Palestine in Canadian Politics (or, On Aerial Child-Killing in the "Region of Darkness")

December 11, 2013
• On Canada's brazen racists, its spineless liberals, and the question of Palestine. •

Early this month, the Canadian section of Israel's quasi-governmental Jewish National Fund (JNF) made a big show of honouring Stephen Harper at its annual “Negev Dinner.” It was the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister served as the gala's honouree – and a grating reminder of how bad Canadian politics on Palestine have gotten. “Prime Minister Harper awkwardly sang classic rock tunes for an agonizing 20 minutes,” notes Dru Oja Jay, writing for The Media Co-op. Those recoiling at the thought may not be shocked by a further detail provided by the Canadian Jewish News: “Many in the crowd left as Harper was still singing.” Harper's anti-Palestinian record may be impeccable, but even JNF donors have their limits.

With the Globe and Mail heralding the gala as a “capstone” of Tory friendship with Canada's Jewish community – won, so the Globe's Craig Offman tells us, through reversal of Canada's “infuriating” diplomatic weakness under the Chrétien Liberals – the spectacle offers a useful reference point for considering the depths to which Canadian politics on Palestine have sunk. In this the Tories’ Israeli flag-waving does indeed stand out. But as Oja Jay observes, it is hardly the whole of the problem. In this article, I look back at some of the historical precursors to this month's display, and then turn to the cringe-worthy political climate that makes such Tory posturing politically rewarding.

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