Irwin Cotler is too Israeli to be in Canada’s government
October 13, 2005
Several times in this space, I have drawn your attention to a particularly serious threat to Canada’s national sovereignty — Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (a.k.a. Israel’s main man in Cabinet).
I’ve shown that he flogs the fraudulent "new anti-Semitism" to manufacture sympathy for Israel; belongs to the Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel (the "Little Knesset"); and meddles in Middle East policy to the detriment of Canada’s national interest.
I’ve also shown that Cotler’s reputation as a human rights lawyer confers upon him an unwarranted air of international respect and legitimacy. Even though he declared: "as a matter of principle and a matter of policy, torture must everywhere and always be condemned," Cotler agitates on behalf of a state founded on the systematic torture of Palestine’s native Semitic people, and he openly supports Alan Dershowitz, who advocates torture and collective punishment against Arabs.*
Moreover, Cotler belongs to the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, which is premised on the bogus notion that Jews in Israel are "refugees" from Arab lands, and therefore entitled to compensation. He evinces no interest in the compensation due Palestinians because of the Great Jewish Dispossession.
Given the foregoing I concluded — how could I not? — that Cotler has an undeniable conflict of interest; is an agent of a foreign power; and must be expelled from Cabinet. Unfortunately, no such logical course of action has happened—not yet, at any rate.
The minority Liberal government of Paul Martin is joined at the hip to the Jewish Lobby, whose main organs include B’nai Brith Canada, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canada-Israel Political Affairs Committee, the Canada-Israel Committee, the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, and the United Israel Appeal Federations Canada. Still, even the most intransigent government can be compelled to do the right thing if enough pressure is brought to bear and the misconduct in question is too blatant to be ignored.
For example, in the former Republic of the United States the Bush-led junta could well be brought down because of a criminal act that no amount of propaganda or spin-doctoring can cover up. Key White House advisors — possibly even George Bush and Dick Cheney, themselves — are being implicated in the deliberate exposure of a CIA agent in retaliation for her spouse’s writing a New York Times op/ed article that debunked a major excuse for invading Iraq.
Unlike the criminality that has broadly defined the junta’s bellicose reign, the exposure of an agent can’t be buried under a mountain of "war on terrorism" fertilizer. It is a prosecutable federal crime against the state.
(How ironic: the newspaper that did the most to spread disinformation about Saddam Hussein’s "weapons of mass destruction" — courtesy of pseudo-free speech martyr Judith Miller — has become the cause of the disinformers’ undoing.)
In Canada’s case the smoking gun that should take down Cotler is his affiliation with two organizations that directly undermine Canada’s Middle East policy. The first is his position as an international academic advisor to BESA (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
According to its website, BESA’s publications and policy recommendations are directed at senior military and civilian Israeli decision-makers, and Israel’s Defense and Foreign Affairs establishments, among others. Its research includes:
- Israeli Strategic Thinking,
- Strategic Options in the Peace Process,
- Israel Defense Forces of the Future, and
- Middle East Water Resources.
Since Israel’s "strategic thinking," like the Wall, runs counter to international law, and since Canada predicates its foreign policy on respect for the law, Cotler is acting against the interests of his own country. The same is true of Brian Mulroney and Norman Spector, although fortunately they are no longer in government.
Perhaps more serious than Cotler’s advisory position with BESA, is the one he holds with JCPA (the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs), which does little more than regurtiate Likudnik propaganda. Among its more outrageous claims is that the demand for a return to the 1967 armistice lines "would undermine Israel’s security and even pose an existential threat." (Amazing how respect for the law can be repackaged as a national threat, isn’t it?)
One of JCPA’s most odious activities is its publication of NGO Monitor, edited by Gerald Steinberg. It’s similar to various "monitoring" groups like the misnamed CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) and honestreporting.com, which attack people and organizations brave enough to stand up to Israel and the Lobby.
On Sept. 22, NGO Monitor published "Assessing Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Funding For Political NGOs." Behind the innocuous title is a defamatory attack on one of Canada’s most important foreign policy bodies. Steinberg accuses CIDA of aiding Palestinian political objectives under the guise of conducting humanitarian aid, and funding such "anti-Israel" organizations as Save the Children, Doctors without Borders, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam, UNICEF, UNRWA, and World Vision.
In fact, any show of political acumen or sympathy for Palestinian suffering can be denounced as "anti-Israel." Ruth Jensen, executive director of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, is assailed simply for observing that the Wall causes increasing stress by forcing people to wait for up to two hours at checkpoints. "These walls do not contribute to understanding and peace, but to isolation and suspicion," she said. Steinberg denounced her for attacking Israeli policy.
Here’s the perverse logic: humanitarian organizations must by their nature defend the oppressed, but since Israel is an oppressor state, humanitarian activity is conveniently denounced as "anti-Israel." So long as he is associated with JCPA, Cotler supports this perversity and by extension opposes defence of Palestinian human rights.
Here’s another irony: Cotler is still listed as the director of McGill’s human rights program and chairman of its international human rights advocacy centre "interAmicus."
McGill University, take note!
* Citation found in Jeff Sallot, "Torture Tactics Indefensible: Cotler," Globe and Mail, Aug. 30, 2005.
Greg Felton is an award-winning investigative reporter and columnist on Middle East affairs from British Columbia, Canada.
He writes a political column for the bi-weekly Arabic/English newspaper Canadian Arab News, contributes to mediamonitors.net, and is the author of an upcoming book on U.S. Middle East policy. Mr. Felton holds a Bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies and a Master’s in Political Science from the University of British Columbia.
He is married with one child.
© Greg Felton 2005