In diplomacy, words matter. After saying for years that Canada was an “ally” of Israel, that terminology was quietly dropped last month. We now say Canada is a “friend of Israel, and a friend to the Palestinian people”. That sounds balanced. CTIP’s research department has discovered some of the ways Canada puts that apparently “balanced” statement into practice. Read more…
At a recent meeting with the Toronto Jewish community, Deborah Lyons, Canada’s Ambassador to Israel explained that she had direct instructions from Prime Minister Trudeau to actively promote Israel. Her surprising – and frank – speech was captured in a remarkable series of videos by Dimitri Lascaris of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME.)
Ambassador Lyons told the crowd that Justin Trudeau has directed her to “expand, broaden and deepen” the Canada-Israel relationship and to make it “stronger, stronger and stronger.”
There was no mention of any effort to improve relations with Palestinians, however.
Based on a review of reliable news reports and official government of Canada documents, CTIP’s research department has compiled a preliminary list of 27 activities/positions of the Trudeau government which are aimed to support Israel and actively undermine Palestinian aspirations. A quick scan of the list gives an insight into what Canada’s new official formulation “friend of Israel, and friend to the Palestinian people” means in practice.
- UN General Assembly (UNGA): Since coming to power, the Trudeau government has voted to defend Israel against almost all resolutions that criticize it. It is one of only a handful of countries that are seen as faithful Israel supporters.
- UNGA Economic Committee – Canada worked to oppose references to “foreign occupation” in any resolution presented to the committee which Canada calls an attempt to single out Israel.
- UNGA Legal Committee – Canada advocated for Israel to be chair of the UN Legal committee.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Canada opposed Palestinian accession.
- An active defender of Zionism: In a statement marking Israel’s Independence Day, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau committed Canada to defending Zionism, that is the idea of a Jewish State in which Jews have rights denied to others.
- UN Environmental Assembly: Canada opposed a Field Based Environmental Assessment of the Effects of the 2012 and 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza.
- UNESCO: Canada opposed – and condemned – resolutions adopted by UNESCO to protect Palestinian cultural sites in East Jerusalem threatened by Israeli actions.
- UN Human Rights Council – Canada opposes any criticisms of Israel. It also joined Israel in severely criticizing the appointment of UWO law professor S. Michael Lynk as UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
- Human Rights Council Database: Canada opposed a proposal that UN collect information on companies operating in the West Bank. This collection would be a step toward eventual moves to ban their export.
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Canada worked with others to eliminate ‘Palestine” as a state party.
- International Criminal Court: Under Prime Minister Harper, Canada opposed Palestinian participation in the ICC. Today, Canada is still spearheading efforts to oppose Palestinian membership. The USA and Israel leave the leadership on this file to Canada since they fear joining the ICC could expose them to prosecution.
- INTERPOL: Canada opposed the Palestinian application for INTERPOL membership. (Notwithstanding Canadian, Israeli and US opposition, Palestine was accepted as a full member.)
- Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (CPUOS) Canada actively supported Israeli membership, and nominated Israel as a member.
- Francophonie – Canada opposed inclusion of reference to illegal Israeli settlements in the declaration of the 16th Francophone summit.
- World Health Assembly – Canada voted against a resolution condemning health conditions in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
- Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) – Canada opposed any reference to “foreign occupation”.
- Convention on the Status of Women – Canada co-sponsored an Israeli resolution on sexual harassment in the workplace but did not approve a Palestinian resolution on the status of Palestinian women in the Occupied Territories.
- Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) – Prime Minister Trudeau has repeatedly stated his opposition to BDS, as has the Canadian parliament, which adopted a motion condemning the BDS movement.
- Representing Israel abroad – Canadian Embassies in Cuba and Venezuela act as Israel’s consular representative or “Protecting power”.
- Asylum/immigration: Canada granted refugee status to 1900 Eritreans who first sought refuge in Israel. Israel does not want to admit non Jewish refugees.
- Canada Israel Industrial Research Development Foundation – Canada provides $1 million to fund joint R&D projects with Israel.
- International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) – Canada is an active member of this body. Canada works with Israel to have IHRA definition of anti-Semitism – which equates opposition to Israel as anti-semitism – adopted in other international fora.
- Global Forum on Anti-Semitism: A group of Canadian parliamentarians, including both Liberals and Conservatives, organized together with US and Israeli counterparts, an international conference mainly aimed at conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
- Canada encourages tourism to Israel: The Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv actively promotes Canadian tourism to Israel.
- Canada actively discourages tourism to West Bank and Gaza: The website of Global Affairs Canada has actively discouraged all ‘non essential’ travel to the West Bank and Gaza for several years. This does severe damage to the Palestinian tourism industry despite the fact that there is no record of any Canadian tourist being injured through protests for at least 10 years in the West Bank.
- Israeli ministry of foreign affairs (MASHAV): Canada works closely with MASHAV on activities in South Sudan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Rwanda and Ghana to defend common interests
- Golan Heights: Canada assists Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights by facilitating the flow of Canadian philanthropy to Syrians living in Israeli occupied areas.
At first glance, Canada’s new formulation “friend of Israel and friend to the Palestinian people” would appear to be almost balanced. However, on closer examination of our actions, it would appear that friendship with the State of Israel is a worth a lot more than mere friendship with Palestinian people“.
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. To learn more about what we do, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.