Friday, December 07, 2012
Finally, finally, finally, the Canadian government has acknowledged that the state of Israel makes some choices which violate international law and impede the progress of a healthy peace and a two state solution in that region. Prime Minister Harper has criticized Israel's announcement that it will build settlements in disputed territory which would effectively bisect an area that is predominantly Palestinian.
To be clear, I do not condone or support the violent actions of any Palestinian group. They too undermine peaceful co-existence. I despise terrorism and groups such as Hamas which promote it. But in recent years Canada has scrutinized and criticized every action by the Palestinians and threatened to withdraw financial aid for having the temerity of asking for even modest recognition of a Palestinian entity. For some reason which most of us cannot comprehend hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has our blind support.
When the vote was taken last week in the United Nations only nine nations opposed recognition while others chose to abstain as a sign that neither a yes or a no was a suitable response to the request. Canada was one of those nine, and John Baird scolded the U.N. for its decision. I was embarrassed by our "blunt force" diplomacy, totally out of keeping with our Canadian tradition. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail observed this week that we no longer have a Middle East policy. It is now an Israel policy. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/at-one-with-israel-canada-and-palau/article5976004/?service=mobile
Folks, the United Church of Canada was vilified for suggesting what the Canadian government and many others are now conceding during the August meeting of General Council. These settlements are illegal and punitive and are the source of injustice. We are not anti-Israel and we are certainly not anti-Jewish. We are pro-justice. Not long ago a coalition of 15 American church groups made an even stronger statement than the United Church. That diverse coalition has also been criticized relentlessly.
The Israel government and Jewish groups in Canada and the United States remind us regularly that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. I applaud this and we all should. And we should expect that it act like one, including abiding by international law.
Was anyone else relieved to hear Mr. Harper's statement? Are you any clearer now on your own stand? Should the United Church keep yapping?
The meek and the mighty of climate change