Canadian Complicity in Israeli War Crimes.*

                         By Dr. Ismail Zayid


          * Lecture given at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver              

                                           November 21, 2oo8


Canada, together with other countries, including primarily Britain and the US, played a significant role in supporting the Zionist agenda and bringing about the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland, resulting in the continuing Palestine/Israel conflict that we encounter today.


The Palestine-Israel conflict is frequently described as a very complex one, and I want to submit before you that the problem is fundamentally a very simple one which was summed up, in the words of a simple Palestinian farmer in Jericho, quoted by the late Frank Epp, the then President of Conrad Grebel College of the University of Waterloo, who told Frank Epp

"Our problem is very simple. A foreigner came and took our land, took our farms and our homes, and kicked us out. We have in mind to return. It may take a hundred years but we will return."

This, in a nutshell, is the Palestine problem and the essence of this conflict. A country, Palestine, has been dismantled, its people uprooted from their homeland and replaced by an alien people gathered from all corners of the globe and a new state, Israel, created, in its place. This tragedy and the ensuing conflict that brought about repeated wars in the Middle East is a direct outcome of the introduction of political Zionism into the Middle East.

Inevitably, some history is relevant here:

It was the 2nd of November 1917, when Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, issued his infamous declaration in the form of a letter written to an English Jew, Lord Rothchild, it read:

"His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".

It is interesting to note that the four-letter word "Arab" occurs not once in this document. To refer to the Arabs who constituted, at the time, 92% of the population of Palestine and owned 98% of its land, as the non-Jewish communities is not merely preposterous but deliberately fraudulent. I do not need to tell you that this letter has no shred of legality, as Palestine did not belong to Balfour to assume such acts of generosity. The words of Dr. Arnold Toynbee describe the British role, in issuing this document accurately:

"We were taking it upon ourselves to give away something that was not ours to give. We were promising rights of some kind in the Palestinian Arabs’ country to a third party".

Similarly, the well-known Jewish writer, Arthur Koestler, summed it up aptly when he described the Balfour Declaration as a document in which "one nation promised a second the country of a third".

Incredibly, Canada played a role in advancing the Zionist agenda, at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, by calling for the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration , i.e. the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Canada went on to play a major role in the formulation and the passage of the UN Partition resolution # 181 on Nov. 29, 1947. This resolution was formulated by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine [UNSCOP], in which Canada played a very active role. Justice Ivan Rand, an ardent Zionist, was Canada's representative on this committee. Lester Pearson, the then Canadian Undersecretary for State for External Affairs, headed the Canadian delegation and was elected Chairman of the Assembly's First Committee dealing with this issue. This Committee proposed to the U.N. General Assembly [UNGA] the partitioning of Palestine into a Jewish state in 56% of the country and an Arab state in 42% and An international zone in Jerusalem over the remaining 2% of Palestine. It is interesting to note that the Jews in Palestine, at that time, constituted 31% of the population, including a very large number of recent and illegal immigrants, and owned 5.6% of the land. This clearly shows how unjust was this resolution and why it was opposed by the Palestinians. The passage of this resolution was effected by US pressure and intimidation to bring coercion on many countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa to support the resolution. US Under-Secretary of State, Sumner Welles stated: "By direct order of the White House, every form of pressure, direct and indirect, was used to make sure that the necessary majority would be gained." 

Mr. Pearson, in recognition of his diligence and devotion to the Zionist cause, was awarded in 1968 the position of Honorary Fellow of the Weizmann Institute and in 1969 was awarded, by the Zionist Organization of America, the Theodor Herzl Award for his "commitment to Jewish freedom and Israel." For all his efforts he was also dubbed by Canadian Zionists as the Balfour of Canada, for his decisive influence in the acceptance of the partition plan.

Canada's role in this conflict did not stop there but continues to this day in a variety of manifestations including governmental actions, political leaders' activities, voting at the UN and not to mention the blatant bias encountered in many of our media sources.

 One major activity, that should be of concern to every Canadian, is the creation of the infamy called Canada Park built by Canadian tax-deductible dollars on the ruins of the three Palestinian villages, Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba [my own hometown], by the Jewish National Fund of Canada [JNF], which was and remains a Canadian registered charity. These villages were occupied, without a single shot being fired, on June 6, 1967, in the war of naked aggression that Israel planned and effected against Egypt, followed by occupation of the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights. These villages were then systematically dynamited and bulldozed, by the Israeli army, on the direct orders of Yitzhak Rabin, the then chief of staff of the Israeli army, and later prime minister and, incredibly, a Nobel Peace laureate, to the dismay of anyone who has any notion of humanity or peace. In the village of Beit Nuba 18 people, who were old or disabled and unable to escape before their homes were demolished, were buried alive. 

