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Canadian Policy: The Jerusalem effect

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Message Bahija Reghai

Third, defunding KAIROS was announced very quietly in Canada, but the reason for the defunding was explained publicly by Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem: "We [government] have articulated and implemented a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. What does this mean? It means that we eliminated the government funding relationship with organizations . . . who promote hatred, in particular anti-Semitism. We have defunded organizations, most recently like KAIROS."

That a coalition of Canadian churches could be called anti-Semitic for standing up for Canadian values of justice and fairness, as it has on many other issues, is untenable. The well-oiled Israeli Hasbara machine seems to have had a deep impact on our political leaders and clouded their best judgement.

Fourth, it is also in Jerusalem that President of Treasury Board Minister Vic Toews announced funding cuts to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to the applause of pro-Israeli groups that have been clamoring for its demise. Are Canadians to assume that reducing Canada's contribution to UNRWA is Cannon's idea of fulfillingthe revival plan of the RWG that he announced in 2009?

UNRWA spends the bulk of its funds on education and health care, and unfortunately more and more on humanitarian aid, especially in Gaza where a large portion of the population consists of Palestinians made refugees during 1947-1949. The cut belies Cannon's Ministry website, that "a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue is central to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as called for in United Nations General Assembly resolution 194 (1948) and United Nations Security Council resolution 242. "This solution should respect the rights of the refugees, in accordance with international law."

Well, the law states that education, housing, and health care are some of the rights that refugees should enjoy and UNRWA dispenses them.

Members of the Conservative government often volunteer that Israel's security is important to them. Toews calls it "paramount."

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Bahija Reghai is a Canadian Human Rights activist and a former president of the National COuncil on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).
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