Allies or Enablers? (RELS 348)

In the linked article entitled “Canada Opposes 15 Palestinian Attempts to Join United Nations Treaties,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 2015, writer Mike Blanchfield outlines the Canadian government’s ongoing opposition to Palestinian attempts to exercise the powers of a sovereign state by participating in United Nations treaties. Although Palestine has won non-member observer status at the UN, nine countries – including Israel, the United States, and Canada – have refused to recognize Palestinian statehood. While the governments of these countries assert that their position is due to Palestine not meeting the criteria of a state under international law, Palestinian representatives and allies of the Palestinian cause argue instead that these governments are beholden to the interests of right-wing, pro-Zionist Israeli political parties and interest groups.

The present situation creates an interesting dilemma for countries such as Canada. Increasingly, citizens of Western nations are being forced to question their viewpoints on the Palestinian situation. As Israel has long been an ally of Canada, does this mean we are to unquestioningly tow the line of whichever party happens to be in power at any given time in Israel? Or are we, as citizens of countries capable of influencing Israeli policies, especially responsible for the slaughter of Palestinian civilians when we neglect to voice even the slightest criticism? Canada must decide what role it wishes to play within the global expanse of American empire. American governments have long appeared either unwilling or incapable of providing undaunted criticism of the remorseless policies embraced by successive Israeli governments regarding the Palestinian people. And Canadian governments have long enjoyed giving lip service to the idea of “speaking truth to power,” in the words of former Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. But unless we are willing to stand up to the hegemonic power of American empire and, without hesitation, voice opposition to both the massacre of Palestinian civilians and the American government’s unwillingness to call it for what it is, what principles do we really have?

-KM

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