Skip to content

As I See It

Concern about Canada's place in the world was heightened recently when, in an unprecedented first, Canada was beat out for a seat on the United Nation's Security Council.

Concern about Canada's place in the world was heightened recently when, in an unprecedented first, Canada was beat out for a seat on the United Nation's Security Council.

In the years since the United Nations has been in existence, Canada has never before lost a seat it ran for on the Security Council, and the shock of the loss has led to some series accusation-throwing between the federal parties.

What perhaps makes this loss of a desired UN seat particularly interesting was the exposure Canada basked in internationally through the early part of this year.

Between the Winter Olympics, the G-8 and the G-20 summits, Canada has been on the world stage like it hasn't been in quite a while.

Literally billions of dollars have been spent between those three events, so it is odd that there would be such lax support of Canada when it made its desire to attain the Security Council seat apparent.

Sadly, I feel I have to side with the majority of the outside correspondents and former diplomats in saying that the loss of support has something to do with Israel.

Like it or not, Canada has in the past been a rather critical commentator on the actions of the Israeli state, especially in regards to their treatment of the Palestinians.

As I have commented on at length before, the tit-for-tat nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict creates a condition where no side is blameless in the continuing conflict and violence that plagues the region.

The issue does have one firm fact. Israel is a state, and the Palestinians are not.

Therefore, a certain additional weight of opinion is often brought to bear on Israel, because it is an actual international entity.

Harper, since the formation of his government, has had a much softer opinion of Israeli policy then previous occupants of Sussex Drive.

I remember one occasion, after an Israeli agent for that state's intelligence service, Mosad, was captured trying to cross a border carrying a forged Canadian passport, when then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien closed the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv, effectively severing official contact with Israel.

Having state-sanctioned assassins (and Israel does not shy away from assassination in defence of itself and its citizens) carrying Canadian passports created a danger for all Canadians abroad, as unreasonable search and detention could follow should a passport-holder trigger the distrust of some other country's officials.

Things settled down relatively quickly from that incident, with Israel promising not to forge Canadian travel documents any more.

But their use of these documents in the first place is indicative of why it is that Canada perhaps lost its sought-after Security Council seat due to its stance on Israel.

Israel, behind claims of acting in defence of its citizens, has openly and repeatedly violated international law over the years of its existence.

While some may rationalize this, and others support it, it is important to remember that the majority of nations within the UN do not.

It seems a hypocrisy to some nations that Canada can condemn Iran for violating international agreements on one hand, while condoning (or at least not protesting) Israel's violations on the other.

While I would never say that Israel has no right to defend itself, and as a person who believes the first responsibility of any government is to ensure the continuance of the state (because everything else that follows requires there to be a state,) I don't necessarily blame Israel for some of its actions and policies.

But regarding the West Bank, Golan Heights, and other occupied territories, Israel has been acting completely in disregard of international law, and I fail to see how expanding Israeli settlement of these territories will help Israel's security.

Quite the opposite, their continued seizure of Arab lands arguably fuel the continuing flames in the Middle East.

For Canada, our growing tacit support of Israel is costing us on the world stage.

A blow to prestige is something that we as a country can recover from, but if Canada were ever viewed to be an unquestioning ally of Israel, I fear that our proud history of being able to travel anywhere in the world in relative safety would be in threat.