By RON CSILLAG
A new survey suggests that three out of four Canadians want their government to oppose Israel’s proposed annexation of large parts of the West Bank.
Apart from suggesting that 74 percent of Canadians want Ottawa to express opposition to Israel’s annexation proposal “in some form,” the survey also found that 42 percent want Canada to impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions against Israel should the annexation plan proceed.
“There is very little support for Israeli annexation among the Canadian public,” the survey noted, adding that the poll “confirms” that Canada’s foreign policy “is out of touch with the preferences of Canadians.”
EKOS Research Associates conducted the national online survey of 1,009 Canadians from June 5 to 10 on behalf of three groups that oppose the annexation and support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel: Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel.
The poll found that only 11 percent of respondents said Canada should support Israel’s annexation plans, and 15 percent said Canada should do nothing.
Among Liberal Party supporters, 42 percent favour sanctions, while 45 percent thought Canada should express opposition but take no further action. Only five percent of Liberals want Canada to support Israel’s plan, and eight percent would prefer Canada do nothing.
Conservatives were found to be most supportive of Israel’s annexation plan. Half of Conservative supporters think that Canada should either support the plan (27 percent) or do nothing (25 percent). Another 32 percent of Conservatives said Canada should express opposition, and 16 percent said Canada should impose sanctions.
Among Canadians aged 18 to 35, an “overwhelming majority” want Canada to oppose Israel’s plans, the poll suggested: 59 percent of respondents in that age group said Canada should impose sanctions on Israel, and 24 percent said Canada should express opposition but take no other action.
Imposing sanctions on Israel was the “clear preference” for a majority of those who support the NDP (68 percent); Green Party (59 percent), and Bloc Quebecois (54 percent).
Supporting sanctions on Israel was most popular with Canadians who have higher levels of education, but Canadians of all education levels favoured sanctions over the other options, the survey found.
The poll results “demonstrate that the Trudeau government would have strong majority support if it opposed the annexations, and considerable public support to go further and impose sanctions on Israel. In fact, from a political standpoint, it would be risky for the Trudeau government to stay quiet in the face of this violation of international law planned by Israel.”
Listed as investigators and authors of the survey are Michael Bueckert, Thomas Woodley, and Grafton Ross of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East; Sheryl Nestel and Stanislav Birko of Independent Jewish Voices Canada; and Ken McEvoy of United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel.
As with at least one other past survey conducted by pro-BDS groups, this latest one was dismissed by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs as weighted to arrive at certain conclusions.
“Predictably,” questions were “intentionally biased to skew the answer,” Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of CIJA, told the CJR.
By “prejudicially” characterizing the lands in question as “Palestinian,” and stating that Israel plans to “formally incorporate” them, the poll’s questions “telegraph to the respondent that the territory is incontrovertibly Palestinian [and is] being stolen by Israel, and [is] not disputed.”
In doing so, “the poll seeks to exploit a generic tendency on the part of Canadians to express support for the perceived underdog,” Fogel noted.
Notwithstanding the “serious deficiencies” in the survey questions and the “dubious” motivations of the report’s sponsors, “a majority” of Canadians have indicated their opposition to any changes to Canada-Israel relations, Fogel said.
An extensive Environics survey conducted last year found a plurality of respondents endorsed Canada’s level of support for Israel, but a “significant” minority said it was not supportive enough.
However, that was before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to unilaterally annex about 30 percent of the West Bank by July 1.
The latest poll comes as more than 100 prominent Canadians – former diplomats and cabinet ministers, as well as rabbis, academics, authors, and human rights advocates – signed letters asking the government to forcefully oppose Israel’s proposed annexation.
Ron Csillag is editor of the Canadian Jewish Record