The Electronic Intifada / September 17, 2020
A majority of Canadians support investigations into Israel’s human rights abuses, a new poll has found.
According to the survey’s results, published Wednesday, the independent research firm EKOS found that 86 percent of Canadians do not want Israel to be held to a different standard than other countries.
Similar results indicate that most Canadians believe that Canada should not overlook Israel’s human rights record even if Israel “is under threat,” and do not support recognizing Jerusalem as exclusively Israel’s capital.
The survey was sponsored by 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 results show a stark conflict with the ruling Liberal Party’s close alliance with Israel and the general opinions of the Canadian population across the political spectrum.
“The poll shows in a very clear way that taking a fair and consistent approach to human rights, especially when it comes to Israel, would not be a risky political move, it would not be a controversial position to take,” Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, told The Electronic Intifada.
Rather, Bueckert added, it would be “a reflection of the vast consensus within Canadian opinion and within their own political parties.”
The poll builds on an earlier survey, also conducted by EKOS and sponsored by the same campaign groups, that showed that 74 percent of Canadians wanted their government to express opposition to Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank.
More than two in five polled wanted Canada to impose economic or diplomatic sanctions should Israel proceed with annexation, that poll revealed.
In 2017, another poll found that 80 percent of Canadians support the boycott of Israel.
“There is a fear that if party leaders, even progressive parties, say anything critical of Israel, that it would hurt them electorally – but poll after poll shows this isn’t true,” Bueckert explained.
War crimes should be investigated
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party have historically defended Israel while pandering to Israel lobby groups by smearing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights.
In June, Trudeau offered little more than tepid concern over Israel’s annexation plans and did not threaten to withhold state funds as a consequence.
But 84 percent of Canadians say that the ICC should be able to investigate war crimes “wherever they take place, even if it means investigating Israel and even if Israel is perceived to be an ally,” Bueckert said.
“An incredible paradox”
Last month, Erin O’Toole, the new leader of the staunchly pro-Israel Conservative Party, claimed that Jerusalem is the “undisputed” capital of Israel and pledged to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala.
But among the party’s supporters, more than half – 54 percent – say they oppose the recognition of Jerusalem as exclusively Israel’s capital, a strong rebuke to O’Toole’s position.
Four out of five Canadians overall believe that the state should continue to call for Jerusalem to be shared.
Bueckert noted that the survey results show that there are “universal principles of fairness and equality when it comes to approaching these issues … and it’s an incredible paradox that the [Liberal] Party is governing completely at odds with the political opinion within its own base.”
Campaigners for Palestinian rights will be bringing these polling statistics to members of Parliament in upcoming meetings, Bueckert said. The campaigners will continue to engage with lawmakers over positions on Palestinian rights that are consistent with public opinion.
Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014)