The destruction of these villages was witnessed and described by the Israeli journalist Amos Kenan, who was a reserve soldier in the occupying force in Beit Nuba. He gave this account to the Israeli newspaper Ha'Olam Hazeh, which was prohibited by the censor from publishing it. It was sent to all members of the Knesset, and to the Prime Minister and Defense minister, but no response was received.

"The unit commander told us that it had been decided to blow up three villages in our sector; they were Beit Nuba, Imwas and Yalu ... We were told to block the entrances of the villages and prevent inhabitants [from] returning .... The order was to shoot over their heads and tell them not to enter the village."

 Uri Avnery, then Knesset member, described the destruction of these villages as a war crime and Canada was giving a cover-up for a war crime. This act is in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, to which Israel and Canada are signatories. Article 53 of the Convention states :"Any destruction by the occupying power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the state, or to other public authorities or social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited." International law defines any violation of any article of the Convention as a war crime.

It is now difficult to spot the ruins and the rubble. Today there stands on the spot the infamy called "Canada Park", picnic areas for Israelis, built with Canadian tax-deductible dollars provided by the Canadian Jewish National Fund (JNF).

 It was in 1973 that Bernard Bloomfield of Montreal, then President of the JNF of Canada, spearheaded a campaign among the Canadian Jewish community to raise $15 million to establish Canada Park, so as to provide a picnic area accessible to Israelis from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

 At the entrance of Canada Park, just off John Diefenbaker Parkway (opened by Diefenbaker himself in 1975), is a sign that reads: "Welcome to Canada Park in Ayalon Valley-a project of the Jewish National Fund of Canada."

The JNF, responsible for the upkeep of the park, has removed all signs of the villages and their inhabitants from the area. It would seem that only the Canadian donors are worthy of being remembered; their names are engraved in the bronze plaques which cover an entire wall. Interestingly, these donors are not directly informed that the park is built on the site of the demolished villages, once part of what was called the Latrun salient. Over 10,000 people lived there; they had schools, mosques, agricultural land and many centuries of history. It was in Imwas (Emmaus) where Christians believe that Jesus Christ first appeared with his disciples after the Crucifixion. The villagers were expelled and remain as refugees denied the return to their land.

As a new Canadian, my personal pain was compounded when I read on Dec. 4, 1978, in our local newspaper, The Halifax Herald, that Peter Herschorn, a  past chairman of the Atlantic branch of the JNF, was honored by the JNF for his humanitarian work and "choosing the right goodness" in his participation in the building of Canada Park. The Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, the Premier of N.S. and the Mayor of Halifax were in attendance and offered their greetings. I was mortified that political leaders in my new country, Canada, would consider the erection of recreation centres on the site of ruins of criminally demolished peaceful villages, illegally occupied, as a humanitarian act.

Canada continuously brags about its reputation for upholding the UN Charter, international law and human rights, yet allows its taxpayers' dollars to sponsor such a war crime. Over many years, I have written repeatedly, to Revenue Canada ministers expressing concern about this, and receiving only vague unhelpful answers.

My activities on this issue, on the other hand, received the characteristic Zionist insolence and callous disregard for humanity, by sending me a certificate, from the CJNF, stating that: " A tree has been planted in Canada Park, Israel, in tribute to Dr. I.Zayid." I responded to this insult by rejecting their inhumanity, stating: " The trees that my forefathers and I have planted on our land have been uprooted, together with our homes, by Zionist bulldozers in my village Beit Nuba after the 1967 war. You may be assured that I shall plant my own trees on my own land when we return to Palestine, our homeland, and WE WILL RETURN

Father Louis, who worked at the Latrun Franciscan Monastery for 40 years, said, "Every time I go by Canada Park, I still get angry. Why does the Canadian government allow it to be called Canada Park? It is built on the ruins of people's homes".

 Every Canadian should be asking: why should our country's name be associated with this infamy?


As I stated earlier, there were and are many manifestations, as to Canada's actions in relation to the Palestine question and in support of Israel and its crimes and acts of violation of international law that we must discuss here:

Canada/ Israel Agreements:

There are a number of agreements that Canada holds with Israel providing Israel with economic and political support:

1: Canada- Israel Industrial Research and Development Fund [CIIRDF], established in 1994.

2: Canada- Israel Free Trade Agreement. [CIFTA], implemented in January 1997.These agreements contribute billions of dollars in bilateral trade and foreign direct investments linking Israel and Canada.

3: Canada-Israel Public Security Agreement [Security Accord], initiated first in October 2007, in Tel Aviv, by Mr. Stockwell Day, Canada's minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Avi Dichter, Israel's minister of Public Security. It was formally signed on March 23, 2008. The two governments agreed to exchange secret information on security matters.

