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BEPPLE – Canada’s reputation as peacekeeper is on the decline

(Image: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, Unsplash.com)

IN RECENT YEARS, Canada has fallen from grace as an international peacemaker. While we think of ourselves as the country of Lester B. Pearson and the UN Peacekeepers, in reality, we currently provide fewer than 50 UN peacekeepers helping make peace.

On the diplomatic front, Canada has repeatedly tried to get a seat on the UN Security Council only to be unsuccessful.  In 2010, under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada lost its bid for a seat on the security council.

In 2020 under Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada again failed to secure a seat, this time to Norway and Ireland.  Norway spends more than three times per capita on international development than Canada, while tiny Ireland provides 523 peacekeepers.  Both were seen as more able to help make the world more secure.

Canada is not seen as relevant as it once was in making the world a more stable place.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Canada’s reaction to the latest Israeli – Palestinian conflict is lackluster at best.  Our response is shallow and unproductive.

It is not so much what the Canadian government said this week, but what was not said.

In a one-page statement issued by Global Affairs Canada on May 12, Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated, “The indiscriminate barrage of rocket attacks fired by Hamas into populated areas of Israel is absolutely unacceptable and must cease immediately.”

Fair enough.  On May 18, media outlet Al Jeezera reported that 12 persons have died in Israel including two children as a result of Hamas shelling.  Civilians should not be targets of military attacks.

But nowhere in the one-page statement is there any mention of rocket attacks by Israel, let alone calling their attacks indiscriminate.  This, despite, according to Al Jeezera, as of May 18, at least 213 people in Gaza, including 61 children, have been killed as a result of Israeli rocket attacks.  No civilians should be targets, in Gaza or in Israel.  But Garneau’s statement mentions only Hamas shelling.

Also in the statement, Garneau states “Canada supports Israel’s right to live in peace with its neighbours within secure boundaries and recognizes Israel’s right to assure its own security.”

True enough.  Every state has the right to live peacefully and assure its security.  But there is no mention in the statement of Palestine’s rights to assure its own security as well.

The relationship between Israel and Palestine is extremely fraught right now.  But looking back on history, the times when there was the most hope was when rights of both sides were upheld.

In 1991, there was a peace conference in Madrid brokered by the UN Security Council.  This was followed in 1993 by the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements between Israel and Palestine.

All through the 1990’s, 2000’s and 2010’s, the UN continued to bring the two sides together, and to recognize the right for Palestine to have voice.

The UN member states, and the UN Security Council have looked for ways to ensure Palestine and Israel’s voices are both heard.

Garneau’s May 12 statement walks away from that bilateral view.  By calling out only Hamas’s rocket attacks as indiscriminate, it validates the use of force by Israel.  By stating Israel has the right to assure its own security, but making no mention of Palestinians’ equal right, Canada has walked away from its historical role as peacekeeper and human rights defender, of ensuring both sides of a conflict are secure.

Garneau’s May 12 statement continues Canada’s decline from a once mighty peacemaker to a medium power country with little contribution to needed peace.  Don’t expect Canada to be voted onto the UN Security Council any time soon.

Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (8419 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on BEPPLE – Canada’s reputation as peacekeeper is on the decline

  1. Dawne Taylor // May 19, 2021 at 9:40 PM // Reply

    If you have been to the occupied territories and seen the oppression and harassment of the Palestinian people, then perhaps you would understand the frustration and anger built up over years. Gaza has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt for 15 years – and cut off from the world while its 2M people suffer alone in one of the most densely populated places on earth. The rockets sent by Hamas were in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren, and in response to
    1. the Israeli eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem so they can be occupied by Israeli settlers, 2. the violence inflicted on Muslim worshippers during Ramadan at Al Aqsa Mosque, and 3. the blockade of the Damascus gate into East Jerusalem where Muslims traditionally gather during Ramadan as they prepare to celebrate their evening meal. The military power of the Israelis far outstrips that of Hamas in Gaza – as witnessed by the difference in destructive powers and the number of dead. Probably both Hamas and Netan-yahoo (note spelling!) need each other because then they can both claim to be working for “their people” and perpetuating hatred and war. We need to listen to such groups like the Israeli B’tselem, a human rights organization, that understands the plight of the Palestinian people. The silence and one-sidedness of the Canadian government is untenable in my opinion.

  2. It is immoral for you to bomb me, but it is my god given right to send rockets into your City because I do not like your religion. If you stop your bombing, I will still send rockets, because that is the right of my citizens in defending their faith, which does not like your faith.

  3. Ken McClelland // May 19, 2021 at 8:10 AM // Reply

    It would be helpful if the terrorist organization Hamas recognized Israel’s right to exist, which as far as I know, they do not. They are, rather, committed in their Charter to the destruction of Israel. Canada is right to condemn Hamas. It is hard to feel sympathy for an organization that uses civilians as human shields in their fight against Israel, intentionally fires rockets into residential areas, and that has used suicide bombers on crowded buses to get their message across.

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