How Canadian MPs in the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary group are at the table of apartheid
By Bruce Katz
June 11, 2020
The characteristics of Israel’s colonial domination of the subjugated Palestinian population are already widely acknowledged as constituting apartheid. When the government of Israel passed the “Jewish Nation-State law”, Israel officially endorsed apartheid, in flagrant violation of international and human rights law.
The Nation-State Law overrides all other laws considered contradictory to this basic law that states unequivocally that only Jews have the “right of national self-determination” in Israel, disenfranchising for all intent and purpose 1.5 million Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin (approximately 20 per cent of the population of Israel).
Israel has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all the while violating it with impunity. It denies that it is an apartheid state, choosing to define ‘apartheid’ as a reference to skin colour, as in the South African experience of apartheid, thus limiting the definition of ‘race.’ The United Nations General assembly resolution 2106 (December 21st, 1965) defines ‘race’ in the following terms:
- In this Convention, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
- States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end: (a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to en sure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation; (b) Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations;
Clearly, Israel contravenes the principles of UN Resolution 2106 on combating racial discrimination. Israel has undertaken a policy of the illegal expropriation of Palestinian lands and the destruction of Palestinian domiciles since 1948 (more than 40, 000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since 1967). It now threatens to annex a large swath of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including the Jordan Valley in accordance with the Greater Israel project.
The debate currently being waged by diplomats and others concerns only the de jure nature of annexation. What needs to be understood is that this annexation already exists on the ground. It is the result of a well-planned and systematic process of land expropriation and ethnic cleansing. This has forced the Palestinian population into disjointed enclaves, criss-crossed by a myriad of barriers such as several hundred check-points, fenced by-pass auto-routes for Jews only meant to connect illegal Israeli settlements with each other. These auto-routes cut a swath through the surrounding territory and the illegal separation wall (judged illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004) which surrounds the West Bank.
Gaza is subject to an illegal blockade that has gone on for more than 12 years, which constitutes collective punishment, a crime against humanity of which Israel is guilty . (1) The eminent Israeli journalist Amira Hass has referred to Gaza where living conditions are horrendous as a ‘concentration camp.’ The illegal and criminal blockade of Gaza continues with the complicit silence of morally bankrupt political classes.
Israel claims that as it is not physically present within Gaza itself, its presence on the border of Gaza does not constitute collective punishment. Israel nevertheless holds complete control over Gaza which means that under international law, Israel is responsible for the welfare of Gaza’s population. Therefore, Israel is guilty of a crime against humanity vis-à-vis its illegal blockade of Gaza. In the Neguev, Israel has spent more than a decade driving the Bedouin off their land in accordance with Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that there should be a ‘Jewish majority’ living in the Neguev.
The atrocities being exacted against Palestinians are so numerous that I will not attempt to list them all here. They would fill an entire book. Suffice it to say that in this time of the pandemic of COVID-19, Israel has demolished medical clinics in the West Bank and Gaza and arrested medical specialists so badly needed by the subject Palestinian population. The destruction of Palestinian homes and displacement of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem continues.
We have all been witness to the brutal execution of George Floyd – a veritable lynching exacted before horrified observers world-wide – which has resulted in massive demonstrations against police brutality and authoritarian government virtually everywhere in the world.
The North-American connection
It might interest you to know that numerous police forces in the United States (and Canada) are involved in special training sessions in Israel. In effect, the Minnesota police force, of which four members were involved in the murder of George Floyd, received training in Israel.
In the U.S, pro-Israel organizations often fund the exchanges between U.S. police and their Israeli counterparts. The same is true of similar organizations in Canada vis-à-vis Canadian police forces. They are partners in violence and systematic racism. (2)
2:36PM-Jul 8, 2018
Imagine then, a group of Canadian Members of Parliament representing four of the five federal parties sitting in the House of Commons, implicitly, if not explicitly, supporting Israel’s brutal apartheid regime by participating in the Canada Israel Inter-parliamentary Group which functions as little more than an internal pressure group the function of which is to normalize and consequently whitewash Israel’s apartheid regime. Within this group sit 19 members of the Bloc Québécois (of 32 Bloc Québécois MPs sitting in the House of Commons), 18 Conservative MPs, 16 Liberal MPs, 2 New Democrats and 9 Senators. (3)
The Israel Lobby in Canada is a powerful and well-organized one (4) and is ever present in the corridors of power, as are other lobbies, it should be noted. There are few other lobbies that match it for its influence, however. The presence of so many MPs of diverse political parties in the Canada Israel Inter-parliamentary Group bears witness to that influence.
There are changes on the ground, however. They may seem barely noticeable, but they are there. The mass movements against racism and authoritarianism which have been sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd – who stands as a martyr to all who seek justice and a beacon of light against the darkness of racism– is the harbinger of still more changes to come. Just recently mass demonstrations against police brutality and the indiscriminate shooting of Palestinians by Israeli police have taken place in Tel Aviv where youth – both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Israelis – waved Palestinian flags in open defiance of Israel’s fascist regime.
It is the wake-up call. It is the warning to all too comfortable political establishments who believe that they can act with impunity. That also sends a message to MPs in Ottawa.
Bruce Katz is a retired teacher. He is a founding member and current co-president of PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity): pajumontreal.org
Adapted from: https://www.thecanadafiles.com/the-middle-east/cmpic
Distributed by PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity)