Canada’s foreign policy must change

Web Lead

To the Editor:

Readers may well have missed the incredible performance of our foreign minister during his visit to Israel. Despite having potentially dire consequences for Canada and being a 180-degree change from pre-Harper governments, it received little attention from CBC or other media. It is essential for all Canadians to read Patrick Martin’s Jan. 31 and Feb. 3 articles in the Globe and Mail regarding Baird’s visit.

Mr. Baird stated, “Canada stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel,” in any threats and challenges it may face. He also made statements supporting unprovoked military action against Iran.

There is the concept of blowback in the affairs of nations in which actions and positions one takes causes a severe opposing reaction. If we support unconditionally any action of the government of Israel in attacking Palestinians or Iran, we clearly become targets for blowback in our own territory.

I use the term “government of Israel” because the difficulty is not with the Jewish people or the state of Israel; it is with a minority right-wing government which does not represent the desire of the majority of Israelis to make peace with their neighbours. Since an extreme right-winger assassinated prime minister Rabin, the stubbornness and cruelty of Likud governments has continually threatened the peace of the world.

Mr. Baird went on to say that he had a rabbi travelling with him. Unfortunately, he was a rabbi of the Chabad movement, considered by many secular and reform Israelis to be a dangerous, messianic cult which some have called a mafia. Because this group believes that it is wrong to give up one square inch of the “land of Israel”, their views are a major stumbling block to peace.

It was noted that many in the crowds were distinctly uncomfortable with the notion of a Chabad rabbi in their midst. Mr. Baird is obviously unaware of the many tensions and controversies in Israeli society regarding ultra-orthodox attitudes toward women and attacks by extremist settlers on the Israel Defence Forces. Doesn’t anyone on his staff independently read Israeli newspapers (or check out once in a while)?

A good foreign policy should be based on enlightened self-interest, meaning you look out for your own country while doing the least amount of harm to others possible. (Grandma would wisely say, “Mind your own business!”) How is it in the best interests of Canada to align ourselves so closely to a right-wing Israeli government which also includes avowed anti-Arab racists, like Avigdor Liebermann? If Russia were to occupy one of our arctic oil fields, would they come to our aid?

Israel can take care of itself. It has more than 100 nuclear weapons; we have none. It is in no danger from Iran or from Palestinian boys who have only stones to defend their land. We cannot help it, but we can certainly be hurt by this uncritical cheerleading by our government. Next time you travel, will it be safe to display that Canadian flag on your luggage, especially since we have joined the ranks of those who accept torture?

For some of the many reasons not to attack Iran, read

Mike Keeling