Yes, Canada does arm and fund Israel

Last month Canada’s top diplomat in Ramallah claimed that “we neither arm nor fund Israel.”

Robin Wettlaufer told this outright lie in response to a tweet from me. I had commented on Wettlaufer’s hypocrisy for claiming to care about “democracy” for Palestinians while her government actually helps Israel kill, dispossess and oppress them.

As I wrote at the time, Wettlaufer’s disinformation sparked a vigorous backlash from Canadian groups and activists, many of whom offered examples of how their government indeed arms and funds Israel.

One of those groups, the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, invited me to take part in a panel discussion this week titled “Yes, Canada arms and funds Israel.”

Opening the panel, I spoke about how Canada presents itself as a benign global promoter of human rights and gender equality, when in reality it is – just like Israel – a settler-colonial state founded on the destruction and dispossession of Indigenous peoples.

Human rights attorney Jonathan Kuttab, executive director of Friends of Sabeel North America, spoke about how Canada masks its support for Israel by pretending to support Palestinians – and the challenges that poses for advocates.

Kuttab is also a co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.

Author and activist Yves Engler detailed how Canada channels large amounts of money to Israel, including to its military.

Karen Rodman, executive director of Just Peace Advocates, which co-sponsored the panel, spoke about the ways Canada arms Israel.

We also talked about Israel’s ongoing attack on Palestinian human rights groups. Al-Haq is one of six groups Israel in October designated as “terror” organizations.

We addressed the ways support for Palestine has become a political flashpoint in the imperial core – North America and Europe – and why the government of Justin Trudeau remains one of Israel’s closest allies.

Could Canada deviate from US foreign policy even though it is economically dependent on trade with the giant to its south? Engler observed that Mexico is as dependent on trade with the US, but its foreign policy is more independent than Canada’s.

I suggested that the “anti-Semitism” smear campaign that drove Jeremy Corbyn out of the leadership of Britain’s Labour Party – and destroyed that party as a viable left-wing alternative – serves as a warning to leftists in other countries including Canada.

The broad-ranging discussion concluded on the hopeful note that across Canada, just like in the United States, awareness and support for the Palestinian liberation struggle is growing.

Bianca Mugyenyi, director of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, was the moderator.

You can watch the video of the panel above.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.