Governmental Policies and Statements by Political Leaders:

1: Canada was scheduled to hold in Sept. 1975 a UN Crime Conference in Toronto. In accordance with its Observer Status at the UN, the PLO had the right to attend. However Premier William Davis of Ontario, in a blatant effort to win Jewish votes in a forthcoming provincial election, challenged the PLO attendance and pressure was applied on the federal government to bar entry of PLO delegates. Accordingly, the conference was transferred to Geneva.

2: Canada and the US condemned the UN resolution calling Zionism a form of racism. On Nov. 12, 1975, the House of Commons unanimously condemned the resolution. The racist practices associated with Zionism are blatant and condemned by Israeli and international human rights organisations.

3:  In June 1979, Joe Clark, as prime minister of Canada, called for the transfer of the Canadian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a proposal that was not supported by any other country and stands in defiance of UN Charter.

4: Prime Minister Trudeau refused to make any statement against Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the resulting Sabra and Shatilla massacre.

5: In 1988 the European Community endorsed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, followed by la Francophonie. However, while all 41 other Francophonie states endorsed the Palestinian right, Canada alone did not.

6: During his state visit to Canada, Israeli President Chaim Herzog was invited to address the Canadian parliament on June 27, 1989. He was introduced by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with these words:

“Canada played a part in that process by participating in the United Nations Commission that proposed the partition of Palestine, by voting for Israel's membership in the UN and by contributing to the Middle East peace-keeping forces in the hope of stabilizing the region and of bringing peace to your country. Most of all, in the daring and difficult period of Israel's infancy, when your nation needed friends – true friends – Canada was there. Canada was there over 40 years ago and our friendship and support remain with you today.”


7: In April 2000, Prime Minister Jean Chretien toured Middle East and condemned violations of human rights in Syria and Saudi Arabia, but made no mention of Israeli blatant violation of human rights, condemned by all international and Israeli human rights organizations. He refused to set foot in East Jerusalem, in deference to Israeli concerns. And when asked why he did not visit East Jerusalem, he, evasively, said that he did not know the West, East or North in Jerusalem.


8: Prime Minister Jean Chretien, on Aug. 9, 2001, expressed outrage at Palestinians' attack in Tel Aviv but no mention of scores of Palestinians killed by Israel.


9: Foreign minister Bill Graham, in Jan. 2003, expressed similar outrage at another attack in Israel and condemned Palestinian terrorism and stated Israel had the right to defend itself. Yet in the weeks before scores of Palestinians were killed but there was no mention of Israeli continuing state terrorism.


10: In Jan. 2004, 12 Liberal MPs formed the group:" Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel", led by BC. M.P. Stephen Owen, Minister of Public Affairs, together with six cabinet ministers. Their declared policy was to shift Canadian policy further towards Israel. On Jan. 9, 2004, Western Jewish Bulletin reported: "The Jewish state has friends in new Martin government."



11: On Nov. 3, 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin stated, at a meeting of "Jewish Advocacy Group for Israel": " Nothing will shake Canada's commitment to Israel". I wrote to him, as I have written repeatedly to all of them, asking Mr. Martin: "Do I understand you correctly that nothing will shake Canada's commitment o Israel no matter what crimes Israel commits?" Two weeks later I received a phone call from him assuring me that Canada's support for the economy of the Palestinians will remain. I told him that the Palestinian economy, no matter how terrible it is, remains irrelevant. It is merely a symptom of a disease, namely the illegal occupation, and, speaking as a physician, it is the disease that must be tackled and not the symptoms. I told him few other things over a 30 minute conversation. His policies did not change!!


12: Prime Minister Paul Martin stated, on Nov. 13, 2005, at a meeting of United Jewish Communities in Toronto, that "Israeli values are Canadian values." He was, in essence, insulting the values that Canada usually claims.


13: The Harper government was the first, in Jan. 2006, to cut aid to Gaza, as a reward for the Palestinian audacity in freely electing a government that he and George W. Bush did not like.


14: Mr. Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, described Israeli invasion of Lebanon in July 2006, killing over a thousand Lebanese, mostly civilians, and destroying the infra structure in Lebanon, as "A measured response".


15: September 23, 2008  "Israel now has no better friend in the world than Canada", so said Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, to Tamar Yonah on Israel National Radio's Weekend Edition show on Sunday. 


16: On Jan. 19, 2008, foreign minister Bernier removed Israel and the US from the Torture Watch List. The Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, objected to this action.


17: on Jan. 23, 2008, Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism declared Canadian abandonment of the 2009 Durban World Conference Against Racism. Bnai Brith applauded the government for this action.


18: In May, 2008, Mr. Harper, lavishly celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary and promising Canadian "unshakeable support" for Israel.


