Trudeau Renews UNRWA Funding - Quietly Accepts Israeli Dominance in Palestine

Trudeau Renews UNRWA Funding - Quietly Accepts Israeli Dominance in Palestine

As published in the Victoria Standard: January 2, 2017

The Trudeau government recently announced a $25 million contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to assist those Palestinians under Israeli martial law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as in Gaza and assorted refugee camps. The previous Harper government had abruptly cut Canada’s UNRWA funding in 2010 over the UN (United Nations) body’s alleged links to Hamas; an official terrorist entity. Canada’s funding cancellation was unique among other wealthy donors like the U.S., UK, European Union, Norway, Japan and Australia who continued to offer money.

Trudeau, like Harper; seems content with the realpolitik of Palestinian statehood prospects: Palestinians should meekly accept whatever the Israelis offer and consider themselves fortunate. Further, to official Canada, Palestinian violence is by definition terrorism and Israel’s excesses are assumed to be the reluctant actions of a peaceful nation. In spite of such noble sentiments, Canada’s bold commitment to Israel may have more to do with business and military expediency that support for the sanctity of Jewish statehood.

While today’s Hamas is noted for violent intolerance, the original group believed in Jews and Christians living together in a Muslim state similar to that envisioned by those Israelis who support a binational Israel with religious equality. Hamas in the late 1980s was actually supported by Israel to undermine the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) in the occupied Gaza Strip but later joined forces with PLO elements to resist Israel’s harsh military occupation.

The mainstream media offers no historical context when discussing Hamas, as if this Muslim political organization emerged from nowhere full of seething hatred. This failure tends to reinforce the negative stereotype of the Arab as excessively given to reflexive violence and belies the reality that any group of people, if pushed hard enough; will react negatively. It is unlikely that Canadians or Israelis would easily accept the uncertainty of daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or the Gaza Strip.

While Canadian critics of the recent $25 million infusion insinuate the possible role of Hamas in UN affairs they conveniently ignore the fact that Canadian taxpayers unwittingly subsidize the Israeli Defense Force; a high-tech war machine superior to that possessed by any European NATO member. Canada still accepts the Israeli military’s brutal Gaza attacks of 2009, 2012, and 2014 as legitimate counter-terror measures in spite of the vastly higher casualty rates among Palestinians civilians versus Israeli soldiers; many of whom faced charges for refusing to follow shoot-on-sight orders.

In spite of these recurring Israeli assaults, Canada Revenue Agency provides charitable status benefits to organizations providing financial and moral support to active duty Israeli soldiers; many of whom are Israeli-Canadian dual nationals. These organizations include Disabled Veterans of Israel or Beit Halochem, Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel, the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada (ASI), International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, the Ne’eman Foundation and the Canadian Zionist Cultural Association and the Israeli-based Lone Soldier Center. The resultant financial benefit to the Israeli Defense Force may be significant.

In tax and customs matters, Canada’s approach to Palestinian sovereignty is both expedient and hypocritical. According to Yves Engler, “…Canada, in spite of not recognizing Israeli annexation of and/or sovereignty over the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Syrian Golan Heights, products from these occupied areas receive preferential treatment. The wording in the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) is such that the agreement applies “to those areas to which Israeli customs laws apply,” which include the occupied lands. In other words, Canada will chide Israel for illegal occupation but willingly conducts business with Israeli firms operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

According to a March, 2012, CBC story, “Canada imported $2,592,517 worth of arms and ammunition from Israel in 2010 and exported $658,734, but analysts say the value of military-related trade between the two countries exceeds those amounts when related technologies are included.” Canadian companies like MacDonald Dettwiler and Nortel networks have been heavily involved with the Israeli military and security establishments. This includes Canada’s lease of Israeli Heron surveillance drones in Afghanistan and the use of Canadian technology like Pratt and Whitney Canada engines and components in Israeli military equipment.

A 2009 Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), “… report lists more than 50 Canadian military exporters that have supplied a wide range of essential components and/or services for three major US weapons systems that are used by the Israeli Air Force: the F-15, F-16 and AH-64. These fighter/bomber aircraft and helicopter attack gunships were the main varieties of weapons systems employed by Israel during the recent aerial bombardments of Gaza.” As well, a 2008 signed declaration of intent is gradually increasing Canadian/Israeli cooperation in military, security and counterterrorism areas.

By comparison, all Palestinian arms acquisitions are tightly-controlled by Israeli authorities and are limited to the basic tools of civil law enforcement employed by the Palestinian Authority in the Arab areas of the West Bank. Gaza under Hamas is forbidden from importing weapons of any sort by Israeli edict although do they acquire smuggled explosives, small arms and light weapons like mortars whose effects are exaggerated by the Israeli government.

Any critique of Canada’s recent UN contribution to assist Palestinian civil society might benefit from a balanced acknowledgement of UN Resolution 2649’s affirmation of the legitimacy of armed struggle for self-determination by dispossessed peoples. This affirmation was boldly proclaimed by the armed Zionists of 1948 when it served their cause. According to Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, “Imagine you’re a Palestinian. You have every right to resist. In fact, it’s your civil duty. No argument there. The occupied people’s right to resist occupation is secured in natural justice, in the morals of history and in international law.” While Israeli statehood is certainly legitimate; its unfair treatment of the Palestinians is exerting a profoundly negative effect on Israel’s social fabric and international reputation.