Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2020, pp. 6-7


Canada’s recent U.N. vote in favor of Palestinian self-determination scandalized “conservative” pundits who consider this minor gesture a massive betrayal of the Israeli state.

Many have condemned Canada’s reference to international law on Israel’s settlement of conquered Palestinian territory by noting the Trudeau government’s timidity on China. This is like a trial lawyer listing the worse crimes of other offenders to minimize his own client’s guilt. Unfortunately, such trickery often works.

Corporate commentators’ manufactured outrage displays both their ignorance of and indifference to Middle East history. These writers are united in propping up the eroding mythology of tiny, embattled Israel as a noble bastion of democracy and ethical behaviour. Many historical facts undermine the recent remarks of widely-read pundits in Canada’s larger publications.

For example: The European Zionists who founded Israel began their planning in the 1880s and ignored the contradictory opinions and warnings of Jewish religious scholars on the viability and wisdom of their secular scheme to eventually dominate all of Palestine. Current plans to illegally annex the West Bank thus obviously have a long history.

As violent as Hamas might be, the conditions for founding the Israeli state were facilitated by 1930s Jewish terrorism directed at the British, Palestinian Arabs and any Jews who were less than enthusiastic about Zionism. A number of leading terrorist commanders avoided prosecution and later became Israeli prime ministers.

The Israeli state as it exists is not a truly independent nation but a protectorate of the colonial-era type. Only massive U.S. military and diplomatic support allows Israel to behave with its current impunity. That said, American fears about Israel’s large nuclear arsenal remain a factor in its willingness to coddle the Middle East’s mini-super power.

Finally, the current tensions were avoidable, since the 1967 Israeli cabinet was strongly advised by senior military officers to deal fairly with the Palestinians and obey international law. Obviously, they chose a different path and thousands have been needlessly killed and maimed since this decision.

Morgan Duchesney, Ottawa, Canada

Some in the U.S. and Canada depicted the U.N. vote in favor of fundamental Palestinian human rights and in opposition of blatant Israeli violations of international law as controversial and a reflection of anti-Israel bias at the U.N. However, the rest of the world found this vote rather uncontroversial. Only five countries opposed the resolution: the U.S., Israel, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Micronesia—the latter three Pacific island nations being heavily dependent on the U.S. for financial assistance. The Israel lobby has historically had significant influence over the foreign policies of the U.S. and Canada. It’s refreshing to see a rare victory for Palestinian rights in Canada.