Poll: Canada’s politicians drastically out of touch with public on Israel

Middle East
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A new Ekos poll released this morning found that 46 per cent of Canadians, including a majority of those who support every party but the Conservatives, hold a negative view of Israel. The Canadian government is seen to have a pro-Israel bias by 61 per cent of respondents, while 91 per cent do not think criticism of Israeli government policy is necessarily anti-semitic. These results suggest that Canada’s big political parties are out of step with Canadians on these issues.

In the first all-party leaders’ debate in Canada’s 2015 federal election, Stephen Harper, arguably the most pro-Israel Prime Minister in Canadian history, challenged Justin Trudeau to clarify his attitude toward Israel. Harper asserted that “there is a movement at the United Nations to isolate and denigrate the state of Israel… The best friend and ally this country has is in a very dangerous region, and we will never go along with that anti-Israel position.”

Justin Trudeau’s response? “All parties are in agreement on this.”

Since taking office, Prime Minister Trudeau has demonstrated that, when it comes to Israel, he is indeed in agreement with Stephen Harper.

In less than 18 months in office, the Trudeau government has voted against no less than sixteen United Nations resolutions critical of Israel. Perhaps the most notable example is a General Assembly resolution which reaffirmed Palestinians’ right to self-determination, including the right to have an independent state. Adopted in December 2015 with the support of 177 countries, that resolution was opposed by Israel, the United States and Canada, along with the tiny island states of Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru.

One year later, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution declaring that Israeli settlements on territory intended for a Palestinian state were a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of…peace” between Israel and Palestine. The unanimous Security Council vote (with the U.S. abstaining) reflected a decades-long international consensus on the illegality of the settlements.

Although that resolution enjoyed overwhelming support of Security Council members, including Canadian allies France, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the Trudeau government remained conspicuously silent after its adoption. As the Canadian Jewish News reported, “amid the controversy surrounding last month’s UN Security Council resolution slamming Israel for settlement activity and calling all territory it captured in the 1967 war illegal, Canada has kept a low profile and reiterated its support for a two-state solution.”

Then, on February 6, 2017, Israel’s Knesset passed a ‘Settlement Regulation’ Law which purported to legalize settlements. The law was plainly intended to flout the Security Council’s unanimous will, so Trudeau’s government was left with no option but to admonish Israel, albeit meekly. In a statement issued quietly, Canada’s new Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the Settlement Regulation law was “unhelpful to the advancement of the peace process in the region.” At the same time, she reiterated that Canada is a “steadfast friend and ally of Israel” and reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to “Israel’s right to live in peace with its neighbours within secure boundaries and free of terrorism…”

It is instructive to compare the Trudeau government’s response to Israel’s ‘Settlement Regulation’ law to another foreign policy hotspot, Crimea. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea after a violent revolution toppled its pro-Russian but democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych. Prior to the annexation, a referendum was held in Crimea in which 97% of Crimeans voted for integration into the Russian Federation. The turnout was 83%. Trudeau’s reaction to the annexation was to describe Vladimir Putin as a “bully” whom he would “confront” and to impose economic sanctions on Russia.

Much of the international community regards the Crimean referendum as invalid, primarily because it was held while Russian troops occupied Crimea. But in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there has been no referendum at all in which occupied Palestinians have voted to live under Israeli rule. Indeed, if such a vote were held today, it is virtually certain that Palestinians would vote overwhelmingly for independence from Israel, notwithstanding the presence of Israeli troops on occupied Palestinian territory. Yet the Trudeau government regards Putin as a ‘bully” whose country deserves to be sanctioned, while it considers Israel’s government, which by Canada’s own admission has illegally annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as Canada’s “best friend and ally” whose “flagrant violation under international law” is merely “unhelpful.”

Israel’s apologists often complain that Israel is subjected to a double standard. That is true, but what those apologists aren’t telling you is that the double standard favours Israel.

Why does this double standard prevail in Canada? In a country that purports to be a democracy, one would expect the answer to be: ‘because Canadians want it that way.’ Yet a new survey done by EKOS Research Associates makes it crystal clear that Canadians do not want it that way.

The survey asked respondents whether they had a negative or positive view of Israel’s government. Of those who had an opinion, 46% had a negative view and only 28% had a positive view. Conservative Party supporters were on the fringes of public opinion, with a 58% positive view. The average for supporters of the other four parties was 11% positive and 63% negative. Remarkably, 55% of supporters of the governing Liberal Party had a negative view of Israel’s government – 2.5 times as many Liberal supporters who had a positive view (22%).

