Thursday, May 04, 2017

For Years Canada has Outsourced Our Foreign Policy to the U.S. Why Not Let Germany Have a Turn?

If you want to know who is steering Canada's foreign policy look no further than Canada's voting record in the U.N. General Assembly whenever a resolution concerns Israel.

Under our fundamentalist prime minister, Harper, it was no surprise that Canada was blindly loyal to Israel against all comers. Less expected, however, was that the current prime minister would continue on in lockstep with his predecessor.

You don't hear about these votes. They don't make the news. The government doesn't go out of its way to get the word out either. It seems it's not something they want to share with the Canadian public. Fortunately our friend, Alison, at Creekside periodically updates Canada's voting record. It's always the same. The rest of the world versus the U.S., Canada, and a gaggle of "bought and paid for" votes from small island states of the central and south Pacific. Clear away the island state clutter and it's Canada and the country to which we've outsourced our foreign policy, the United States, versus the world.

Maybe it's time we tried something new, something better. Maybe it's time we showed the slightest hint of integrity. Why not outsource our foreign policy to another country, one less Trumpian? Why not Germany?

In the post-war years Germany became a staunch supporter of Israel. Sure, guilt, had a big role in that but it was a relationship that flourished. Recently, however, the Germans seem to have had enough.

The cabinets of both countries traditionally hold a joint meeting once a year, alternating annually between Berlin and Jerusalem. The next German-Israeli intergovernmental consultation had been planned for May, but the Chancellery announced suddenly a few weeks ago that the meeting would be "delayed." The reason provided was the "many international meetings in the scope of the German G-20 presidency."

But that wasn't the real reason. The cancellation was Berlin's way of protesting against Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to legalize illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. That was the first diplomatic affront. A much more significant one took place Tuesday when German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel traveled to Jerusalem, where he planned to meet with the prime minister. Netanyahu , though, cancelled their planned meeting at the last minute.

It's not unlike two friends who have drifted apart over the years. Irritation comes first, but neither has the courage to say so openly. When the conflict does finally erupt, however, it is correspondingly more vitriolic. That's the situation in which Jerusalem and Berlin currently find themselves, and Foreign Minister Gabriel isn't the only one getting increasingly resentful. So too is Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, in a 2008 before the Knesset, declared that solidarity with Israel is an integral part of Germany's raison d'├ętat.

It has long been one of the fundamental convictions of German foreign policy that, given the crimes committed by the Nazis in World War II, the country should hold back in its criticism of Israel. But this axiom no longer holds. One reason is Netanyahu's construction of an increasing number of new settlements in the West Bank, thus imperiling the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Another is the disquiet in both the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry over the right-wing Israeli government's harrassment of opposition groups. In addition to fears about the failure of the two-state solution, fears are also mounting about Israel's own democratic culture.

If Germany has slowly, reluctantly reached this point, what's Canada's excuse for still looking the other way?


Anonymous said...

One in 830 Germans is Jewish; one in 90 Canadians is Jewish; and one if 50 Americans is Jewish. Population alone should account for some of the difference in policy.


UU4077 said...

Just because someone identifies as Jewish doesn't mean they agree with Israel's current government policy. If so, how should we interpret the fact that there are 3x as many Muslims as Jews in Canada?

The Mound of Sound said...

UU4077 is right, Toby. American Jews, for example, are widely regarded by Netanyahu and his coalition as "faith traitors" for the unwillingness of many to support the radical rightwing government of Israel and their support of peace with the Palestinians.

Canada's Jewish population, however, seems considerably more rightwing than America's.

Anonymous said...

This is the USA

Canada has, for starters, the Aspers who have been very influential particularly during the Harper administration.

Israel plays the religious and race cards very well.( not that Israel is a particularly united country)
The religious card is played; ace by ace to the evangelicals within the USA and the UK.
Armageddon is the catalyst that binds the fanatics on both sides of the atlantic.

At the end of the day, for the world to survive, we will have to fight climate change and religious extremism for they are entwined.


Anonymous said...

Yes, why not? Let's do this. Do we line up with a liberal democracy or a crazy hybrid of crazy
with mad-men at the helm?

Clarke said...

Ideological reasons aside, I suspect both the Liberals and Conservatives made a similar calculation. Israel has moved pretty firmly away from a peace option and towards a pro-settlement, pro greater Israel view, and Canada's Jewish population has mostly followed suit. Any political party that adopts a critical policy towards Netanyahu is likely to take hits in the media, in donations, and in votes, and would not gain much domestically. A lot of political commentators in Canada are also very comfortable in being progressive on everything but Israel.