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Why Canada Matters to Israel: Providing a 'Diplomatic and Moral Umbrella' in Difficult Times
Deek

National Post
Joseph Brean
March 4, 2016

As a Christian Arab, George Deek is an unlikely Israeli diplomat. His grandparents fled the 1948 Arab-Israeli War for Lebanon, then snuck back illegally to live as Palestinians in the new Jewish state of Israel. On that perilous journey, caught in a firefight, they abandoned their newborn son, covered in leaves, for fear his crying would reveal their hiding place, but they could not bear to leave him to die, so they ran for it, and all made it safely back to Jaffa.

Two generations later, some of the family had emigrated to Canada and the U.S., but their grandson, George, was No. 2 in Israel's Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, managing diplomatic co-operation against terrorism during the rise of Boko Haram. After that, he was acting ambassador to Norway for the 2014 state visit of Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres.

He is now on leave to study law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In Toronto this week to address the United Jewish Appeal and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Deek spoke with the National Post's Joseph Brean.

Q: You say Norway sees itself as a “moral compass” for the world, partly because it hosts the Nobel Peace Prize. Canada sees itself similarly. Does its view matter to Israel?

A: I think Canada matters, if anything, as a moral voice in the world, because there are few democracies today in the Western world that are willing to stand up for providing Israel the diplomatic and moral umbrella it needs for its ability to defend itself whenever it's attacked from Gaza or otherwise. As well as in the United Nations. Canada opposed several UN resolutions at the human rights council just in the last few months that were meant to single out Israel.

Q: How do you see the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, recently denounced by Canada's Parliament?

A: The BDS movement has a lot of people from different walks of politics or life in it. It has people from the far left, it has people from the far right. It has people who are just anti-globalists. And it also has people who are genuinely concerned about the plight of Palestinians, who truly care. The problem is that behind those people, there is a movement that is driven by a commitment - either politically, ideologically or religiously - towards the delegitimization of the state of Israel.

Q: Is that a new tactic, or the old one in a new package?

A: In the past, Israel's adversaries tried to put it in a military crisis through annihilation wars, in 1948, '67, '73. They failed. Then they tried to put Israel in an economic crisis, through the Arab boycott, and they failed. Then they tried to put Israel in a diplomatic crisis, with the notorious Durban Resolution equating Zionism with racism. That failed. In the '90s, it was an attempt to put Israel in a security crisis through terrorism and the beginning of the Intifadas.

Q: The “they” in those examples is different throughout.

A: It is people who are committed to undermine Israel's existence, either as a state or as a Jewish state in the region. Today, those “they” are trying to put Israel in a moral crisis by taking advantage of the human rights discourse and blaming Israel for five cardinal sins of human rights: crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and, as you said, South Africa, apartheid... They turn it into an issue of identity. So if you want to be a person who cares about human rights, you have to be anti-Israeli.

The human rights discourse that was developed after the Second World War, was developed to protect people's right to be different, to preserve their own faith

Q: You say that when the moral authority of Europe was vested in religion, Jews were hated for their religion. When science replaced religion, Jews were hated for their biological race. And now, when moral authority is vested in human rights discourse, it is the Jewish state's actions that are the target. Is this ironic, given that modern human rights discourse emerged from the Holocaust, as did the modern state of Israel?

A: The irony here is so grotesque, in the sense that those tools, the human rights discourse that was developed after the Second World War, was developed to protect people's right to be different, to preserve their own faith, their own opinions, their own speech. And the attack that we see today against Israel is abusing that discourse.

Read the original article HERE

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