When asked whether they believe Canada’s government was biased towards Israel or Palestinians, 61% of respondents said pro-Israel and 16% said pro-Palestinian. Excluding Conservative Party supporters, 74% viewed Canada’s Government as having a pro-Israel bias while only 9% saw it as pro-Palestinian.

The divide between public and elite opinion is even greater on the question of whether criticism of Israel’s government is anti-Semitic. Both federally and in Ontario, elected officials of the Liberal and Conservative parties recently supported motions condemning the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS. Although neither of those motions explicitly described BDS supporters as anti-Semites, the debates that led to their adoption were rife with explicit allegations that that is precisely what BDS supporters are. Conservative Ontario MPP Gila Martow went so far as to imply that the BDS movement is like the Ku Klux Klan.

Yet hardly anyone outside of the Conservative and Liberal caucuses believes that criticism of Israel’s Government is necessarily anti-Semitic. The EKOS survey found that 91% to 100% of Liberal, Green and NDP supporters do not believe that criticism of Israeli government policy is necessarily anti-Semitic, and that even 80% of Conservative supporters hold that view. Nonetheless, elected officials from both the Conservative and Liberal Parties darkly declare that calling for peaceful economic sanctions on a state that has been violating the Fourth Geneva Convention for decades is the ‘new anti-Semitism.’

Martin Luther King once said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” When it comes to Canadian political support for Palestinian rights, the arc has begun to bend.

Days ago, the Green Party of Canada announced that it had adopted a policy calling for sanctions on Israel., including an arms embargo. That policy also urges the International Criminal Court to prioritize its investigation into potential Israeli war crimes. Moreover, it calls on the Government of Canada to recognize the state of Palestine, which the vast majority of states have already done, but which Canada has failed inexcusably to do. The Green Party’s sanctions policy was adopted with the support of 90% of party members who voted.

The Green Party’s sanctions policy passed overwhelmingly despite fierce condemnation from apologists for Israel’s apartheid regime. Those apologists included Conservative MP Peter Kent, who thundered in Parliament that “the Green Party has been co-opted by extreme activists who, in an obsessive campaign of prejudice against Israelis, threaten the party’s own credibility and relevance in Canadian politics.”

If the ‘Honourable’ Mr. Kent paid the slightest attention to Canadian public opinion on Israel, he would know that the credibility and relevance being threatened are his own.

A version of this article first appeared on Ricochet.

About Dimitri Lascaris

Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer called to practice in Ontario and New York State. After working in the New York and Paris offices of a major Wall Street law firm, Dimitri became a class action lawyer in Canada. His class actions practice focused on shareholder rights, environmental wrongs and human rights violations. In 2012, Canadian Lawyer Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada, and in 2013, Canadian Business Magazine named him one of the 50 most influential persons in Canadian business. Until recently, Dimitri was the Justice Critic in the Green Party of Canada shadow cabinet. He is the author and submitter of the Green Party of Canada’s BDS resolution.

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29 Responses

  1. Rosebud
    February 16, 2017, 3:24 pm

    The photo above reminds me of a question I always meant to ask. Does the hand of a war criminal feel different from a normal person’s hand?

    • amigo
      February 16, 2017, 4:59 pm

      “Does the hand of a war criminal feel different from a normal person’s hand? ” Rosebud

      I place more importance in eye contact than a handshake.Some people , before meeting someone , place their hand in their pocket to warm it up but look elsewhere when shaking hands.

      As to shaking hands with a known war criminal , I have no idea if there is a difference , nor do I intend to put it to the test.

      However , it is a good question.

  2. Kay24
    February 16, 2017, 6:33 pm

    It is good to know that despite Canadians having access to the American media, they can intelligently realize just what Israel is, and what it is doing to the Palestinians.

    It would also be good for an unbiased polling company here in the US, one not corrupted by the zionists, to take a fair poll to see what people really feel about Israel. I often think that like the media, our think tanks and polling institutions could be zionist owned or run. Could they be taking a sampling of opinions in certain areas in Florida mostly, where for sure there would be strong support for Israel. I really am not sure.

    I hope the Canadian leadership wakes up and realizes which path they are taking. All they have to do is take a hard look at the US, to avoid the pitfalls.

  3. captADKer
    February 17, 2017, 10:07 am

    what is not mentioned here is that polling is dispropotionately skewed by the heavily loaded anglophone/muslim component of the various representative parties. when corrected, conformity is reestablished in support of goverment policy across the board.

    • Mooser
      February 17, 2017, 12:08 pm

      “that polling is dispropotionately skewed by the heavily loaded anglophone/muslim component of the various representative parties.”

