Haroon Siddiqui Strikes Again
December 20, 2006
Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:
Last week, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas made an astounding admission:
“Gaza is free of occupation, but there are no investors and no prosperity. We dreamed that [Gaza] would prosper and dozens of investors from all over the world came to Gaza. Nothing has come to fruition. We decided it was better to fire rockets. Israel left, said goodbye, and instead of [Gaza] remaining calm and flourishing, there are those that still prefer to fire rockets.”
But don’t expect to see Abbas’s statement in a column by the Toronto Star’s Haroon Siddiqui. As Gaza slides ever closer to a bloody civil war between rival Palestinian factions, Siddiqui continues to use his column as a soapbox for criticizing Israel.
Last year we condemned Siddiqui’s turning his column over to three Arab Canadians who used the space as a platform to assail Israel. This time around Siddiqui added a twist: rather than use Arabs to criticize Israel, he used an Israeli.
Siddiqui routinely ignores the many Israelis who visit Canada to talk about Israelis’ hopes for peace or the devastating effects of Palestinian terrorism. But on December 17, Siddiqui devoted an entire column to Yehuda Shaul, a former Israeli soldier who founded “Breaking the Silence,” a vocal but marginal Israeli group critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
(Mr. Shaul’s Toronto host was Judith Wiseman, a Jewish member of the United Church of Canada’s task force on “ethical investment” who advocated a boycott of Israeli products. When a reporter recently asked her about the Hamas terrorist group, Wiseman replied, “It’s time to condemn Israel as a rogue state.”)
Siddiqui’s column was revealing for what it did not say. Writing about Israeli soldiers’ treatment of Palestinians “in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” he neglected to mention that last year, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip entirely.
In describing Israeli military actions in Palestinian-inhabited areas, Siddiqui never mentioned the use of those areas as a launching pad for thousands of Palestinian terror attacks on Israel. Nor did he mention Yasser Arafat’s rejection in 2000 of Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak’s offer to evacuate virtually all of those areas as part of a peace agreement.
Most importantly, Siddiqui ignored the fact that Israel has investigated and disciplined its own soldiers and compensated Palestinians where it deemed appropriate. Just this week, Israel’s highest court affirmed that Palestinians can sue Israel’s military for damages.
While even the Palestinian leader seems capable of acknowledging his people’s role in bringing misery on themselves, Siddiqui instead emphasized a small group of disenchanted former soldiers, as if all of the Palestinians’ problems can be laid at the feet of Israeli society.
As Israel’s neighbours once again threaten it with annihilation, is Siddiqui using his column to marginalize Israel and de-legitimize its inherent right to self-defense? You be the judge.
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