Columnist In The Walrus Denies Israel’s Right To Exist

One can understand Sheima Benembarek’s heartfelt cri de coeur against Palestinian suffering and inequality in her February 13 Walrus commentary entitled: “What Being Pro-Palestine Means to Me.” And, she explains that many fear speaking out for the Palestinian cause, in the aftermath of Hamas’s savage butchery of 1,200 Israelis. But the emotion-laden essay raises some questions about where she stands, and where she found her facts.

Benembarek wrote that: “For seventy-five years, an entire people have been stripped of their human rights while living under occupation.” She is likely well aware that Israel has held part of the West Bank since 1967 – about 57 years – and that modern Israel itself is 75 years old. In other words, she’s referring directly to Israel as “occupied,” thereby denying the Jewish state’s right to exist, denying the three-millennia long Jewish connection and self-determination to the Jewish people. It is both anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.
 
She wrote that her heart bursts with compassion for Palestinians, and noted that there are “roughly 7 million Palestinians in the diaspora.” Their conditions should be accorded global attention and sympathy, absolutely!

According to Minority Rights, three million of those Palestinians live in Jordan, where “discrimination against Palestinians in private and state-sector employment remains common and a quota system limits the number of university admissions for Palestinian youth.” The report notes that government policy means that Palestinians “face problems buying and selling property, opening a bank account and completing other daily tasks.”

Their fellow Arab brothers and sisters originally from Gaza are “three times more likely” to languish in poverty than others. And during the crisis in Syria, Jordan slammed shut the doors to Palestinians who were fleeing Assad’s genocidal rampage that ended up wiping out a half-million innocent Arab lives.

Palestine-Israel Journal says that Lebanon has the “highest percentage of Palestinian refugees living in utter absolute poverty” while the 400,000-strong population have been victims of “deliberate discrimination on the part of the Lebanese government.” They are robbed of health care, public schooling, property rights, and employment opportunities. They suffer from excruciating overcrowding, and one in seven people do not have sewage infrastructure.

While in Egypt, there’s up to a hundred thousand Palestinians who are restricted in health care, barred from property ownership, and live under onerous mobility restrictions, according to Forced Migration Review.

And in Syria, there’s roughly 440,000 Palestinians who even UNRWA, the UN agency with extensive ties to Hamas terrorism, including a dozen employees who took part in the October 7 massacres, says that 91 percent “live in absolute poverty.” That country’s civil war caused 280,000 of them to be displaced, and 43,000 trapped in inaccessible locations. About 120,000 Palestinians fled the country – probably with little else but the clothes on their backs. Our hearts should go out to these poor Palestinians, but they seem to be forgotten entirely if Israel can’t be blamed.

Benembarek went on to say: “Whenever I say ‘Free Palestine,’ I mean that I want Palestinians to be afforded basic humanity, to have safety, autonomy, and dignity—all rights that Israel’s military response has further obliterated in the name of eliminating Hamas.”

Surely things would have been markedly different if Hamas ruled Gaza in a way that gave its citizens “humanity” and “dignity.”. Instead of helping its own citizens, Hamas stole tens of billions of aid dollars to line their own pockets and build tunnels and weapons to fire at Israeli civilians. Gazans were robbed of quality and quantity of life by their maniacal rulers, that no one wished on them.

It doesn’t look like she believes Israel is fighting a genocidal Islamic cult in a just war, and self-defense. Instead, she seems to say, it’s all a pretext to “obliterate” things like humanity, safety, autonomy and dignity. It should be said: it is very pro-Gazan for the Israeli military to root out Hamas, to free Palestinians from this extremist organization.

Benembarek noted that 17 people “…. had allegedly been fired for their pro-Palestine views.” One of those was Zahraa Al-Akhrass from Global News, who posted on social media: “Zionism is Nazism.” Air Canada pilot Mostafa Ezzo posted on his social feed a photo of him holding a sign that said “Israel Hitler is Proud of You” – and another photo of him with another sign, that said “Keep the world clean,” and showed a stick figure man tossing a piece of paper with a Star of David into a trashcan.

Another of the infamous seventeen was Natalie Knight, an English instructor at Langara College who vocally supported “Palestinian freedom fighters” – that is, Hamas and called Hamas’s October 7 attacks “amazing, brilliant”. Can one reliably say that these are not – as Benembarek states “pro-Palestine views,” but rather fanatically anti-Israel views, at the very minimum?

Because if they are included in the umbrella of “pro-Palestine views”, then it follows that by definition being “pro-Palestine” includes being pro-hate.

All Canadians should all be longing for a “Free Palestine” – a Palestine free of Hamas and Jihadists, free of Jew-hatred, and free from those like Benembarek who deny Israel’s right to exist.

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