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Understanding Canada’s ‘orphan vote’ at the United Nations

Opinion
on 9 Comments

Last month, the Canadian government changed its vote at the United Nations Third Committee on a resolution entitled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”, from a “no” vote to a “yes”. That vote was upheld yesterday at the UN General Assembly when it came up for final ratification. However, this single yes vote, or “orphan vote”, is just one of the 20 votes that Canada casts on resolutions regarding Israeli violations of human rights and international law, and support for Palestinians. On all other votes, Canada so far has stuck to its decade-old tradition of steadfast support for Israel at the UN by either voting against or abstaining on these resolutions.

If the Trudeau government really believed in the resolution they just voted “yes” on, why has this not translated into a change on at least some of their other votes as well? Why have they insisted on altering only this vote and going out of their way to assure the Zionist lobby that nothing else will change? Is this political opportunism, and if so, what are the motives?

There has been a lot of speculation that Canada is doing this to try and gain a seat on the UN Security Council in 2020. That analysis does fit with the hype that accompanied the initial vote change, that presented it as something significant and worthy of extended media coverage. Even though it was just a single vote and it was also made abundantly clear from the beginning that no other votes would change. But if it is a Security Council seat that is in play here, who are the advisers or other international players that have assured the Trudeau government that changing just this one vote will suffice? That this will be enough to garner support of sufficient members of the UN when the time comes? That the stink of hypocrisy that floats over changing only this one vote and absolutely no others will be brushed aside?

Along with the Security Council seat, other analysts have suggested the influence of being in a minority government as a factor. And the highlighting of the hypocrisy of the Liberals during the recent election on this issue of their UN voting record by the #IVotePalestine campaign may also have struck a nerve.

It may well be a combination of all of the above, and even more that has not yet come to light.

All we can say for sure is that Canada changed one vote, and nothing else. Not only has the overall voting record at the UN remained identical, but Trudeau’s statements on other issues, like the recent protest at York University, have been the predictable regurgitation of the Zionist narrative. It is also important to recognize that the Canadian government can stand up to the Israel lobby when it so chooses and when it suits its interests. Its just that this behaviour, on the rare occasions that it occurs, is not and has never been predicated on any concern for Palestinian human rights or aspirations, but rather on purely imperial and self-centred motives.

We are left with only one conclusion – that Canada has not changed its policy on Palestine. Period. Although all of us in the solidarity movement would be uplifted by a genuine change in Canada’s relentless anti-Palestinian behaviour, this is not it.

It is flawed to claim that something is a good first step in the right direction, unless it actually is followed by other similar steps on the same path. Otherwise it is simply a one-off exception, and activists need to understand why it is happening and what is the agenda. Liberal politicians in Canada are well-known for playing with the rights and demands of the Palestinian people, especially the refugees, and this would not be the first time that such crass opportunism has happened.

Whether Trudeau is desperate for the legacy of the Security Council seat, or is using the tragedy of what the Palestinians suffer on a daily basis to prove he can stand up to Trump, or is trying to cement his standing in the midst of a shaky minority government, it is unconscionable to use the Palestinian people and their over 70 years of dispossession as pawns in his personal chess game. And that is not something for which he deserves any praise.

Marion Kawas

Marion Kawas is a long-time pro-Palestinian activist, a member of BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish and cohost of Voice of Palestine.

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9 Responses

  1. eljay on December 19, 2019, 2:35 pm

    Trudeau accused of breaking promise to stand by Israel, following vote on UN resolution:

    … “This vote reflects poorly on Canada’s record as a defender of democracy and justice. It stains Canada’s reputation,” said Michael Mostyn, the chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

    Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch … accused Trudeau of “standing with the jackals” by voting yes.

    In early December, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Canada voting for the resolution was an example of “cultural corruption playing out in real time” …

    The typical and hypocritical Zionist outrage would be amusing if it weren’t so loathsome.

    • JWalters on December 19, 2019, 8:01 pm

      It’s a model of how totalitarian control can make people deny their own eyes and common sense.

      • Tuyzentfloot on December 20, 2019, 3:41 am

        And this is a model of how totalitarian control is completely superfluous for making people believe 2+2=5 : Asch experiment

    • James Canning on December 20, 2019, 10:43 am

      Nikki Haley contends it is “culturally corrupt” to support self-determination for the Palestinians? What utter nonsense.

