Israel Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada



Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Israel Musings July 23, 2013: Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird weighs-in on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumption



John Baird weighs-in on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumption (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has weighed in on the announcement that Israel and the Palestinians will begin peace talks after a three-year hiatus. On Sunday, July 21, Baird phoned Israeli and Palestinian officials to state his support of…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 17, 2012: Ronald S. Lauder: Canada Should Play Larger Role in Mideast Negotiations



Jewish Leader: Canada Should Play Larger Role in Mideast

The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, said that Canada should play a larger role in Middle East negotiations.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper

Canadian PM Stephen Harper

The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, said that Canada should play a larger role in Middle East negotiations.

Lauder met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird in Ottawa on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the Middle East, as well as the increasing threat of worldwide anti-Semitism.

The Jewish leader asserted that with the new coalition government in Israel, it may be possible to restart negotiations “I believe that in the coming months, Canada can play a role and I think will be invited to play a role,” Lauder said in an interview with the Canadian Press.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres visited Canada this spring to express support for the strong pro-Israel policies of the Harper government. “Canada’s long-standing position on a negotiated, two-state solution has not changed,” a spokesman for Baird said.

“Our government always stands ready to work in a constructive way to help solve international disputes,” the spokesman added.

In a recent interview Baird asserted that, “Canada is not going to be an honest broker between an international terrorist organization and a liberal democracy, when the great struggle of our generation is the struggle between liberal democracies and international terrorist organizations.”

“Today it is a very dangerous world out there, there are very few true leaders out there,” Lauder told the Canadian Press.

Lauder continued to state that Prime Minister Harper is “a true leader” who speaks his mind.

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.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Baird backs Obama approach to Mideast, Israel’s Borders

Is Canada jumping ship and abandoning its pro-Israel policy, the lone supporter among the G8 nations?

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday backed U.S. President Barack Obama's Mideast approach. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday backed U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mideast approach. (The Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada does support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – based on pre-1967 borders.

It’s a statement which goes further than Prime Minister Stephen Harper has so far been willing to say publicly.

“We support a two-state solution, we support, obviously – that solution has got to be based on the ’67 borders. With the mutually agreed upon swaps, as President Obama said,” Baird said today in response to reporters’ questions after a Conservative caucus in Ottawa.

When asked to clarify if he meant the pre-1967 borders, Baird was unequivocal: “We’ve said that’s Canadian foreign policy, yes.”

Ahead of last week’s G8 Summit in France, U.S. President Barack Obama said the “starting point” of a new round of Middle East peace talks should be the establishment of separate Israeli and Palestinian states based on the borders as they existed before the war of 1967, with negotiated land swaps.

However, no reference to that specific point was included in the G8’s final declaration. Several international news agencies reported that a mention of the 1967 borders was removed at the insistence of Harper.

At the conclusion of the summit, Harper was asked if he did, in fact, insist the language be changed.

Harper would only say: “We are pleased the statement coming out of the G8 is a balanced statement.”

When asked if he supported Obama’s approach, Harper replied: “I am comfortable with, very comfortable, we’re very much at ease with President Obama’s speech, but you can’t cherry pick elements of that speech.”

John Baird: Shun Gaza flotilla participation, Canadian foreign minister urges

Source: JTA, 5-30-11

Canada’s foreign minister has “strongly” urged against Canadian involvement in an international aid flotilla slated to leave for the Gaza Strip in late June.

John Baird called the planned aid flotilla “provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza.”

“I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels,” Baird said in a statement issued May 28.

Baird’s warning comes amid reports that an umbrella group representing about 100 Canadian organizations says it is planning to send a Canadian boat,  named the Tahrir, to the Gaza Strip as part of the second international Freedom Flotilla.

The foreign minister’s words come nearly a year after Israeli Navy commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists and drawing worldwide condemnation.

This time, the flotilla is to comprise some 15 ships from several countries.

Baird said Canada “recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons.”

A more “legitimate and constructive” way to help the people of Gaza, he suggested, is to donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent.

Baird added that “Canada continues to call for the immediate return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for almost five years, to his family in Israel.”

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