Netanyahu calls Trudeau. What now: will Trudeau fold or hold the line?

Trudeau is under tremendous pressure to “walk back” his criticism of Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians.  He even got a personal call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. But Canadian civil society is also mobilizing. Will Trudeau cave? Read more…

Prime Minister Trudeau received an unexpected call from Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu following Trudeau’s strong denunciation of the killing of Palestinian civilians calling for an independent investigation. The unusual call was an attempt to get Trudeau to reverse his decision and no doubt organized by the very strong Israel lobby here in Canada. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) claims it has already succeeded in bombarding Trudeau’s office with over 9000 emails or messages.

And there is some indication that they are having an effect on Trudeau. On May 18th, the UN Human Rights Council voted to support an investigation of the type Trudeau had proposed. But surprisingly, Canada’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Rosemary McCarney, said Canada “opposed” the resolution because it was biased against Israel.

 Canadian civil society mobilizes


Roy Culpeper, Chair of the Group of 78, has urged his members to contact Trudeau’s office asking him to go beyond an investigation and look at “root causes”

But Trudeau is also facing pressure from Canadian civil society organizations, whose members urge him to hold the line, saying  “enough is enough”.


One of them is Roy Culpeper, the head of the “Group of 78”, an Ottawa group that includes many retired Canadian diplomats. Among other things Culpeper was formerly President and Chief Executive Officer of The North-South Institute in Ottawa and before that was an official at the World Bank in Washington.

In his letter on behalf of the G78, Culpeper congratulates Trudeau for his statement demanding an inquiry, but urges him to go beyond this to look at root causes:

We (…) urge you to look to what needs to be done. (…) . This includes, at a minimum, ending of the blockade of Gaza, termination of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and discussion of the right of return by Palestinian refugees to their properties in Israel.

If these root causes of conflict are not addressed, it is inevitable that the use of violence by the Israeli Defence Force against Palestinian protestors, whose grievances are entirely justifiable, will only grow.

Roy Culpeper, Chair, Group of 78

Culpeper urges other G78 members to also write their own letters to the Prime Minister.

Concern expressed by many human rights organizations focused on the middle east

Concern over Israel’s shocking violence has already been expressed by many organizations who have traditionally made Palestinian human rights one of their main concerns. For example:

But others are also speaking up…

The G78 is not specifically focused on the Israel/Palestine question. Culpeper’s letter reflects a broader civil society awareness of, and concern about, the desperate situation of the Palestinians, and concern over Israel’s astounding violence and its insistence that it has done nothing wrong.

A few other examples:

On April 6th, the Rev. Michael Blair, Executive minister of the United Church of Canada (UCC) wrote Trudeau appealing to him to support an inquiry. In part the letter called for “the immediate need for Security Council intervention to protect Palestinians, and to take measures to end the Israeli occupation by implementing the UN resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the civilian toll continued to rise, the church followed up with a further letter, now calling on its adherents to write the PM, asking Canada to call for an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza and take an international leadership role in negotiating just peace.

Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Youssuf wrote a strong letter of support to Palestinians. “On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the killings of dozens of unarmed Palestinians at mass demonstrations near the Gaza Strip’s eastern border on Monday. More than two thousand were also injured and we can no longer stand idly by“, he said in a letter to the Palestinian representative in Ottawa.


What Next?

What happens next will be a test of wills. Will Trudeau back down? Or stay firm in the face of pressure from the powerful Israel lobby? No doubt Trudeau will be keeping his (political) finger in the air, seeing which way the wind is blowing.

Many Canadians agree that the Israeli actions were cruel and unjustified.  Those who feel strongly should write Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland, and copy Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May, as well as their own MP (first name.last

But many others don’t know enough and prefer to keep out of the fray. Because of the media attention to the issue, this is a good time to talk to friends and family about the plight of the Palestinian refugees trapped in Gaza. You might even want to refer friends to an excellent interview done by Tarek Loubani, that Canadian doctor who was also shot while trying to provide first aid to Palestinian protesters.

After years of telling the Palestinians they should try “non violent resistance”, they have done so, and have paid a terrible penalty in death and injury. Will Canada support them? Or not?


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue. We invite brief comments (under 100 words) from readers.

