Is Canada’s Ambassador To Israel An Anti-Palestinian Racist?
The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is one of Canada’s most active and influential lobby groups.
As part of an investigation into CIJA’s reach and influence, I recently sent an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request to Global Affairs Canada (GAC). In that request, I sought production of all GAC briefing products and memos for the use of Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs or Ambassador to Israel that relate to CIJA and that were generated from December 1, 2015 to the time of my request.
In Part I of my analysis of the documents I received in response to that request, I focused on dealings between CIJA and Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland.
In this part, I focus on CIJA’s dealings with Canada’s ambassador to Israel, Deborah Lyons.
with Israeli president Reuven rRvlin
Is Deborah Lyons ‘Balanced’ on Israel/Palestine?
Lyons is a career diplomat. After serving as the Deputy Head of Mission at Canada’s embassy in Washington, D.C., Lyons served as Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan. In July 2016, shortly after assuming power, the Trudeau government appointed Lyons as ambassador to Israel.
Lyons replaced Vivian Bercovici, a fanatical Zionist whose fawning attitude toward the Netanyahu government complemented the fanatical Zionism of Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister under whom Bercovici served.
According to Ferry De Kerckhove, a former Canadian envoy to Indonesia and Egypt, the Trudeau Government’s appointment of Lyons to the post of ambassador to Israel signalled “a return to normal diplomacy.” De Kerckhove told the Globe and Mail that Global Affairs would be feeling “total, total elation” to see Bercovici ‘yanked out of Israel’ before her normal three-to-four-year term was up. “In a way, she became the mouthpiece of Netanyahu” he said. “She showed no balance at all.”
For some time, I have followed closely Lyons’ public commentary on Israel/Palestine. Having done so, the last word I would use to describe her behaviour as Canada’s ambassador to Israel is “balance.”
Indeed, Lyons’ extensive Twitter commentary leaves no doubt where her sympathies lie.
So far this year, Lyons has issued 423 tweets and retweets. In those tweets:
• Lyons has disseminated fifteen condemnations of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis, but not once has she condemned or expressed a modicum of concern about an attack by Israelis on Palestinians;
• On only one occasion did Lyons tweet or retweet a comment that was remotely critical of Israel;
• On September 19, Lyons praised Israel’s former President Shimon Peres – a war criminal– as a “great man;”
• Lyons tweeted or retweeted 24 tweets by or about CIJA and/or the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), whose core function is to promote the Israeli government’s agenda in Canada;
• By contrast, Lyons has tweeted or retweeted only one tweet from a pro-Palestinian organization; that tweet was issued by Jewish Voice for Peace, but it related to a terrorist attack in New Zealand and had nothing to do with Israel’s relentless abuse of Palestinian human rights; and
• Lyons retweeted a tweet praising Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, a racist ideology.
For decades, the Canadian government has acknowledged that Israel’s West Bank settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and are a “serious obstacle” to peace. Despite near-universal condemnation of Israeli settlements, the Netanyahu government continued in 2019 to expand Jewish-only settlements and vowed to annex large portions of the West Bank where Israeli settlements are situated. Annexation would constitute a flagrant violation of international law.
Yet Lyons’ one tweet that was modestly critical of Israel’s government did not relate to the settlements, annexation or Israel’s wanton murder and maiming of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. Rather, that tweet was an expression of the Canadian government’s purported ‘regret’ that Israel had unilaterally terminated the mandate of a temporary observer force in the Palestinian city of Hebron, where Israel is brazenly committing the crime of apartheid.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs, in 2019, ninety-one Palestinians have lost their lives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while five Israelis have lost their lives. During that same period, 13,138 Palestinians have been wounded compared to sixty-five Israelis. Thus, Palestinian casualties in 2019 have been 189 times greater than Israeli casualties. The Palestinian casualties include journalists, children (including a nine-year old Palestinian boy shot in the head with live fire) and medical personnel (including a 17-year old Palestinian medic shot dead in the West Bank.)
Yet Lyons’ tweets are utterly bereft of concern for Israeli violence against Palestinians.
Moreover, six of her fifteen condemnations of Palestinian attacks related to attacks on Israeli settlers by occupied Palestinians (see here, here, here, here, here and here). Israel’s West Bank settlements constitute a war crime. Thus, the targets of these attacks were complicit in war crimes against the Palestinian people.
Evidently, Lyons believes that an attack by oppressed Palestinians on their oppressors merits strong condemnation, but that the far more devastating attacks by Israeli oppressors on oppressed Palestinians do not merit so much as a peep of her concern.
Within days of those shootings – which also constituted war crimes – Lyons travelled to Toronto to tell an audience of Israel supporters how much she adores the state of Israel:
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