Ambassador of ill will in Canada
DIPLOMACY is supposed to mean using tact to ease tensions, gain understanding. and spread goodwill, even if cynics say a diplomat is someone prepared to lie for his country. Israel's ambassador in Canada is a man not only prepared to lie, but to stir ill-will, and try to interfere in the host country's affairs, in a way that only improves understanding in the sense that he reveals what his government's game is.
Here's the Toronto Globe and Mail May 8, 2008:
Israeli envoy fears policy shift
Ambassador says continuing influx of Muslims to Canada could erode support for Jewish state
Ottawa — Israel's ambassador says he is concerned that the growing number of Muslim Canadians might cause a shift in this country's Middle East policy.
Israel marks its 60th anniversary today and still feels isolated in the world. But it counts Canada as one of its few staunch allies on matters like UN votes, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit the country in June.
However, Alan Baker, Israel's ambassador in Ottawa, said Muslim communities have had an impact on the foreign policies of such countries as France, and he is concerned Canada might follow.
"The question is, how do you treat the results of this fact? Do you expect from these greater numbers that they will absorb themselves into Canadian society as Canadians or that they'll try to push Canadians to adopt their own values and principles? And this is the gist of the problem," Mr. Baker said in an interview.
He cited intensifying demonstrations when he or other Israeli dignitaries speak on Canadian university campuses that have led to speeches being cancelled. He also mentioned reports that some delegates to the 2006 Liberal leadership convention sought to use the Jewish religion of Bob Rae's wife against him.
"First of all, there's a Muslim member of Parliament, who's elected to one of the Toronto ridings ..., [Omar] Alghabra, who has been outspoken in his hostility toward Israel," Mr. Baker said.
"I've got nothing against the fact that Muslims are members of the Canadian Parliament. But it worries me that the type of political influence that we're seeing in Britain, in France, might ultimately reach the Canadian political system."
Mr. Alghabra, the Liberal MP for Mississauga-Erindale, said he is "at a loss" to understand why he would be called hostile to Israel, noting he supports a two-state solution for the Middle East.
(Mr. Baker said in a later telephone conversation that he should have instead characterized Mr. Alghabra's views as "less than friendly," but did not cite any specific comment.) Mr. Alghabra also said Mr. Baker's suggestion that immigrant communities might shift policy is overly simplistic.
"To assume that Canadian Jews or Canadian Muslims or any other community is monolithic and blindly following certain policies because of their ethnicity is, frankly, quite reductionist and unfair," he said.
Quite right too.
In fact, ambassador Baker is a liar, on more than one count. As the Globe and Mail notes,
" Canada's foreign-policy stand has become more pro-Israel since 2004, when Paul Martin's Liberal government began shifting the country's voting pattern at the United Nations.
Mr. Harper's Conservatives moved further toward Israel, and Canada now votes consistently with a group of about a half-dozen countries, including the United States, Australia and Israel itself, that tend to buck the overwhelming majority".
As for Britain and France, we need only recall the way British airfields were used to shift cluster-bombs and other weapons to Israel during the Lebanon war, while Britain's UN delegate joined the US in opposing a cease fire. Or remind ourselves how Britain used its presidency of the European Union to suppress a report by British consular officials on how Israel was expanding and consolidating its grip on the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
On Israel-Palestine as on Iraq, the Blair government ignored the majority of the British public let alone the feelings of British Muslims.
Now Gordon Brown is a patron of both the Jewish National Fund and the Labour Friends of Israel. (see Brown speech to LFI meeting at last year's Party conference: http://www.lfi.org.uk/news///Speech_by_Gordon_Brown
The French government has moved if anything closer to a pro-Israel policy. The American neo-cons and Islamophobes may still not have forgiven France for not backing their war on Iraq, but this was no more due to France's Muslim population than to the imaginary French cowardice. French policy makers and the French public did not see why their boys should die to help US oil interests regain supremacy in the Middle East and give Washington or Wall Street greater power to dictate to the rest of the world, and specifically France and Europe.
In fact, Baker acknowledged that the Canadian government had become a stauncher backer of Israel. rather than trying to regain Arab trust or show independence of the United States so it might act as a peace broker.
"My aim is to ensure that any Canadian government will continue to maintain this position of realizing the true commonality of interests, and not going back to a non-committal attitude," he said.
So what is the Israeli ambassador really afraid of? The latest issue (no.55) of Jewish Socialist might give a clue. Under the heading "Canadian challenge", the magazine describes how more than a hundred Jews from 26 cities across Canada met at the end of March to discuss how they could challenge the uncritical support of Israeli policy coming from established Jewish organisations and the Harper government.
Author Naomi Klein said Israel was trying to normalise torture, collective punishment and permanent war in the name of "security". She urged progressive Jews to expose the ugly reality behind the slick Israeli tourism image, and oppose the Canadian government's endorsement of Israel's "security" policy.
Besides spokespersons for European Jews for Just Peace(EJJP) and the UK-based Independent Jewish Voices, there were representatives from two Canadian trade unions and the Canadian Arab Federation at this conference, which was called by the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians.
In other words, as Omar Alghabra says, it is wrong to assume that Jews or Muslims or any other community is monolithic or blindly prepared to follow any policy because of its ethnicity.
But Israeli ambassador Alan Baker wants to be able to assume that, and if he cannot rely on the blind loyalty of Canadian Jews to provide support and a cover for the Canadian government's pro-Israel, pro-war policy,, then he must try to play the anti-Muslim card, not only to sow fear and hostility between minorities, trying to restore a siege mentality, but to appeal to the prejudices of the majority. Why else does Israel's ambassador raise the question of too many Muslims entering Canada, blaming them for demonstrations over Palestine on campuses, and suggesting they might impose their supposedly alien values, assuring the interviewer he has "nothing against a Muslim sitting in the Canadian parliament, but..."
What the hell has it got to do with the Israeli ambassador which categories of people immigrate to Canada, or whether a Canadian of a particular background can be elected to his country's parliament? Whenever anyone engages in a Jew-count or suggests that Jews might have too much "influence" on policy they are rightly suspected if not roundly condemned as antisemitic. The idea that immigrants were part of some giant conspiracy to impose their ways was a classic of antisemitic and racialist propaganda. What else is the Israeli ambassador to Canada doing but trying to stir up racism?
This is not an isolated gaff. It goes with the way some Zionists in France and Italy have been prepared to support the fascists, and ignore their antisemitic past, for the sake of their anti-Arab and anti-Muslim campaigns. It also fits the way right-wing British newspaper columnist Melanie Philips, championing the Zionist state and the Washington neo-cons, has become the stalwart crusader against Islam in Britain, as well as recently declaring "Now is the time for war on Iran". The only debatable point is whether "Mad Mel"'s drift to the Right is explained by her support for Israel, as some erroneously accept, or if it is the other way round.
That the kind of right-wing attitudes which are expressed in anti-Muslim hysteria can easily slip over into attacks on Jews is known from experience, as well as simple psychology. That might not bother an Israeli Zionist, since they are inclined to see a bit of antisemitism as good for us, reinforcing a siege mentality, and even providing Israel with more immigrants. But when we see an ambassador for the Zionist State playing with fire, it is a good idea to be on the safe side and take their matches away.
Statement from conference of Concerned Jewish Canadians:
Outlook, a Canadian Jewish magazine from a left-wing tradition: