Canadian Policy: The Jerusalem effect
One must wonder why the Government of Canada feels the need to by-pass the Canadian electorate and announce changes in its policy relating to Israel/Palestine through Israeli media: these announcements should have been made in Canada because they have a profound impact on Canadian interests and need to be debated in Canada.
And our national media have gone AWOL on a number of issues when they are supposed to be their readers' and viewers' watchdogs, especially since Parliament has been prorogued.
First, we learned of the Security Agreement through the Jerusalem Post in 2007. On March 2, 2008, a Declaration of Intent was signed by then Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day in Tel Aviv. Having a mutual security agreement with a country that grants rights according to religion rather than citizenship is not in accord with Canadian values.
The fact that Israel is an occupier state and uses its army against Palestinians while occupying their land should also raise a red flag as intelligence gathered on Canadian Arabs of Palestinian and Israeli background may be skewed, "shared", and used against them. The implications of such an agreement should be the subject of parliamentary debate and oversight.
Second, the Israeli settler radio station Arutz Sheva said in October 2009 that Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon had announced in Israel his intention "to present the Canadian Prime Minister with a plan to revive the multilateral "refugee committee' headed by Canada that was established in the Madrid Conference in 1991." The question of Palestinian refugees has been a core issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948. As the "gavel-holder" of the Refugee Working Group (RWG), Canada has a special responsibility towards all Palestinian refugees.
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?
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