There is no way to determine definitively why Canada failed to secure a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council last week.
Since the UN was created after the Second World War, Canada had generally been elected to one of the temporary seats once per decade. This ended in 2010, when Canada lost its bid, and last Wednesday’s vote represents the second decade of Canadian absence from the prestigious council.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contended that the successful countries – Ireland and Norway – had been campaigning longer. Also significant may have been the fact that Canada’s contributions to foreign aid and UN peacekeeping efforts have declined in recent years. Not to be dismissed also is the perception of Canada as an ally of Israel.
Since 2006, under Conservative and Liberal governments, Canada has voted against or abstained from the annual litany of 16 recurring anti-Israel resolutions at the UN General Assembly. That trend was broken last winter, when Canada unexpectedly endorsed a resolution condemning Israel.
Jewish and other pro-Israel Canadians have viewed Canada’s pro-Israel UN votes since 2006 as a principled position in the face of a global dogpiling – the votes are routinely passed with numbers like 160 to six, with Israel, the United States and American-aligned South Pacific micro-nations in the minority. No other country is singled out with such multiple routine censures.
Canada’s abrupt reversal of this stand last year was seen by some as an effort to distance Canada from Israel in advance of last week’s vote, particularly among the nearly 60 Arab and Muslim countries in the General Assembly.
While Trudeau made the case that Canada’s principled voice was necessary for the world in this challenging time, Opposition voices, like Conservative (and former Liberal) MP Leona Alleslev, argued that the government had betrayed its principles and, as a result, undermined its own argument for putting a Canadian representative on the Security Council.
The point is fair. To base our country’s campaign for the seat (at least partly) on the idea that we are a principled voice on the world stage and then do a 180 puts the whole venture into a weird light. For those countries who dislike our history of pro-Israel votes, the last-minute reversal must have seemed too little too late. For those (admittedly few) who admired our chutzpah, the recent vote must have been a disappointment, if not a betrayal. It’s almost a wonder that we got as many votes as we did.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, B’nai Brith International (BBI) honoured former Philippine leader Manuel L. Quezon with a special panel discussion at the United Nations in New York City. BBI chief executive officer Dan Mariaschin is fifth from the right. (photo from BBI)
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, B’nai Brith International (BBI) honoured a former Philippine leader at the United Nations building in New York, for having saved Jews during the Holocaust.
At a time when the Philippines was still under American sovereignty, the appointed Philippine president, Manuel L. Quezon, invited and welcomed 1,300 refugee Jews who were fleeing Nazi persecution.
Quezon, who was born in 1878 and died in 1944, was a statesman, soldier and politician. He served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944.
According to Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, the reason why Quezon chose to help when many other world leaders refused to do so, is that he acted in the tradition of “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
Not only did Quezon welcome as many Jews as he could get visas for, he also offered them his private land to grow food and develop a kibbutz.
“I think it’s a case of, there are individuals who, I’m a firm believer in this, whose moment comes at the most opportune time,” said Daniel S. Mariaschin, BBI chief executive officer. “In the case of Manuel Quezon, I think he was a good-hearted individual. There was nothing in this for him.
“He really was a compassionate person who heard this story, thousands and thousands of miles away, and was moved to act. And now we are finding out, as more becomes known, that he was willing to save many, many more … and was, unfortunately, not able to do so. I think he stands very high … as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, who acted to save Jews.”
At that time, from 1937 to 1941, as news reports were revealing Hitler’s plans, Quezon secured the necessary visas from the American visa office for a Jewish-American family by the name of Frieder, who manufactured cigars in Manila.
“I think the family, together with the president, were able to get word out, they were able to get those visas … although, again, unfortunately, when he wanted to save more, the ability to get more visas was just not available to him,” said Mariaschin.
Years later, the Philippines was the only Asian nation to vote for the Partition Plan in 1947, to form the state of Israel in 1948, which continued to pave the way for the positive relations Israel has with the Philippines to this day. In 2009, in Rishon Lezion, a monument was erected to honour Quezon.
The BBI event in January was well-attended and included remarks from Locsin, Mariaschin, historian Bonnie Harris, and Hank Hendrickson, who is the executive director of the U.S.-Philippines Society and a refugee who was personally saved by Quezon.
In between the various speakers, director Noel (Sunny) Izon, who made the documentary about Quezon called An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines, shared a clip from the film. According to Izon, some 11,000 descendants of the refugees Quezon saved owe their life to him and Izon is one of them. He explained that one of the refugees Quezon saved was a doctor who saved his father’s life soon after arriving in Manila.
Another highlight of the January event was having refugee Ralph Preiss present. Preiss had been saved by Quezon, and shared his experience with attendees.
