Stand up, be counted
Canada’s behaviour at the United Nations last week is being analyzed and found wanting by many Canadian Zionists. Canada abstained from a vote on a resolution that condemned Israel in a one-sided manner for the recent violence at the Gaza border.
The four-page resolution denounced the “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces.” The resolution passed 120-8, with 45 countries, including Canada, abstaining.
An American amendment that would have condemned Hamas for sending rockets at Israeli targets was defeated 78-58, with 26 abstentions. Canada voted in favour of the failed amendment.
According to Canadian Jewish News, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, said the abstention was due to the resolution’s failure to explicitly name Hamas.
“Hamas has been oppressing Palestinians. Hamas and other terrorist groups have been inciting violence and hatred and this should be clear in the resolution. The resolution explicitly names Israel, while failing to name any other groups involved,” Blanchard said.
The question, then, is why Canada did not vote against, rather than abstain, as Shimon Koffler Fogel noted.
“Ironically, Ambassador Blanchard’s explanation of the vote made the most compelling case for why Canada should have joined with the U.S., Australia and Israel in voting against the resolution,” said Koffler Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
The larger issue is that the United Nations, created with such idealism and optimism after the Holocaust and the Second World War, has become beholden to ideological blocs dominated by dictatorial regimes. In a world with no shortage of humanitarian catastrophes, the General Assembly’s time and resources are wasted with obsessive attention on Israel.
Additionally sad is that the superb, irreplaceable work done by so many subsidiary agencies of the UN suffers by association with the actions of the General Assembly.
Some have suggested, in light of the UNGA silliness, that democratic countries should withdraw and form their own alternative UN-type organization. Whatever value that might have, walking away is not the right choice. Canada and other countries with common sense foreign policies should remain as a voice of reason.
Which is all the more reason why our choice to remain silent on the latest anti-Israel resolution is the wrong one. If we are going to serve as best we can in a flawed assembly, the least we can do is stand up and be counted.