      See? That’s what I’ve been telling them, “capt”! If you ‘unskew’ the count, there’s 2 billion Jews, and too many Muslims in Canada!

    • oldgeezer
      February 17, 2017, 3:07 pm

      @captadker

      I see no basis for your claim. The survey was in English and French. The percent that identified as French was roughly in proportion to their share of the population. As was the percentage of respondents from PQ.

      Those who identified as being a the BLOC party, a French dominated separitist party, had an overwhelming negative view of the GoI at 78%. Only one in ten have a favourable view. while Quebec had the most negative view of the GoI when looked at province by province 57%. Only 16% have a favourable view.

      It’s nice to make the claims you do with no reference or back up. I’m willing to read it if you have it.

      • captADKer
        February 17, 2017, 9:33 pm

        i am prepared to offer you these facts which more than corrupt any conclusions from t his
        “surveyed” reporting-
        http://canadafreepress.com/article/dimitri-lascaris-turfed-from-green-party-shadow-cabinet

      • MHughes976
        February 18, 2017, 6:14 am

        I would want to see confirmation from other polls before I set too much store by this one, but it’s undeniable that there has been some noticeable movement in public opinion throughout the West in the Palestinians’ favour – that is why so much effort is going into counteracting BDS. On the other hand the surface of the massive support for Israel within the political class has barely been scratched. When a problem is of minor concern to the mass of people a movement in public opinion takes time to have political effect, and in this case may take for ever and a few weeks. There are many counteracting forces, including the lack of major public figures who might link political to public opinion in this regard and above all the near universally accepted, though rarely deeply believed, pro-Israel version of anti-anti-Semitism.

      • oldgeezer
        February 18, 2017, 7:01 am

        @captadker

        Right… so you have nothing to back up your comments. Your link does not discredit his work in any way. Nutty is a facist and I would loved to see him barred as well. Israel has committed a number of extrajudicial killings and some religious and GoI leaders have publicly called for same.

        Nice try though. No not really. It was a poor one actually.

  4. bikingdoc
    February 17, 2017, 11:07 am

    just more of the predictable, distorted obsessively anti-– is real and anti-Semitic BS from Mondoweiss specializes in peddling this bigoted dishonesty about Israel.
    And the author Dimitri Lascaris is a widely discredited character who failed at law and now spends his time instead dreaming up anti-– Israel rubbish in service to his life long obsessive anti-Semitism.

    Real truth of the matter is that Israel is the Mideast’s only democracy, treats its Muslim population better than nearly any Muslim country does, respects human rights MUCH or the one in the oven its Arab neighbors, and has more historic and legal claims to the disputed lands of Judea and Samaria than the so-called “Palestinians”, since there isn’t now nor has ever been a country called Palestine.

    Every honest observer middle East knows that Israel is a shining light of democracy amidst a sea of brutal Islamic theocracies. It’s just another big lie about Israel to claim the “settlements” are an optical two peace in the region. If that were the case, why was Israel attacked five times by its Arab neighbors BEFORE there were any settlements?

    • Bumblebye
      February 17, 2017, 1:46 pm

      ^^^This from a “Professor of Political Science”??

      total twaddle. Obviously hasn’t studied the region, holds the myths peddled about the state to be religious truths.

      doesn’t even make sense – “optical two peace”?

      • Mooser
        February 17, 2017, 5:36 pm

        “It’s becoming comical at this point, seeing literally the same exact talking points being rehashed over and over…”

        But “bikingdoc” is a Professor! He’s a Professor of Political Science. Which, no matter what he thinks, is very easy to say three-times-fast. He should try another.

      • MHughes976
        February 18, 2017, 7:13 am

        There has been a country called Palestine since about 1100 BCE, though its boundaries have been variable. Over the next few centuries the two names Canaan and Phoenicia, linked in meaning but slightly confusing to apply, gave way to Palestine as the generally and internationally accepted name, sometimes used without sense of problem by Jewish writers, for what has been called Palestine in every century since. The name ‘Israel’/Land of Israel never became generally accepted, not even for a short time, for that whole territory. The Kingdom of Israel in part of it soon became known, quite likely with its own encouragement, after Omri, one of its founders, but that Kingdom was not of extremely long duration. The Bible claims, in revealing words, that there was an inheritance of the children of Israel in (what was still) the land of Canaan. This theological claim is still asserted, God knows, to this day and hour, but it deserves some challenge and re-evaluation.
        It is sometimes said that Palestine doesn’t count because it was normally a province of a larger entity. I would think that therefull do seem to have been occasions when there were Palestinians/Philistines acting with a reasonable show of independence. Omri broke off his campaign against the Philistines, which suggests that these two were reasonably equal powers. The Israelite and Jewish kingdoms for their part rarely had what we might call absolute independence – think of Jehoiakim having to accept foreign instruction even about his own name. And then the poor guy had to be threatened with ‘the burial of an ass’. But why should the status of various entities and royal personages within the (to us rather alien) international system of long ago affect people’s rights now?
        ‘Judaea and Samaria’ is a name which does violence to biblical authority, the two components being always contrasted, not linked in the scriptures.
        All this is very easily and freely available information. Why do such false things keep on and on being said by so many and treated as if they determined people’s rights?

