant understand their hate.
We dont have hate in our hearts ... we are going to defend ourselves resolutely but we dont have hate in our hearts, he said. We are doing the moral thing .. protecting our citizens from the aggressive violent assault, the indiscriminate violent assault on them perpetrated by Hamas.