Via: The Progressive Mind.
This article is an update of a study of the Canada Israel Committee (CIC) published in the Journal of Canadian Studies, 1992-3. It benefited by extensive comments from Professors John Sigler, Joseph Debanné, David Farr and Diana Ralph, and Rt. Hon Robert Stanfield, Ian Watson, and Bahija Reghai. I have discussed the Israel Lobby with about 20 foreign affairs officials, 2 former Prime Ministers, 3 former Secretaries of State for External Affairs, 8 Members of Parliament, 6 Senators, and 3 officials of the Canada-Israel Committee. – 3 March 2010
Dr. Lyon is Professor Emeritus Political Science, Carleton University. He was a Rhodes Scholar, and obtained his D.Phil. from Oxford University. He served in the RCAF from 1940 to 1945.
He held posts as Foreign Service Officer, Department of External Affairs in Ottawa, Canada and in Bonn, Germany. He is the author of five books on Canadian foreign policy, trade and defence.
Peyton V. Lyon
43 Aylmer Ave
Ottawa, ON K1S 5R4
Canada’s Israel Lobby
Canada’s relations with the Arab/Muslim world are second in importance and difficulty only to its relationship with the United States. The one serious threat to Canadian citizens now stems from the mounting anger of Arabs and other Muslims, fomented largely by Israel’s long-standing occupation of Palestine. The Mid-East conflict has for sixty years been the principal issue on the agenda of the UN General Assembly, a body in which Canadians like to shine. Trade with the Middle East, while modest, is largely in manufactured goods, the sort favoured by Canadian exporters.
Canada’s foreign policy, however, fails to reflect these concerns. Its votes in the UN General Assembly and other international bodies are closer in support of Israel than those of any other nation apart from the United States and its five Pacific satellites. Prime Minister Harper’s personal statements are more biased towards Israel than those of any other leader. (1) This imbalance does not accord with the advice of the men and women employed by Canada to determine and implement its interests in the Middle East. It is also opposed by an increasing number of churches, unions, and other bodies concerned with peace and justice in Palestine.
Who makes Canada’s Mid-East policy? A ranking of influence by a panel of foreign affairs officials placed the Canadian Jewish Community first at 5.85 compared to 5.40 for each of the Prime Minister and the Department of External Affairs. The Canadian/Arab Community at 1.80 was ranked sixteenth out of the eighteen estimated influence inputs. (2) Although the Arab Community has become better organized in recent years, interviews with senior officials and case studies suggest that there has been little change in this ranking.
There is of course nothing illegal or immoral about lobbies, even those operating in the interest of foreign entities. A significant number of ethnic groups do in fact lobby for their countries of origin. (3) Canada’s Israel lobby is simply by far the most powerful and effective. It has become customary to refer to it as “the Lobby”, and I shall follow that practice. The Lobby claims to act on all Canada-Israel matters on behalf of an estimated two thirds of the three hundred and fifteen thousand Canadians of Jewish origin.(4)
For obvious reasons, the American-Israel lobby is far larger, more powerful, and better known than its Canadian counterpart. (5) There are further significant differences and I shall begin with them. Continue reading