Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American politician and sociologist, once said “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
In response to an article about the unarmed civilian peacekeeping course at Selkirk College, someone wrote a brief letter — now removed from the website I see — accusing unarmed civilian peacekeepers of being anti-Semitic/Israel and pro-Palestinian. While he is allowed his opinion, he clearly has his facts wrong, on two counts.
Besides the reality that most unarmed civilian peacekeeping is avowedly nonpartisan, a quick survey of current and past unarmed civilian peacekeeping missions, undertaken by various organizations, shows a wide geographical presence in numerous Latin American, African, Asian and even European countries — not to mention indigenous communities in Ontario, inner-city Chicago and the US-Mexican border. These operations make up the overwhelming majority of unarmed civilian peacekeeping operations — and they have nothing to do with Israel or Palestine.
Of course, there are, and have been, unarmed civilian peacekeeping operations throughout the broader Middle East, including in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, unarmed civilian peacekeeping is nonpartisan, committed to working with all sides in a conflict, so it is certain that both Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in these operations.
I recall somewhere a writer saying that even with opinions, we are only really entitled to our informed opinions, not just anything we can think up and express. The writer of the earlier letter would do well to investigate some facts around unarmed civilian peacekeeping before exercising his freedom of speech.
George Chandler, Nelson