Too Close For Comfort: Israel – Canadian Relations

Since Israel’s rebirth in the 1940’s (more so starting in the late 60’s), the Jewish State has always been able to count on the unrelenting support of the United States for military aid and diplomatic aid through the United Nations. In the last four or five years however, that torch has somehow been passed to Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government in Canada.

George Galloway, a former British MP that the Conservative Government tried to ban from entering the country was called a “major financier of the anti-Semitic death cult called Hamas” by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Galloway for his part was guilty of leading an aid convoy into the Gaza Strip after the short, but deadly Israel/Gaza war. In the governments eyes that made him a supporter of terrorism.

When the Canadian courts found the grounds for his banishment were based solely on political motives, Galloway came to deliver a speech that best sums up Harper’s pro-Israel policy; “It cannot be in Canada’s interest to reduce itself from a country that was admired, respected and even loved in the world, to being no more than an embassy for Benjamin Netanyahu in world affairs”.

George Galloway with his Boxing Gloves

When Israeli forces attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, Canada was the only country aside from Israel that did not condemn the war. Canada was also the first country to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after democratic elections in the Gaza Strip brought Hamas to power, (even though the two are separate government entities). After the deadly freedom flotilla attack by the IDF this year in international waters, Prime Minister Harper (who was meeting with Netanyahu at the time) said only that he regretted the loss of life not the attack itself.

In addition to the diplomatic aid being given to Israel, the Harper Government has cut funding to various Palestinian aid organizations as they consider these aid groups to be anti-Israel. The groups include Kairos Welfare Agency, the Canadian Arab Federation and the PHE, the latter two give language lessons to immigrants.

Harper’s Conservative Government has a nasty habit of seeing humanity in black and white, good and evil. Unfortunately for them the world and its inhabitants are much more colorful. Picking a side and sticking to it regardless of the circumstances can be both dangerous and damaging to themselves, their political careers and the people they govern. It may have already cost Canada a seat on the UN Security Council earlier this year.

In all of Mr. Harper’s speeches concerning Israel, he seems to confuse criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism. I find it irritating when I hear someone cry Anti-Semitism to deflect disapproval of Israeli policies, as if being Jewish itself is infallible. I for one don’t judge a nation by its religion; I judge it by its actions. If I were to be critical of Iran would that make me Anti-Islamic? Perhaps in the eyes of the Ayatollah.

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

One would have to be blind not to see the Israeli atrocities in the last few years (some would say last forty). From the attack on Lebanon, the blockade of Gaza, the invasion of Gaza, the attack on the aid flotilla, the assassinations, the kidnappings, the ongoing construction projects in the occupied territories, the list goes on… all in the name of self-defence? I think not.

It’s appalling to me that my government chooses to run to the defence of a country that only knows offence. I’m not sure what drives Stephen Harper’s foreign policy, but I have a feeling it may be his own religious zeal, similar to that of his mentor George W. Bush. If that is the case we all know Harper won’t be changing his views any time soon which might just be his undoing. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of Israeli policies and are starting to turn their support toward the Palestinian cause. If Harper isn’t careful they will turn on him as well.

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