Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP, is the Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and is also chair of the pro-Israel caucus in Parliament called “The Canada Israel Parliamentary Group”. He recently wrote an article explaining how the Trudeau government is much more pro-Israel than the Harper government was before it. Read more.
In a recent article, Liberal MP Anthony Housefeather explained to readers of Canadian Jewish News how his government has had “Israel’s back” since it was elected. “We stated (…) that if elected we would work tirelessly to have Israel’s back and advocate for Canada’s Jewish community. Three years later let’s look at our record.”, he invited his readers.
Housefeather explained that he had asked researchers at the Library of Parliament to compare Canada’s voting record at the UN General Assembly, under each successive Canadian government since 1984, on “votes that singled out Israel for condemnation,” and to compare Canada’s record on these resolutions under the current Trudeau government with 10 other large countries: the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and China.
It proved, he said, that the Trudeau government is “more supportive of Israel” at the UN compared to previous Canadian governments and to other large countries.
“The (current) Trudeau government’s record is by far the best. We have voted against 87% of the resolutions singling out Israel for condemnation at the General Assembly versus 61% for the Harper government, 19% for the Martin and Mulroney governments and 3% for the Chrétien government. ”
– Anthony Housefather
In addition to his own study, Mr. Housefather might have found a recent CTIP post to be of use. Our research department identified 27 examples of where Canada supported Israel to the detriment of the Palestinian people. It led us to the same conclusion as Mr. Housefather – that the Trudeau Liberals, while claiming to be a “friend of the Palestinian people”, were doing something quite different.
Interesting fact: Almost 1/5 of Canada’s MP’s and Senators (92 out of 443) belong to the pro-Israel group called the Canada Israel Parliamentary Friendship group. In addition to Liberals, there are many NDP and Conservative members (but no Green or BQ members.)
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 email@example.com.
What Housefeather is saying to me is that Trudeau is more anti-Palestinian than any previous prime minister including Harper.
Each of the UN motions he voted against were intend to help Palestinians deal with those who imprison them in ghettos.
A sad part of this is that both Canadian PMs have taken this route, not to help anyone overseas, but to gain or retain certain seats in the House of Commons where pro-Israeli voters might swing the results.
The saddest aspect about this is that Canadian politicians, by playing this “favourite” game only fans the flame of trouble that then echoes back into our own communities. Thus, we are part of a mid-east problem even if we pretend it’s not so.
Hey Allan, thanks for your comment. Of course all politicians court different voting groups. That is how our democracy works.
But I don’t think it necessarily follows that Trudeau doesn’t believe what he is doing. He has said before that he supports Zionism (well, actually he said he opposes anti-Zionism), and i think it is very possible that he does believe that the best way to protect Jews is to have a Jewish State.
That point of view is often expressed by other political leaders, including Singh and May. I think May’s support for a Jewish State is quite genuine. As is her critique of many of the things Israel does. Don’t you?
Peter, I would agree. May stands out for her willingness to state the obvious while the rest of our leadership pack first need to read the wind then stir the tea leaves and read through the membership fundraising drive list before uttering a peep.
I’m guessing most Canadians agree with support for a Jewish state, but I’m also quite convinced most of us also feel strongly that Palestinians too deserve statehood with a real homeland, freedom of movement and a whole whack of human rights they can now only protest for at great risk to themselves.
Hey Allan, thanks. Can I ask for a clarification. You say that ‘most Canadians agree with support for a Jewish state’. I agree with that assessment. But do you support a Jewish State? I dont think most readers of this blog post would support that. My personal view is that the very idea of a state in which one group of people, however defined, has special rights, is not consistent with democracy.
Housefather makes a basic error when he writes that his party promised to, “work tirelessly to have Israel’s back and advocate for Canada’s Jewish community.” He appears to consider these to be the same or at least compatible. We Jews, like every other religious and ethnic group, should be protected against discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity. This is inconsistent with support for Israel’s laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity and religion. There are many Jews who understand the distinction and are strongly opposed to Israel’s policies.
Hi Peter. You’ve got me on that one. I should have said Israel, but like the proverbial fool who steps back into the familiar once too often, I proved a bit contemptuous of titles.
