Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland recently described Canada’s new foreign policy as one that is, “totally rooted in Canadian soil and took as its starting point Canada’s national interest and Canadian values.” Values like multiculturalism and equality of opportunity regardless of ethnicity or religion.
So how does the Trudeau government reconcile this with a recent statement by the Prime Minister as reported on the blog Canada Talks Israel Palestine:
Every year on Israel’s Independence Day, the Prime Minister of Canada issues a congratulatory statement. There is nothing unusual in this. We do the same for most of the other states with whom we have diplomatic relations. The statement with respect to Israel usually contains a reference to Canada’s continued commitment to fighting Antisemitism. Antisemitism is a specific form of racism that discriminates against Jews. It is entirely appropriate that our government declare opposition to it. Last year, Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2016 statement said Canada “stands with Israel in its fight against Antisemitism”. Prime Minister Harper said the same thing in 2015.
But this year, in an apparently unprecedented move, Prime Minister Trudeau went a lot farther stating, “Today, while we celebrate Israel’s independence, we also reaffirm our commitment to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”
Zionism a is movement that supports the establishment of a Jewish state in the territory defined as Palestine. Advocates of Zionism view it as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a persecuted people residing as minorities in a variety of nations to their ancestral homeland. Critics of Zionism view it as a colonialist, racist and exceptionalist ideology that led advocates to violence to settle Palestine, followed by the exodus of Palestinians, and the subsequent denial of their right to return to property lost during the 1948 war.
Whether you support the idea behind the establishment of Israel or not, no reasonable person can deny that it didn’t come at the expense and suffering of Palestinians. Further, the fact that Zionism is a movement that elevates the rights and value of one ethnic and religious group over all others makes in inherently racist. This is only reinforced by modern day Israeli state policy that favours its Jewish population over all others, effectively creating two sets of rules based on your ethnicity. This has led to various forms of segregation and comparisons to apartheid South Africa. Even the road system in Israel is segregated:
The problem with supporting Zionism is that it is anathema to Canadian ideals of multiculturalism, equality and human rights.
Much money and ink has been spilled by various lobby groups to try to obscure this fact citing “shared interests” based on the idea that we are two democracies without looking into the details of how Israel actually, actively, and systematically deprives Palestinians of basic human rights.
Concurrently, the same lobby groups have waged a campaign to discredit numerous reports from human rights organizations as well as undermining the credibility of the United Nations itself in an effort throw a smoke screen up around Israel’s atrocities – All in the name of an ideology – Zionism
So you have an ideology that, by definition, promotes ethno-religious exclusivity at the direct expense of a minority group (the Palestinians) – An ideology against the Canadian traditions of multiculturalism, equality, and human rights and whose adherents seek to undermine global institutions to shield it from criticism.
The bedrock of a global order that Chrystia Freeland defended, a “system that had at its heart the core notions of territorial integrity, human rights, democracy, respect for the rule of law, and an aspiration to free and friendly trade,” is threatened by such ideologies.
To be clear, Israel is not the only country that promotes such ideology. However, it is one of the few that spends millions each year on trying to get countries like Canada to say that what it does is justified and should be celebrated, or even rewarded. Its apoplectic reaction to international movements of condemnation demonstrate that governments of Israel (both left and right) crave acceptance from the global community. This brings it back to Canada.
If Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland actually mean what they say when they seek to assert a Canadian foreign policy that is about the rule of law, human rights, and strengthening global institutions, then the government should not be so cavalier about throwing around support for ideologies like Zionism.