top of page

Thoughts on the Hamas attack of Israel

A hard letter to write, this week.

I have lived and worked in countries at war. I’ve seen death up close. A column of

smoke marking a Kabul suicide bombing. The scorched concrete and smell of blood

in a Kathmandu bus shelter after a grenade went off, minutes before. Talking with

victims of war crimes and police states, about lives ended and families broken. For

better or worse I was used to this, as much as it motivates me to do what I can to

help end wars and build peace.

But this week’s terrorist attack on Israel shook me.


Political murder is usually cloaked in distorted idealism, individual deaths a sad but

inevitable consequence of great historical acts. Brutality is concealed and minimized.

Not Hamas, not this week.

As Canadians gathered for Thanksgiving hours of video flooded our screens.

Terrorists and their supporters chose the image they want to project to the world.

That image? The murder of babies in their cribs, young people dancing, families in

their home and cars. Videos saying “Jews believe life starts with birth. We believe life

starts with death. We celebrate death.”

You can’t get much clearer than that. Me, I celebrate life, and the joy and beauty and

freedom of choice it can offer in an open society. We all have a side to choose.

The voices celebrating death are being heard in Canadian cities, with rallies

supporting Hamas reflecting the anger boiling online. Attacks on Jews have started.

As Israel takes the fight to Hamas, and to the people of Gaza they hide behind,

antisemitism is going to increase. What are we going to do about it? We only have

one option, here at home:

Enforce our laws.

Marching for Palestine is legal. Support for Palestine is legitimate, whether you agree

with it or not.

Supporting Hamas is illegal. Expressions of support for it should be prevented, and

supporters investigated as you’d investigate any organized crime group.

Also, we cannot ask Jews to cancel religious services because of threats from Hamas

and others. We have laws to protect our rights as we use and enjoy them.

This is why we have police. Security forces. To enforce the law. To put themselves

between those following the law and those breaking it. Laws do not exist to avoid

conflict between those living lawful lives and those who seek to take rights away. The

latter need to be stopped and punished.

Showing Canada takes its own laws seriously would protect legitimate protestors

from the terrorist groups who prey on diaspora communities. It would make Canada

an unwelcome harbour for infiltrators -ahem Chinese Communist Party-, and

extremist groups foreign and domestic.

Drawing the line where free speech and expression ends is one of government’s

heaviest responsibilities. That line should be surgically applied at the exact limit of the

law, but no further: open societies like Canada’s must use every opportunity to show

how our open system is better than the closed and twisted alternatives - whether the

Islamist, Moscow, Beijing, or MAGA variants.

The coming years are not going to be easy for democracies. Having a clearer

understanding of who we are as a country, and what limits we want to put on our

government, is how we protect our freedoms. Those freedoms are what make our

lives worth living. That’s the life I talked earlier. Hamas, Xi, and Putin will kill, are

killing, to stop that life from spreading.

So, because we are an open society, Canada should stand with Israel. Instead of

being terrorized by images of Hamas’ atrocities we should be mobilized. To stop the

rot from spreading.

We should support Palestinians, and people all over the world, who fight to create or

defend open countries of their own. Countries where the rule of law, free speech,

open elections, and human rights are protected. We should oppose the countries and

groups who reject and trample on those gifts.

Each of these proposals would mean big changes for our country. But right now, big

changes are coming whether we like them or not. I prefer to prepare, and to start the

fight by summoning our better angels.


bottom of page