Toronto Star Columnist Says Historic Jewish Lands “Do Not Belong” To Israel

February 27, 2024

In his February 23 opinion column in The Toronto Star, “Canada seems to have forgotten its peace building legacy in the Middle East,” Thomas Walkom, a contributing columnist, lambastes the federal government for its lack of leadership in the Hamas-Israel crisis.

Walkom writes that “Canada seems to have forgotten” its legacy of peacemaking, noting former Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s involvement in helping diffuse the 1956 Suez Crisis, juxtaposing it with Canada’s refusal to join the fray at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, which is now being asked to review the legality of Israel’s presence in Judea & Samaria (West Bank).

Regrettably, Walkom conflates two very distinct situations: helping contribute to a lasting peace, and contributing to the dangerous and counter-productive weaponization of international law, as is taking place in The Hague, where a group of countries are attempting to delegitimize Israel’s presence in its millennia-old ancestral lands.

Walkom’s column repeats a litany of patently false allegations against Israel, including that the country is carrying out “wanton bombings of Palestinian civilians whose only crime was their desire to stay alive in Gaza,” an incredible and egregiously irresponsible comment.

Wanton, which can mean either without provocation or foundation, or without any concern, is an exceedingly misleading term to use in relation to Israel’s counter-terrorism operations in Gaza.

Following Hamas’ genocidal October 7 attack – the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust – Israel has carried out a campaign to defeat the fanatical terrorist group, whose stated desire is the annihilation of Israel, hardly compatible with any concept of peace or coexistence.

But that does not mean Israel has been careless in its response in Gaza. In fact, despite widespread media coverage suggesting otherwise, Jerusalem has conducted its operations, not only within the bounds of international law, but has taken extensive measures to minimize civilian casualties, including providing advance warnings to civilians. Consequently, the proportion of civilians killed in Gaza has been dramatically lower than in other global conflicts, a point that is rarely if ever acknowledged by Israel’s detractors.

Walkom’s column soon declares all-out war on factual accuracy, claiming that Israel “threatens to drive Palestinians out of Gaza altogether.”

While there are doubtless Israeli politicians who have made scandalous comments, they do not necessarily reflect Israeli government policy. To hear Israel’s official position, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been crystal clear on the subject.

“Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population,” Netanyahu has said.

Putting on his international legal cap, Walkom decides with a keystroke that Israel has no legitimate claims to the ancestral lands of the Jewish People, referring to Israel’s “occupation of Palestine,” a state that has never existed, and writing that Judea & Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza “do not belong” to Israel.

Disregarding not only three thousand years of continued Jewish presence in its historical homeland, the extensive legal title it possesses, and the lack of any competing claimant, given that Jordan and Egypt, who previously occupied Judea & Samaria and Gaza, respectively, do not claim legal possession, Walkom’s statement is profoundly illiterate, both legally and historically.

In December, Walkom wrote a column in The Toronto Star, where he bizarrely stated that the Palestinians receive precious little attention on the world stage, a claim so outlandish that readers could be forgiven for thinking it was parody.

This latest column from Thomas Walkom in The Toronto Star is chock-full of specious proclamations against Israel, ranging from the misleading to the absurd.

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