“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
— “Silver Blaze,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I submit that growing numbers of Canadians are deeply troubled by the continuing Israeli siege, air bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip and its deadly impact on the Palestinian civil population.
There is very little evidence of this. But that, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, is the curious thing.
If we comb the pages of the Canadian mainstream media, or sources connected to the current Canadian government, of course, we see overwhelming evidence of unstinting support for Israel’s actions. Indeed, within a few minutes of a story on the human catastrophe in Gaza being posted on the Toronto Star or Globe and Mail Websites, dozens of comments containing all pro-Israel talking points will appear.
If we comb the Internet, of course, we can find Canadian voices opposed to Israel’s actions, or merely concerned about the human cost of the scale of the attacks and their seemingly disproportionate impact on civilians – women, children and the aged. But they are not much in evidence in the mainstream press. Where they do appear, given the editorial approach taken to letters to the editor and the like, it would appear the two “sides” in Canada have roughly equal numbers of supporters.
Again, I submit to you that this is not so. I believe the sense of profound disquiet with the actions taken by Israel – and the enthusiastic support it receives from the governments of the United States and Canada and the mainstream North American media – is growing, and growing quickly.
Principally, of course, my evidence is the people I talk to – because other than letters to the editor and Website comments, there isn’t much more to go on.
But why is it – and here is where the dog fails to bark – that there is virtually no polling of the Canadian population to find out what they think about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza? Aren’t we polled on virtually every topic under the sun?
I don’t know about you, but I am polled regularly by major polling companies. Maybe it’s the St. Albert neighbourhood I live in. But, during the federal election campaign, I was fielding calls from what appeared to be legitimate pollsters at least once a week, sometimes more frequently. One of them even asked me – twice – if I would join a special on-line panel. I’ve also been asked numerous times about my product preferences, of course.
But no one has ever asked me, or anyone I know, about what I think of what Israel is up to in Gaza, or my federal government’s unquestioning support for it. Nor have I ever read a news story about such a poll.
Just to be certain, yesterday I called account representatives from two major national polling firms with which I have dealt in the past five years. Although the Canadian public’s views of this situation are a legitimate topic for public opinion research, neither was aware of such a poll having been taken at any time in Canada in the last couple of months.
Why wouldn’t a major media company commission a poll on this topic? Why wouldn’t our government – so enamoured of direct democracy in other areas – want to know what Canadians really feel about this important subject? Especially in the light of the fact so many Canadian citizens were caught in the crossfire when Israel attacked southern Lebanon in 2006, arousing considerable controversy in this country at the time.
One recent poll from the United States suggests that Americans are more divided on this topic than we had been previously led to believe. The Rasmussen poll reported on Dec. 31, concluded Americans “are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip.”
“Forty-four per cent (44%) say Israel should have taken military action against the Palestinians, but 41% say it should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the problems there,” says a story on the polling firm’s Website. Interestingly, it goes on, “a majority of Democrats (55%) say Israel should have tried to find a diplomatic solution first.”
I suspect the numbers of citizens who do not support Israel’s military actions are much larger in this country than in the United States. I believe that significant numbers of Canadians believe what is happening in Gaza is a humanitarian disaster that calls for even-handed and forceful diplomacy, not cheerleading for one side, by the Canadian government.
You can say it ain’t so, but without honest numbers neither of us can prove anything.
Obviously, it’s high time for some scientific polling of Canadian public opinion on this politically sensitive but important issue. If there is none, you have to wonder why.