Thoughts about the Sept. 11 an­niver­sary

The Central Voice - - Editorial -

As we ap­proach the an­niver­sary of the de­struc­tion of the World Trade Cen­ter in 2001 by ter­ror­ists from the Mid­dle East, it is worth re­flect­ing on the dire con­se­quences of that event, not just for the many vic­tims killed and maimed, and their fam­i­lies, but also for the rest of the world.

Di­rect con­se­quences were the at­tack on the Tal­iban in Afghanistan and on Sad­dam Hus­sein’s Iraq.

Although it was well known then that Sad­dam was a bru­tal dic­ta­tor, the U.S. had sup­ported him in his ear­lier dis­as­trous war (1980-88) against Iran. Sad­dam’s de­feat in 2003 by the U.S. and its al­lies was hailed then by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush as a be­gin­ning of a “tran­si­tion from dic­ta­tor­ship to democ­racy” and he said, “we will leave be­hind a free Iraq.”

We know now that the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East has wors­ened, not im­proved, and the in­flu­ence of the U.S. there is much re­duced, ex­cept per­haps in Is­rael — a coun­try Bush did not men­tion in his 2003 speech, though he did com­mit “to free­dom in Afghanistan, Iraq and in a peace­ful Pales­tine.”

Did Bush, his gov­ern­ment, in­deed most Amer­i­cans, un­der­stand the pil­lars on which democ­racy re­ally rests in the U.S. as else­where, in­clud­ing Canada — in other words, not only on all cit­i­zens hav­ing a free vote but, vi­tally, also on re­spect for hu­man rights for all, and a free ju­di­ciary?

Per­haps he thought that free elec­tions was all that mat­tered. The U.S. prob­a­bly led the way in 1948 in the UN def­i­ni­tion of hu­man rights for all — as it hap­pens at the same time as the UN en­dorsed the cre­ation of Is­rael. Both events were likely much in­flu­enced by gen­eral hor­ror and re­morse in much of the world over the suf­fer­ing of Jews and oth­ers in the Holo­caust.

How­ever, fine words do not al­ways match ac­tion!

While Is­rael in­cluded in its 1948 Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, that “it will en­sure com­plete equal­ity of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal rights to all its in­hab­i­tants ir­re­spec­tive of re­li­gion, race or sex; it will guar­an­tee free­dom of re­li­gion, con­science, lan­guage, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­ture ... and it will be faith­ful to the prin­ci­ples of the Char­ter of the United Na­tions,” the re­al­ity there was, and still is, hardly an ex­am­ple to fol­low, not least the mas­sacres (well doc­u­mented by eye­wit­nesses and con­firmed by Is­raeli his­to­ri­ans) be­ing per­pe­trated al­ready in 1947 against the Pales­tinian (Arab) com­mu­ni­ties it wanted emp­tied and in many cases de­stroyed — much as the Nazis had treated Jewish com­mu­ni­ties in the Sec­ond World War.

It is surely self-ev­i­dent that Is­rael has never re­spected the hu­man rights of Pales­tini­ans on the West Bank which Is­rael has oc­cu­pied for over 50 years. Protests now in Is­rael against the re­cently passed Na­tion-State Law lay bare a long-stand­ing dis­re­gard within the coun­try for the rights of its mi­nori­ties, in­clud­ing those that have col­lab­o­rated with Is­rael.

Not that Canada should be smug on hu­man rights here. How­ever, we do have ex­plicit fed­eral and pro­vin­cial laws on this, a le­gal ba­sis for en­force­ment by our ju­di­ciary when that is called for.

The New­found­land Hu­man Rights Act of 2010 (amended in 2013) in­cludes the state­ment: “the pro­hib­ited grounds of dis­crim­i­na­tion are race, colour, na­tion­al­ity, eth­nic ori­gin, so­cial ori­gin, re­li­gious creed, re­li­gion, age, dis­abil­ity, dis­fig­ure­ment, sex, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­tity, gen­der ex­pres­sion, mar­i­tal sta­tus, fam­ily sta­tus, source of in­come and po­lit­i­cal opin­ion.” There is also ex­plicit ref­er­ence to the Innu and Inuit — the rights of peo­ples who were here long be­fore later set­tlers and set­tler descen­dants (most of us).

John Mol­gaard St. John’s

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.