Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives are hoping to draw support from both within and outside the Canadian Jewish community – from hardline “Israel-right-or-wrong” Zionists to liberal Zionists who support Israel but who feel some sympathy for the plight of the Palestinans. Their program tries to straddle the divide. Read more..
The Conservatives released their full platform on Aug. 16. Their promises with respect to Israel and the Middle East merit attention, particularly as O’Toole is now running neck and neck with the Liberals. On examination, the brief section on Israel/Palestine (pp 109/110), appears “balanced” as it promises some things to support the Israelis and some other items which can be seen as supportive of the Palestinians.
The section is divided into two parts: one part focuses on what the Tories would do NOW for Israel. It includes a fairly standard laundry list of familiar items on Israel’s wish items, including :
- Pursue reform of the UN Human Rights Council to prohibit gross human rights abusers from becoming members, and stop the council from unjustly singling out Israel.
- Support Israel’s existence as a sovereign democratic Jewish state with the right to self-determination and to live in peace and security.
- Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Canadian embassy to Jerusalem.
- Stop singling out Israel for criticism at the United Nations and international fora.
- Combat the delegitimization of Israel, including opposing the denial of the 5,000 years of indigenous Jewish history throughout the Middle East.
- Boycott Durban IV in September 2021.
- Oppose the International Criminal Court’s investigation of Israeli war crimes.
The second part aims to balance this with a set of proposals appeasing liberal Zionists who would still hope for a two state solution and would be willing to make some concessions to the Palestinians to do so. But there is a catch: none of these measures will come into force until AFTER the Palestinians successfully negotiate a two state solution. For example:
- Establish a Canada-Palestinian Territories Trust Account at the International Monetary Fund, with the objective of providing training and economic instruments upon the arrival of a two-state solution.
- Invest in the economic empowerment of Palestinian women and support economic and civil society projects and an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
- Expand trade initiatives and encourage economic cooperation between Canada and the Palestinian territories and, following the establishment of a Palestinian state, negotiate a separate free-trade agreement.
- Following the successful negotiation of a final status agreement, upgrade Canada’s representation to an embassy to a future Palestinian state.
- Enhance aid in a targeted manner in the areas of governance and institutional capacity building in support of eventual Palestinian statehood.
O’Toole’s platform has not given the more extreme Zionist organizations in Canada, including CIJA and B’nai Brith everything they want. The CIJA election guide for example, has many more strident demands, including a denunciation of the Palestinian Authority program to compensate the families of Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails. So does B’nai Brith. Both organizations are calling for formal adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and for the regulation of hate speech. This would stifle harsh criticism or boycotts of Israel and potentially impact funding and hiring decisions. But it gives them most of what they most want.
And the other Tory proposals are aimed at satisfying the more liberal inclinations of other Zionist organizations like Canadian Friends of Peace Now and the New Israel Fund of Canada. And they could appeal to a broader Canadian public by framing the Palestinian situation as a humanitarian crisis, as opposed to a human rights struggle.
The Tory platform is miles away from that of human rights groups who are genuinely concerned about human rights for Palestinians, like that of the “Vote Palestine” coalition which includes organizations like Independent Jewish Voices Canada.
But from the point of view of a political party aiming to appeal to right wing Jewish establishment organizations and a broad spectrum of Canadian Jews as well as more liberal-minded Canadians, the platform is savvy. It proposes to support Israel NOW, while promising to support Palestinians at some indefinite time in the future… after peace negotiations are over and the Palestinians have a state.
In practice the Conservative platform offers no criticism of Israeli actions today, nor does it propose any action by Canada which would make a Palestinian state more likely, so the promises it holds out for the “future” are without any value whatsoever.
OF POSSIBLE INTEREST
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA) is charged by the UN to gather statistics from the Occupied Territories. Its regular “Protection of Civilians Report” is almost always overwhelmingly a story of Israeli settler and official violence against Palestinians.
Here is the report for the Month of August 2021. Its summary statistics report in the two week period from August 24 to September 6:
- 5 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces
- 250 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces
- 31 Palestinian owned structures have been demolished
- 30 Palestinians displaced
- 6 attacks by Israeli settlers
- 118 Israeli military incursions into the West Bank
- 1 Israeli soldier killed
- 3 Israelis injured
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org
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 Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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