  2. Misterioso on December 20, 2019, 8:53 am

    More from Canadian, Marion Kawas, a true and long time champion of the Palestinian people:

    http://www.palestinechronicle.com/anatomy-of-a-zionist-smear-campaign-jerusalem-post-admits-to-fabrications/

    “Anatomy of a Zionist Smear Campaign: Jerusalem Post Admits to Fabrications” by Marion Kawas, Palestine Chronicle, Nov. 30/19

    “On November 20, 2019, Israel advocacy club Herut Canada held a public meeting entitled ‘Reservists on Duty’ at York University in Toronto. The meeting billed itself as a chance to hear from ‘real Israeli soldiers’ about the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict, BDS and much more.’

    “Pro-Palestinian groups on campus and their supporters were concerned and outraged that the university administration was even allowing the meeting to go forward and called for a public rally to protest such an event. SAIA York pointed out that ‘the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the Israeli military of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and have found it responsible for numerous human rights violations.’

    “However, the Jewish Defense League JDL in Canada quickly announced that they would be on campus to ‘counter’ the rally; despite an official warning from the university administration, the JDL were present, were provocative and violent, and sent one protestor to hospital.

    “The JDL head even posted a video of himself during their counter-demo saying ‘We’re getting the job done here at York University, the JDL is here in force, we’ll do what we have to do…’; screenshots of FB posts from JDL supporters or members bragged about how ‘one of my boys knocked one of their guys out.’ Never Again Canada, a leading pro-Israel group, posted a video on their FB of this injured person with the Islamophobic intro: ‘Dirty screeching Islamist baksheeshes unconscious on the floor…’

    “However, despite all of this open admission of violence and shocking racism, Canadian politicians including PM Justin Trudeau have leaped to the defense of the JDL provocateurs, not the students and their right to protest.

    “The Zionist lobby went into overdrive as soon as the event finished and tried to take hold of the narrative. The first reports tried to emphasize how ‘violent’ the students and their supporters were (even though it was one of their numbers who suffered a concussion) and repeatedly misrepresented the chant of ‘Viva, viva, intifada,’ claiming it was somehow a slogan calling for the destruction of Israel.

    “However, the campaign to rewrite what happened at York really took off after a Jerusalem Post story was posted on November 21, 2019 (then dated Nov. 23 and revised Nov. 26), that opened with the following in the original version:

    “’Intifada, Intifada, go back to the ovens,’ 600 violent, pro-Palestinian protesters chanted at Jewish students on Wednesday during a pro-Israel event at York University.’

    “And note the parameters here: 600 violent protestors (a coordinated action by the whole rally) chanting at ‘Jewish students.’

    “Almost every story written by pro-Israel commentators after that referenced this Jerusalem Post report, flaunting it as evidence of the nasty type of ‘anti-Semitism’ inherent in Palestinian events. And it is a serious and dangerous accusation, one that you would think would require fact-checking and proof before printing.

    “I double-checked with the Jerusalem Post regarding any verification for the claim in their story. The author of the article replied in an email:

    “One of the speakers who was there – Shar Leyb – told me that this was chanted by the group while they were setting up for their event. I have a recording of him telling me this from when we spoke on Thursday afternoon.”

    “So there you have it. No hard proof, nothing but anecdotal and second-hand evidence from one extremely biased source with a very specific agenda.

    “And then, mysteriously, a few hours after my first email to Jerusalem Post, there appeared an updated version of the article with an editors note at the bottom saying:

    “A mistake in editing accidentally attributed the chant ‘Intifada, Intifada, go back to the ovens’ to all of the protestors at the event. This was not the case. The comment was made by a handful of protestors to some of the organizers.’

    “‘A mistake in editing!!’ So clearly the first claim was bogus, false and could not be verified. Are we to believe the new version, which again will be solely based on the word of the same speaker from the event? The damage has been done, the smear was repeated and repeated, and a half-hearted revision five days after the first story will not undo the harm that has been caused. This is journalism at its worst; it is dangerous and shows no regard for the consequences of such a smear campaign. It also cheapens and distracts from the real acts of anti-Semitism.

