Just days into the New Year, the Canadian Peace Congress warns that 2024 is already looking very grim for the peace-loving people of the world. The organization is calling for increased mobilization against war and aggression, and condemns efforts by governments across Canada to criminalize anti-war protests.
The Peace Congress notes that the ongoing genocide in Palestine is increasing the risk of a much broader conflict in the region. The organization warns that Israel “is counting on a wider conflict which will bring the United States directly into war with regional powers in Lebanon, Iran, Yemen and Syria.”
In November, armed forces in Yemen closed access to the Red Sea through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, in order to stop block shipments to Israel. In response, the United States has initiated an imperialist “coalition of the willing,” which includes Canada, to try and keep this waterway open.
On January 2, Israeli forces launched an airstrike into southern Beirut, which killed Hamas deputy head Saleh al-Arouri. This prompted Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to declare that his organization is “not afraid of war.” While Israel has not yet officially taken responsibility for this attack, it is widely known that al-Arouri was on its “hit list.”
Israel’s attacks on Syria are also continuing. Aleppo and Damascus were attacked in October and December, and new missile attacks were launched on January 1 and 2.
The ongoing NATO war against the Russian Federation in Ukraine, now into its second year, is also marked by fresh escalations on a daily basis. The Peace Congress cites the recent attack by Ukrainian armed forces which fired cluster munitions in the centre of Belgorod, where civilians including children were shopping and gathered around the city’s Christmas tree. “This attack had no military targets – such munitions are banned for use in civilian areas, and they were fired without warning,” said Peace Congress president Larry Wasslen. “Russia has also escalated attacks throughout Ukraine, and these have also killed and injured many civilians.”
War and aggression abroad are reflected in Canada, where racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism are growing. The Peace Congress notes the connection between imperialist policies and Zionism, which has strong support among all Parliamentary political parties in Canada. “The Zionist lobby has been targeting racialized people, often women, who have dared to speak out and mobilize against the genocide of Palestinians,” said Wasslen. “People of Russian and Chinese descent have also experienced these kinds of attacks recently, whenever NATO’s fangs are exposed.”
In the face of this danger of expanded war the response of the Canadian government has been complicit. At best, there has been silence; and at worst, there is active support to imperialist aggression. In addition, governments at the federal, provincial and municipal levels are trying to criminalize those supporting oppressed people and opposing genocide. “Notably, Liberals and other parliamentarians are threatening and attempting to silence students across Canada who are struggling in support of the Palestinian people,” says Wasslen. “We will not be intimidated!”
The Canadian Peace Congress is calling on the broader peace and progressive movement to increase efforts to halt the genocidal war in Palestine and NATO aggression in Eastern Europe. “We urgently need immediate and permanent ceasefires, and we need to force the Canadian government to support South Africa’s case against Israel at the ICJ and to cut economic ties with Israel,” Wasslen told PV, adding, “The Congress recognizes that only an end to the Zionist occupation of Palestine will lead to peace.”
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