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  1. Given the growing chaos within Trudeau’s Liberal government on so many fronts, the fact that a Canadian diplomat at the UN rejected a call for an investigation isn’t really that surprising. Still one would anticipate there has been some form of communications between the PMO and it’s UN staffers,

    Someone clearly has to push hard to demand that Trudeau clarify this schism. Has he been flipped or was the UN Canadian stance a mistake? The latter seems a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

  2. Almost immediately after Trudeau called for an investigation into the Gaza conflict, Hamas publicly announced the majority of deaths on Monday, May 21 were military operatives. How does this square with inflammatory and one-sided headlines that accuse Israel of shooting “unarmed” civilians? When distinguished, and supposedly moderate Arab lobbyists like Roy Culpeper are marshaled to demand a right of return and the effective end to the only Jewish state in the world (nobody is calling for a Jewish right of return to Arab lands), it is evident that the specter of “objective analysis” this blog claims to promote is a cover for the (obfuscated) foregone conclusion that Israel as a Jewish state should cease to exist.

    In the interests of truth, reconciliation and full disclosure, this fundamental position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to be clearly stated on the “about” page with the “mission” of this blog.

    1. Hey Sixmillionstitches,
      I believe that Hamas announced that many of the deaths were Hamas members (I’m not sure they said militants). But Hamas is a very popular political party in Gaza (they did win in the last election, remember) with lots of members, so many of the people in the protest could well be Hamas members.

      What is surprising, however, is that the Hamas members in the protest, WHETHER ARMED OR NOT, did not use those arms. They could have, very easily. But – at least during these protests – Hamas has adopted a non-violent approach. I don’t assume that means they have given up armed struggle forever. But they appear to have agreed to try non-violent resistance. I am sure they are now assessing how well that worked.

    2. Your name gives away your clear bias and helps me understand why you resort to lies about Hammas being responsible for the shooting of an unarmed Canadian doctor. You are more than likely one of the thousands of internet trolls Israel has hired to defend them on the internet.

      1. Hey Jim, while I understand where you are coming from, I think your post is more of an “ad hominem” attack against “Stitches”. I would prefer that you stick to solid arguments rather than personal comments.

    3. Stop these lies every body see the kidd s get shot and what about the Canadian doctor who get shot

    4. While I fully understand why many Palestinians might on occasion utter comments or suggestions about the potential end of existence for Israel given that Israel is obviously the reason why Palestine, a reality in the mid-east centuries before Israel came into existence, has been chopped up and hacked to the point it’s little more than two isolated prison camps to which access is controlled by Israel.

      Hamas remains a red-herring played by the Netanyahus and echoed by the US and some of it’s NATO partners. Fact is, since the Friday demonstrations began no one on the Palestinian side has fired a single shot into Israel where as Israel has positioned troops just outside the prison fences where they practice target shooting with fishbowl accuracy ending in seemingly endless deaths and injuries.

      But of course, anyone affiliated with Hamas is immediately tagged a radical and assumed to be armed and aiming. So where is the body count or the list of wounded from their phantom attacks.

      It seems pretty evident that Israel’s treatment of Palestine and its leaders is parallel to how it and the US treat Iran.

      It shouldn’t surprise anyone that active Hamas members are being targeted by Israeli troops as it fits the Netanyahu narrative that everything and anyone linked to Hamas is a “terrorist” bent on Israel’s immediate destruction.

    5. Of course Hamas never said that the majority of those killed on that day were militants. In fact there is some confusion as ine Hamas rep said 50 were members (not militants) while another said they woumd be paying for 50 funerals whether they were Hamas members, IJ members or people not attached to any group.
      Of course also overlooked from the AFP report, from which the damning quote is selectively extracted, is that they further said they were there participating as civilians, unarmed and particilating in peaceful protest.

      What matters is whether they were armed. Being associated with a group is not grounds for extrajudicial murder.

  3. Thank you Peter for this alert. As Lobby pressure will exceed that of decent people, this will be an interesting test of principle vs. pragmatism for JT. Silence, or votes as the one you described, should be interpreted as caving to the pressure.

    Yes, good question: will Canada support non-violence, or continue to support Israeli violence? Let us recall that this is not the first time the question has been asked. The essentially non-violent first intifada saw over 1000 Palestinian deaths and over 100,000 injuries.

    The outcome was a genuine peace process which Israel quickly turned into a sham, contracting the newly formed PA to run the occupation. They even signed the Wye River accord legitimizing apartheid. The rest, as they say, is history.