    “It is incumbent on the Jerusalem Post to release this audio recording they claim to have, because we need to clarify how this dangerous fabrication came about. Was it from the speaker, Shar Leyb, or was it from the newspaper staff itself?

    “Multiple groups and individuals from diverse backgrounds who were at the event, including the Palestinian students, a member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, folks from Christian Peacemakers Team and CUPE 3903 to mention just a few, had already strongly disagreed with these reports of what took place. Furthermore, no video evidence had been produced to back up the claim; lawyer Dimitri Lascaris wrote a comprehensive blog piece that carefully documented and refuted the accusations of the Israel lobby.

    “He said in a follow-up email:
    “’I was not there but I have spoken to numerous participants and have viewed over 50 distinct video clips of the event, including videos posted on Never Again Canada and by other promoters of Israel. I heard no such language in any of the videos. Moreover, if in fact the group chanted this and a pro-Israel person in the crowd heard it, it is inconceivable that there would not be a recording of it. Surely someone would have shot a video of this and shared it widely on social media and with the Jerusalem Post.’

    “The events at York University have already taken on an international dimension with coverage from media in Lebanon; there was also a joint statement of support issued by the South African Union of Students and BDS South Africa in which they condemned ‘the recent violence against human rights defenders at York University in Canada.’

    “Many activist and community groups in Canada are calling for PM Justin Trudeau to stop slandering the student protest as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘violent,’ and are also calling on the York University administration to better protect students. This behavior from politicians and officials is dangerous and inflammatory; it can and most likely will lead to further anti-Palestinian racism and targeting of student activists. How sad that once again, as in Gaza, the Israel lobby succeeds in convincing others to blame the victim for the violence inflicted on them.

    “As noted by the Canada Palestine Association in their statement to the Canadian PM:

    “’It is not racist to protest against the occupation army that daily humiliates and subjugates our people. It is not racist to protest against the Israeli military that earlier this month murdered 9 members of the same family in Gaza, and then claimed it was a ‘mistake’.

    “It is legitimate for Palestinians and their supporters to ask the Israeli military, press, and government: how many mistakes will Palestinians be forced to endure, how many mistakes will be allowed for the pro-Israel hasbara?

    “What happened at York University, both during and after the Nov. 20 meeting, is a microcosm of developments in the Palestinian solidarity movement: support is building, people are pushing back and challenging the Zionist lobby narrative, and pro-Israel groups and the Israeli government themselves are becoming increasingly desperate in their efforts to stop the cracks in their crumbling hegemony over public opinion.”

    – Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: http://www.cpavancouver.org.

    • MHughes976 on December 21, 2019, 3:39 am

      Interesting,Mist. There’s a good account by David’e Mastracci in medium.com Nov.26. He brings out the fact that the voices of politicians and mainstream journalists are still wildly one-sided.

  3. lonely rico on December 20, 2019, 10:38 pm

    Justin Trudeau has ever been a devotee of Zionist Israel.

    Trudeau on Israeli sadism, Gaza 2014 –

    (Warning – Trudeau’s unctuous piety and hypocrisy may induce nausea)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTvO_SeTvrU&pbjreload=10

    Standing up for Israel is standing up for the values and ideals our two countries share – democracy, openness, tolerance, compassion, respect for the rule of law

  4. Elizabeth Block on December 21, 2019, 10:55 pm

    A group of non-Zionists – some Jewish, some not, but organized by Jews – have held a presence, shall we say, along the line of Toronto’s annual “Walk With israel.” The walkers have sometimes told us we should have been burned in the ovens.
    But my favourite comment, in all those years, was the woman who said, “This is just a march. Why are you bringing politics into it?”
    Did she know what she was saying? Did she realize I was going to quote her?

  5. gamal on December 23, 2019, 7:50 am

    “it is unconscionable to use the Palestinian people and their over 70 years of dispossession as pawns in his personal chess game.”

    “Personal …game” perhaps it’s his,.. just, his culture and he may not know any better, may be a little more than merely personal..who now remembers Bud Dajo, not a baby left alive to cry for its dead mother, while we are saving the world one gross crime at a time..merry christmas all.