While no one from Quezon’s immediate family attended, nearly half the attendees were of Filipino descent who now live in New York.
Mariaschin said, while the event was in recognition of Quezon, it was, by extension, “in recognition of the Philippines.”
“The books, the films, the documentaries and the stories will live on from this point, forever,” said Mariaschin about other recent recognitions of Quezon’s actions. “That’s the best tribute you can have, that, rather than have this be just considered a footnote of history, it’s now becoming an important piece of the story … of the courageousness, the humanitarian impulses, of a relatively few individuals.”
According to Mariaschin, Quezon is on equal standing with the handful of other leaders who had a hand in saving Jews during the Second World War, and he said we need to continue highlighting their stories before we lose our few remaining survivors.
“I think we have to do this while there are still survivors who are living,” said Mariaschin. “Unfortunately, the clock is running down on that. In the lifetimes of those people who they saved, it’s extremely important that we say thank you.
“And we were fortunate, as I said, to have one refugee at our program, to have them say thank you and to talk about their story. It’s something that really we need to do every year now and in between, in order to memorialize those who saved Jews.”
Five years ago, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation posthumously bestowed Quezon with the Wallenberg Medal, which also acknowledged the Philippines as a whole for having saved Jews during the Holocaust. In Winnipeg, the local B’nai Brith branch is working to organize an event, together with the Winnipeg Filipino community, to honour the former president.
To view the video of the BBI event in New York, visit webtv.un.org and do a search for “Safe Haven: Jewish Refugees in the Philippines – Panel Discussion.”
Aviva Klompas recently published the book Speaking for Israel: A Speechwriter Battles Anti-Israel Opinions at the United Nations. (photo from Aviva Klompas)
Aviva Klompas came close to writing a declaration of war. In early 2013, after an Israeli post was fired upon by Syria – one of a number of attacks – Klompas was tasked with penning a condemnation that would be submitted to the United Nations.
Still relatively new as director of speechwriting for Israel’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York City, she recalled the criticism she received: “Be more direct. Be more assertive about things,” she was told. “I thought to myself, ‘channel outrage.’ I tried to do so. I wrote this very stern letter, and I took it to the ambassador to review.”
Klompas, who spoke with the Independent recently, said she then learned the art of diplomacy, and how words might set off an international firestorm.
“To be clear,” Ambassador Ron Prosor, then Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, told her, “you don’t have any authority to declare war.” And it was off to a rewrite.
Thankfully, there weren’t any other close calls, but there are many other fascinating stories – many of which Klompas has brought to light in Speaking for Israel: A Speechwriter Battles Anti-Israel Opinions at the United Nations (Skyhorse, 2019). The book is a candid examination of how the Israeli delegation – and Israel as a whole – is perceived and treated in the international body.
During Klompas’s time at the UN, several major events occurred, including but not limited to the Iran deal, countless anti-Israel resolutions, Palestinians’ bid to join the International Criminal Court, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and 50 days of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. She wrote the book, she said, to show the tireless work of those who advocate for the Jewish state and who rarely get their due.
“It always feels like it is an uphill battle by the nature of the bias at the UN,” she said. “There are people who show up every single day and never say, ‘Why are we doing this? We should leave the UN.’ I’ve never had a single colleague make that suggestion. They came to work and did the job. I think, it’s a little bit my story, but it’s really our story.”
Klompas was director of speechwriting from 2013 to 2015.
“It’s very few people that make the headlines – the ambassador, maybe the deputy ambassador, maybe the foreign minister – but what about everyone else that is doing it day in and day out?” she asked.
About her work, the Toronto native said it advanced Israel’s policies and informed public opinion. Being successful at it, she said, required overcoming some challenges. For one, there was a culture clash.
“Certainly, Israelis are much more direct in their feedback, which is for better or for worse. At first, it is startling, but then you get to understand that it’s not personal,” she said.
Learning how to write in someone else’s voice was difficult, too. Prosor has “a very distinct style,” she said, describing him as “extremely articulate, funny, charming and intelligent. To be able to write for somebody like that takes time.”
In addition, Prosor took a different approach to diplomacy, when “so many speeches can be dry and not entirely lively,” said Klompas. “He’d be all too happy to break out into song in the middle of a speech, whether it be a song about African nations, which got him a standing ovation from some of the African nations in the General Assembly, [or] he would sing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’ In a speech about women, he sang Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect.’”
Klompas gave him the nickname “the Singing Diplomat.”
“Ambassador Prosor felt it was very important to be heard and, to be heard, you have to be different,” she explained. “He knew he had to capture attention to get people to listen.”
