On June 1, over 50 former Canadian diplomats sent an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to take a firmer stand on the issue of Israel’s proposed annexation of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. A few days later, they were attacked by B’nai Brith Canada as “hypocritical, prejudiced and biased”. Read more…
A pro-Israel lobby group has launched a fierce attack on the reputations of over 50 respected Canadian former diplomats accusing them of being “hypocritical, prejudiced and biased” against Israel. B’nai Brith Canada was reacting sharply to an open letter sent by the diplomats to Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to stand by international law and oppose Israel’s stated plans to take over more Occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
The diplomats’ letter was noticed in several quarters. CBC’s Evan Dyer noted that the signatories included Canadian Ambassadors to Israel under both Chretien and Harper governments. An editorial signed by the whole Toronto Star editorial board cited the letter and urged the PM to “speak louder against Israel’s dangerous plan”. The attention caused by the letter seems to have had some effect on the Prime Minister who, in his press conference of June 2, spoke publicly for the first time of his opposition to the Israeli project.
All of this prompted B’nai Brith Canada, which appears to be politically aligned with Mr. Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party (although virtually all Israeli political parties support annexation of parts of the West Bank) to launch a counter attack against the letter signers.
“We are disgusted with the blatant hypocrisy and double standards of the international community constantly directed against Israel. This letter is just the latest example of it,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
The sharp tone of B’nai Brith’s attack is all the more surprising given the reputations of those who signed, which includes two former Canadian ambassadors to Israel, (one of whom is Jewish) and 4 former Cabinet ministers.
In support of his allegations, Mr. Mostyn went on to make a dubious legal argument.
“The status of the territories in question is a subject of major debate in international law, and Israel’s claims are no less legitimate than anyone else’s,” he claimed.
No “international debate” – UN official
But according to Professor Michael Lynk, Professor of Law at Western University and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there is no such “debate” in international law.
Reached by telephone, Professor Lynk told CTIP “The Palestinian territory is occupied by Israel. This is one of the most well-accepted legal facts in the modern world. A territory that comes under the control of another country through war is considered to be occupied, whether the conflict was a defensive war or a war of aggression. The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly reaffirmed this, most recently in December 2016 (UNSC Resolution 2334).”
In the past, Bnai Brith has frequently attacked pro-Palestinian human rights activists in the Green Party and the NDP as “anti-Semitic”. Bnai Brith did not quite use that language in attacking the diplomats. But accusing them of “hypocrisy”, “double standards”, “bias”, and “prejudice” against Israel is tantamount to the same thing.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue.
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