Israel Political Brief October 6, 2011: Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird mounts vigorous defense of Israel in address at the United Nations (UN)




Baird mounts vigorous defense of Israel at UN

Source: CJN, 10-6-11

“Canadian tradition is to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular or convenient or expedient.”

John Baird addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 26.

So said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird just before launching into one of the most vigorous defences of Israel the United Nations General Assembly has heard by someone other than a representative of the Jewish state.

In his Sept. 26 speech in New York City, Baird praised the founding principles of the UN, but said that Canada, at least as governed by the Conservatives, will no longer “go along to get along” with the world body on any number of issues, particularly with respect to Israel.

“We supported the aspirations of those peoples who sought for themselves and their countries brighter futures during the Arab Spring that just passed,” he said. “But we will not go along with the unilateral actions of the Palestinian Authority.”

He called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table to reach a peace deal with Israel, saying it’s the only way to achieve statehood.

Baird then cemented Canada’s position on Israel.

“We uphold Israel’s right to exist. We uphold its fundamental right, like any member state, to defend innocent civilians against acts of terrorism. Just as fascism and Communism were the great struggles of previous generations, terrorism is the great struggle of ours.

“And far too often, the Jewish state is on the front line of our struggle and its people the victims of terror,” he said.

Baird added: “Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens. It was accommodation and appeasement that allowed fascism to gather strength [prior to World War II]. As Winston Churchill said: ‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.’”

He then castigated the UN for consistently failing to live up to its founding vision and principles and urged its members to look at the continuing human rights violations worldwide that remain unaddressed and unsolved by the world body.

He cited the plight of women, Christians, Baha’i and other victims of persecution in Iran, as well as Roman Catholics, priests and “other Christian clergy, and their laity, driven to worship underground in China.”

Baird also noted the predicament of Christians being driven out of Iraq by Al Qaeda and Copts who are “being assaulted and killed” in Egypt.

“In Burma, the regime discriminates against several forms of Buddhism and restricts the activities of Muslims. In other places, the Ahmadiyya community faces violence,” Baird said. “Gays and lesbians [are] threatened with criminalization of their sexuality in Uganda.”

All of this, according to Baird, leads Canada to question “the relevance and effectiveness” of the UN at this time in world history.

“The challenges faced by this organization extend beyond financial probity and operational effectiveness,” he said. “This organization is a forum for debate and dialogue, but it must also be a force for positive action to make the world a better place. The UN’s relevance and effectiveness are imperiled when the founding principles are observed in word but not in deed.

“So it is when… Iran, which mocks the values of this organization through outrages such as refusing to allow entry to UN observers on human rights, is permitted to seek leadership roles, such as a vice-presidency of the General Assembly and a spot on the Commission on Population and Development. The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, those who sit idly, watching its slow decline. We cannot sit idly.”

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said his organization was “impressed and appreciative” of the speech.

“This was an important framing of what the overall Canadian orientation is [to Israel and the UN]. That is, we are going to pursue a transparently principled position on each issue that came up… and not accept complicity,” he said.

Fogel also thanked Baird for putting Canadian support for Israel within a “larger context.”

“We were extremely gratified at [Baird’s] courage and forthrightness. We think that will resonate strongly with likeminded countries within the international community and remind them of the imperative for them to adopt a similar approach.”

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  1. Hour of the Time » News 02/07/12 – Updated 2348 Hrs. Eastern

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