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The United Nations and Israel

A Deplorable Vote

December 13, 2001

There is no doubt that Israel considers Canada a friend, that bilateral relations between the two countries are sound and that Canada has probably aided Israel on occasion, behind the scenes, in ways that cannot be made public. But there is equally no doubt that Canada's near-constant support of various votes and resolutions, routinely, egregiously and falsely condemnatory of Israel in most multilateral, UN-sponsored settings, is an outrageous debasement of our Canadian values.

The most recent examples occurred last week. At the annual General Assembly criticize-Israel voting ritual in New York, Canada supported 14 anti-Israel resolutions and abstained on five.

On Wednesday, in Geneva, the anti-Israel forces of the UN orchestrated the reconvening of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. As most people know, the convention deals with the code of conduct for the "protection of civilian persons in times of war." It was propagated some 50 years ago to deal with the horrors of Nazi behaviour.

The meeting in Geneva condemned Israel as "an occupying power," calling on Israel to "refrain from committing grave breaches" of the convention including "willful killing, torture, unlawful deportation, collective penalties and unjustified restrictions of free movement."

Only once before, despite the myriad murderous, genocidal conflicts that have raged these past five decades since the convention was enshrined into international law, have the nations of the world convened to consider the application of convention rules. That was on July 15, 1999, also in Geneva, also to upbraid and isolate Israel. But that meeting lasted only 17 minutes and then it was adjourned. And Canada boycotted it.

The gathering last week was the resumption of this adjourned meeting. Last week, Canada supported the condemnation.

That decision was deplorable.

After Durban, there can no longer be even the pretense of justification for casting a vote of support. If Durban taught us anything, it is that the torrents of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel language that have flowed unabated from the UN since 1967 have indeed poisoned the wells of international discourse, if not the minds and hearts of millions of unsuspecting people around the world.

"Assaultive speech is dangerous," MP Irwin Cotler has told us. And he is absolutely correct.

Why Canada would lend its name to this latest wave of "assaultive speech" is puzzling and disappointing. It makes a mockery of everything the government tried to achieve in Durban.The explanatory statements by the Canadian delegate after the vote were meaningless for they did not become part of the record. By having supported the Geneva declaration, the government has sided again with the forces that intend only to harm Israel.

It has also violated some of the fundamental democratic values for which our country stands: truth, fairness, justice and humanity.

©2001 - Canadian Jewish News

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