Monday, March 07, 2016

The Ghost of Pierre Trudeau Hovers Over the Son

In The Tyee, Murray Dobbin ponders what Pierre Trudeau would make of the Dauphin and his party's support for the Tory resolution condemning the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign against Israel.

Justin Trudeau is fine with violating Canadians' basic rights enshrined by his father 35 years ago.

This we learned when Trudeau's government chose to "condemn" any Canadian who supports a non-violent strategy of Boycott, Divestiture and Sanctions (BDS) until such time as Israel recognizes the rights of the Palestinian people.

Specifically, on Feb. 22, Trudeau and his party supported a Conservative resolution opposing the campaign "which promotes the demonization and de-legitimization of the State of Israel," and called upon the government "to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad."

Dobbin notes that Mulcair attacked the Tory/Liberal motion but remains a solid backer of Israel and is in no hurry to back the BDS movement either. It that makes the NDP stance sound like cheap politicking, well it is.

That the Liberal government is so in alignment with Israel lobby groups raises a number of questions: Just who actually makes Canadian policy towards Israel? Did Trudeau think this through at all -- such as, is this in Canada's interests? But perhaps more to the point, is it even in Israel's interests? Does the Trudeau government have some brilliant ideas about how to get Israel to the bargaining table? Or does it believe the current situation doesn't need resolving? It makes me feel like Stephen Harper still rules the day on this critical foreign policy issue. Indeed the resolution smacks of Harper's declaration that criticism of Israel's government is the "new anti-Semitism."

Dobbins goes on to sum up the outrageous demands of the BDS movement:

As stated by BDS movement leaders, Israel must: "End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194." This latter demand is hotly rejected by Israel even though Jews from literally anywhere in the world have, through the 1950 Law of Return (to Israel and now the occupied territories) the same right.

The BDS campaign (which boycotts only goods made in the territory) was inspired by the successful boycott and sanctions campaign that finally brought an end to South African apartheid -- a campaign, incidentally, given a major boost by none other than then prime minister Brian Mulroney.

The BDS campaign might not worry Netanyahu so much if it weren't for the fact that Israel now ranks near the bottom of pile when it comes to world opinion. A BBC poll in 2013 interviewed more than 26,000 people in 25 countries and found only 21 per cent of participants had a positive view of Israel, while 52 per cent viewed the country unfavourably. Only Iran, Pakistan and North Korea fared worse

Dobbin concludes by noting that, when it comes to Netanyahu, even gestures bring concrete consequences.

...If Justin Trudeau and his government believe they are doing Israel a favour by supporting the repugnant Conservative thought crime resolution, they could not be more mistaken. Every time a Western government turns a blind eye to Israeli apartheid it reinforces and extends that system by signalling to Netanyahu that he can do whatever he pleases.


Lorne said...

This has to be one of my most consistent sources of frustration, Mound. In my local paper, whenever there is the faintest criticism of Israel, a stout defence from Jewish letter-writers inevitably follows, conflating, as the Conservative resolution does, such criticism with anti-Semitism. I have always found such a reaction unseemly, disingenuous and reactionary, and I had hoped the new government would rise above such denigration of legitimate criticism. I was obviously naive in that hope.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

It's really none of Ottawa's business if Canadians want to boycott Israel. That is a Canadian right.Like Lorne, I had hoped Trudeau would not support this malicious, rights violator rhetoric.But he has. I fear this may be a harbinger of things to come. Trudeau comes across as spineless with this decision. I guess guts is not inherited. Pierre Trudeau had guts, his son doesn't. How does he plan to implement this motion. Is he going to have government people show up at an organization, a group or even an individual who is supporting the bds against Israel. What's he going to do, tell them all to shut up.If compromising with the Tories authoritarian,malicious, motions and ideas is the road Trudeau is travelling on, then for me, as a sophisticated, progressive Prime Minister, he is a write off. If he can violate a Canadian right as written in The Charter of Rights and Freedom, then Democracy means nothing to him. Where have we seen that before? Maybe once again we will be fighting to keep our democracy.