Justin Trudeau’s Curious Politics at the UN – Redux

Dec. 2, 2020

By DOGAN D. AKMAN

Successive Canadian governments, including the current one, never cease to refer to Israel as their strong ally and close friend.

Yet, on Nov. 19, Canada voted, for the second consecutive year, in favour of a United Nations resolution titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

The preamble of the resolution, as are all such anti-Israel UN measures, refers to all sorts of international instruments, conferences, and whatnot to assert “the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” As well, it:

• “Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine; and

• “Urges all states in the region and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.”

This is an absurd resolution.

First, no country, including Israel, has denied the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Second, none of the emanations of the UN system need to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination, since Israel and the United States, besides proposing and signing the Oslo Accords as the step towards Palestinian self-determination, offered two peace treaties with very generous terms in 2000 and 2018.

Third, the Palestinians have, to date, rejected every single peace offer that would have enabled them to become an independent state.

Fourth, the Palestinians never stopped claiming their entitlement to the entire territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Fifth, as a matter of fact and law, the Palestinians do not have legal title to any of the so-called “Palestinian territory,” including any part of Jerusalem, save for personal land owned by individual Palestinians.

Finally, the lands in question are and remain set aside for the Jewish people pursuant to Article 80(1), Chapter XII of the United Nations Charter.

This article recognizes the continuing validity of the “Mandate for Palestine” established by the League of Nations, which incorporated the terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It goes beyond that to establish an internationally recognized right of the Jewish people – as the people indigenous to the lands covered by the Mandate – to establish their Jewish homeland which, in 1948, became the State of Israel.

As a matter of fact, to this very day, the Jewish people are entitled to settle on any part of this land.

Yet, the UN resolution Canada favours makes no mention of the inalienable legal rights of Israel and of the Jewish people to the lands in question.

Neither does it require – nay, demand – that the Palestinian people, in the early realization of their right to self-determination, cease to engage in terrorism against Israel and school their children to hate Jews and Israelis.

It does not call on Palestinians to take every confidence-building initiative towards negotiating a peace treaty with Israel in good faith, without making egregious claims that would lead negotiations nowhere.

Finally, it does not call for abiding by the terms of the Oslo Accords, and in particular, by the formal written assurances and undertakings given by former PLO leader Yasser Arafat to the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in consideration of the accord, which have never been honored.

Why would Canada vote for this anti-Israel, mendacious and misleading resolution? Perhaps Canada’s explanation of its vote, known as an EOV, can shed some light.

“While we do not agree with some elements of the preamble, Canada will support this resolution because of its focus on these important, core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the EOV states.

The assertion that Canada disagrees with some elements of the preamble is an understatement if ever there was one. Surely the government has an obligation to identify these elements, and the same obligation to identify the substantive parts of the preamble with which it agrees.

One may wonder that if Canada does not agree with the entirety of the preamble, why bother voting for the resolution itself?

Finally, the government’s indifference to the misstatement of the law with respect to the alleged illegal occupation is shocking – particularly since Canada’s official position has always been that in the context of the two-state solution, and in accordance with section 80(1) of the UN Charter, the boundaries of each state have to be determined through negotiations.

Nevertheless, the EOV goes on to state: “The vote today is a reflection of our longstanding commitment to the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis.” 

Yet, the resolution is silent on Israel’s self-determination.

And if the Palestinians have not secured self-determination, is that Israel’s fault? The alleged illegal occupation has nothing to do with it.

Adds the EOV: “Canada will support this resolution because of its focus on these important core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

This is surely nonsense. The only issue addressed in this resolution is Palestinian self-determination, implicitly twinned with the pre-requisite of ending the so-called illegal occupation of “Palestinian Territory.”

The government then grandly states: “We will continue to oppose resolutions and initiatives which do not speak to the complexities of the issues.” The resolution it supported can hardly be characterized as speaking to the complexity of any issue.

Would Canada vote for this kind of resolution against any other of its strong allies and close friends? I think not.


Dogan Akman
Dogan Akman

Dogan D. Akman is an independent researcher and commentator. He holds a B.Sc. in sociology, an M.A. in sociology/criminology and an LL.B in law. He held academic appointments in sociology, criminology and social policy; served as a Judge of the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, and was Crown Counsel in criminal prosecutions and in civil litigation at the Federal Department of Justice. His academic work is published in peer-reviewed professional journals while his opinion pieces and other writings are to be found in various publications and blogs.

