Thursday, July 20, 2006

Divided Loyalties

The Toronto Star , along with all other media outlets, notes with disapproval that the Canadian government cannot simply organize another miraculous Dunkirk-style mass evacuation at the drop of a hat (ignoring, of course, the fact that Dunkirk was just across the English Channel.)

But what's more interesting to note is the difference between their claims about the background of most of the evacuees and who they quoted:

The first group of frightened Canadians hoping to flee Israel's bombing — which has killed 300 people, mostly civilians — found themselves pushing and shoving for hours under a baking Mediterranean sun, dehydrated and in some cases fainting.

Most were tourists with limited links to Lebanon.

Or were they?

"I could have expected this from many countries, but not from Canada. Not from my country," said Siba Abouchacra, 33, of Morriston, Ont., whose husband had flown from Toronto to Cyprus in the vain hope of meeting her there.

Brampton resident Rania Zahreddine, 29, endured what she described as a nightmarish day only to find out she and her two children weren't heading home.

"People were crying, people were fainting, people were bleeding — we saw the worst things today," said Zahreddine, holding back tears while comforting her 10-month-old son and 4-year-old daughter.


Montrealer Dima Faour, 27, on medication for the past month to prevent a miscarriage, was allowed through the front gate but was left standing for hours because her name was not on the list.

And yet, Faour said embassy staff called her the day before, knew she was pregnant, and told her she would get priority treatment.

"I don't want to lose the baby just standing here. I guess they don't care," said Faour, being cared by her husband, who was staying behind because he's not a Canadian citizen.

Fouad Rmeih, 48, collapsed to the pavement as he forced his way inside the gate and was revived by Lebanese soldiers pouring water on his face. His T-shirt was soaked in perspiration.

Some, like Ottawa resident Nahed Mourad, risked their lives to travel from south Lebanon, where Israeli bombing is heaviest, only to have to push and shove their way into the port.

"We left at 4:30 this morning. There were missiles and bombs as we came," said Mourad, 23, describing her trip from Brakeh. "We came here thinking the Canadians were going to take care of us. I could have just stayed at home and waited for the missiles to hit my house."

Yep, just another bunch of ordinary white-bread Canadian tourists caught by surprise in a war zone in a strange country.

The Lebanese-Canadian dual citizenship holders use whichever citizenship is most helpful to them at the time. They were good Lebanese citizens until the guns started firing; now they're good Canadians. When the guns fall silent, they'll get on the plane back to Lebanon.

Perhaps the Canadian government should play the same game. Ask each evacuee whether he holds any other citizenships. If any of them are also Lebanese citizens, remind them that loyal sons and daughters of Lebanon must not abandon their homeland in its time of need, and leave them to stand with their homeland.


Anonymous said...

I am amazed that a woman on medication to prevent a miscarriage would even travel that far, then complain that she didn't get to leave first! Ungrateful and hoping to get back to Canada in time to have her child here, no doubt.

Mark Dowling said...

Correlating their names is hardly fair game. For instance, if I had kids and they wanted to go to Ireland for the summer I'd hope Canada could get them out if some disaster happened, but by your assumption given that mine is an Irish surname you'd leave them to be tough it out?

Loyalist said...

If your children held dual citizenship in Ireland, yes, I would.

Dual citizenship has given rise to the cynical treatment of citizenship in general as a mere flag of convenience, to be raised or lowered as needed.

No more.

Let the Lebanese who can't demonstrate any greater connection to Canada than a passport tough it out in Lebanon.