In the beginning, she would have to write up to 20 drafts of a speech before she got a sense of the ambassador’s voice and style. Sometimes, there wasn’t much time to tweak.
“It’s pretty stressful,” she said. “You can get a phone call any time of day or night, weekend, and be told the Security Council is convening a special session, come down to the office, we have to get writing. You could have a couple of days’ notice or a couple of hours’ notice. And emergency sessions tend to get a lot of publicity.”
Klompas, who is now associate vice-president of Israel and global Jewish citizenship at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, said there were poignant takeaways from her job as a speechwriter.
“You can’t be easily deterred by situations that seem unfair or unreasonable. You need a courage of conviction to deflect the constant attacks and brush aside the fact that systems and processes aren’t as simple as one might hope,” she said. “I’d say that my experience gave me a greater sense of what happens behind the scenes in international diplomacy, and the ways in which Israel is working to find equality in the family of nations.”
Dave Gordonis a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in more than 100 publications around the world.
A world leader decries investigations into his possible criminal corruption as an “attempted coup” based on “fabrications and a tainted and biased investigative process.”
No, not that world leader. This time it is Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime-minister-by-a-thread. Finally indicted on graft charges after months of anticipation, he became the first Israeli prime minister ever to face charges while in office. He insists the indictment will not impact his leadership, just as the country seems on an irreversible path to a third election in a year.
In a region with a scarcity of free and fair elections, Israel can’t seem to stop having them. From that perspective, things could be worse. Whether Netanyahu’s Likud party stands with him in his time of trouble remains to be seen. The possibility of his departure from the political scene, which he has dominated for nearly a generation, would provide the most significant shakeup of the field and possibly prevent a third inconclusive outcome.
On this side of the ocean, the U.S. House of Representatives continues investigating President Donald Trump. Few people, including Republicans, are making much of an effort to refute the basic facts. Evidence piles upon itself that the U.S. president indeed asked the president of Ukraine for a dirty political favour – a bribe – in exchange for military financial aid that had already been approved by the U.S. Congress. GOP responses to this evidence range from “So?” to the only slightly more nuanced argument that the president of the United States didn’t get what he wanted and the president of Ukraine did, so no harm done.
With Trump seemingly in thrall or somehow beholden to Vladimir Putin, and his party steadfast behind him, we are treated to the spectacle of a party that 60 years ago was trampling over individual liberties based on a largely false suspicion that “the Russians” were infiltrating the country’s government and threatening its entire way of life now responding to a disturbingly similar situation, this one far more provably real, with a shrug.
While Canada, thankfully, has no such level of political intrigue or corruption at the moment, a shocking diplomatic move last week has set the official voices of the Jewish community on edge.
The day before swearing in a new cabinet, the government of just-reelected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted to vote at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, jumping on a dogpile led by North Korea, Egypt, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, none of whom should be arbiters of justice or human rights. To be clear, the vote means almost nothing in practical terms. But symbolism does count. And the vote was a slap in the face by Canada to Israel and those in this country who recognize it as our closest ally in the region for historical, moral and pragmatic reasons.
Some speculate that the shift in tone reflects the new minority government currying favour with the New Democratic Party, which has included some notorious Israel-bashers. That is probably a less likely reason than the campaign by Trudeau to win Canada one of the rotating seats on the United Nations Security Council. Where former prime minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to “go along to get along” in the anti-Israel hatefest that occurs annually at the UN was seen as a key reason we lost out on a seat, Trudeau seems determined to hedge his bets.
A prestigious seat on the Security Council would presumably elevate Trudeau in the eyes of the world after he frittered away the “Canada is back” optimism of four years ago by failing to meet climate targets while bhangra dancing across the world stage.
Regardless of the motive, it is a reprehensible act that could have serious implications for the political orientation of Jewish Canadians in the next few years. Coming as it does while the ink is barely dry on the results of an election in which Liberals mostly made the right noises to Jewish and pro-Israel Canadians, it seems a particularly brutish little dagger to unsheathe now.
At the JNF Negev Gala April 14, left to right: comedian Elon Gold, JNF Pacific Region president Bernice Carmeli, Ambassador Ron Prosor, JNF Pacific Region executive director Ilan Pilo and JNF Canada chief executive officer Lance Davis. (photo from JNF Pacifoc Region)
The diplomatic cold shoulder Israel has received from African, Asian and Arab countries has been thawing in recent years, and a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations says the situation is even more encouraging under the radar screen.
Ambassador Ron Prosor, who was the Jewish state’s representative at the world body from 2011 to 2015, spoke at the Jewish National Fund of Canada’s Negev Gala Sunday night.