    1. Hey Robert, thanks for your comment. If the lobby is in fact able to mobilise significantly more people than those on the other side, I think Trudeau will go with that. This is not so much a test of Trudeau’s “principles” as a referendum on the ability of the human rights community to mobilise its own people.

      1. Peter, speaking for myself, I don’t consider myself having an obligation to get a letter on the right side of the scale, extending your metaphor. Rather I want a politician whose principles I can rely on, who can show leadership against the tide. I think, for instance, of Chretien’s defining decision not to go to Iraq.

        I believe you are correct, he’ll go with the way the wind is blowing, rather than stand on principle. To my mind, that may make a good politician, but a terrible leader.

  4. Death and destruction will remain the
    fate of the Palestinians for as long as
    fear of Jews will continue to hang over western psyche. Unquestioning and
    blind support from Jew fearing western
    nations is what this is all about; one side is unarmed except for stones; the
    other armed to the teeth; hundreds,
    Thousands; doesn’t matter; women,
    children doesn’t matter. Yet the perpetrators want the world to feel
    sorry for what the Nazis did to them.
    Yet they ask why people hate them. Why would anyone love people who are
    devoid of any humanity any shame any compassion; minus any sense of justice. What on earth did the Palestinians do to deserve this fate? Were they responsible for the death of
    Millions of Jews in Europe?

    1. Hey Sam,
      thanks for your comments. With respect, I disagree. I don’t think the West is afraid OF Jews. I think they are afraid FOR Jews.

      The horrible cloud of the holocaust still hangs over us 75 years later. Of course, Palestinians had no responsibility for it, but Jews are haunted by the idea that another holocaust could happen and few Canadians are prepared to take that risk. So, unhappily, they support Israel even while it causes great harm to Palestinians.

      1. Respectfully Peter I was not talking of the average Joe and Jane, but every single western government and Congress, Parliaments etc. When the road to Congress and the WH runs through Tel Aviv/Jerusalem and a Jewish magnate’s casino, can one still call it a democracy. When the ‘shining light on the hill’ looks a lot like the flames of a lava bringing destruction to large swathes of the earth. Here is a quote from Fred Reed “In Washington–where I worked in journalism for decades–fear of Jews is so great that no one dares say what a great many are thinking.”
        I would also recommend an article by Uri Avnery in today’s edition of Counterpunch. Thank you

      2. Hey Sam, our democracy has many flaws. We don’t live in an ideal world. Some have more resources than others. They will also have more influence. I wish it were not the case, but it is the world we live in. Strong language and dramatic images (“flames of lava”) are not likely to change that, in my opinion.

  5. Just think for a second what the reaction would have been had hundreds of unarmed protestors been slaughtered in any other country; the chorus of condemnation would have been deafening; how that Indian woman Haley’s ,Sikh and now Christian heart would have been bleeding. Sevent years and counting and the blood continues to colour the desert sand. Who does one thank? Hitler? Balfour? I would say it’s the devil. Which God would approve of champaign bottles being uncorked while bullets tore apart children’s limbs barely a few miles away. “Have they no shame” is beginning to sound too mild for these merchants of death.

  6. Canadian unbalance and blind support to the apartheid state has always been around. Its double standard and hypocrisy is well known to the world not only by the current government but also from its predecessors. Mr. Trudeau has at least broken his silence and truth has come out about the killings of innocent Palestinians. The question is for how long will it last.

    One would hope the days of Canada’s whole-hearted support of criminal regime are over. In return, punitive threats and harsh bullying will continue to attack the government by the Israeli lobby groups as usual.

    1. I think the Israel lobby groups are using their democratic right to pressure our government. Why would you call it bullying? If they have more clout than we do, we have to look inwards.

      I once asked a senior politician “What do Palestinian Canadians need to do to be better heard?”. He smiled. “They need to get rich, and be generous. Everyone listens to rich generous people.” Canadian Jews have worked hard, and many have been generous contributors to universities, hospitals and library. Of course that means that they have influence.

      1. God help us, literally, if justice and truth have to compete for influence with wealth and shows of generosity. That’s not democracy, but plutocracy.

      2. Peter justice and humanity should not be reduced to a bidding war between rich and poor. Justice and humanity should not be for sale. No one is dismissive of philanthropy by Jews or anyone but when money is used to buy off politicians, we are talking corruption. Nothing to be proud of.

