09 November 2010

Harper is right, our pro-Israel stance did help lose us a Security Council seat

This time Prime Minister Harper has got it right. At first he blamed Ignatieff for losing us a seat on the UN Security Council, but now he is correctly blaming his government's pro-Israel position. Although he is right, it's not so much our support for Israel that contributed to the embarrassing defeat, but rather our unquestioning support.

We have always supported Israel, but in the past it never precluded us gaining a seat on the Security Council. That's because our approach to the Middle East was balanced, favourable to Israel but balanced enough that we were able to maintain the respect of all sides and play a constructive role in the area. Indeed that was where we experienced our finest hour in foreign policy since WWII when Lester Pearson played a key part in ending the Suez war and practically invented peace-keeping.

Today, having committed ourselves entirely to one side, we are utterly useless in the Middle East, capable of contributing nothing (except possibly cannon fodder for a war in Iran). As a result, Middle Eastern countries, excepting Israel of course, can hardly be expected to help elevate us to the Security Council.

The United States follows a similar Israel uber alles policy, but everyone has to pay attention to the most powerful country on Earth. Nobody has to pay attention to us, and obviously they no longer do.

Harper's professed anti anti-Semitism is commendable, however it is misplaced in the case of Israel. It is Palestinians, not Jews, who are incarcerated in squalid refugee camps; it is Palestinians who have been ethnically cleansed and segregated; it is Palestinians who are collectively punished and who see more of their land stolen every day. The Semites we should be concerned about in the Middle East are the Palestinians, not the Jews.

I doubt that electing the Liberals would change our policy much or enhance our credibility in the Middle East. Iggy appears to be as eager as Harper to genuflect before Israel. When that country launched its attack on Gaza, an attack that slaughtered over 300 children, and Harper referred to the atrocity as a "measured response," Ignatieff had little to say. The two gentlemen seemed to agree that Palestinian children could be sacrificed to the greater good of Israel.

So it appears we are wedded to an ineffectual policy in the Middle East for the foreseeable future, a future without a seat on the Security Council.

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