[News] Canada's neoconservative turn
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 26 11:31:18 EST 2010
Canada's neoconservative turn
Yves Engler, The Electronic Intifada, 26 February 2010
"An attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada."
- Peter Kent, Junior Foreign minister, 12 February 2010
In my new book Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid I argue that the
trajectory of this country's foreign policy has been clear. The
culmination of six decades of one-sided support, and four years into
the government of Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Canada is (at least diplomatically) the most pro-Israel country in the world.
Since the book went to print a couple of months ago the Conservatives
have launched a more extreme phase of Israel advocacy. Groups in any
way associated with the Palestinian cause have been openly attacked
and Ottawa has taken a more belligerent tone towards Iran.
In the beginning of February, Ottawa delighted Israeli hawks by
canceling $15 million in funding for the UN agency for Palestine
Refugees (UNRWA). The money has been reallocated to Palestinian
Authority judicial and security reforms in the West Bank. At the same
time, Canada doubled the number of troops involved in US Lt. General
Keith Dayton's mission to train a Palestinian force to strengthen
Fatah against Hamas and to serve as an arm of Israel's occupation.
Only a few weeks earlier, Israel apologists sang Harper's praise when
his government chopped $7 million from Kairos, a Christian aid
organization that had received government money for 35 years. During
a visit to Israel, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canada had
"defunded organizations, most recently like Kairos, who are taking a
leadership role" in campaigns to boycott Israel. Palestinian advocacy
was also the reason Ottawa failed to renew its funding for
Montreal-based Alternatives, an international solidarity
organization, which received most of its budget from the federal government.
The Conservatives chose a different tactic with the arm's-length
government agency Rights and Democracy. Instead of cutting its
stacked the board with hard-line supporters of Israel. Last week,
Maclean magazine reported that "The Rights and Democracy board is now
predominantly composed of people who have devoted much of their life
to an unequivocal position: that no legal challenge to Israel's human
rights record is permissible, because any such challenge is part of a
global harassment campaign against Israel's right to exist."
The new "Israel no matter what" board members hounded the
organization's president, Remy Beauregard, until he died of a heart
attack after a "vitriolic" meeting a month ago. Once in charge, the
new board voted to "repudiate" three $10,000 grants given to Israeli
and Palestinian human rights groups (B'Tselem, Al-Haq and Al Mezan).
On Wednesday, the Toronto Star reported that the
"Conservative-appointed [Rights and Democracy] board secretly decided
to close the agency's Geneva office, distancing itself from a United
Nations body it viewed as anti-Israeli."
Internationally, Harper has used his pulpit as host of this year's G8
to pave the way for a possible US-Israeli attack on Iran. "Canada
will use its G8 presidency to continue to focus international
attention and action on the Iranian regime," explained the prime
minister on 9 February.
While Ottawa considers Iran's nuclear energy program a major threat,
Israel's atomic bombs have not provoked similar condemnation. The
Harper government has repeatedly abstained on votes asking Israel to
place its nuclear weapons program under International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) controls.
A week ago Ottawa criticized China, a key trading partner of Iran,
for refusing to follow Western dictates regarding the Islamic
Republic. "I think China should step up to the plate and do something
here," Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said.
While they are silent on the appalling record of the pro-West
monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the dictatorship in Egypt, Canadian
officials regularly berate Iran. "This regime continues to blatantly
ignore its international obligations, and this threatens global
security," Cannon said last week.
At times Canadian words have been even more menacing. A 17 February
Toronto Star article was headlined: "Military action against Iran
still on the table, Kent says." Peter Kent, the junior foreign
minister, explained that "It may soon be time to intensify the
sanctions and to broaden those sanctions into other areas." He added:
"I think the realization [is] that it's a dangerous situation that
has been there for some time. It's a matter of timing and it's a
matter of how long we can wait without taking more serious preemptive action."
"Preemptive action" is likely a euphemism for a bombing campaign.
Canadian naval vessels are already running provocative maneuvers off
Iran's coast and by stating that "an attack on Israel would be
considered an attack on Canada," Kent is trying to create the
impression that Iran may attack Israel. But isn't it Israel that
possesses nuclear weapons and threatens to bomb Iran, not the other
way around? Of course that would be a reality-based analysis, not
something George W. Bush's Canadian clones favor.
is the author of the recently-released
<http://www.fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/437>Canada and Israel:
Building Apartheid and <http://blackbook.foreignpolicy.ca/>The Black
Book of Canadian Foreign Policy.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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