    • diasp0ra
      February 17, 2017, 5:08 pm

      @bikingdoc

      It’s becoming comical at this point, seeing literally the same exact talking points being rehashed over and over, and on pieces that have nothing to do with them too.

      So while it’s entertaining seeing all the vitriol and defamation, can you actually dispute the results of this poll or provide evidence to their contrary?

    • talknic
      February 17, 2017, 6:10 pm

      bikingdoc does Hasbara bullsh*t 101

      @ bikingdoc February 17, 2017, 11:07 am

      “… Israel is the Mideast’s only democracy”

      Strange, Palestine held democratic elections in 2006. https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/236F02CF539AA9418525710600587785

      Israel meanwhile has never had a legally elected Government under the promised Israeli constitution http://pages.citebite.com/p2b0i7o9o6xlh

      “Israel” is “the Occupying Power” over non-Israeli territories (UNSC res 476 https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/6de6da8a650b4c3b852560df00663826 ). As such it is bound by the UN Charter Chapt XI and has a ” sacred trust” to protect the occupied, their property and their territory and assist them to statehood.

      Instead, the Jewish State illegally settles non-Israeli territories it covets (against one of Judaisms basic common sense tenets) purposefully putting Israeli civilians on the front lines in contravention of GC IV. A convention adopted to protect civilians of the Occupying Power as well as citizens of the occupied

      “… and has more historic and legal claims to the disputed lands of Judea and Samaria than the so-called “Palestinians”, since there isn’t now nor has ever been a country called Palestine.”

      Nonsense. Palestine was a state with provisional recognition in 1922, by 1925 it had adopted Palestinian Nationality Law per the League of Nations Mandate for PALESTINE, Article 7

      Article 7 The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp#art7

      Furthermore, Israel proclaimed its borders effective at 00:01 May 15th 1948 and was recognized as such. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf However, at the time Jewish forces under Paln Dalet were already in territories the Israeli Government itself claimed on May 22nd 1948 were “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”

      ” why was Israel attacked five times by its Arab neighbors BEFORE there were any settlements?”

      It was never attacked. A) Israeli forces were in non-Israeli territories even as Israel’s borders were being proclaimed and being recognized. The other Regional Powers had a right to attempt to expel Israeli forces from non-=Israeli territories for the simple reason that it was Israel acting outside of its proclaimed and recognized territories. Israel got there by attacking non-Israeli territories. No Israeli territories have ever been invaded

      Go peddle your Ziopoop somewhere else. You’ll only make a complete idiot of yourself here

    • oldgeezer
      February 17, 2017, 8:07 pm

      @bikerdoc

      Israel is the biggest gerrymandered electoral grouping in the world. That and being both a paruah and rogue state are it’s only claim to fame.

      Not a democratic bone in it’s structure.

    • eljay
      February 17, 2017, 8:36 pm

      || bikingdoc: … Real truth of the matter is that Israel is the Mideast’s only democracy … ||

      If by “Mideast’s only democracy” you mean “Mideast’s only religion-supremacist ‘Jewish State'”, yes, you’re right, it is.

      || … treats its Muslim population better than nearly any Muslim country does, respects human rights MUCH or the one in the oven its Arab neighbors … ||

      You can always count on a Zionist to argue “Murders exist, so it’s OK to rape.”

      || … and has more historic and legal claims to the disputed lands of Judea and Samaria than the so-called “Palestinians”, since there isn’t now nor has ever been a country called Palestine. … ||

      The non-Jewish and Jewish indigenous population of geographic Palestine is the only group has the only historic claim to geographic Palestine. The religion-based identity of “Jewish” is not a valid claim to territory or to a supremacist state of any kind.

      || … Every honest observer middle East knows that Israel is a shining light of democracy amidst a sea of brutal Islamic theocracies. … ||

      If by “shining light of democracy” you mean “colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist ‘Jewish State'”, yes, you’re right, it is.

      And, once again, you can always count on a Zionist to argue “Murders exist, so it’s OK to rape.”