      3. Sam, I am not talking about corruption.
        There is nothing wrong with a Bronfman, or whomever, giving a whack of money to a university. In fact, its a good thing. And there is nothing wrong with a university asking Mr. Bronfman to sit on their board. (These are for made up examples). And it will follow that many other people on that university board will respect Mr. B. for his contribution. When the issue of Israel/Palestine comes up, (as in whether to ban BDS on campus,for example) he is on the board while someone with different views might not be. We are not talking corruption. This is the way our society works.

      4. Peter, how can they be generous when they kill people. How can they contribute to the society when they murder, raid houses, jail children and women. Democratic right is fine and should be practiced by everyone but the Zionists killing machine is not the democratic path to influence others. They will continue to threat and bully because that’s the way they operate. One does not need to be rich, all it needs is humanity and an open heart with eyes.

      5. Hey Muazzam, Where do you live? Are you in Israel or in Canada?
        My blog is intended for Canadians to debate Canadian policy towards the Middle
        Canadian Jews are, and have to be part of that debate. They do not kill people (or at least any more or less than non Jewish Canadians). Nor do they murder, raid houses, jail children and women etc. That is done by the Israeli government. Many Canadian Jews wring their hands over some of what Israel does. But they also support the Zionist idea of a Jewish State.

      6. Peter, I strongly disagree with the statement, “there is nothing wrong with a university asking Mr. Bronfman to sit on their board.” And I am in agreement with Sam on the “moral courage.”

        In this country, universities are public and publicly-funded institutions which must be accountable to the public, not to the rich. Only in a narrow definition of democracy is power and influence for sale.

        IMO, there is everything wrong with a Bronfman holding any unelected office, or even worse, being JT’s bagman in chief (c.f. Stephen Bronfman). He influences JT’s thinking on this issue with $ bills. That is corruption of democracy at it’s worst.

        Let us recall that democracy (demos-kratos) means “people-power.” What you seem to be defending is plutocracy (plutos-kratos), “wealth-power” dressed up as democracy.

      7. Hey Robert, Thanks for expressing your disagreement.
        I think you took my comment a little more literally than I intended. Bronfman is not on McGill’s board. (It was meant as a for instance.) All universities, even public ones, have boards, and look for board members who can help them in different ways. Wealthy donors, whether Jewish or not, are important to universities which are always stretched for funds. (More important, unfortunately, than you or I). That also makes them influential, too.

        I agree that our democracy is not perfect. But that is the real world. Those with money have more influence. If you want to inveigh against that, go ahead.

  7. Let’s hope that PMJT can maintain his stance on a UN investigation into the killings of Palestinian demonstrators in opposition to any arguments brought to beare by the master bully propogandist magician Netanyahu . Interventions from Canadian civil society will help assure PMJT that both poliitics and morality are on his side, notwithstanding the counterinterventions of the pro Israel lobby.

    The word from New York that someone in the Canadian mission had already dished the UN investigation is very disturbing but perhaps not surprising. Apparently Ambs Blanchard and Haley are very close. Canada is neither a member of the UNSC where the investigation has been nixed by Haley nor the UNHRC where the proposed investigation has aleady been refused any cooperation by Israel just as Israel has refused to have anything to do with Michael Lynke the Canadian special rspporteur for Palestine. Whether Canada has the integrity to go the extra mile to support the investigation in these circumstances is quite problematic based on past performance.

    Canada seems only able to stand up to Israel USA condominium when it has courage of conviction and interests on its side. The UN investigation of the killings is certainly a test case that could become a TSN turning point if Canada on the eve of the Trump apeace nnouncement clearly reierated its policy of a two state Israel Palestine solution, appropriately with West and East Jerusalem as their respective capitals, and an intern. regime for the holy places a la Michael Bell. Cda chances on the UNSC could easily be at stske depending on its reaction.

    But a possibly equal or more challenging issue will be how much Canada stands up to the USA demand for unconditional surrender from Iran and the threat of the world’s toughest sanctions applied globally. PMJT has already supported the continuation of the JCPOA and the European Russia China position, having apparently rejected the arguments of a high level Israeli intelligence delegation bringing Netanyahu’s revealed secrets to convince PMJT to fall into line. But PMJT will now have to decide how to join Europe in protecting legitimate Canadian trade and investment with Iran from these USA extraterritorial sanctions. And this on the eve of the G7 summit where ME iisues will loom large with Canada having to play the role of host and mediator.