19: Ms. Elizabeth May, leader of Green Party of Canada stated: "We need to recognize that Israel is the bulwark of democracy and healthy society in Middle East" [Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 2, 2008.]


20: Now magazine, Oct. 1-8 issue, reported that Ken Dryden, Liberal MP, and former leader candidate stated at a Jewish gathering that: "Canada must stop all aid that flows into Gaza. While that may seem a harsh measure that will hurt Palestinian civilians, it is the right thing to do." Protests to Mr. Stephane Dion, leader of Liberal party, to take action against Mr. Dryden, for his call plainly for genocide in Gaza, brought no result. That was in contrast to Dion's expulsion of Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes for making a simple statement, reported by many sources, about some Israelis' prior knowledge of the event of 9/11. Furthermore, Mr. Dion refused to allow the distinguished barrister, Edward Corrigan, to stand as a Liberal candidate in London Ontario in the 2008 federal election, because of his views in support of the Palestinian people.


Canada's Voting Record at the U.N.


Canada's voting record at the UN displays extraordinary contradiction with Canada's claims of support for UN Charter and human rights issues. Few examples are listed here:


1: In May 1968, Mr. George Ignatieff, Canada's delegate at the UN opposed a UNGA resolution condemning the actions of Israel with regard to Jerusalem and its illegal annexation.


2: On Nov. 22, 1974, Canada abstained on a UN resolution declaring that the Palestinian people have the right to independence and sovereignty.


3: In March 2002, Canada undertook to protect Israel at the Human Rights Commission [UNHRC] in Geneva, and undertook to be "Israel's voice" at the Commission.


4: On March 16, 2002 Canada voted against a UN vote condemning Israeli war crimes and massacres in its vicious attack on Jenin refugee camp and massive destruction of the town of Jenin.


5: On March 11, 2004, Canada abstains on a resolution, calling for the improvement of the conditions of Palestinian women, at the 49th.Session on the Status of Women. 39 nations supported the resolution and only US voted against it, and there was one abstention by Canada.


6: July 2004, Canada abstains on UN resolution calling to refer, to the International Court of Justice [ICJ], the Issue of the Separation [apartheid] Wall that Israel was building in the West Bank. The ICJ ruled later that the wall was illegal and must be dismantled.


7: On Dec. 1, 2005, the Paul Martin Canadian government, in its continuing shift in further support for Israel, flipped on 3 UN resolutions:


     a: The UNGA in its annual resolution urging Israeli withdrawal from territory occupied since 1967, voted 156 for and 6 against with nine abstentions: Canada, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, Uganda and Vanuatu.


    b: Canada also reversed itself on a resolution supporting the UN organs [UNRWA] working in support of Palestinians. Only 8 states opposed the resolutions: Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the US.


   c: Canada also voted against a resolution  calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. The vote was carried by 106 votes and just 6 against: Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and the US.

 Haroon Siddiqui, in article in Toronto Star, Dec. 4, 2005, asked: "What do we have in common with Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu?"


8: In Nov. 2007, Canada abstained from endorsing the "resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" [Document A/C. 3/62/L.63], which was approved by 172 in favour, 5 against and 5 abstentions [Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Equatorial Guinea and Fiji].


9: UNGA Resolution # 10670: On Dec. 10, 2007. By a wide margin, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine by a vote of 161 in favour, 7 against [Australia Micronesia, Israel Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, US], and 5 abstentions:[Cameroon, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Tonga, Vanuatu].

Another resolution adopted at that issue was the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, adopted by 109 votes in favour and 8 against: [Australia, Canada, Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, US].

 A resolution on the Syrian Golan Heights, adopted by a vote of 111 in favour and 6 against[Canada, Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, US].


10: Jan. 2008, a resolution condemning the Israeli war crimes in Gaza, after an attack killing around 120 Palestinians, was passed unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC] except for a single opposing vote by Canada, 46 in favour and 1 against.


11: On March 18, 2008, the UNHR Council voted on a resolution "expressing grave concern regarding continuing Israeli settler activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories". These settlements contravene international law and block any progress to peace. The vote was 46-1, with Canada casting the only vote against the resolution.


To sum up, we have seen a lengthy catalogue of Canadian support for Israeli violation of international law, defiance of UN resolutions and violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Such violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention are identified by international law as war crimes and Canada stands in refusal to comply with Article I of the Convention which calls on the High Contracting Parties to take action against any state that violates any of the Convention's articles.


It must be the duty of all Canadians to call on our government to live up to our claims of upholding international law and human rights and to stand for justice in the resolution of the Palestine/Israel conflict.


The Palestinian people who have been subjected to a policy of ethnic cleansing and dispossession, are calling for a modicum of justice, for without justice there will be no peace for Arab or Jew in this tortured land