The sources of enmity toward Canada and its political representatives by Palestinians are plentiful.
The Federal Government of Canada has been disinclined to present a concrete position on disputed lands along the line of June 4, 1967. Canada has been accused of reneging on its promises of delivering foreign aid to Palestinians vie the Palestinian government. Canada continues to support Israel in many political (including military) matters and has even been accused of favoring Israel.
Retreat from moral positions and human rights stances on Canada’s part is deeply contented. Opposition to the Palestinian bid for obtaining status as a non-member state within the United Nations (UN) (eventually statehood) has resulted in Palestinians brandishing denunciations of Canada as unsympathetic.
Dissatisfaction with Canada’s approach to Palestinians’ issues was made apparent by residents’ not-so-warm welcome of Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird’s in Ramallah, in the West Bank. They referred to Baird as a “criminal” and a “child killer.”
Protestors demonstrated their injurious potential to Canada-Palestinian relations and ability to temper the intentions and provisions of a country that has shown a great deal of support and empathy for Palestinians over decades.
Events in the West Bank concerning Baird’s visit demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of Canada’s position regarding Palestinians and their relationship with Israel. Some Canadians regard the “welcome” as an invocation of violence that deeply conflicts with Canadian values.
When Palestinians attack the normative position of Canadians collectively, they are only hurting themselves. For Palestinians to allow a few to mistreat representatives of a supportive country, they enter into an arena in which they cause the most harm to the political, economic, and social loci of their future.
Although Palestinians were also quick to criticize Canada for delivering less foreign aid than it had initially promised over previous years, Canadian funds amounting to more than CAD $650 million – three-times the amount received by the world’s poorest country since 2001 – have been delivered. The money come directly from taxpayers who are largely kept in the dark with respect to how to the funds are allocated.
In 2014, Canada added five countries to its list of foreign aid recipients. Israel has received a total of CAD $0 from the Government of Canada.
Financially, and in terms of larger strategic plans for peace and reconciliation in the region, Canada has maintained its position as a staunch Osloist. Canada’s policies have been formulated and implemented without external pressure or coercion, and views expressed by the Harper and Baird stem from a population that has managed a healthy position toward Palestinians as a whole.
Baird was on his way to meet with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. The meeting was described as “cordial and constructive” (quoted in Calgary Herald) and displayed a respectful exchange of opinion even though their views were not entirely complimentary.
The meeting was a solid show of support for Palestinians, even if Canada remains on the list of countries that does not recognize Palestine as a state. Countries not easily condemned to implementing policy as a result of external partisan pressure, such as Norway, New Zealand, Luxembourg, and Finland are also included in the list.
While much of Western Europe (many European Union [EU] countries) remains opposed to the elevation of Palestinian as a state, the characterization itself remains intentionally absolutist. Canadians, rather than opposing Palestinian statehood, are more opposed to the act of rushing toward it.
Baird was not the only Canadian official derided during a visit to the region. Harper responded to provocative and divisive statements by two Arab members of the Knesset (Taleb Abu Arar and Ahmad Tibi) in early-2014, who claimed that Israel is an Apartheid state. “Think about that,” Harper stated, “[t]hink about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening” (quoted in National Post).
If Palestinian territories cannot be so easily defended or characterized, it might therefore be a matter of substantive measure. One might wonder why two Canadians visiting the Palestinian territories were not shown the same level of hospitality as the thousands who now comprise the Palestinian diaspora within Canada.
One striking aspect of the heckling that took place toward Harper, while addressing the Knesset, is that it was able to happen at all. Canadian Parliamentarians, who have displayed this type of behavior only once during the 1980s, would be disappointed and delighted at the same time to see that Israel allows the rights and freedoms that Harper defended.
Canadian’s and Canadian politicians are correct to regard Israel in this way, just as they are correct to ask why Palestinians protest the visit of their foreign minister but not the extensive political (including financial) and social support extended to them over the past several decades.