The UN General Assembly is a den of hypocrisy, Prosor said, citing the presence of the most oppressive countries on committees dealing with human rights. The UN Human Rights Council has been dominated by states with the world’s worst human rights records. Moreover, the council, which is supposed to be concerned with human rights abuses all over the world, has a specific article that singles out only one country for routine, ritual denunciation.
“Surprise, surprise – Israel,” Prosor said. “The structural and institutional bias against Israel is unbelievable. There is stuff that I can’t even invent. The Saudis chairing the conference on the status of women. The Iranians … they’re deputy chairs on nonproliferation and arms control.
“What is amazing is not the bad guys,” he continued. “The bad guys are easy to explain. What is really difficult to explain is the so-called like-minded countries.”
European nations and some of the other democracies that make up a minority of the countries at the General Assembly routinely side with despotic regimes against Israel. In such a situation, small victories count heavily. Prosor took heart when countries opted to abstain from votes rather than side against Israel.
He shared an anecdote about Pablo, the ambassador of Panama, an apparent reference to Pablo Antonio Thalassinós.
“‘Pablo, are you with us on this vote? Are you going to vote for us?’” Prosor recounts asking. “‘No. How can I vote? The Arabs are threatening me. What do we do?’ I look at Pablo. He looks at me. I say, ‘Pablo, I feel you’re beginning to catch the flu.’” In the story, the Panamanian begins to cough.
Prosor shared stories of similar conversations with other ambassadors, convincing them to abstain or not show up for votes, and even making him their proxy vote in these latter instances.
While a great many votes relating to Israel are still deeply lopsided, he said, ambassadors like him have helped some others understand that abstaining is better than a no vote.
“The United States of America moves the embassy to Jerusalem. The Europeans take the Americans to the General Assembly,” Prosor said. “One hundred and thirty-nine countries vote against, 32 countries vote for and 21 countries have huge navigation problems finding the General Assembly. Huge navigation problems. Not coincidental.”
Behind the scenes, Israel is not the isolated pariah it appears, he contended.
“In essence, Israel talks with everyone,” Prosor told the audience at Schara Tzedeck Synagogue. “The only ones we do not talk to, or I didn’t talk to, are the Syrian ambassador and the Iranian ambassador. We talk to countries that you guys would be amazed. First of all, most of the Arab countries, countries that we don’t have diplomatic ties with. As the Germans would say, we don’t have to kiss each other on the main road.”
For example, Prosor said, India’s relationship with Israel has grown very warm in recent years.
“The ambassador of India loves Israel,” he noted. “India votes against Israel in every committee and every subcommittee. When we hit the atomic reactor in Syria, the ambassador came to me, ‘Ron, amazing work. It’s good that you showed them.’ Then he goes over to the Security Council [and says], ‘We absolutely condemn Israel.…’ So, there is a difference between relations and voting patterns.”
Relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab world are changing dramatically, he said, due to shared concerns over the Shiite theocracy in Iran.
“I can tell you that what you see happening now in the Arab world, the Sunni world, is something that has been prepared for many years,” he said. “What you see now is not because the Sunni world – the Saudis and the others – really give a toss about the Palestinians. They fear that the rope is tightening around their necks because of Iran and they have decided they have coinciding interests with Israel. I don’t care why – this is an amazing opportunity for us to coordinate and cooperate.”
Prosor remains defiant despite the pillorying his country continues to receive at the world body.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of. They have [things] to be ashamed of,” he said of Israel’s critics. “Political structures, attitude toward women, gays … we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Of the 193 countries at the UN, he noted, only 87 are democracies. Twenty-two are members of the Arab League, 56 are part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and 126 countries are part of the so-called nonaligned group. By contrast, Israel is the only country at the UN that is not a part of any regional grouping. This means Israel cannot sit on any committees or subcommittee of the body.
In such a context, he said, humour and sarcasm go a long way. Elon Gold, a comedian who followed Prosor on the bimah Sunday, remarked that the ambassador was funnier than he was. Prosor shared stories of what seem like diplomatic pranks.
“There are six [official] languages at the United Nations,” he said. “One of them is Arabic. I had, on my team, Arab speakers. I decided to tell them that they have to speak and respond in the different committees in Arabic. Suddenly, someone presses the microphone and, in Arabic, bashes the Arabs. Arabs don’t know what’s happening. Europeans are surprised. They don’t know where it’s coming from.”
Overall, the ambassador said, things that are not clearly visible bode well for the future.
“Under the radar screen, there is huge support for Israel,” he said. But, he warned of evolving tactics by Israel’s enemies to weaken it.