As an avowed atheist I can still honour another’s right to their religion, but it’s got to be based on the clear understanding I and others also have the right to freedom from religion and especially so when the reality is abuse based on that difference.
I agree with Dr. Parnas. I am a Jew and I am appalled by israel’s behaviour. I also think that one reason why both Trudeau and Harper support Israel may be the money that they think the Canadian Jewish community has. Now, some do, but lots of others do not.
Yes, politicians say and do mostly the things that get them and their party elected, but Trudeau took it to a higher elevation. No matter where or who is the group or what they stand for, he always says the nicest, (which mostly is meaningless), and most beneficial with lots of smiles and selfies. I don’t think he has a back bone. I don’t think he is not aware of the utter crimes of Israel and the suffering of the Palestinians. Harper’s support of Israel got to absurd level and made it difficult for others to back track, but we hoped that Trudeau will be a bit more even player, not so.
Hi, Peter. Greetings from Calgary!
Not to disagree with your basic claim, but have you checked Housefather’s numbers? It’s hard to believe that Chrétien, Martin and Harper voted against Israel 97, 81 and 39 per cent of the time, respectively.
In a May 2018 Globe and Mail article, Konrad Yakabuski writes: “Under Mr. Chrétien, Canada supported about 75 per cent of such resolutions. That fell to 50 per cent during Paul Martin’s two years as prime minister. … Under Mr. Harper, Canada systematically voted against all UN resolutions on Israel.”
Housefather is an extreme supporter of Israel and represents Mount Royal, a very Jewish riding. It has been one of the Liberal’s most secure ridings, but in the 2011 election the Conservatives lost by only 6 per cent. I’m sure that Housefather and most of his Jewish constituents were outraged when the Liberals abstained from the UN vote condemning the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem — and for which they were denounced by the Conservatives. Hence Housefather’s efforts to prove that the Liberals were even more sycophantic to Israel than the Conservatives.
thanks for this. I did not check Housefather’s numbers. I took his word for the fact that they were generated by staff at the Library of Parliament.
They might have been generated by the Library of Parliament, but interpretation is large part of statistics gathering. I can see why Housefather would want to argue that the Liberals are far more pro-Israel than the CPC, but I would trust Yakabuski before Housefather on this.
Puzzled a bit by why Liberals (Housefeather and Levitt) are falling over themselves to prove that Liberals are most uncritically supportive of Israel and battling Con Senator.Linda Frum for this honour.
They may be reacting to the Conservative resolution in Halifax to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Even Harper did not dare to do this despite being the most supportive PM of Israel in Canadian history -never criticizing Israel and even openly undermining the Kerry Obama peace initiative and in retirement leading a weird group that proclaims Israel the bastion of Judeo Christian civilization against Islam and therefore never to be criticized or reigned in..
In doing this, they may be trying to influence the Canadian govt not to be outspoken about its own israel Palestine policy of a 2 state solution in order to avoid or preempt any Canadian criticism of Israel or support for Palestine. In fact there has been virtually no Canadian commentary on Israel Palestine and the UN votes are mainly negative or abstentions. PM Trudeau voiced some concerns about the Gaza killings but has said nothing sine the Israel lobby ordered him to apologize. Maybe they are secretly supporting or know something about the Trump plan and want Canada to blindly follow all of Trump’s actions on Israel Palestine as destructive as they are to any viable peace process. If these factors in play, they are disregarding the point that Canada’s balanced approach on Israel Palestine is necessary to be heard at the UN to secure a seat.on the UNSC and that this was the main reason for the Harper govts failure.
They are certainly using the pro Israel lobby’s Bnai Brith Canada and CIJA assertion that virtually any criticism of Israel and any promotion of Palestinian rights under international law can constitute anti semitism. They have taken that line against Dmitri Lascaris a Chair of CJME who has sued and led a recent March against BBCanada for defamatory accusations of anti semitism and support of terrorism on which they all doubled down when Lascaris accused them of greater devotion to “apartheid” Iarael than to ME the policies of their own Liberal govt and caucus. This kind of nonsensical exchange simply detracts from open discussion of Israel Palestine and does not advvance Canadian policy.in the region which may be their preferred outcome..