  8. bonjour Peter Larson,*Je vous attache la lettre que je viens d’envoyer à Trudeau-Freeland et autres -Merci pour vos courriels d’informationRaymond HurtubiseOttawa

    From: Canada Talks Israel/Palestine To: Sent: Monday, May 21, 2018 8:52 AM Subject: [New post] Netanyahu calls Trudeau. What now: will Trudeau fold or hold the line? #yiv0892742180 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0892742180 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0892742180 a.yiv0892742180primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0892742180 a.yiv0892742180primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0892742180 a.yiv0892742180primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0892742180 a.yiv0892742180primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0892742180 | Peter Larson posted: “Trudeau is under tremendous pressure to “walk back” his criticism of Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians.  He even got a personal call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. But Canadian civil society is also mobilizing. Will Trudeau cave? Read mor” | |

  9. Peter, I am in Canada and I have nothing against the Jews. My reference was towards those groups that are lobbying for the regime that kills people. How can they be generous when they support the state that commits crimes against it own people. How can they support an act of terrorism done by the Israeli government if they truly respect the rights of others. Zionism does not coincide with the justice and cannot be compatible with peace and justice.

    Palestine is for Palestinians only, Muslims are Palestinians, Christians are Palestinians and Jews are Palestinians. Anybody else does not belong to Palestine and therefore the Zionist – Jewish only state is null and illegitimate.

    1. Hey Muazzam, I completely understand where you are coming from. But when you ask “how can people do x or y?”, is that really a question, or is it just an expression of your own frustration. One book that was very helpful to me was “My Promised Land” by Ari Shavit, and Israeli journalist and writer. It didn’t bring me any closer to agreeing with Zionism, but it helped me understand “where they are coming from”, and, I think, better able to discuss with Canadian Jews who are Zionists.

  10. @Peter: “That is the way our society works”; it did under Harper; hopefully less so with Justin. So we have Sheldon Adelson ( a.k.a Mr Bronfman) in the US who dishes out wads of cash to “honourable” US politicians across the board, in return they pledge to bring death and destruction to the Palestinians and you say that is not corruption??? Corruption of the soul???

    Members of the Board of the University should have the moral courage to tell Mr Bronfman that they greatly appreciate their donations but their consciences are not up for sale. Does that make sense Peter?

    1. Hey Sam, This will be the last time I chime in here. I will make two points, please respond if you want. But if you want to discuss more, please do so by writing me personally at I fear that exchanging publicly pressures people to overstate their position and dig in to previously held beliefs.

      1. I think our democracy works pretty well the same way under Trudeau as it did under Harper (or Chretien, etc…). It is not perfect, but no democracy is. And if you line up countries in the world, I think Canadian democracy comes near the top end.

      2. As far as “moral courage” goes, it seems you find it hard to believe that anybody with “moral courage” could come to a different conclusion from you. NOt surprisingly they find that insulting. I don’t think that Elizabeth May, or Jordan Cantwell, moderator of the United Church of Canada, lack “moral courage”. But neither supports BDS, and both accept the idea of Israel as a Jewish State. I disagree with them, but I don’t think its because I am more moral than they are. I think I have a better, more concrete, understanding than they do of what a “Jewish State” means in practice for its non Jewish citizens.

  11. We should appreciate that big money plays far less a role in Canadian politics than in USA politics. Mr. Bronfman can only give about 3000 to any political formation in Canada – 1500 to the party and 1500 to the local riding – while Mr. Adelson can get 25 million through to the Trump presidency one way or another. Regardless, some of the great Jewish business families can be a force for a final just solution for Israel Palestine, as much as staunch supporters of Israel right or wrong.. As much as they support Israel, many NA Jews are concerned about Israel’s future and the increasing alienation of North American Jews from Israel. I saw Mr. Ron Lauder, head of the Wold Jewish Congress, call for a change in Israeli policies and image and Mr Charles Beonfman express concerns about his birhright programs at the recent Jerusalem Post conference ( I wanted to ask him to bring the Expos back to Montreal.) One problem is that the hardline unyielding Natanyahu is not listening to moderating advice from even his most loyal and concerned North American Jewish backers; press rumour in Israel is that Netanyahu has even given up on North Anerican Jews and is relying more on American Right Republican, neo cons and Evangelicals as evidenced by who attended the Jerusalem embassy opening. So there is both hope and despair about the complex role of the North American Jewish community in contributing to an Is Pal solution.

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