“The battle that we are in may be the toughest battle that we’ve been in since the beginning of the state of Israel,” he said. “They tried to take us out with military means and that didn’t work out. They tried economic boycotts. Today, they are trying to put a wedge between Israel and the Jewish communities abroad, going after the mutual values that we all respect, that we all live with. It’s lies, half-truths, Chinese torture – drop, drop, drop – and we have to be out there and call it and fight it and not look away. We have to confront it and work together.
“Inside the United Nations, I saw flags of 193 countries,” he concluded. “I saw 15 flags with a crescent on them, 25 flags with a cross on them but only one flag with the Magen David, and we should all work, every day, to make sure that this flag flies strong, high and proud in the family of nations where it belongs.”
In addition to comedian Gold (see story, jewishindependent.ca/jnf-gala-features-comic-gold), the evening featured a few speakers, including Sanford Cohen paying tribute to the philanthropic work of honourary event chairs Bob Markin and Ralph Markin at a gala dinner before the main program, and JNF Pacific Region president Bernice Carmeli offering remarks at the dinner and during the program. Schara Tzedeck’s Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt spoke about humour in Jewish theology. Actor and writer Josh Epstein emceed. Shannon Gorski chaired the event and Shirley Hirsch was convenor. Ilan Pilo, Jerusalem emissary and executive director of JNF Pacific Region, recognized past president David Goldman.
Funds from the event will support an animal-assisted therapy centre in the city of Sderot, where children and adults live with post-traumatic stress disorder due to years of rocket and mortar attacks from nearby Gaza. The project was described to the audience by Lance Davis, chief executive director of Jewish National Fund of Canada.
בתמונה: יו”ר מפלגת השמרנים, אנדרו שייר, ביחד עם שגרירת ארה”ב לקנדה לשעבר, קלי נייט קראפט, באוטווה: ינואר 9, 2018. (Andre Forget)
השגרירה של ארצות הברית בקנדה, קלי קראפט, מונתה לפני מספר ימים לשגרירה של המדינה באומות המאוחדות. כך החליט נשיא ארה”ב, דונלד טראמפ. קראפט תחליף את השגרירה היוצאת של ארה”ב באו”ם, ניקי היילי, שהחליטה לפרוש בפתאומיות (בסוף דצמבר) לאחר כשנתיים בתפקיד.
טראמפ אמר על המינוי של קראפט לשגרירה החדשה באו”ם: “אני שמח להודיע כי קלי קראפט, שגרירתנו הנוכחית בקנדה, תמונה לשגרירת ארה”ב באו”ם. קלי עשתה עבודה יוצאת מן הכלל בייצוג ארצנו בקנדה ואין לי ספק כי היא תמשיך לייצג את האומה שלנו ברמה הגבוהה ביותר באו”ם”. שר החוץ האמריקני, מייק פומפאו והיועץ לביטחון לאומי ג’ון בולטון, תמכו במינוי החדש של קראפט לאו”ם. מנהיג הרוב של המפלגה הרפובליקנית בסנאט, מיטש מקונל, בירך אף הוא על המינוי של קראפט ואמר: “מדובר במינוי ראוי ביותר למשרה היוקרתית. יש לקרפט ניסיון עשיר בשירות המדינה ואני בטוח היא תמשיך להצטיין גם בתור השגרירה האמריקנית באו”ם”.
להערכת מקורבים לקראפט היא הייתה מעוניינת דווקא להמשיך ולעבוד באוטווה ולא לעבור לתפקיד השגרירה של האו”ם בניו יורק. המקורבים מציינים כי עתה על קראפט לעבוד ביחד עם היועצים הבכירים של טראמפ בולטון וג’ארד קושניר (המחותן של הנשיא) וזה לא דבר שהיא שמחה לעשות. אך נרמז לה שאם טראמפ מבקש שהיא תיקח על עצמה את התפקיד החדש באו”ם עליה לענות לבקשתו.
קרפאט (בת החמישים ושבע) נעימת ההליכות זכתה להוקרה מיוחדת בקנדה לאור התפקיד אותה מילאה בהצלחה גדולה, במשך שישה עשר חודש. ראש הממשלה, ג’סטין טרודו ושרת החוץ, כריסטיה פרילנד, בוודאי מצטערים על עזיבתה של קראפט שנחשבה לידידה קרובה, בעיקר כשמדובר בעידן טראמפ הכל כך עויין. קראפט עזרה בכל כוחה לקנדה במהלך המו”מ הקשה להשגת הסכם הסחר החדש של מדינות צפון אמריקה. לקראפט יש גם קשרים מצויינים בממשל האמריקני והיא עזרה לא פעם לפתור מיידית בעיות שונות בין שתי המדינות השכנות. יש לזכור שקרארפט היא ילידת קנטקי (כמו מקונל) ולמדינה זו קשרי מסחר ענפים עם קנדה. לכן השגרירה הזכירה לא פעם עד כמה חשוב לה באופן אישי כי יחתם הסכם סחר חדש בין ארה”ב לקנדה.
