Columnist In Humber College Student Newspaper Long On Arguments, Short On Facts

Humber News, a newspaper for students at Toronto’s Humber College published by the school’s Faculty of Media and Creative Arts, printed a November 10 opinion column called “Single democratic state needed for long-term peace”, written by Santiago Helou Quintero.

The column is a textbook study in tautology – the idea that “it’s true because it’s true.” At no point does the author actually prove any allegations or accusations– they are simply meant to be self-evidently true.

Santiago Helou Quintero writes that “without a doubt, an immediate ceasefire is necessary to end the senseless death of innocent civilians”

“Without a doubt” means there’s no facts to prove otherwise, but there are.

One can only wonder if this “ceasefire” to which they refer only applies to Israel – or also to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, all of which have been firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israeli territory with the express purpose to murder innocents?

If Israel ceases its fire against the jihadist terrorist groups which are attempting to destroy it, does the writer think “senseless deaths of innocent civilians” will be the future mandate of Hamas, or can one reasonably make the case that whatever vestiges of Hamas are left, will continue to target civilians?

Even before October 7, Hamas brutally killed innocents, including 160 Palestinian children digging terror tunnels, and hundreds of other Palestinians killed, even by the accounts of anti-Israel organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch .

What does one imagine would happen after a “ceasefire,” if Hamas were left to their own devices, and their activities remained unchecked? Santiago Helou Quintero doesn’t say, but the answer is no secret: Hamas has promised to destroy Israel and convert it into an Islamic theocratic state.

In arguing for a one-state solution, the writer says: “Ethno-states divide people into sectarian lines and facilitate the rise of authoritarianism, such as right-wing Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu, the militant organization Hamas or even groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

The definition of ethno-state is “a sovereign state of which citizenship is restricted to members of a particular racial or ethnic group.” The writer’s assertion is not true, because the citizenry of Israel comprises a fifth of Arabs, plus Israeli Christians, Muslims, Baha’i, and others.

Worse yet is drawing moral equivalence between democratically-elected Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and genocide-focused terror organizations as Hamas and Hezbollah. The creation of Hamas and Hezbollah weren’t “facilitated” by the notion of “ethno-states”, contrary to the writer’s assertion. They actually arose, and were aided, from the same religious extremism found in so many other Muslim countries in the region.

It would be, in fact, Hamas’ Gaza, and Hezbollah’s Lebanon, that would more accurately be described as “ethno-states.”

Santiago Helou Quintero writes that “any long-form solutions to the apartheid remain notably absent from Western discourse,” but is silent in the face of statements like those made by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has said “not one Israeli” should live in a future Palestinian state.

There is no mandated or sanctioned segregation in Israel – Arabs and Jews ride the same buses, live where they want, receive the same medical treatment, enjoy the same rights, freedom of religion, enjoy rights to the same schools, and full voting rights (nearly ten per cent of the Knesset is Arab – and joined the last governing coalition). They all enjoy freedom of expression, freedom to protest, and freedom to marry each other. The Arabs inside Israel enjoy full citizenship. This is the very antithesis of apartheid. In fact, if there was apartheid, the Arab Muslim justice that sits on the Supreme Court would not exist.

In his column, Santiago Helou Quintero argues that “the occupation of Palestine is against international law and stands in contrast to the 1947 UN Resolution that proposed the creation of two states.”

Santiago Helou Quintero starts with the implied notion that once upon a time there was a sovereign country called Palestine, run by Palestinians, that Israel suddenly occupied. But the only sovereign state in the area over history had been Jewish; there had never been a Palestine as a state – only as a geographical name, an area overseen by a dozen other occupying nations over the course of twenty six centuries. 

Furthermore, the Arabs rejected the two-state solution in 1947 – and instead chose to wage war against the nascent state of Israel. Israel’s Arab neighbours had their chance at two states, but rolled the dice on a military gamble that they lost. Santiago Helou Quintero’s absurd proposition that after trying to eliminate Israel, Arab countries should be rewarded with the proposal they initially rejected (and subsequently rejected four more times, over the next sixty five years).

The entire idea of occupation is further rendered null, in light of the San Remo agreement in 1920, subsequent League of Nations adoption of the agreement in 1922, and the UN Charter grandfathering in prior international accords at the institution’s inception. The San Remo agreement promised the Jewish People the “reconstitution of the Jewish State” in what is now greater Israel, West Bank, and Jordan (together, the “British Mandate for Palestine”). All legally rubber-stamped by three international bodies.

One cannot occupy one’s own land.

Santiago Helou Quintero’s column is long on assertions, short on facts, a particularly notable failure given Humber News is produced by students at Humber College’s journalism program.

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