Why does Canada support Israel right or wrong?

Why is Canada “so unstintingly supportive of the policies of Israel’s government”, more so than even the United States?

We asked an occasional contributor to our website – a Canadian pro-Palestinian activist – if he could point us in the right direction, but to no avail.

On 28 November 2012 Canada was one of the nine states that voted against the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations General Assembly. The other eight were the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, Palau, the Czech Republic, the United States and, of course, Israel itself. A total of 138 nations voted in favour and 41 abstained.

As the Times of Israel put it?

Canada has always been a friend of the Jewish state, but in recent years – especially since the [Stephen] Harper government came to power in 2006 – Ottawa has redefined what it means to be staunchly pro-Israel…

In 2008, Canada was the first country to boycott the Durban Review Conference against racism [anticipating that it would class Zionism as a form of racism]…

When Jerusalem punished the Palestinians for the statehood bid by announcing to build homes in the controversial E1 corridor east of Jerusalem, the whole world forcefully condemned the plans. Except the Canadians: the government merely noted that such steps aren’t “helpful”…

[April 2012], however, marked a high point in Canada’s pro-Israel (and ostensibly anti-Palestinian) moves, when Foreign Minister John Baird visited Israel’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, in her East Jerusalem office. Since the international community doesn’t accept Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of the city, foreign diplomats usually refuse to meet Israeli officials there lest it be interpreted as a tacit recognition of Israeli sovereignty…

Support for Israel is bipartisan. The Conservative Party has been “more sustained in its declaratory approach and more unequivocal in its rhetorical expression,” yet the actual policy positions of the Conservatives and the Liberals aren’t far apart, [Irwin] Cotler [a Canadian MP from the Liberal Party and former justice minister] said…

The next elections in Canada will take place in 2015, and the latest polls currently predict a loss for the ruling Conservatives. Will a different, more left-oriented government match that level of support for Jerusalem?

Most Canadians don’t think too much about their government’s policy vis-à-vis the Middle East, and so Israel is unlikely to become a wedge-issue in the elections, several observers agreed.

“No government can move substantially beyond where its constituency is for very long. Therefore, we have to conclude that a majority of Canadians are indeed comfortable with the positions articulated by this government, and by-and-large supported by the opposition parties,” said [Shimon] Fogel [the chief executive of the Toronto-based] Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “While nobody can predict the future, there is a general consensus of support towards Israel in all the parties, and among Canadians in general.”

Rightly or wrongly, in Britain at least Canadians are viewed as fair-minded folk, but that isn’t borne out by Canada’s policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. Perhaps the fair-mindedness is only relative, and is only true when Canadians are compared to their neighbours in the United States. But even that can’t be a sufficient explanation: as the Times of Israel notes, Ottawa’s unstinting support of Israel is even greater than that of the US. As for the Times of Israel’s own explanation, i.e. that Canada can afford to unconditionally pimp for Israel because it isn’t dependent on Arab oil, that isn’t very convincing either.

Maybe you can help us find the missing jigsaw? Reasonable submissions (500-1,000 words) would be very welcome.

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