Trudeau’s hopes for Security Council seat threatened by Canada’s stance on Israel – fmr. diplomats


Prime Minister Trudeau has established a special 8 member team to shepherd Canada’s bid to become a member of the elite UN Security council. But analysts say Canada’s membership is not a slam-dunk. One big obstacle – our policy of defending Israel from international criticism. Read more.

The Hill Times reported this week that Global Affairs Canada has established a dedicated team to work on the government’s goal of winning a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council beginning in 2021.

Eight people are working on Canada’s bid for the Security Council, with six at headquarters in Ottawa and two at Canada’s permanent mission to the UN in New York City, according to the foreign ministry.

The top diplomat on the file is Canada’s permanent representative to the UN in New York City, Marc-André Blanchard.

But several former senior Canadian diplomats feel that Canada’s determined support of Israel in the face of its repeated violations of international law and UN resolutions, makes this a difficult task.


Mason: “The issue of Israel and the Palestinians hangs like a cloud over discussions at the UN”

“Israel is in repeated contravention of UN resolutions but is shielded from any meaningful consequences by the U.S. veto in the Security Council”, noted Peggy Mason, a former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and now President of the Rideau Institute. “Canada’s alignment with the United States on the Israel/Palestine issue leaves us isolated from the large majority of UN member states.”

In a series of votes at the General Assembly (here, here and here) last November and December, Canada was one of only 5 nations (including Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau) which voted with the USA to shield Israel from criticism over its human rights abuses in the Occupied territories.

Former Canadian Ambassador to the UN Paul Heinbecker, when reached by phone, observed, “Canada’s position on Israel puts it at odds with all of the other members of the Security Council except the USA.  This will not help our bid for a seat“.

Growing international condemnation of Israel

Just before Christmas, the Security Council adopted by a vote of 14 to 0, a strong resolution reaffirming that ALL Israeli construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) is in violation of International law. Only the USA abstained.

When Israel responded to the UN vote by doubling down, announcing even more settlement construction, and then adopting a new law which legalizes the theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “deep regret” over the bill, saying it was “in contravention of international law and will have far-reaching legal consequences for Israel. Many of Canada’s allies, including France, Germany and Britain issued strong statements of condemnation.  Even several Canadian Jewish organizations expressed their opposition.  

But not from Canada…

In contrast, neither Trudeau nor Canada’s new minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland has made any statement at all.

In fact, Canada is now in violation of that UN security council resolution which amongst other things, calls on all member states to differentiate between Israel and the Occupied Territories. Canada has a free trade agreement with Israel which, like the US-Israel agreement, treats goods made in the illegal Israeli settlements as if they were coming from Israel.

A big challenge for Canada in winning the seat will be to convince other nations that we have an independent foreign policy and that putting Canada on the Security Council would not be seen as tantamount to giving the USA a second vote”, warns former UN Ambassador Heinbecker.


“Raise the issue, but lower the temperature”

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  1. While we Canadians feel free to comment on American acts without being condemned as “anti-American”, we are hesitant to comment on Israel’s acts for fear of being called “anti-semitic”. Is that because Americans feel no threat to their existence as a nation? If we are unable to have public discussion about this — or any other important issue — we’ll never resolve it.

    1. Hey “fearless analyst”. I agree that we need to talk about this. But I think there is actually a lot more space for public discussion about this than most folks realize. I have used the motto “raise the issue, but lower the temperature” to do so. I have found it quite effective.

      1. I agree with the idea of lowering the temp. etc., but I find the vast majority of people these days just aren’t sure how to even “raise the issue” (if they’re even cognizant). I’ve been exploring possible “how to’s” since I realized that if we can’t learn how to discuss such issues in ‘civilized’ ways, then what’s the point of “democracy”? For the most part, I find an increasing proportion of the population A) Don’t care and don’t want to; and B) Know nothing about it, being preoccupied with “entertaining themselves to death”. Rather than despair, I try to introduce “delicious nibbles” that might arouse interest. 🙂 But Neil Postman was probably right, and we need to acknowledge what we are up against — all the more so because all important issues are up against the same thing. Meanwhile, keep up the good work 🙂

    2. @fearless —

      If you were advocating that America should abandon all territory east of the Mississippi river, that 1/2 the population of India should move to America as full citizens and create a Hindu culture there. And then after that the remaining Americans would have war crimes trials, pay huge reparations to the Indians… you would be accused of being anti-American.

      People who treat Israel like a normal country rationally pursuing the interests of its population and sometimes erring aren’t accused of anti-semitism. People who consider it unthinkable or immoral that Jews could decide to form a nation and create a state for that nation are mostly antisemites. People aren’t accused of antisemitism for merely commenting on Israeli acts, they are accused of antisemitism for commenting on Israeli acts in a way that demonstrates that deep down they don’t believe Jews are actually members of the human race.

  2. Gone are the days when a too-warm relations with the state of Israel got you an automatic disapproval from the Arab nations at the UN. The Middle East was transformed over the last decade, most of the Arab countries have a cooperation of one sort or another with Israel, and they will not vote against Canada’s bid to the security council based on the Israel/Palestine issue. Anyone who claims differently is either an ignorant or she is laying to promote her agenda.

