By Jim Miles*
Canada’s Governor-General David Johnston, technically the British Queen’s representative in Canada, has visited Israel/Palestine in order “to road-test a more balanced Canadian approach to the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Part of the trip included a trip to visit with Abbas in the West Bank territories.
Johnston said, “Let me reaffirm Canada’s commitment to work with Israelis, Palestinians and other partners to uphold the prospects of a two-state solution, and achieve a just and lasting peace.”
A CBC online article also indicated, “More than 400,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank, considered illegal under international law by Canada and most of the international community, although Israel disputes this.”
The problems with Canada’s position are several.
In the first instance, while Canada does officially recognize the international legal perspective, its action in spite of its words are fully supportive of Israel: this is especially true domestically where a statement in Parliament was declared “condemning” the BDS movement. Given a bit more push from Israeli sympathisers in Canada and more pressure from the Israeli government, and pretty soon it will be illegal.
Much of Canada’s security/military trade is connected to the Israeli military corporations and security services. Canada also has the Jewish National Fund registered as a charitable organization for tax purposes, but violating Canadian law that does not allow discrimination for housing.
Another problem is with Abbas himself. Essentially he is simply Israel’s puppet, dancing to their tune in order to keep the money flowing into his coffers. He is not a legitimate democratically elected leader as the elections of 2006 were annulled by both the U.S. and Canada in concert with Israeli interests to not have a democratic government to negotiate with – better to have a sidelined terrorist group better to create the necessary fear factor for domestic control.
The biggest problem is simply that the two state solution is simply dead. Israel will not create an independent state within its own boundaries. What exists is a de facto series of non-democratic cantons/bantustans controlled by the Israeli military and having no real sovereignty now or in the future. What exists is one non-democratic state, without a constitution or a Bill of Rights (other than that Israel has signed the UN Charter), continuing to settle on land expropriated/annexed from the Palestinian population.
Israel’s great fear has been and remains the demographic factor – too many Palestinians. Not the terrorist, not the undemocratic Arab states around them, not even ISIS if reports from the Syria/Goaln Heights border are true – but more simply the Palestinians very existence is the greater fear. If they could, they would certainly be ethnically cleansed along with the current cultural genocide that is occurring.
Johnston did not visit Gaza for unspecified reasons: afraid to see the destitution caused by the Israeli attacks; not wanting to even acknowledge it is a problem; not wanting to insult his hosts in spite of wanting to be able to criticize Israel? The CBC noted further, “Trudeau promised a return to Canada’s “traditional approach” to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, adding that his government “won’t hesitate” from criticizing Israel over its settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” This “traditional approach” has generally recognized Israel’s “proportionate” responses to Gaza attacks but otherwise ignored the conditions that exist there. As well,
“Israel is a friend, Israel is an ally, Israel is a country that has values and an approach on many, many issues that are very much aligned with Canadians values,” Trudeau said.
“But, at the same time… we won’t hesitate from talking about unhelpful steps like the continued illegal settlements. We will point that out. We will continue to engage in a forthright and open way because that’s what people expect of Canada.”
“There are times we disagree with our friends and we will not hesitate from pointing that out. There are times we agree with our friends and will stand with them,” he said. “And there are times we will disagree with our friends, but we will stand by our friends. We’ve all had that friend we’ve had to do that for.”
In other words not much will change, Canada will continue to use words, but will not do anything or make any actions that changes our relationship.
Canada today, regardless of the change in government, still follows the long standing British tradition of imperial control. Part of that control in the Middle East is Canada’s support of Israel as a nominal democratic outpost surrounded by hostile and corrupt neighbors. Another facet is Canada’s willing submission to the policies of the U.S. and its desire for imperial hegemony. Another aspect is Canada’s domestic policy in relation to its own First Nations people, very similar to what Australia has done to the Aboriginal tribes, and what South Africa attempted with their official apartheid policy. All read of imperial control for resources and power, without concern for the indigenous populations.
* Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor and columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.