    • RoHa
      February 18, 2017, 10:22 am

      “Israel is the Mideast’s only democracy”

      Even if true, why is this so important? Democracies can, and do, commit evil.

      “…has more historic and legal claims to the disputed lands of Judea and Samaria …”

      What are these historical and legal claims? Israel was created in 1948. The West Bank was not part of its territory.

      I can only see two bases for claims.
      1. Conquest. But modern international law rejects conquest as a basis for claims.
      2. Israel is the immediate successor state to a State of Palestine which encompassed all Palestine. But you deny that such a state existed.

      “than the so-called “Palestinians”, since there isn’t now nor has ever been a country called Palestine.”

      The Palestinians are the native residents, descended from native residents. That gives them a very substantial claim, regardless of whether or not there ever was a country called Palestine.

    • Talkback
      February 19, 2017, 4:46 am

      bikingdoc: “Real truth of the matter is that Israel is the Mideast’s only democracy, …”

      Oh boy. Another Hasbara troll spreading lies. Have a look atTurkey, Lebanon, or Kuwait.

      “… treats its Muslim population better than nearly any Muslim country does, respects human rights MUCH or the one in the oven its Arab neighbors, …”

      Really? Which Muslim Countries have put Muslims under martial law or expelled them, because of their faith/heritage like Israel? Which Muslim country is discriminating Muslims, because of their faith/heritage?

      “… and has more historic and legal claims to the disputed lands of Judea and Samaria …”

      Say bikingdoc. How many years was “Judea and Samari” under Jewish control? And by which means considered to be legal after 1945 did Jews re-acquire control?

      “… than the so-called “Palestinians”, since there isn’t now nor has ever been a country called Palestine.”

      Yeah, you are only saying that, because neither you nor your ascendants ever legally acquired citizenship of Palestine before 1948, right? Otherwise you would know that a country called Palestine existed and the so called “Palestinians” ARE a nation contrary to the so called “Jews” which aren’t as nobody can become “Jewish” by acquiring any citizenship. And I guess that in your Kahane continuum there’s no UN in which Palestine in 2012 was recognized as an observer STATE .

      • MHughes976
        February 19, 2017, 9:40 am

        It’s not enough, for the purpose of justifying one’s treatment of others, that one acts better than some and respects some rights. It has to be that all rights are accorded, otherwise there must be injustice and there must always be some cruelty in the tender mercies or rights conceded here and there – as was revealed to a distinguished Jewish thinker.

  5. Vera Gottlieb
    February 17, 2017, 11:18 am

    Someone said “you can’t shake hands with a clenched fist”. Not only Canadian politicians, all others in other countries too, fear being branded “anti Semitic”, prefer to look the other way no matter what injustices israel is carrying out.

  6. DavidDaoud
    February 17, 2017, 2:05 pm

    Have you noticed that, as he ages, Bibi is beginning to look more like Ariel Sharon?

  7. lonely rico
    February 17, 2017, 3:10 pm

    The problem of course is how to translate this perception into political movement which puts some meaningful pressure on the criminal state of Israel. Most Canadian politicians don’t want to touch it because of the fear of being treated as anti-Semites and losing the support of pro-Zionist groups.
    For most of the population, I/P is a low priority, far behind concerns for jobs, the environment, the unfair voting system etc.
    I think BDS, which has taken root in colleges, universities, church groups, unions, cultural groups, investment portfolios etc. offers the best way forward. But it’s so damnably slow, while Palestinians daily suffer humiliation, destruction and death.

  8. captADKer
    February 18, 2017, 4:06 pm

    BDS = ANTI SEMITISM
    no need to dissect an individual’s heart when it is expressed by an acronym

    • Mooser
      February 18, 2017, 7:39 pm

      See,” capt”? You typed it in ‘all caps’ and that made it true.
      Easy, huh?
      Try typing your entire comment in upper-case letters. You’ll be rhetorically invincible!

      And you keep trying to convince people that BDS is anti-semitism, “capt”. That approach could easily shut down the entire BDS movement. Nobody wants to be antisemitic! And who, I ask you, who, could doubt your ability and fitness to judge? Yup, when you accuse, “captADKer” people will have no alternative but to examine their own souls, and find them wanting.

    • eljay
      February 18, 2017, 8:57 pm

      || captADKer: BDS = ANTI SEMITISM

      no need to dissect an individual’s heart when it is expressed by an acronym ||

      Ain’t that the truth: IDF = ZIONIST TERRORISM

    • Talkback
      February 19, 2017, 4:11 am

      What the antisemite captADKer is trying to say is that calling for equal rights is not Jewish.

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