    “Imperial Abduction: The Globalization of Residential Schooling”

    Max Forte

    “In Canada, there have been official government apologies for the abuses committed during the residential schooling era (which lasted until 1996), plus monetary compensation, and a truth and reconciliation commission that was constituted and recently finished its work. Nonetheless the fundamental ethos of residential schooling has not only been preserved, it has been amplified into a template containing the basic operating instructions for how to approach peoples around the world who are understood to be inferior. Such inferiority can be understood, for example, in the way that other people’s governments, no matter how indisputably democratic or legitimate they may be, are consistently treated as if they were disposable.

    Residential schooling in Canada and its counterpart systems in Australia and the US, all intended to “save” Native children, to “educate” and thus “improve” them, is reflective of a classic settler state ideology of the late 1800s, which emphasized evolutionary progress through assimilation. It is not an unfamiliar ideology either, for those familiar with the thinking behind “modernization” theory and the basic thrust of international developmentalism. What is interesting to note is that it is only out of these same settler states that ideas of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) emerged and were propagated at the UN in recent years. The main actors who articulated and advocated for R2P have been primarily Canadian and Australian. ( I could just interject that 1995 was the year of the UNs R2PiPi notions becoming the law that must rule and reform. g)

    The globalization of residential schooling means that certain basic working principles now constitute a template that is applied to a broader set of international relations, as well as revamped forms of counterinsurgency in foreign military occupations. This template consists of the following elements:

    the binary between racially and/or culturally differentiated tutors and wards;

    a process of abduction, understood broadly, and exemplified by such phenomena as the international traffic in non-western babies in the adoption industry, to the re-implementation of the trusteeship system, to the neoliberal destruction of state-regulated economies and the military occupation of other nations—

    thus the seizure of individuals and nation-states, rendering them more or less captive to agendas imposed by western powers; and,
    what is still essentially a civilizing mission cloaked as “humanitarianism,” the defence of “human rights,” or “democracy promotion”—that is, ideological narratives and their corresponding practices whose aim is sill that of “saving the natives from themselves” and to prepare them for life in the white man’s world (the “international community,” or “the community of civilized nations”), so that they may lead productive lives as law-abiding, well mannered servants of the global capitalist economy.

    What “abduction” can also mean is that in order for “us” (the interventionists) to presume to “care” for little known and even less understood strangers, these “others” must be seen as living in a state of some sort of neglect and unfulfilled need. That other thus becomes like an object that is first “seized” so that it can be set free. That other is an object set low within a hierarchy, one that resembles old cultural evolutionist schemes where Europeans were always at the top, and Africans locked far down below in a Paleolithic time zone awaiting redemption. Western “humanitarianism” thus works within an imperialist ideological framework: that object—for example an Africa once again imagined as a zone of ultimately helpless destitution—needs our “protection” (we are the prime actors, they are the terrain upon which we act). This requires that we do at least two things that one would expect of imperialists. First, we need to construct images of “Africa” as a dark place of gaunt, hungry, pleading quasi-humans, where we effectively open the door to ourselves, and usher ourselves in as their self-appointed saviours. This is not the same thing as abduction in the form of kidnapping (not yet anyway): it is more of a virtual abduction, an imaginary capture that places “Africa” on a lower scale of welfare and self-fulfillment, and implies our “duty” to rescue them by “raising” them “up” to where we are. Second, we can work to ensure that the material conditions of need are effectively reproduced: we can do that with “aid,” with “investment” (an odd word, because in practice it means taking away), with “trade” (where the preconditions are that Africans privatize themselves3), and with direct military intervention to bomb back down to size any upstart that threatens to guard his dignity (Libya). These too constitute capture. And then there is actual capture: seizing children, indicting “war criminals,” or inviting students to come on over and “learn” like we do so that they can become “educated”—or stay there, and let our students teach you.

    Two of the most widely read proponents of this application of a neocolonial form of residential schooling, more properly known in international law as “trusteeship” and “conservatorship,” were Gerald B. Helman and Steven R. Ratner, both of whom served in the US State Department in different capacities at different points in their career. In what is in many ways an intellectual continuation of Kaplan’s “Coming Anarchy,” “Saving Failed States” by Helman and Ratner not only posits the existence of such a phenomenon as a “failed” state, they assert that it was brought about by rapid decolonization since 1945 (Helman & Ratner, 1992–1993).”

    https://zeroanthropology.net/2014/08/29/imperial-abduction-the-globalization-of-residential-schooling/

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