Prime Minister Trudeau: Is Canada a fake ally and fair-weather friend of Israel? Part IV

On May 16, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chystia Freeland  issued the following statement concerning the Gaza conflict:

We are deeply disturbed over the rising death toll in Gaza this past day. Israel has a right to defend its borders, but must never use lethal force against unarmed protesters. Hamas also bears much responsibility for the situation in Gaza by mixing armed combatants with peaceful demonstrators and encouraging Gazans to breach the border fence.

The statement  (a) fails to provide a proper definition  of  an unarmed protestor in the factual context  on the ;(b) reflects a rather simplistic  or inadequate  understanding  of the functions and the  true nature of the activities of the  so-called unarmed  protestors    and more specifically,  of those who are forced to act as human shields  for the armed ones;(c) ignores Israel’s claim later  confirmed  by Hamas’,  that 50 of the 62 dead were Hamas operatives, and (c)  discloses a deficient understanding of specific circumstances under which the use of live ammunition is lawful .

Be that as it may, to be fair, the Minister Freeland’s statement at least assigns Hamas much responsibility for the situation in Gaza and refrains from specifying Israel’s share of the responsibility.

What then,  did the Prime Minister two days later decided  to depart  from the balanced approach adopted  by his Minister of Foreign Affairs and issued his own statement  where he resorted  to what  I consider to be the inflammatory language which, despite voluminous evidence to the contrary, placed the blame for the injuries and fatalities wholly on Israel?

Clearly, the injury sustained by Dr. Loubani, a Gazan Palestinian who is a Canadian citizen was the ostensible cause of his abrupt radical change of position. The timing of the change would suggest that, in his own mind, the very fact of injuring a Canadian citizen, one that originates from Gaza to boot, justified relieving Hamas of its major responsibility for the violence to saddle Israel with the total responsibility. I suppose he meant to show the flag.

Putting this event in the context of Trudeau’s politics from the time he first got elected to Parliament in 2008 to the present day I suggest, this rather irrational way of approaching the Gaza conflict results from five factors.

First factor

Based on my personal observations of and readings about  Trudeau, I verily believe that the personal sympathies of the Prime Minister, born, raised and schooled in the province of Quebec ,lie with the Palestinians, as do those of French-Canadian  Quebecers.

Second factor

Ever since his first election to Parliament, Trudeau decided to cultivate the Muslim vote and to make it his own. Towards this end, he started to visit mosques, at least two of which visits turned out to be problematic. He also prayed in one, and oddly enough he thanked the Canadian Council of Imams (sic.) for their services, not to the Muslim community but, to the country, while ignoring the services rendered by the clergy of Canada’s other religions and denominations. He also attended gatherings of and gave speeches to Muslim organisations with problematic connections, in which he made at least one strange assertion.

Third factor

The City of Montreal, in the province of Quebec where Trudeau runs for his Parliamentary seat, has the largest Muslim community in Canada followed by the one in the adjoining province of Ontario. As such, in federal general elections, the Muslim vote determines the outcome of quite a few seats while it influences, along various degrees, the outcomes for other seats.

At the end of the day, Trudeau, whether based on his personal sympathies for the Palestinians and support of the Muslim community or as a cynical politician or both, made the following electoral calculation:

1.The Jewish community numbers roughly 400,000; has a low birth rate; could deliver very few electoral seats, and in any event, it has traditionally voted Liberal and continues to do so.

2.On the other hand, the size of the Muslim community has been in steady increase from 33,430 (0.1% of the total population) in 1971 to 1,054,945 (3.2%) in 2011; the population doubling over during each of the two decades preceding 2011. Taking into account the higher birth rate in the community and his government’s immigration and refugee policies and the religious profile of the resulting annual immigrant and refugee intake into Canada, the Muslim vote promises to become a source of electoral riches. Consequently, it needs to be well- cultivated through domestic and foreign policy initiatives that will secure their continued electoral support.

Thus, in 2015, for his first general election as Leader of the Liberal party, he denied a member of party to stand for election under the Liberal banner on the sole ground that she opposed the current legislation governing abortions. as a matter of conscience. Yet, he had no objection whatsoever putting forward a candidate who had championed the introduction of Sharia law in the province of Ontario and proposed settling in Canada five million Palestinian, so-called, refugees, and another candidate who during her university days headed the Muslim Student Association, an emanation from the Muslim Brotherhood, and presumably espoused or heeded the value system of the Brotherhood.

Again, within roughly  two years, his government voted  not for one but for two motions concerning Islamophobia;(a)  the first  was made possible  by a Liberal backbencher  who sponsored  in the House of Commons an electronic petition  of Muslim signatories asking the House, inter alia, to condemn “ all forms of Islamophobia” without providing a definition of the term that was subsequently tabled as a motion by the leader of an opposition party, and (b) the second motion,  which primarily focused on Islamophobia  was tabled  by a Liberal member of Parliament, and Trudeau secured its passage by using his party’s  majority of votes in the House of Commons.

