Toronto Star Oped By Michael Lynk Perpetuates Falsehood That Israel “Occupies” Gaza

In his recent oped in the Toronto Star on May 25 entitled “Canada’s languishing position on Israel needs to catch up with the world,” Michael Lynk (pictured right) creates a narrative of Israel as a pariah state, constantly breaking international law, and in need of immediate opprobrium.

The Star describes Lynk as “the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory that has been occupied since 1967,” except of course, Gaza isn’t occupied by Israel.

The only problem with Lynk’s narrative is that it relies almost entirely on factual errors and extremely misleading statements.

Lynk, who’s well known for his anti-Israel animus as documented by UN Watch, bizarrely attributes the recent armed hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamist terrorist group, not to Hamas’ steadfast refusal to accept Israel’s very existence, but rather to Israel’s “harsh 54 year old occupation, the longest in the modern world.” As Lynk surely knows, Israel in no way, shape or form occupies the Gaza Strip, having unilaterally evacuated the area in 2005, in an extremely difficult episode where 21 settlements were destroyed and 8,500 Jews were ripped from their homes by Israel, many of whom had lived there for generations, in an attempt to demonstrate Israel’s painful concessions for peace. 

As such, to claim that Israel’s non-existent “occupation” of the Gaza Strip is somehow responsible for Hamas’ decision to fire 4,000+ rockets into Israeli schools, hospitals and even a power station supplying electricity to Gaza, is simply ludicrous. 

When it comes to the legality of Israel’s communities in Judea & Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), the truth is also far from as he suggests. 

He writes that “the profound illegality of the Israeli settlements is one of the most widely accepted points of agreement among diplomats and legal scholars,” and that under both Canadian and international law, “the settlements are a presumptive war crime.” 

Once again, this rhetoric does not stand up to the scrutiny of the facts. 

Firstly, as Lynk acknowledges, in a recent incident in which a Manitoba man challenged the “made in Israel” label on an Israeli wine produced in Judea & Samaria, the federal government took the side of the winery, because Canada’s laws, and our free trade agreement with Israel, recognizes that Israeli citizens living in Judea & Samaria produce goods which are made in Israel. 

More importantly, when it comes to the actual legality of Israeli communities in question, Lynk offers no proof that the “settlements” are illegal. In reality, Judea & Samaria was occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan until June 1967, when it was liberated by Israel during the Six Day War, which was initiated by the surrounding Arab countries who tried to wipe the Jewish state from the map. 

During Jordan’s occupation of the area from 1948-1967, it destroyed Jewish property and holy sites, and ethnically cleansed the area of Jewish habitation. Furthermore, it never claimed legal ownership of Judea & Samaria, and so, when Israel regained control of it following the Six Day War, the land was not owned by Jordan, and most certainly not by any other sovereign state, least of all Palestine, which was not then, nor is it now, a sovereign country. 

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at George Mason University and an internationally recognized expert on the legal status of Israel’s communities in Judea & Samaria, has written that “occupation occurs when a country takes over the sovereign territory of another country.” Additionally, Israel in fact holds the strongest legal claimover the land in question, having been given title as a result of its predecessor, the Mandate for Palestine. 

Lynk’s fanciful statements on Israel’s settlements notwithstanding, the crux of the issue today, and for many decades, has been the same: the refusal of many of Israel’s neighbours to accept the very existence of a Jewish State in their midst. Fortunately, this reality is changing before our eyes with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel in recent months.   

But notwithstanding these positive developments in the region, Hamas and its enablers here in Canada continue to blame all the woes on Israel’s non-existent occupation of the Gaza Strip, all while ignoring at best, or legitimizing at worst, Hamas’ brutal repression of its own people, the cynical – and successful – use of its own people as de facto human shields, and of its constant, indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians, with no concern whatsoever for any human life, be it Israeli or Palestinian.

There is no moral equivalence between Israel and those who seek to destroy it, and Lynk is correct in one area: Canada should not, under any circumstances, pretend to play the role of an honest broker. Israel is a liberal state and our stalwart ally, and Hamas is a medieval death cult. Canada does no favours to anyone, least of all the Palestinians, by pretending otherwise.

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