Theodor Herzl: Gentleman Leader

Oct. 8, 2020

BY DAVID MATLOW

I own the world’s largest private collection of Theodor Herzl memorabilia. It reflects my fascination with the birth of the State of Israel. On May 13, 1948, Israel did not exist. On May 14, 1948, it did. How did this happen?

Ad for a penknife and the knife

It is an amazing story. Although the Jewish people have prayed to return to our ancestral homeland since we were expelled from it 2,000 years ago (thus the holiday-time plea of “Next Year in Jerusalem”), it was only in the 1800s that tangible steps were taken to make this happen. Herzl did not come up with the idea of Zionism, although he thought he did. However, unlike his predecessors who had a similar idea, he set out to actually make it happen.

In 1896, he wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State). The next year, he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, at which the World Zionist Organization was created. In 1899, he formed the Jewish Colonial Trust. In 1901, he inspired the creation of the Jewish National Fund. In 1902, he wrote Altneuland (Old New Land). In 1903, he received an offer from the British government for a Jewish territory in Africa. And in 1904, he died at age 44, having dedicated the last eight years of his life to the cause of the Jewish people.

Herzl understood that he had to rally the Jewish people around a new idea: that we could live in our own country, make decisions for ourselves, and keep each other safe. He needed a symbol to represent that dream. He became that symbol, and after he died, his successors maintained him as that symbol to keep his dream alive.

Cufflink celebrating the 1917 Balfour Declaration

This is why there are so many Herzl related items to collect. I own more than 5,000 of them, items ranging from ice tongs to medals, pen knives to portraits, postcards, pencils, busts, handkerchiefs, and much more.

It’s all been assembled piece by piece through auctions, hunting at flea markets, and the purchase of entire collections from veteran collectors who wanted to entrust their life’s passion to someone who would cherish it.  As well, at least once a month, I receive in the mail a Herzl item that someone found and for which they want a good home.

My collection is a national treasure of the Jewish people, and in case anyone wonders what it might be worth, I believe it’s priceless.

Portrait of Herzl for the 19th Zionist Congress in Prague, 1933

I have chosen to use my collection as a tool to help people learn about Herzl and be inspired by his work. I am hopeful that by learning about Herzl, people will know a little more about where Israel came from, why it was needed as a safeguard against antisemitism, and why it continues to be needed.

Herzl’s motto was, “if you will it, it is no dream,” and I believe that by learning how Herzl pursued his impossible dream (which, as we all know, came true), we can be inspired to make our own dreams come true.

“The Herzl Project” is my initiative to achieve these goals. To that end, I have created a website with resources about Herzl and my collection (www.herzlcollection.com) and published a book, Collecting the Dream, available free of charge as a PDF on the website, or as an ebook on Amazon.

During the pandemic, I have done over 25 videos, webinars and other online presentations on the subject of Herzl. This is not only because for many months I was sheltering at home with my entire collection. It is also because Herzl provides us with an important lesson for this time. He teaches us that the situation in which we find ourselves today can change and improve, and that tomorrow will be better.

Herzl also taught us by example how to be a leader in difficult times. He used his skills and talents as a lawyer, playwright and journalist to create something that would benefit others. Knowing that he was very sick, he focused on the future of the Jewish people, understanding that he was not likely to live to witness the birth of the state he envisioned.

Herzl pencil and pencil stand

Herzl also believed that we cannot do things that benefit only ourselves, and that because of our history, Jews are uniquely able to have a broader perspective. He understood that as citizens of this planet we all share, we must also act to help others. This is best illustrated in this reference from his book Altneuland, in which one of his characters expresses the following:

“There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.” 

This is remarkable. While dedicating his life to the Jewish people, Herzl also had the goal to help end Black suffering. He understood that issues of prejudice and discrimination are related, and that we are free only if we are all free. He knew that we cannot only look after ourselves; that we must care for the plight of others.

Bulletin announcing Herzl’s death

We have all seen pictures of Herzl in his top hat and tuxedo. He also often wore white gloves to formal events. He was a gentleman.

But being a gentleman is not limited to how you dress. It is how you behave, what you say, what you think, and what you do. It is also about the care you show for others.

I have come to know Herzl through my collection. He was a gentleman leader. We all benefit from his work, and we should all be proud of the way he did it.


David Matlow
David Matlow

David Matlow is a lawyer and partner at Goodmans LLP in Toronto. He is a member of the board of directors of the iCenter for Israel Education and the Ontario Jewish Archives. He is featured on a six-part series about Herzl called “Herzl Explained,” produced by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.