By contrast, during the corresponding two years, the rate of anti-Semitic incidents increased dramatically in both of these years, while the anti-Muslim incidents ranked distant third both years. In both instances, Trudeau was nowhere to be seen or heard. Nor did he issue a formal statement about the problem and how to deal with it.

Hence, both in the areas of domestic and foreign policies, all other things being equal, Trudeau is unlikely to formulate and pursue policies and take initiatives concerning Israel  or  domestic and international Muslim communities and entities that could possibly or would likely offend the sensibilities of his Muslim electoral base. Hence, the tenor and substance of Trudeau’s statement.

Fourth factor

Trudeau’s foreign policy is based on his need and goal to show Canada as the good boy around the block, wedded, among other “good things”  to (a) post-modern globalism that promotes not merely  global free-trade but also the free movements of peoples across the globe, and more particularly from poor  or developing countries  to more affluent ones through generous immigration and refugee policies;(b) the maintenance of an  international order sustained by multilateral co-operation based on universal values and humanitarian aid, and (c) working along with the big boys of the Western world as with other nations and peoples in furtherance  of these “good things”.

In practice,  the Gaza case demonstrates  that Trudeau’s  foreign policy amounts  to a peculiar kind of international morality as for instance ,in addition to the examples I supplied in the preceding Part III Canada, has yet to condemn, let alone do something constructive about, among other despicable violations of his values and principles, the cold-blooded  beatings and killings of unarmed Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey by the Turkish military since  May and  is expected to continue on the orders of the Turkish President,  as the country faces presidential elections.

At the end of the day, while on a personal level, the Prime Minister, is fully entitled to his sympathies and could be somewhat  excused  for his cynical electoral stratagem, as Head of the government of Canada, his formulation of foreign policy based on his post-modernist view of the world,  personal sympathies and domestic electoral considerations are poor substitute for  proper knowledge, rigorous analysis of and respect  for  incontrovertible  evidence  guided by a disciplined and fair-minded approach to  international conflicts that puts the alleviation of the needs of oppressed and afflicted people ahead of  all other considerations.

Canada’s decision to engage in international grandstanding against Israel along with other western and Muslim countries by playing the blame game and demanding the investigation of the way Israel is defending its lawful border, instead of focusing on the real tragedy in Gaza, illustrates the Prime Minister’s misguided thinking, policy formulation and approach to resolving international problems such as this tragedy.

While this kind of policy may please his Muslim domestic electorate base, Arab and primarily Muslim countries, it has utterly failed to respond promptly, appropriately and to relieve effectively the humanitarian tragedy currently playing out in Gaza caused by the Hamas regime’s relentless violent victimisation, cruel exploitation, oppression and hardship   of its own people in pursuit of its goals to annihilate Israel.

In this context,  it is also noteworthy that Trudeau has also failed to see the connection between his government’s decision to finance the current  mode of educating Palestinians and how this education and UNWRA’s  incitement  has led to innocent injuries and deaths of Gazans as a result of  the criminal violence organised and being promoted and  perpetrated by Hamas.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that according to a most recent survey, the majority of Gazan’s are showing their interest to be, to become or to remain as unarmed protestors, their interest in and commitment to the March of Return, by seeking to find the ways and means of getting out of the hellhole that Gaza has become since the arrival of Hamas and to immigrate abroad.

In the meantime, on May 20, Fathi Harb, a young Palestinian married man whose wife is expecting their first child, set himself on fire to protest Hams’ failed and repressive rule” and while he  doused himself in flammable liquid he shouted “damn the government”.  His family is reported to have said that Harb took this this drastic act due to his despair over Gaza’s dire living conditions under Hamas.

Fifth factor

This factor is intimately connected to the fourth one and for Trudeau it is a critically important one. More specifically, since his ascension to power, the Prime Minister has been working intensely to realise his goal of securing for Canada a seat in the United Nations’ Security Council .It is fair to say that his foreign policy is designed to augment his chances of getting that seat.

The question then becomes whether a seat on the Security Council can ever be a just reward for the government’s badly botched handling of the Gaza humanitarian tragedy by making a villain of Israel? I think not.

All of the foregoing considerations lead me to answer the question posed in the title of this paper in the affirmative. So long as Trudeau remains in power, most regretfully for both Canada and Israel, Canada will not be a genuine ally of Israel. Nor will it be a genuine friend. At best, Canada will remain a willing partner of Israel under the Canada-Israel free trade agreement for the usual mercantile reasons based on national self-interest.

About the Author
Doğan Akman was born and schooled in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon his graduation from Lycee St. Michel, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In Canada, he taught university in sociology-criminology and social welfare policy and published some articles in criminology journals After a stint as a Judge of the Provincial Court (criminal and family divisions) of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, he joined the Federal Department of Justice working first as a Crown prosecutor, and then switching to civil litigation and specialising in aboriginal law. Since his retirement he has published articles in Sephardic Horizons and e-Sefarad and in an anthology edited by Rifat Bali titled This is My New Homeland and published in Istanbul.
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