קראפט הגרושה פעמיים נשואה למיליארדר ג’ו קראפט, המחזיק בחברת לכריית פחם אליינס ריסורס פרטנרס. בני הזוג ידועים בתמיכתם רבת השנים במפלגה הרפובליקנית והם אף תורמים לה כספים רבים. במקביל הם תורמים כספים לפעילות צדקה. לפני כניסתה לתחום הפוליטי קראפט הייתה אשת עסקים והחזיקה בחברת שיווק וייעוץ עסקי למנהיגים ועסקים.
השגרירה בין היתר חברה עם אשתו של מקונל וכאמור יש לה קשרים ענפים עם רבים מבכירי המפלגה הרפובליקנית והממשל של טראמפ. יצויין כי בתקופת כהונתו של הנשיא, ג’ורג’ בוש הבן, נמנתה קראפט על חברי משלחת ארה”ב לאו”ם.
כשנשאלה קראפט מה דעתה על הנשיא טראמפ היא אמרה: “מיומנויות התקשורת שלו צריכות קצת להשתפר”. בזמן העבודה על הסכם הסחר החדש בין ארה”ב, קנדה ומקסיקו אמרה השגרירה: “אני לא חושבת שהוא טוב בלהביע איך אנו הולכים להשיג את התוצאות המבוקשות. זה יועיל לכולנו אם יניח לנו לעשות את עבודתנו”.
בנוגע להתחממות כדור הארץ והשינוים באקלים – נושא החשוב למוסדות האו”ם ורוב מוחלט של מדינות העולם, למעט טראמפ, אמרה קרפאט: “אני מאמינה שיש לשני הצדדים חיזוקים מדעיים מדויקים. שני הצדדים מסתמכים על מחקרים ואני מעריכה ומכבדת אותם”.
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.
Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin was the first to use the term “genocide.” (photo by Moidov)
The word “genocide” was conceived by Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin to describe the attempt of the Ottoman Empire to efface Armenians from Turkish society. He articulated the empire’s actions as a specific category of crime – one that could be named, analyzed, resisted and penalized by the global community.
Lemkin was born in 1900 on a small farm near the Polish town of Wolkowysk. As a young man, he heard that as many as 1.2 million Christian Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire, the population of which was mainly Muslim. He also knew of the pogroms and violence against his own people, of course, but it was the situation of the Armenians that led him to the idea of a change in international law that could address such violence.
When the German army invaded Poland, Lemkin fled Europe for safety in the United States. He began teaching at Duke University and, in 1942, he joined the war department, where he documented Nazi atrocities. This led to the 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress, wherein Lemkin first introduced the word “genocide.”
“By ‘genocide,’ we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group,” Lemkin wrote. “Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.”
Lemkin later worked on the Nuremberg trials, where he succeeded in getting the word genocide included in the indictment. Genocide was not yet a legal term, however, and the verdict at Nuremberg set a precedent only for war crimes. While in Nuremberg, Lemkin learned of the death of his parents, who, along with 49 other family members, were killed by the Nazis.
Lemkin was determined to see genocide added to international law and, after his return to Europe, he began agitating for this at the meetings of the then newly established United Nations. His efforts to enlist the support of national delegations and influential leaders eventually bore fruit. On Dec. 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. As of December 2017, 149 states, including Canada, had ratified or acceded to the treaty.
Lemkin committed the rest of his life to convincing nations to pass legislation supporting the convention. He died in 1959, “impoverished and exhausted by his efforts,” according to Lemkin House, an American sanctuary for asylum seekers named in his honour.
At the 2005 World Summit, all member states of the United Nations endorsed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, which Canada was instrumental in promoting – on paper, at least, it carries Lemkin’s vision forward.
“The international community,” states the doctrine, “through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means … to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity … we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner … on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”
This article was being written as almost one million Rohingya refugees were preparing to celebrate Ramadan in the camps of Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh – 700,000 of them have fled Myanmar since August 2017, running from what several international observers have called genocide. Yet Canada, and many others, including the UN, have shied away from using Lemkin’s term to describe the situation.
Modern Turkey still denies the Armenian genocide that was instrumental in inspiring Lemkin’s efforts. And, although some countries, notably Germany and Rwanda, have made attempts to deal with their past, with the crimes committed by their governments and civilians, the fight to prevent, identify, resist and respond effectively to genocide remains relevant.