There may be local poiltical advantage for these MPs in heavily Jewish ridings but this disregards the fact that Arab Muslims outnumber the 150,000 Jewish community 10 to 1 or more, the increasing Jewish disaffection with Israeli practises and the fact that the vast majority of Canadians want a balanced approach to Israel Palestine that would end peacefully this seeming eternal conflict.
Let’s hope either party would have in mind Canada’ legacy of Middle East peacemaking beginning with Pearson and currently being a friend to both Israel and Palestine In the goal of reaching a solution.
Great discussion. Peter to follow up on your question and veer off somewhat… as someone who’s been to the west bank 3 times I’m one Canadian that would like to see Palestinians and Israelis live together but if not possible (and after my 1st trip across WB I unfortunately saw that it likely wasn’t, primarily due to Israel)… then have states, with minority rights protected for those – Palestinian or otherwise- who’d choose to remain in the Israeli (not Jewish) state.
The Palestinian state wld likewise protect minorities eg Israelis originating from settlements, that remained, immigrants etc
Hey Tara, Thanks for your comments.
I’m not surprised you get that impression (that Arabs and Jews can’t live together) from travelling in the West Bank where the only Jews Palestinians know are either racist settlers or IDF. However, I think you will get a slightly different view from Palestinian citizens of Israel who do live with Jews and mainly want equal rights, and from Palestinians in the diaspora most of whom have never met a Jew in their life.
The diaspora Palestinians want to return … to the fertile lands of Israel, (not to the deserts of the West Bank). A 2 state solution doesn’t accomodate this.
I have twice visited Palestinian universities in the West Bank, once to give a lecture, once to teach a short course. I am clearly Jewish and have never felt more welcome than I felt on those visits. Many people claim that Jews and Arabs cannot live together in one state of Palestine Israel but I did not feel any animosity from Arabs. I did feel some animosity from Israelis who learned of my activities and views. I was able to discuss with some of them and concluded that they were the victims of propaganda designed to instil fear and hatred.
There are violent and hate-filled individuals on both sides but they can be controlled if there is good will and respect on both sides.
A play I wrote toured the West Bank in 2013. I spoke to perhaps a thousand people who had seen the play. When people asked why a Canadian had written a play about Palestine, I said, “I grew up in a Jewish family and my father was was a committed Zionist …” There was never a sign of hostility and, like David Parnas, I felt more than welcome in the West Bank.
A poll cited by the Jerusalem Post in Feb 2017 said 36% of Palestinians in the territories and 19% of Israeli Jews supported a state in which “Palestinians and Jews will be citizens of the same state and enjoy equal rights.”
31% of Israeli Jews supported the annexation of the West Bank without granting the Palestinians full citizen rights.
I find it surprising that even 19% of Israeli Jews supported a single democratic state, and would be surprised if the support is genuine. And if you asked Israeli Jews, “Would you support a single democratic state to which diaspora Palestinians could return?” the yes vote approach zero.
I think Peter and David Parnas are far too sanguine about the possibility of Israeli Jews accepting a single democratic state. While they don’t want a two-state solution either, they far prefer it to a single democratic state. But their first choice would be a single, non-democratic state.
Also Peter as an aside I would be interested in hearing from you regarding the issue of semitism. I understand that Arabs and Jews are both semites – and therefore someone that was anti-semite would be against both Arabs and Jews- so I don’t understand why only Jews use this word to refer to themselves thanks
Anti-semitism is now the commonly used English language word to mean “Hostility toward, or discrimination against, Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group”.
Of course, lots of Jews are not Semites, and lots of Semites are not Jews. Nonetheless, anti-semitism has become a the common word used by both Jews and non Jews to describe the racist phenomenon of hatred towards Jews.
I live in Mount Royal riding and find Anthony Housefather to be a very hard working M.P. However, I do not support him on this issue – at all! This is nothing to be proud of! Canada’s vote at the U.N. on the Palestinian/Israeli situation is an embarrassment! More often than not Canada is the only country voting with the U.S. and Israel – even when it comes to the issue of illegal settlements! As well, we are very selective when it comes to concern for human rights. For some reason Israel is never included!
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