Malcolm X once said: "The media's the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses."
The Huffington Post recently ran a piece by its Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj headlined "Harper Government's Palestine Stance At UN Opposed By Many Canadians: Documents" (emphasis added).
The article contends that 365 Canadians wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, 2012, after the UN vote granted elevated status to "Palestine." It says the "the overwhelming majority -- 300, 82 per cent -- were adamantly opposed to the Conservative government's position."
It takes some temerity to conclude that, in a country populated with over 35 million people, the 300 individuals who opposed the Conservative government's position were representative of "many Canadians" on this issue.
As Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has consistently said, Canada bases its positions on principle, not a popularity contest. Irrespective of the views of these 300 Canadians, individuals who were most likely prompted to complain to Harper by various organized anti-Israel lobbying groups, Canada's decision to oppose the Palestinian Authority's unilateral gambit was in the best interests of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, not protracting it.
The PA's effort stood in flagrant violation of the Oslo accords. As Liberal MP Irwin Cotler observed in the National Post: "... it violates existing Israeli-Palestinian bilateral agreements, most notably the Oslo II agreements of September 28th 1995, which state that 'neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations' (Article 31)."
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (then the PLO) pledged to uphold this approach upon signing the Oslo Accords in 1993, with both sides declaring their support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict only through direct negotiations, as per Resolutions 242 and 338. Any efforts on the part of the Palestinian leadership to obtain statehood without negotiating peace are in violation of the Oslo Accords. It is only via direct talks and a comprehensive peace accord between the two parties that the goal of two states for two peoples can be realized.
The UN, which continues to be depicted in the media as an impartial institution dedicated to conflict resolution, provided the platform for Abbas to flout Oslo and to vilify Israel. Indeed, the General Assembly resolution was deferentially cited by the media, without context. Context would reveal that the UN enjoys a well-documented history of anti-Israel bias often exercised through its General Assembly, which is composed of an automatic majority of Islamic conference and non-aligned countries. The UN is obsessed with Israel. Some 20+ anti-Israel resolutions are passed each year with almost none against most other member states, including the world's most oppressive regimes. As Abba Eban, former Israeli ambassador to the UN once stated, if the UN wanted to pass a resolution claiming that the Earth was flat, and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.
Judging from the enthusiastic endorsement of the international community and the mainstream media for Abbas's UN bid, one would never know that Abbas violated the Palestinian Authority's commitments under the Oslo Accords. Also left out of sight and out of mind was how the PA refuses to renounce incitement and terrorism and how it won't recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Israel was condemned for protesting the PA's violation, and Canada judged for standing with Israel. The condemnation of Israel for Abbas's violation is but one example of the double standards to which Israel has been subjected.
In assessing why the Canadian government was pilloried for opposing the UN bid, one cannot ignore that the continued media misrepresentations of the settlements as being the main obstacle to peace, the media's endorsement of the reflexively anti-Israel UN, and the media's failure to place the UN bid in the context of the Palestinian Authority's history of rejectionism, are but a handful of the reasons Canada was perceived as an irrational actor. A closer look, however, reveals that Canada exercised moral clarity by standing up to moral hypocrisy and double standards. Canada upheld international law and promoted peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Standing up to moral bankruptcy is not a mark of shame on Canada, but of moral leadership.
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