Matthew Gindinis a freelance journalist, writer and lecturer. He is Pacific correspondent for the CJN, writes regularly for the Forward, Tricycle and the Wisdom Daily, and has been published in Sojourners, Religion Dispatches and elsewhere. He can be found on Medium and Twitter.
Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel. (photo from Facebook)
Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel, was invited to address the United Nations on March 29 about the issue of combating sexual harassment in the workplace. She presented Israel’s precedent-setting voluntary code against sexual harassment.
“We started working on this several years before the current #MeToo campaign,” Sulitzeanu told Israel21c. “The code is an interesting idea that could be adapted and implemented in other places in the world.”
Based on the Israeli law against sexual harassment in the workplace – be it an inappropriate look, remark, touch, text message or worse – the code provides concrete details on how to implement the regulations, which Sulitzeanu compares to “a quilt with a lot of patches missing.”
For example, the law requires every business or organization with more than 10 workers to designate a special ombudsman to deal with sexual harassment complaints, but it doesn’t specify details about training and supporting this ombudsman.
The Association of Rape Crisis Centres turned to the Standards Institute of Israel four years ago to help add definitions and explanations to the laws after winning a tender from the Israeli Ministry of Economics to draft a voluntary code to give managers a more exact tool for avoiding and handling sexual harassment incidents.
With this funding and additional funding from groups including the Hadassah Foundation in the United States, Israeli labour law experts from women’s organizations worked for two years on guidelines.
“We also developed, with Dr. Zeev Lehrer from Tel Aviv University’s department of gender studies, a tailor-made intervention that enables us to specifically understand the special characteristics of sexual harassment in a specific organization and then develop a prevention program suited to the organization,” said Sulitzeanu.
The priority is to introduce the voluntary code against sexual harassment in local municipalities, businesses and organizations that the association identifies as high risk – such as the military, police, healthcare organizations, airlines, media outlets and first-response networks – because of vulnerability factors such as big gaps in age and gender (usually, older men supervising young women), nighttime working hours and frequent operations outside the office environment.
The municipality of Ra’anana was the first to adopt the voluntary code for its thousands of workers, followed by a high-tech company (EIM). Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency response network, will adopt it next.
A leader in this area
Sulitzeanu’s invitation to the UN has its roots in a co-sponsored resolution that Israel spearheaded in March 2017, titled “Preventing and Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” in light of statistics showing that up to 60% of women worldwide have experienced harassment.
The resolution condemns sexual harassment in all forms, especially against women and girls, and emphasizes the need to take measures to prevent and eliminate it, raise awareness, educate, promote research, and collect and analyze data and statistics.
“Israel succeeded in passing this resolution in the UN and that positioned Israel as a leader in this area,” said Sulitzeanu. “That’s why they called me to talk about the voluntary code.”
As far as she knows, no other country aside from Australia has any similar code of conduct to address sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Just as Israel is the start-up nation for technology and science, we are also the start-up in social initiatives,” she said.
Israel’s voluntary code also applies to situations such as child athletes traveling to competitions accompanied by adult coaches, doctors and physical therapists. Sulitzeanu saw the danger inherent in such circumstances long before this year’s revelation of sexual abuse by the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team doctor.
“It’s not enough to talk about the law in at-risk organizations,” she said. “Some have a known subculture of sexual harassment and need tailor-made interventions.”
Sulitzeanu expects employers to be eager to embrace the code in order to avoid lawsuits and the loss of productivity that comes from sexual harassment allegations due to absences, emotional stress and office gossip.
“This is a precedent-setting way to deal with the problem,” she said. “I hope the government will compel every municipality to have this code, and I hope all organizations at risk will also adopt it. It is not complicated or expensive and it makes your workplace a caring, safe place for employees.
“Once these guidelines are embedded in the DNA of the organization, they become easy to implement.”
The Standards Institute of Israel will conduct an inspection of each participating workplace every two years to determine if the standards set out in the code are being upheld.
Israel21c is a nonprofit educational foundation with a mission to focus media and public attention on the 21st-century Israel that exists beyond the conflict. For more, or to donate, visit israel21c.org.
קנדה תקלוט כאלפיים פליטים מישראל. (צילום: Wikimedia Commons)
ראש ממשלת ישראל, בנימין נתניהו, הוכיח שוב כי המדיניות שלו היא לא מדיניות באמת, וכי הוא משנה את דעתו על הזמן. וזאת בהתאם לכיוון שאליו נושבת הרוח. כך גם החלטתו האחרונה לשלוח למעלה משישה עשר אלף פליטים- מסתננים מאפריקה (ממדינות ארתיריה וסודן) שביקשו מקלט בישראל, למספר מדינות במערב. בהן לדבריו גרמניה, איטליה וקנדה. ולטענתו לאחר שכביכול הוא הגיע להסכם עם נציבות הפליטים של האו”ם בנוגע למשלוח המסתננים למדינות אלה, למרות שלהן לא היה ידוע על כך. מענין!
