[News] Canada's neoconservative turn

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
budget, <http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11051.shtml>they 
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.

Yves Engler 
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.

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