In an act of moral cowardice, and in stark contrast to the previous Conservative Government, on December 21, 2017 Canada abstained from voting against a ludicrous UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution which debated “illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
In a surreal spectacle, for more than two hours some of the world’s worst human rights violators, including Syria, Iran, Venezuela and Yemen, piled on Israel, accusing the “Zionist Entity” of racism and colonialism.
In a nutshell, the non-binding resolution condemned US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the announcement that the US Embassy will be relocating from Tel Aviv to the capital of the Jewish State. Both the recognition and the embassy move are enshrined in the “Jerusalem Embassy Act” passed by the Congress in 1995 under President Clinton.
What made the resolution all the more insidious was its reaffirmation of ten previous anti-Israel resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 passed on December 23, 2016, which referred to Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall – the holiest places in Judaism – as “Palestinian territory” and to Israel as an “occupying power”, and called the building of settlements in the biblical and historical Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria as “a flagrant violation under international law”.
Of 193 UN member states, only nine countries found the courage to stand up to the UN and reject outright the unacceptably biased anti-Israel resolution: United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. 35 countries, including Canada, abstained from voting and 128 voted in favour. Several countries did not show up for the vote at all.
Ever since Trudeau won the elections in 2015, Canada generally continued the previous Conservative Government’s principled stance of voting down anti-Israel resolutions at UNGA. Today’s vote was an ominous sign of things to come.
Canada’s about face at the UN caught off guard Trudeau’s cheerleaders at the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federation which purports to represent Canadian Jewry. “We would have preferred for Canada to have voted ‘no’ in order to send a clear message that it rejects continued efforts to use the U.N. as a platform to attack, de-legitimize, vilify, and isolate Israel”, CIJA wrote in a statement.
Canada’s abstention marks a turning point in Trudeau’s relationship with Israel and stands in stark contrast to the message Trudeau sent to Canadian Jews just days before the federal elections, in which he promoted himself as an ardent supporter of Israel and the Jewish people.
In a Liberal Party’s advertisement published in the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) in October 8, 2015, Trudeau is seen standing in front of Israeli and Canadian flags and wearing a Jewish skullcap. The ad, echoing Prime Minister Harper, reads: “The Liberal Party will have Israel’s back – but not because it’s in our political interests to do so at home – but because it is the right thing to do on the world stage”.