  3. I think Canada should take a different position on this. Israel’s actions are not only violating international law, but certainly violating human rights and causing great sufferings every day.

    This doesn’t reflect Canadian values.

  4. The UNITED NATIONS’S SECUITY COUNCIL and the UN needs to be remade. It is out of date. It is not 1945 Anymore. Yet it works as if it is. AS all know one of the outstanding issues, Is the fact that world war two in the year 2017, is STILL going on. not all nations signed peace Treaties, one outstanding Example is :Russia and Japan. Another MAJOR ISSUE, is that the UN is being run on the basic’s of Tradition , I mean, that with the UN S, C and the UN is going by the Traditions set up in 1945, by the Winners of World War Two. So the UN needs To, for one, solve the issues of World War Two and that the UN needs to be overhauled. I wrote in 2006 to then , PM STEPHEN HARPER, The following : The UN ‘s SECUITY COUNCIL NEEDS TO BE CHANGE, here is an outline of how it can and should be redrawing. The number of members all ways on the S C should be, Canada, U S ,Mexico , Brazil , South Africa, Ethiopia , Egypt , Israel , Turkey, Iran ,INDIA, china, Japan , Australia , Germany , France, the U K , Russia ,[in all I had 26 nations on the list for being always being on the SC], IN THIS way the SC would look more like the world of 2006/today.

    1. How much influence does Ethiopia have outside of neighboring countries?
      When has Mexico projected power beyond central America? (and fairly rarely even there)

      Certainly I can see a case for Japan, Germany, India. But most of your countries are at best regional powers. They just don’t have much power. If the USA does something in South America that Turkey doesn’t like what are they going to do about it?

      1. ok, CD-Host, if you agree that Japan, Germany, INDIA , should be on the SC .SO the UN SC HAS 8 all year members. IS that where it should be?. Those 8 only on the UN SC year around?

  5. I’m a jew who openly calls out Israel on its crimes against humanity. Israel can’t accuse its critics of antisemitism when Israel has been practicing antisemitism for the past 50 years on a daily basis. How? well you see, all those Palestinians who have been oppressed and dehumanized by Israel in the past 50 years happen to be Semites. Most of the Eastern mediterraneans are semites. More semitic than all those illegal jewish Russian settlers. Yes the semitic genes are not exclusive to the jewish people, Arabs are also SEMITES. So next time you feel the need to criticize Israel, equip yourselves with this knowledge. And may a real and fair peace deal bring the Palestinians and the Israelis together one day…I pray…

    1. This topic seems to keep coming up on this board but I have yet to hear what Canada intends to do with a Security Council seat? How does it serve Canada’s interests to have this seat? What do they get from it? Why would it be worth sacrificing to get it?

    2. I could not agree more! I often feel the current tragedy of the region goes back to the British Mandate and before. Oh for the separation of religion and the state(s)…

  6. Canada should not be standing by the number 1 Terrorists that call themselves zionitst. They are killing and torturing Children and unarmed humans.

    1. I heard about the Zionists winning that award for number 1 terrorists because of their killing of civilians. The Séléka are pretty mad about it. Here they kill about 1/2 million annually over a thousand a day now for over a decade and the Zionists get top billing while running at a rate less than 10 a day. Damn Jews always cheating.

  7. @fearless

    I was more focused on the difficulty of having open discussions about such subjects.

    This comes down to ingroup vs. outgroup discussion. Where the Israeli / Palestinian debate is different than many foreign policy human rights debates is that there are many strong domestic supporters of the Israeli regime. Human rights activists are not used to having to deal with regimes they see as terrible on human rights that also has strong domestic supporters that identifies with the regime / nation. So for example there is a debate about Syria and which side the USA should be on. No particularly strong group however likes the Alawite / Assad nor does any particularly strong group like al-Nusra nor ISIL nor … So people can disagree but no one (in a political sense) feels they are being attacked.

    Which means Israeli policy plays more like a domestic issue not a foreign policy issue among the people who most care. Of course it plays like a foreign policy issue in most contexts. If you read a Hispanic newspaper there is going to be discussion of Israeli / Palestine with very little passion on either side. But of course activists trying to grow a movement need to target people who are capable of being passionate on the issue not people who are indifferent.

    There are other issues like that. China is a good analogy here but there doesn’t seem to be much overlap between anti-Chinese activism and anti-Israeli activism. Another good analogy I’m noticing developing is Pakistan / India in the American community (again I don’t know if Canada is experiencing a similar dynamic on this one or not).

    That being said, the idea that this conversation is impossible is nonsense. People have open discussions on Israeli policy all the time. Israel has a vibrant democracy and a rich political culture. Almost all the parties have USA branches (I don’t know about Canada but I suspect most of these cross the border):

    Meretz: Partners for Progressive Israel
    Jewish Home: My Israel
    Labor: Arzenu

    Jewish newspapers and policies thrive. Palestinians in the diaspora also have a very rich (possibly richer) political context where they debate policy options and the news. There are all sorts of NGOs….

    Given that context BDSers have particular trouble discussing the issue because their position is both self contradictory and offensive. It falls apart when critiqued from almost any angle. They don’t have good answers. I’m coming to the conclusion there is no serious discussion because they have to raise the heat to have a serious discussion. Boycott, divestment and sanctions all supposedly revolve around trade policy. How often in BDS literature do you hear much analysis of the trade structure of Israel? Wouldn’t you expect a trade oriented group to know and discuss Israeli trade more? Which of course leads to the question of why a group dedicating to changing the international trade structure of Israel knows essentially nothing about Israeli trade. Once it becomes obvious that BDSers are indifferent to trade economics then the goal can’t be trade that is going to naturally lead to conversations about the real aims…..

    Imagine a conversation:

    X: Don’t you agree potholes are bad? Then join us in not eating red meat until the potholes disappear.
    Y: What?
    X: Why don’t you support not eating red meat?
    Y: Because not eating red meat won’t fix potholes?
    X: Well it worked in South Africa they didn’t eat red meat and now they don’t have potholes?
    Y: WTF are you talking about? Nothing like that happened.
    X: Of course it did. Haven’t you read crazy activist #7s glowing poetry about potholes?
    Y: (starts talking about solutions that have worked against potholes like using more flexible concrete and drainage)
    X: What does that have to do with red meat?
    Y: Well nothing but it how you reduce potholes.
    X: Our goal isn’t to reduce potholes but to eliminate them all together and the only solution is not eating red meat?

    How do you suggest that dialogue go better? The only thing I can think of is that X needs to thinking more clearly about potholes.

    1. Just adding to my comment a bit because I did get a bit more snarky there than I meant.

      The other thing I think that hurts the debate is that anti-Zionists tend to assume they have agreement on points they don’t. For example:

      a) That the UN’s position on Israel is fair and is an outer bound for what is reasonable for Israel.
      b) That Jews have adopted the Western European left’s post WWII anti-nationalist ideology
      c) That Israeli supporters oppose state churches

      They simply aren’t ready to debate the deeper questions which are often the root of the disagreement. And I think that’s one of the reasons the debate degenerates into name calling.

      This came up in the MLA debate. Many of the people who had proposed the anti-israel resolution were shocked when during the floor debate classic pro-colonialist arguments were made in Israel’s favor. They had assumed that anti-colonialism was a universally held position and that any debate about Israel / Palestine (especially in a group as far to the left as literature professors) would start with an anti-colonialist framework. They were rather shocked to discover that wasn’t the case. They instead discovered that anti-colonialist ideology had not won the intellectual war as much as they suspected and rather than debating “how do we best oppose colonialism” rather had to debate “is Israeli colonialism something we should oppose”. They weren’t ready and they lost.

      I think Peter is doing a good thing in creating a space where at least people are exposed to the other side.

  8. @Peter —

    You are asking a question I haven’t thought about much.

    If I were going to remake the SC I think I would remake it into a collection of regional bodies. Qualification would be based on economic, military influence within that region outside their borders over the last 10 years. Finally there would be a body for the very few truly international issues that need go the security council which would take into account the ability to project power in an absolute sense (population, size of economy, size of trade economy, mobile military strength especially ICBMs…). I think a 2 tier system works better.

    I don’t see any reason to care what Brazil thinks about Syria nor any reason to care what South Korea thinks about cocaine trade while acknowledging that both are regional powers and within their region are capable or projecting force and thus must be taken seriously in negotiations.

    Iran, USA, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia makes a lot of sense for a ME security council.
    China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Indonesia, USA, for east Asia.
    Canada, Mexico, USA, Cuba (?) for North America

    I think most issues are handled by the lower tier while sanctions and the final decision regarding regime change are handled by the upper tier body.

    Mostly my belief is: the security council exists to create a place where powers have a place to talk to avoid misunderstandings leading to wars and to create constant dialogue to help wars ratchet down in intensity more quickly. The people at the table should be the people who either likely get into a war in that region or the people who can effectually help negotiate because they have a plausible threat of changing the balance. The main goal should always be is avoiding political pressures spiraling out of control and killing 100m people.

  9. As long as Canada gives its unconditional support to Israel and its policy concerning the “colonization” of Palestinian lands for more and more “settlements”, Canada certainly does not deserve a seat on the UN security Council. As long as Canada has a free-trade agreement with Israel, knowing full well that so many of the so called “grown in Israel” goods in fact come from the occupied territories, Canada most certainly does not deserve a seat on the UN Security Council.

    1. @Alexander

      I have ro say I agree with you. Canada’s current position amounts to we will ignore international law (humanitarian and GC) and UNSC resolutions.

      As such it has no place on the SC. Hopefully Trudeau will see the error of his position and bring Canada back into being a law abiding country. The liberal party of today would shame Pearson.

  10. On Sat, Feb 11, 2017 at 10:10 AM, Canada Talks Israel/Palestine wrote:

    > Peter Larson posted: ” Prime Minister Trudeau has established a special 8 > member team to shepherd Canada’s bid to become a member of the elite UN > Security council. But analysts say Canada’s membership is not a slam-dunk. > One big obstacle – our policy of defending Israel from ” >

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