By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told a powerful pro-Israel lobby that…
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told a powerful pro-Israel lobby that Palestinians will feel “consequences” from Canada if they pursue the Jewish state at the International Criminal Court.
Baird issued the warning just as the federal government considers whether to end hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian humanitarian aid to the Palestinians when it expires at the end of this month.
Baird delivered his message to an approving audience Sunday in Washington at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Canada strongly opposed the Palestinians’ successful effort in November to win elevated status at the UN, and has warned them against using it to file an international legal complaint against Israel.
It has also opposed the Palestinian bid to win membership with the United Nations cultural organization, UNESCO.
Palestinian officials have said they would have no choice but to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court to halt construction of new settlements in what it claims as its territory.
The settlement issue wasn’t raised in the panel discussion, but Baird was asked by a moderator what “the repercussions might be from your country” towards the Palestinians if they went to the ICC.
“We were very clear from the outset that further actions, like we’ve seen at UNESCO, like we’ve seen at the United Nations, particularly at the International Criminal Court will be ones which will not go unnoticed and will have certainly consequences in the conduct of our relations with the Palestinian Authority,” Baird replied.
“We hope that they will honour the commitments that they made that they would not do that.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also issued that warning privately to Palestinian leaders last fall in New York.
An online video of the Baird event shows the minister receiving a boisterous, upbeat welcome from the delegates, a reflection of satisfaction with his and the Harper government’s unwavering support of Israel.
Baird’s office offered no explanation for why it didn’t publicize his appearance there prior to the event, and referred calls about the Palestinian funding to the Canadian International Development Agency.
International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino was non-committal Tuesday about future funding to the Palestinian Authority beyond this month.
“We are undertaking a normal review of our program with the PA based on outcomes achieved with taxpayer dollars, as we do with all of our programs,” the minister said in written remarks.
“Future commitments with the PA will be dependent on our ability to achieve meaningful results with taxpayer dollars and the commitment of the PA to prioritize the basic needs of the people.”
The Palestinian delegation in Ottawa had no comment.
Baird offered his audience new perspectives on the vexing Middle East impasse, expressed concern about the stability of Egypt and endorsed Italy’s former foreign minister as the next chief of NATO. His passionate defence of the expulsion last year of Iranian diplomats from Canada earned him a standing ovation.
Baird also criticized the speech that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered at the UN General Assembly in November following the successful Palestinian bid for statehood.
“He was going in knowing he was going to win and win big,” Baird said. “He could have extended an arm, a hand to Israel. He could have extended an olive branch. He could have been generous, and we didn’t see any generosity in his remarks.
“And that deeply, deeply concerned many of us.”
Baird made a special trip to the UN General Assembly that very day to oppose the Palestinian bid, which in the end won overwhelming support.
Canada, the United States, Israel and six other, smaller countries were the only UN members to vote against the Palestinians in the 193-country general assembly.
Baird earned applause when he fired back at critics who have said Canada isolated itself internationally, saying his government will not “go along to get along with some moral relativist crowd at the United Nations or elsewhere.”
“We have seen this in the conduct of international diplomacy — this push to go along to get along. Go along with the pack, go along with the crowd. Well, listen — parents around the world tell their kids that’s wrong … and it’s certainly wrong in the halls of the United Nations,” he said, sparking a fresh round of applause.
Baird was joined at Sunday’s event by the former Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, who is in the running to be next secretary general to NATO.
Both politicians offered warm praise for Israel and outspoken condemnation to its critics during their 25-minute appearance.
“Wouldn’t he make a great secretary-general of NATO?” Baird quipped after Frattini offered a strong denunciation of anti-Semitism.
Baird also went beyond his usual talking points when he was asked for his views on the aftermath of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Until these economies get up and running, until they see some economic growth, until they see substantial job creation, the political instability is going to continue,” he said.
Baird said he was concerned about Egypt, which has been gripped with violent protests against the country’s new rulers.
“That’s something that we’ve got to stay focused on, particularly if you look at the situation in Egypt,” he said.
“If the economy doesn’t get going there, if there’s not meaningful numbers of jobs created, it’s going to be a real problem for the stability of the country, and certainly the stability of the government.”
Baird won an extended standing ovation for reiterating the government’s view that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is the most dangerous threat to global security.
He delivered that message with a soaring rhetorical flourish, and sparked laughter when he deadpanned: “I was warned this would be a tough crowd.”
By Barbara Amiel - Monday, December 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM - 0 Comments
Barbara Amiel on John Baird’s ‘extraordinary’ speech to the UN
It is a source of great historical anguish, in the United Nations, that the dreaded and odious Israel was formed as a result of a UN resolution. Accordingly it’s necessary to establish that the UN was then under the domination of the U.S., the U.S. under the domination of Harry Truman, and Harry Truman under the domination of American Jews. I wish I had assembled those thoughts but they were William F. Buckley’s in his 1974 book United Nations Journal: A Delegate’s Odyssey, after his year as a U.S. delegate. I would not call Buckley a natural Judeo-phile but he had a strong moral sensibility and saw through cant and hypocrisy.
