Is Canada’s Support for Israel Justified?  My Post-Debate Thoughts

This article reflects my thoughts following one of my recent public debates, October 24, 2018, at an event by the Rational Space Network Critical Thinking Series.  A clip of the full video can be watched at the bottom.

Ryan Bellerose answering questions at the Rational Space Network Critical Thinking Series event on October 24, 2018, where he debated opponent Yves Engler.

This article reflects my thoughts following one of my recent public debates, October 24, 2018, at an event by the Rational Space Network Critical Thinking Series.  A clip of the full video can be watched at the bottom.

My Opponent

I have to say, it wasn’t much of a debate.  It was more of a hate-Israel bash-fest.

I stated some pertinent facts regarding Israel in my opening remarks.  I introduced definitions to establish references and took a position on the question being debated.  My opponent, Yves Engler on the other hand, proceeded to voice a more generic narrative. Further, he offered no definitions of his own nor did he cite any substantial body of empirical data.  Essentially, Engler provided a fallacious history lesson by manipulating certain facts out of context, and basically invented other information to back his creative assertions.

This article seeks to deconstruct Engler’s statements, expose, and debunk some of the more nonsensical claims, as well as reiterate the abject nonsense of his position.

It would be remiss if I did not mention that during the opening of the debate, the MC refers to an incident in Montreal where a former Prime Minister’s speech was disrupted by a group of people who have no respect for the notion of open and civil discourse.  Instead, this group acted out in an uncivilized fashion to shut down any meaningful dialogue that was supposed to occur there. What the host was unaware of, was that my opponent: Yves Engler, was one of the ringleaders of the group at that odious event.

The Debate

I provided my opening statement, and then Engler delivered his own.  He completely failed to acknowledge my definition of indigenous and indigeneity.  It was like he completely ignored what I had declared earlier, or totally disregarded it in any case.

Because of time constraints, I did not fully get the opportunity to refute every single argument Engler made, especially when he literally spent 10 minutes babbling verbal diarrhea, which left me with a meager five minutes to argue back.  

He discussed that there was a situation of injustice where “we” are not allowing a “Palestinian homeland” on 22% of “historic Palestine”.  It is clear he was vague.

In any case, I believe he is suggesting that Judea and Samaria are part of historic Palestine, which is both comedic and factually incorrect, especially given that 78 % of the Palestinian Mandate set aside for the Jews on their historic homeland, was given to the Arabs to create Jordan.

When discussing recent border controversies Engler claimed that Israeli armed forces have killed more than 200 “peaceful demonstrators” and that civilians in the Palestinian Authority are “locked in the prison we call Gaza” surrounded by the Israeli military.

The irony of his argument is that Hamas has stated very clearly that the vast majority of those killed have been compromised due to their violence were actual Hamas operatives, so I find labeling Gaza as a prison when it financially incentivizes terrorism to be grossly disingenuous.

War Numbers

The fun continued when Engler brought in some more hard facts with nothing to back them up with: Israel killed 1400 in 2008-09 and killed another 2200 in 2014.

A democracy deserves to defend itself.  Plain and simple. Engler never discussed Israeli casualties or Palestinian perpetuation of violence.  He literally neglects to mention that in 2009-09, Operation Cast Lead had occurred as a result of Palestinian violence not to ignite that violence.  Throughout that operation, it is true that there were a high number of casualties on the Palestinian side, but war is not simple and demilitarizing terrorist infrastructures means terrorists being caught up in the crossfire.

Similarly, in 2014, Operation Protective Edge occurred under very similar circumstances.  Israel, as a democratic state, take great care of its citizens’ security, so if terrorists were to threaten that then naturally they would be swiftly eliminated.  Engler also never made any form of nod towards the fact that innocent civilians were being utilized as human shields by terrorist entities in the region.  

Next, Engler discussed that Israel was a “nuclear-armed state” and has bombed Syria hundreds of times.  He claimed Israel has bombed Egypt, Jordan, Sudan,Lebanon,Tunisia and Iraq over the past decades.

Firstly, Israel has never admitted to having any nukes.  Secondly, the IDF’s Operation Opera airstrikes on Iraq in 1981 were to prevent them from constructing an atomic reactor.  Israel attacked the PLO headquarters in Tunisia during Operation Wooden Leg in 1985.  In 2006, the Second Lebanon War occurred between Israel and Hezbollah.  Israel has not been at war with Jordan since the Six-Day-War in 1967 or with Egypt since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Fallacious History

Engler then launched into a history lesson filled with inaccurate assumptions.  In one instance, he tried to pass off the beginning of Zionism as a Christian movement.  He called ethnic Jews European. The bulk of European Jewry throughout history who were attacked and treated as not-European may not appreciate the same sentiment.  Sentiment because Jews are not biological Europeans.  

The Balfour Declaration, according to Engler, was crass and says it declared that the British could give a land that belonged to someone else, to European Jews.  In fact, it actually declares that Jews should have a homeland on their ancestral geographic and historical lands and that the rights of the conquerors are not as important as the rights of the indigenous peoples.

Then he actually quotes Lord Balfour who speaks about the importance of respecting indigenous rights of the Jews to their ancestral lands over that of the Arabs living there who conquered it.  He called it “British colonial thought”.

When pressing about Canadian-based issues, he discussed Canada’s role in defeating the Ottomans.  As part of the Commonwealth, it was soldiers’ duties to fight during World War I tensions.  

Interestingly Engler then discusses Uganda as one of the potential candidates for a Jewish state for Jews.  The issue with that is that Jews don’t say “next year in Kampala”, they say in “Jerusalem”.  Which is why they wanted their own Arab-colonized land back.

Between fallacious numbers and arguments he contradicted himself on several occasions referring to Jews as Zionists and neglecting the fact that Israel also has an Arab population.

Engler continuously references the notion of Palestinians even though they had no actual collective identity until 1967.  Among his worst claims, he insisted Canadians participated in actual massacres of Palestinians.

I would like him to cite what he said because it smells an awful lot like horse manure.

Engler insisted that the entire world considers Israel to be an illegal occupation.  He told people to go to Global Affairs website online and then claimed that Canada sells arms to Israel.

Too bad, Israel is the globally recognized Jewish State.

Political Deception

The debate was not over yet.  There was still so much to debunk.  In another part of Engler’s speech, he claimed that there is military repression on Palestinians.  If that were the case then why are there Members of Knesset that are Arab?  Why can Arabs become doctors, lawyers, and professors if there was any type of oppression?

Then Engler tries to deceive the crowd by implying that Judea and Samaria is the right wing name for the West Bank when it is actually its historical name.

I started to feel sick, I started to ask myself when this nonsense was going to end?  My opponent continued, finally citing something, and then completely makes a fool out of himself with his own hypocrisy.  He alleged that according to the charter of rights and freedoms, you cannot discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, national origin or religion.

Then why does Engler advocate for BDS which incessantly discriminates against Israelis and Jews?

In the last point I recorded, Engler mentions that the JNF controls lands stolen in 1948 and says it excludes non-Jews, this is wholly false as Arabs have prospering communities in Israel and have the highest quality of health in the entire Middle East.  

While I refuted most of his arguments in detail here, the video footage of Engler demonstrates how the other side chooses to “debate”.  He never once challenged my assertions or my definitions throughout the actual debate because he knew he would be wrong, instead, he just repeats his fallacious and generic narrative.

Question Period

As a side note, the question period was also a classic bash-Israel fest.  Typical stereotypes being thrown around, grandstanding and proselytising.  Even from the 19-year-old lecturing me about checkpoints less than 2 months after my friend was murdered while grocery shopping.

Based on this debate, I think Canada should unequivocally support Israel.

Here is the clip, it is long but worthwhile if you are interested in advocacy and Hasbara.