לפי ההסכם עם האו”ם 16,250 מבקשי מקלט מישראל יקלטו במדינות המערב. ישום ההסכם יבוצע בשלושה שלבים ויתפרש על פני חמש שנים תמימות. ובמקביל כ-16,250 מהפליטים יקבלו מעמד חוקי בישראל. הם יפוזרו באופן מאוזן ברחבי ישראל. וכן תוקם אף מינהלה מיוחדת שתעסוק בשיקום אזור דרום תל אביב הרעוע (וזאת על חשבון ההשקעה במתקן חולות לכליאת הפליטים שיסגר).
לאחר הודעתו כי הגיע להסכם ותוך שעות ספורות ביטל נתניהו בעצמו את החלטתו הקודמת, והחליט שלא לשלוח פליטים מישראל למדינות המערב. ומדוע? זאת לאור זעם במפלגות הימין בישראל שהביעו התנגדות נחרצת כי בעקבות החלטת נתניהו להעברת למעלה משישה עשר אלף הפליטים למערב, יקלטו במדינה השאר – כשמונה עשר אלף פליטים-מסתננים.
בקנדה החליטו שלא להמתין להחלטותיו התמוהות של ראש ממשלת ישראל וכיאה למדינה הקולטת כל הזמן הגירה ממדינות מצוקה, הוחלט לקלוט כאלפיים פליטים-מסתננים מישראל. וזאת במהלך עצמאי ללא בקשה של ממשלת ישראל, שהחליטה לפני מספר חודשים לגרש את הפליטים האפריקנים מישראל בחזרה לאפריקה. הארש ז’אסוול, עוזר מיוחד לשר ההגירה, הפליטים והאזרחות של הממשלה הקנדית, אחמד חוסיין, מסר את ההודעה הבאה בנושא: “הממשלה שלנו כבר הוכיחה שהיא מובילה עולמית לקבל בברכה פליטים שנמלטים ממלחמות ורדיפות. ישוב פליטים אלה הוא חלק בהמסורת ההומנטרית הגאה של קנדה. אנו מוכחים שוב כי יש לנו אחריות משותפת לסייע לאלה שנעקרו, שהם נרדפים ומרביתם זקוקים להגנה ועזרה. אנו עוקבים מקרוב אחרי המתרחש בישראל, ונמצאים בקשר ישיר עם ממשלת ישראל. הגענו להסדר עם הרשויות בישראל להשעות את גירושם ומעצרם של פליטים שהגישו בקשה לעבור לקנדה, בעזרת נותני חסויות פרטיות מקנדה – עד לשיושלם הטיפול בעניינם. אנו ממשיכים ביחד עם נותני החסויות הפרטיות שיתכן ובקשותיהם מושפעות ממה שקורה בישראל. נציגות של משרד ההגירה, הפליטים והאזרחות הקנדי בתל אביב, יספק מכתבים למבקשים בקרב הפליטים להגר לקנדה, במסגרת החסויות הפרטיות, כדי לאשר שבקשותיהם נמצאות בהליך של אישור על ידנו. הם יוכלו להציג את המכתבים האלה בפני הרשויות בישראל. נכון לשלושים ואחד בדצמבר אשתקד אנו מטפלים בקרוב לכאלפיים בקשות של פליטים אפריקנים לעבור מישראל לקנדה, כאמור במסגרת נותני חסויות פרטיות מקנדה. וללא קשר במקביל, אנו ממשיכים בהתאם להכרזת ממשלת קנדה, בקליטת כארבעת אלפים פליטים מאריתריה, עד לסוף הנה הנוכחית”.
לדברי סוכנות האו”ם לפליטים השוכנת באוטווה, יש הסכם שקנדה תקלוט השנה לא פחות מכעשרת אלפים פליטים. באופן כללי יתכן שחלקם של פליטים אלה יגיעו אפילו מישראל.
במרכז לענייני ישראל והיהודים בקנדה הזדרזו לברך את שר ההגירה, הפליטים והאזרחות הקנדי, אחמד חוסיין, על הסכמתו כביכול לקלוט פליטים מישראל. במרכז אמרו והוסיפו עוד כי: “ישובם מחדש של מבקשי מקלט מישראל, הוא אתגר בינלאומי המצריך פתרון בינלאומי. ואכן קנדה נטלה על עצמה תפקיד מוביל בנשיאה באחריות הבינלאומית לישובם מחדש”.