He would have recognized the farce at the UN last week and approved of the principled position Canada’s government took. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is not really, whatever one’s taste, a classic pin-up. But stay my beating heart. His speech to the UN on the proposal to advance Palestinian status (substituting negotiation with Israel for a love-in with the UN’s non-aligned bloc) began: “Canada opposes this resolution in the strongest terms . . . ”
I expected thunder and a shaft of light from the heavens. No one in the UN ever opposes anything in “the strongest terms” apart from numbing condemnations of Israel’s brutal, racist ethnic cleansing and occupation, beside which the brutal, racist ethnic cleansing of Africa and murderous wars of the Arab world fall mild as soft summer rains. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM - 0 Comments
One of the most powerful Arabs, Ashrawi is the Middle East’s version of the Unsinkable Molly Brown
According to Arabian Business, Hanan Ashrawi is No. 353 on its list of the world’s 500 most powerful Arabs. This is a drop from last year when she was No. 100 but don’t count the lady out. Ashrawi is imperishable, the Middle East’s version of the Unsinkable Molly Brown. She is a professional Palestinian, the Western’s media’s go-to person for the weekly update on Israeli-American perfidy. Actually, I’m not being fair. She has spoken warmly about an American diplomat once, ambassador Christopher Stevens, but he had to be assassinated first. De mortuis nil nisi bonum etc.
Rockets over Beersheba sounds cinematic and in that film Ashrawi would play the part of the cunning female spy beguiling Israeli intelligence. She doesn’t beguile anyone with actual knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but she’s catnip for American TV. This week CNN’s Piers Morgan found himself rear-ended by Ashrawi’s collision with truth. “What’s an Israeli supposed to do when showered with rockets?” he asked a few times. Hanan’s eternal answer: “The real issue is the brutal occupation.” One might have thought Israel occupied Gaza, not Hamas.
Hanan Ashrawi burst into view on ABC-TV in 1988 when Ted Koppel went to Jerusalem to cover the first intifada. Ashrawi was a minor player on his show but stole it with her perfectly nuanced English and her sorrowful, powerful, just plain wonderful sense of outrage at the al-Nakbah (Arabic for “the disaster,” now referencing the day Israel was created as a Jewish state) plus her smart suits and inspiring reasonability. She modestly describes herself as “essentially a human being with a multi-dimensional mission,” which, I suppose, is reassuring because I have often wondered if she was actually a figment of my nightmares. Continue…
By Hamida Ghafour - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM - 0 Comments
Later this year, the country’s Jewish population will hit six million—the same number of Jews killed by Nazi Germany
They look like typical senior citizens at any drop-in centre as they gather around small tables and drink tea, occasionally chuckling at a joke or observation. They are dressed formally, as people of their generation often are, the women in blouses and tasteful makeup and the men in suit jackets.
There is nothing obvious that gives away the fact that they are among the last living witnesses to perhaps the greatest crime in history, the Nazi genocide of European Jews. Survivors such as Freddie Knoller, 91, have dedicated a large part of their lives to testifying against what happened to them during the Holocaust when approximately six million Jews were murdered.
Yet the gas chambers, death camps and mass deportations offered another lesson for Austrian-born Knoller. “What kept me alive was optimism,” he said, sipping a cup of tea in a simply furnished room inside Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors Centre in London. “I was an eternal optimist. I knew I would get out.”
Knoller’s parents died in Auschwitz, he survived Nazi-occupied France, and he watched prisoners eat dead bodies to stay alive in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Physical scars also remain. He rolls up his left sleeve to show the faded blue numbers 157103 tattooed on his forearm.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 10:54 AM - 0 Comments
The Legacy Hotel in east Jerusalem turned comedy club last weekend where Mark Breslin, the Jewish founder of Canada’s very own Yuk Yuks, thought it would be a good idea to entertain a predominantly Arab neighbourhood with some of his Canadian comedians’ finest jokes—about Israel. Not at Israel’s expense (which might have gone over a little better) but about Israel— that is, for an Israeli audience.
Comedian: “What does a polite Israeli magician say?…. “To-DAH!” (Todah means “Thank you” in Hebrew)
Nobody laughed — and not for the obvious reasons.
The emcee who kicked off the show got hissed off the stage. His opener: “Man, what a beautiful country, we are having such an incredible time here in Israel.”
His crime? Saying “Israel,” not “Palestine.” (East Jerusalem is technically a part of Israel, but the majority of its residents identify as Palestinians.)
“It took just seven seconds,” Sam Easton said of his opener. “I’ve never seen anyone blow it in seven seconds.”
Yuks Yuks founder Mark Breslin brought his six person comedy troupe to the Holy Land on May 31, for a “culture swapping week-long comedy tour,” co-sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
But his troupe’s stint on the wrong side of town gave—if only for a night—a voiceless and embittered Palestinian people the rare opportunity to (however indirectly) heckle its own government. Which is kind of cool, no matter what side you’re on. And where blowing off steam is concerned, it’s decidedly preferable to detonating yourself at a coffee shop.
Of course, McGill University professor and Zionist firebrand Gil Troy would argue otherwise: “Once again,” he wrote in an especially fiery Jerusalem Post column about the heckling, “Israeli democratic openness defeated Palistinian totalitarianism.” That’s right, Totalitarian Heckling.
In the end, there’s only one thing to take away from this; a universal principle maybe–one that transcends social, religious, and cultural bounds.
Government and comedy don’t mix.
Except, of course, here: